So, I love comic books. Particularly super-hero comic books.
And I love sex. Big surprise there–I’m a dude.
I’m not even remotely prudish–ask my friends. I’m likely the anti-prude on any given day, within any given conversation. However, I’m not overly fond of mixing sex with super-hero comics. Hence the point of today’s discussion, boys and girls. I just read the New 52 Catwoman #1, as well as Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, and I’m kind of appalled. Spoiler alert! If you don’t wanna know what happens in these books, stop reading now!
Catwoman #1 is a well-written, well-drawn comic book. It kept me happily entertained for the 7.5 minutes it took me to read and digest it (the relative value of a $3 per 7.5 minute read is a rant for another day). Then the last 4 pages happened. Watching Batman and Catwoman have sex is kind of imagining your parents having sex–dressed as furries. It’s a little disturbing. You’re sure it happens, and you hope they have fun, but you don’t really want to see it.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 is a little less obvious, but also less respectful of the primary female character. Lobdell’s portrayal of Starfire as a soulless porn-star-cum-superheroine is kind of insulting. Traditionally, Kori has been presented as a free spirit, but one of some strangely compelling star-borne innocence. When it was obvious that she and Dick Grayson had actually consummated their relationship (way back in the Teen Titans), it was handled with taste and grace. Wolfman and Perez set up a relationship between the two characters that was based on love and respect. I’m a grown-up–I realize that sex isn’t always about love. But, c’mon–she doesn’t remember ANY of her previous boyfriends, and now seems happy offering her body up to any new takers.
Gentle readers, I realized I sound like the crotchety old comic-book guy in the corner, yelling out profanities at the crazy kids and their iPods and their interwebs and their disrespectful behavior… It just seems that there was a time (in the not too distant past) where 90% of the comics on the market were appropriate for an all-ages, cross-gender audience–cleverly written to be relevant to both kids and adults. With the exaggerated violence, bloodshed, sanctioned killing, and decidedly sexist sexuality showing up on the racks, it seems like about 2% of the comics on the racks are relevant to the masses. The rest of them seem to be aimed at a generation of sexually frustrated 30+ dudes living in their mothers’ basements, who think that the dialog they hear on Redtube represents how women really speak. I think this is a sadness–and is just another indication of an industry that isn’t truly interested in introducing women, children, or reasonably progressive guys to contemporary comic books.