Saturday, February 2, 2008

Conundrum to Adventure

As I write this, When Fangirls Attack's last link-list is dated Jan. 30. And a scanning of the titles reveals little to no commentary on Countdown to Adventure issue #6. Which interests me, since I thought there'd be more of a reaction. In fact, the only commentary I saw, I saw just by clicking a link sort of at random.

Shelly mentions the comic, almost in passing, in a post that is mainly about action figures, and here is her review, in toto:

Nice interactions here. Also, it's the issue where the women take center stage. Alanna saves her hubby and kicks ass. Kory and Ellen sorta reach an understanding and go rescue Buddy, with an assist from Alanna and Adam who make a timely arrival. There's just something that warms my heart about seeing two male heroes rescued from certain death by their wives. Good stuff here. I didn't read the Forerunner story.
It's the Forerunner story, however, that has what I think is a fairly problematic storyline. So SPOILER ALERT, for those who care, because that's what we're talking about today.

And let me preface by saying that I've read neither 52 nor Countdown to Final Crisis, so be understanding if any gaps in my knowledge reveal themselves.

According to CtA, Forerunner is of a race of super-powerful humanoids who came to inhabit Earth after a solar-system-wide war destroyed Earth's human population (in another alternate Earth, natch). Earth became some sort of neutral combat arena where aliens would go to fight over their differences while leaving their homes intact, and a lot of aliens were abandoned on the planet. This mixed-bag of castoffs began to interbreed, resulting in the Forerunner race, which practices both a survival-of-the-strongest warrior philosophy and an intense eugenics-oriented breeding theory.

So. At first employed by the Monitors, she's recruited by Monarch after he reveals that her race has been wiped out by the Monitors, who fear their power, or whatever. She spends some time gathering heroes from alternate worlds to join Monarch's army, but after expressing some doubts about his intentions, he dismisses her, by dropping her off into outer space. Conveniently rescued by a passing ship, she winds up on board a pirate vessel, having killed the captain, as well as most of the crew (by challenging the crew to a battle for the captain's position, to take place in a cargo bay, which she opens into space when all her challengers are inside).

That brings you mostly up to speed for issue #6, wherein the pirate vessel encounters a clutch of Thanagarian ships, looking to bring the former pirate to justice. In an attempt to get them to leave the ship in her possession, Forerunner challenges the Thanagarian leader and his men to hand-to-hand combat.

She kicks their butts, and claims the Thanagarian as her own, taking him back to the pirate ship. Using their code of honor against them, she persuades the others to let the ship go. She has her captive drugged to make him more compliant, then she drags him to her quarters, where she announces her intent to have sex with him (among other things, his performance in battle marks him as decent breeding stock). Initially resistant, he eventually consents, sort of ("I'd be a fool to refuse", he says).

Afterwards, she maintains her emotional distance, and throws out the idea that maybe a couple of the surviving female crew might be called to have their own way with him. She even characterizes his protests as well as his statements that they "connected" as "sensitive".

Assuming that you have not read this comic before, the reaction you are having right now to that synopsis will, I think, say something about your perspective on things. Such as, if you are a feminist, what sort of feminist are you?

Do you feel that the content in comics today is tolerable in general, but just wish there were more equal time portraying genders in various situations? Then this should be great for you. Forerunner acts like many a womanizing, conquesting barbarian. This scene could have come out of a Conan story, only with genders reversed, and, ah, in space.

Do you think it's okay to depict a woman dominating a man like this, but not okay when it's a man dominating a woman? Perhaps you are sexist.

Do you consider treating a person of the other gender as a "prize" or as a possession that can be traded with your pals, regardless of gender, to be wrong? Well, then, you may not find this to be so great. But you may be reacting to the lurid nature of the story more than any gender issues: in other words, it's the sex, not the sexism.

I should point out that, at least in this one comic, Forerunner's amoral stance has been fairly consistent, so this isn't a case of "oh, she would never do something like that!"

I dunno, I'm curious. Good? Bad? Indifferent?

No comments: