Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Essential Ghost Rider Vol. 1 and Essential Werewolf by Night vol. 1:

During the 1970s, when the Comics Code was loosened a bit, allowing for more "horrific" approaches to comics and superheroes. Marvel began experimenting fairly heavily with the super-hero/horror genre because of this, and while some iconic characters came from this period (Blade, for instance), most of the experiments from this era have been relegated to guest-star or forgotten status. Some of the titles included: Monster of Frankenstein, Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, Ghost Rider, Son of Satan - and a few others. Of these, only Ghost Rider and Tomb of Dracula had any real "staying" power. The others lasted a while, but only those two titles lasted beyond the initial "strange" period Marvel had during the late 1970s.

I gleefully have all FOUR Essential Tomb of Dracula comics on my shelf, and these two add to my collection of horror comics. I have to say that the B&W format of the Essential Books adds to the horror element of these titles (though that's not to say I wouldn't mind a full-color version as well).

One fascinating aspect of these "experiments" comes from the way the characters shifted so often. In Ghost Rider especially (but also in Werewolf by Night) a constant bouncing back and forth between tormented soul horror stories and basic superhero tales. The writers seemed unable to achieve any real mixture of the two, opting instead for tales that were clearly one or the other.

Either way, Ghost Rider still rocks. I, of course, have all the original issues reprinted here (and am mystified by the exclusion of an early Marvel Team-up appearance that introduced GR's early main archnemises, Orb), but these tomes allow me to revisit the early tales without having to dig out the old longboxes.

Monday, October 03, 2005

No review this week. Sort of. (sensitive topic ahead - keep the kids away)

Well, I started out reviewing Defenders #3, when I realized something.

Without giving a whole lot away, Umar RAPES the Hulk. This is played for laughs. Umar is, in this comic, forever searching for sexual satisfaction, but she can't get it. She uses her magic to force him to have intercourse with her (none of this is shown on panel, but it is heavily implied). That's rape, pure and simple.

Why is this funny?

In The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, there is a scene where Mat (a notorious womanizer) is tied to a bedpost against his will and forced to make love to a woman at knifepoint. When he complains about this, the other female characters just titter and laugh. The narrative itself treats this as one grad joke. Yet Mat is forced to have sex with a knife at his throat.

Why is male rape considered comic gold?

Of course, we have feminist theorists arguing that given the current patriarchal male hegemony, all heterosexual sex is rape, and we have Susan Brownmiller arguing rape is a conspiracy whereby all men keep all women in a state of fear. Given that, it seems "rape" is something men do to women.

I don't agree - it's an odd double standard, but one that apparently helps a certain liberal cause. Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

(I hope this doesn't cause me to get bizarre spam).