The thing about Image Comics is that it gets a lot of great press for the things it does well, and it doesn’t get a lot of press for the things it does poorly. It’s a great deal, when you think about it. You hear about the things that they’re doing absolutely right and don’t hear about the flubs. Perfect.
But man, when they screw up? Sometimes, someone’s gotta say something about it.
Over the past three months, two instances of rape coming out of Image Comics have caught my eye. They occurred in comics on my pull list and they’re from supposed “rising stars” in comics. You haven’t seen these making headlines and you probably won’t. They don’t feature your typical form of rape, and I suspect that’s why you haven’t heard much about them.
Nick Spencer, critical darling and writer of Marvel’s Iron Man 2.0, Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger, and formerly Secret Avengers as well as DC’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Image’s Morning Glories had an alternate version of his main character in The Infinite Vacation anally rape another alternate version of himself (presumably to “explore” the idea of, if you had to meet up with yourself, would you fight or f**k yourself?). So okay, the scene bugged me a bit (for several reasons), but I let it slide. He’s Nick Spencer, right? He can screw up sometimes.
Joshua Hale Fialkov is also a name that has shown up recently. I’ll be honest and say that I think he’s written Tumor, DC’s I, Vampire, and he also co-wrote some issues of the sinking ship that was Iron Man 2.0. In the most recent issue of his Image series The Last of the Greats, JHF writes a scene in which his main character begins to anally rape his adviser after a betrayal from said adviser.
Two anal rape scenes from two supposedly up-and-coming writers. And not a single whistle was blown.
First off, rape bothers me. It does. And that doesn’t mean it’s a taboo subject, but it doesn’t look like, from the crass way it was handled in both of these instances, that it’s going to be explored. It was used for shock value, not in an exploration of what it actually means for the characters involved.
Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter who’s being raped, be it a man raping a man, a woman a woman, a man a woman, or a woman a man. It’s still a tough subject that deserves more thought than these two writers demonstrated.
I’m going to pick more carefully what I read from these guys in the future. This isn’t about me being a wimp and not being able to handle tough subject material. It’s tough subject material I can’t handle when it’s done without a point involved. If you can’t handle that, you’re not exercising your writing chops.
Think about it.