Wednesday, October 11, 2006

So You're Erasing the Expiration Date to Prolong the Shelf-Life?

Update, Oct 11, 2006: I got a look at the context here. More on that later, but yes, this post is directed towards toward the reaction, not the quote itself (though the post explores the quote's implications). Because the reaction is alarming.

I'm a bit mad about this:
Well, what other character? Not Wonder Girl. Enough women had died in the DCU.

I'm not going to put up the money for the hardcover, because I have all of the issues and I don't really need this roundtable, but I am going to ask a friend to see this tomorrow. However, knowing fully that this is a quote taken out of context, I'm still going to rant about it tonight.

Because the direct quote, without context, annoys me a little.

Then, I see the people on that thread applauding this quote, and I get just a bit more annoyed.

Then, I see the people on the thread (and in the WFA comments) criticizing the statement, and I get pissed beyond belief.

They are complaining about the wrong fucking thing.

The quote itself, I don't see as hypocritical because it could signify a change of mindset, like Waid and Augustyn's professed regret at killing Ice, (that it was shortsighted and for the wrong reason). I strongly suspect that, whatever the actual context, this comment may be a result of some of the criticism we've leveled at the writers in the past year.

Sadly, it's the wrong result. It's a short cut.

To me, that quote says "I will treat female characters differently. I'm not going to use them in the 'real plot' where they run the risk of death."

See, death is a part of reality in the DCU and the Marvel U. Characters die, they get replaced, and they return to life. Sometimes it may take a few decades, but that's the reality they live in. To simply say, without qualification, that those rules no longer apply to female characters is ridiculous. Giving an expendable character a pass from death when you feel the story demands it only for the reason of gender is sexism, whichever way the pendulum falls. It breeds that attitude of "women = weak" that sends my blood pressure through the roof and keeps women out of believable lead roles.

I'm well aware of the quantity problem. There's less women than men in superhero comics. That's stupid, and should be fixed. A blanket statement promising no further death doesn't help anything.

We all know that there will always be characters dying in comics. It's to move the story along. There's an infinite number of ways to bring them back, death is not, has not been, and never will be permanent at DC.

I know some of you have heard me lament about the great characters who lost their lives too early and unfairly and plead for resurrection or at least a retcon away of the death, but this comment horrified me. I have at least two women on my "wish they'd die and stay dead" list, and I know I'm not the only one.

I'd sooner see some energy thrown behind resurrecting some of those dead women, like the men tend to always get resurrected, than see them have to be "protected" to a greater extent than the men.

It goes back to my complaints about rape, I suppose. It's an unequal threat, ever-present over the female characters and never-present over the men unless its in a "Mature Readers" book. If all our complaints do is stop them from killing female characters, we basically put a similar unequal threat out there. Death will hang like a shadow over male characters and never truly threaten the female characters.

I want to see both genders face the same trials, not inequality. I'm fucking tired of fucking inequality.

I'd be happy to shut the fuck up about rape in comic books if two conditions were fulfilled:

1) It must suddenly and immediately become as overtly present a threat in the lives of male superheroes as it is for female superheroes. If both Green Lantern and Black Canary are captured by a group of supervillains, and the writer chooses to have the villains leer and make sexualized threats -- they would be levied at both characters, not just Dinah.

2) A sexual assault scene for a female victim is drawn in exactly the same mood and manner as a sexual assault scene for the male victim. Meaning panel angles, point of view, emotions, and reasoning behind writing this.

(Please note: If you find these two options absurd because this treatment "emasculates" i.e. weakens a male character, do consider what it tells us about your attitudes towards women as a gender when it is perfectly acceptable for female superheroes.)

Which brings me to the second problem with the above statement.

It doesn't solve anything.

It's a way to bypass thinking about the actual issues, and throw a quick-fix on the problem. This is trying to manufacture a magic band-aid.

"I won't kill a female character" does not in any way mean "I will treat female characters with the same respect as male characters." It doesn't exclude female characters being 'damsels in distress,' being motivations/rewards for the hero, being shot and paralyzed, being impregnated mystically, being raped, being dragged through the mud, being used solely as eye candy, being retired from action indefinitely or generally being put through any of the shit we've been complaining about for the last seven years. If every writer and editor were to adopt such an attitude as is being cheered on (and alternately condemned as hypcritical, implying that the complaintants feel that this is the correct idea) would be a decision to take women one step away from the plot.

Chucking the Refrigerator and going to non-perishables does not stop female characters from being used as consumables.

It doesn't even come close.

Nice try, writers, but you're going to actually have to learn to use your brains when you write.

36 comments:

  1. It looks more like you're putting words in his mouth.

    IMO, you can't really assume that what he means by that quote is that he wants to take females out of the front lines in terms of plot development. Like you said, there's not enough context.

    The only thing you CAN assume from from "Well, what other character? Not Wonder Girl. ENOUGH WOMEN HAVE DIED IN THE DCU." is that he doesn't want Wonder Girl to die.

    Just because you don't want a character to die doesn't mean that you're putting said character in a box and keeping the character 'safe from harm'.

    It's as ridiculous as saying that people want Spider-Man (or Batman, or Superman, or Wolverine, or Wonder Woman, or Storm or whatever other superhero character) to die just because they want to see real plots in them.

    You said so yourself, ""I won't kill a female character" does not in any way mean "I won't treat female characters with the same respect as male characters.""

    Likewise, "I won't kill a female character" does not in any way mean "I will treat female characters was inferior to male characters".

    Seems to me as if you were just looking for a reason (any reason, however illogical) to complain about the male hegemony in comics.

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  2. I for one wouldn't mind seeing more "damn men in distress" being used in comics the way that their female counterparts (damsels) usually are. Historically speaking, Steve Trevor is the only one that comes to mind.

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  3. Sam, looks like you caught an early typo. The point I was trying to make was that "Saying I won't kill someone does not mean they'll get equal treatment." I've fixed that, and I apologize for the misunderstanding.

    However much one can reasonably assume from the comment, the people in the thread, and a few people across the blogosphere have seized on that as a reason to assume that either a) "Geoff Johns is going to be the most kickass writer of female characters ever!" (note the link, a fan saying they picked him for Wonder Woman writer because of that quote), or b) "He's a huge fucking hypocrite for saying that after he killed two women in Infinite Crisis."

    Both opinions need to be addressed, and I'm addressing the majority of them on the same level they have addressed their criticisms on.

    This quote is at best meaningless in the overall treatment of female characters, and most likely harmful because it removes dramatic impact from the stories.

    Remember the comic writer's defense of death?

    "Things need to have suspense. People have to worry about their favorite characters." Well, if Johns is actually going to walk the walk that he talks in the quote, that "enough women have died in the DCU" then he has just done this with all female characters. The suspense is gone, he's created a metatextual safe little box.

    And that is treating female characters as inferior. Well, rather, its treating the fans of female characters as delicate people who need to be coddled and fed only "Safe" stories.

    By removing the dramatic impact from the stories of female characters, he takes them from the realm of "real stories" and puts them into a little safe space reserved for high ranking Icons and children's characters.

    It's making "girl books" and "boy books."

    The last thing we need to worry about with this one is hypocrisy (as I pointed out, that's not inherent in the quote itself), and the first thing we need to worry about is the attitude towards female characters, fans of female characters, and, by extension, women in real life displayed by the mindset the perception of this comment is embracing.

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  4. Dave -- I know, that's why I miss Steve so badly.

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  5. I asked about the context of the quote when I was thinking about doing something about it, and it's apparently during a section where they discuss why killing Nightwing would be a bad idea, and Johns choosing Superboy instead. Which actually might show that you're onto something, if Johns wasn't thinking of giving a female character like Wonder Girl the most heroic and important death of the Crisis. (Or I may be way off...)

    I agree that there shouldn't be a padded safe box, and should be wary of that quote for that reason too. But as one of the people who thought it was a hypocritical response (the boards wouldn't allow 3 attempts for my nick or something close to it, so I chose g11j), I don't think it was that wrong a thing to point out, or that I or the other posters want special treatment. I think they're also tired of the excuse of "suspense and tension and dramatic impact" to kill wholesale lesser-popular characters. The stories are already "Safe" in that you know there are certain characters that won't ever be killed - Red Shirts don't make a story any more tense.

    It's just that Johns, from that quote, suddenly seems to be putting his foot down and protesting the unfair treatment of women (picked up on by the thread stater, with the WiR reference in the headline). Except coming right after IC, it feels awfully disingenuous. Why is it enough now, sitting at the roundtable? Wasn't Phantom Lady's death cited as particularly offensive when it came out? And you already know how I feel about the other death. :P

    (Ack, I'm really clogging up the comments section of your blog, aren't I?)

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  6. I'm hoping the context will turn out to be something other than this, but, well, I have my doubts. Great post -- I can't think of anything to add that doesn't get into the ever-fascinating-to-Te tangent jlg brings up about how Red Shirts singularly fail to add suspense -- unless, of course, you're fannish about a segment of the DCU chock full of the poor bastards.

    [Insert moment of abject relief that I never let myself read enough JLI to fall in love.]

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  7. I think there's entirely too much death for BOTH genders in superhero comics these days. Rather than being concerned about the ACT of killing a character, Geoff Johns is more worked up over the precise gender balance in the body count?

    What an utterly bizarre crossroads we've come to in our society.

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  8. I think this ties in nicely to the column that Marionette found that you linked to on the Newsarama blog. Death is only one of the six "D"s that that particular columnist talked about, and I would argue that its not even the most important of them (Dependence and Deemphasis are my top two).

    Death for the right reasons is not a problem - a noble death to save the universe that is done as the conclusion of that character's arc, for example, is a worthwhile death. Barry Allen had that type of death. Phoneix had that kind of death (the first time, anyway).

    A death that happens just to bolster a male character's story arc, on the other hand, shows too much Dependence (on the male character) and Deemphasis (emphasizing the male character's role instead of the female hero's) to be a truly heroic death. It becomes a plot point in someone else's story, not a capstone to the character's story arc. Jade's death strikes me this way, as did Katma Tui's (which I still consider one of the worst character deaths ever written, not just among female character deaths).

    So Johns could be (again, without context, its only COULD BE) taking away only the most superficial lesson and not getting to the real meat of the issue - making and keeping female characters as their own characters, not as supporting cast to the male character's story arc.

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  9. Going to your point about placing men in a stressful sexual situation, do you remember that lovely moment in Guy Gardner: Warrior, when they are fighting the Tormocks, and the evil Tormock sister (whose name I can't recall at the moment) has Guy trussed up and is ready to use him for breeding purposes? Diana is the one who busts in and saves him! Oh, Beau Smith, I miss you.

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  10. However much one can reasonably assume from the comment, the people in the thread, and a few people across the blogosphere have seized on that as a reason to assume that either a) "Geoff Johns is going to be the most kickass writer of female characters ever!" (note the link, a fan saying they picked him for Wonder Woman writer because of that quote), or b) "He's a huge fucking hypocrite for saying that after he killed two women in Infinite Crisis."

    Ok, here's where you lost me because it seems like you're upset with the responses to the Johns' comment, yet you focus more on the comment instead of the responses to it. What? Reading just the quote from Johns alone tells me that Johns possibly recognizes a problem with unneccessary female death for the sake of male character advancement(maybe his own problem, considering the two women he killed in IC). I could be completely wrong about he's exactly saying, but I doubt he's going so far as to say that he's going to be using kiddie gloves with the women of DCU.

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  11. I took that to meant that he wasn't going to use WG as the sacrificial lamb to save Nightwing. He used Superboy for that, admitting at WizardWorld that Superboy was his favorite Titan. With that in mind, maybe it's personal preference, to want his favorite character to be the pivotal death, and justifying it by saying that he wasn't going to kill women.

    But I think that's not the case. Johns played a big role in writing IC, which means that Phantom Girl, Pantha, Queen (from the RFG), Lyta Hall, Jade, Lois Lane-2 and several others' blood is on his hands. I think that's enough to signify that he's not treating the women with kid gloves.

    And I think, being the writer of Teen Titans and a writer on 52 as he is, that he recognized the greater story possibilities in killing Superboy rather than Wonder Girl. While Wonder Girl's death would have major impacts on WW and Superboy (and the rest of the Titans), Superboy's death directly impacts upon Wonder Girl, Robin, Superman, the Kents, and Lex Luthor. It also becomes just one more thing lost to Cassie in the Crisis, stacked on top of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, and the Greek gods. It sets the stage for the drama we're seeing in Teen Titans and 52 and Supergirl (to a lesser degree) now.
    But, that answer's not short enough or interesting enough to give in an interview, so Geoff went with a secondary justification of not adding to the refrigerator.

    And is it really so bad if Geoff doesn't want to kill off women? Judd Winick's doing enough of it for three writers. I agree that there aren't enough female superheroes in the DCU, and that should be fixed, but if the death toll for women in IC were the same as the death toll for men, how many of those female superheroes would be left? Twenty? A dozen?

    I think Geoff's record shows that he's not really treating women differently. I think, however, that there are enough male superheroes in the DCU that they can be used as cannon fodder for major crossovers. The female heroes (and the other minority heroes, for that matter--look at some of the messes Marvel's in) have to be given a little more consideration because there simply aren't enough of them.

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  12. Well said, Ragnell. You've articulated the subtle yet important difference between protecting female characters and writing them well that everyone else seems to miss. Good on yer!

    -- Anun

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  13. Tom wrote:

    And I think, being the writer of Teen Titans and a writer on 52 as he is, that he recognized the greater story possibilities in killing Superboy rather than Wonder Girl. While Wonder Girl's death would have major impacts on WW and Superboy (and the rest of the Titans), Superboy's death directly impacts upon Wonder Girl, Robin, Superman, the Kents, and Lex Luthor. It also becomes just one more thing lost to Cassie in the Crisis, stacked on top of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, and the Greek gods. It sets the stage for the drama we're seeing in Teen Titans and 52 and Supergirl (to a lesser degree) now.
    But, that answer's not short enough or interesting enough to give in an interview, so Geoff went with a secondary justification of not adding to the refrigerator.


    I've started and stopped posting a comment two or three times this morning in an effort to say just this, but I never could get it right. So thanks, Tom, for letting me get on with my day.

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  14. How do you feel about affirmative action, Ragnell? Because to my mind, that's what Johns is essentially advocating: he recognizes that the status quo is outta whack, so he's gonna apply a (short-term?) quota system to try to redress the balance. It sounds like he's saying, "Too many girls have gotten killed off; it's time to balance the scales by killing off some boys now." Which is quite different from saying, "I'm not gonna kill off any more women ever."

    The thing is, jury-rigged solutions like this are, as you say, a band-aid: they don't deal with the underlying systemic issues. At best, it's an olive branch ("OK, we see the problem, so here's a small symbolic gesture while we get our shit in order"); at worst, it's a smoke screen or a sign of someone just not getting it ("Yeah, OK, I hear ya, I spared whatshername - now will you please quit yer bitchin'?"). And I don't have enough context either to judge which Johns meant.

    Death vs rape: not really a good comparison, IMHO. Death is (or ought to be) an equal-opportunity executioner: you put on the spandex and head into a fight, you accept the possibility of being killed in action, same as any cop or soldier; and gender shouldn't matter when it comes to your odds of surviving, only your abilities do. Sexual violence, OTOH, is sadly overwhelmingly directed against women in the real world. [Unless it's a Garth Ennis "men in prison" story, in which case I expect man-rape an average of once every 3 panels.] And while I don't expect total realism from my comics, expecting gender parity on that particular issue seems misguided, IMHO. One might as well ask for more "men getting pregnant" storylines.

    [All right, granted, this is the DCU: men probably ought to be able to get pregnant all the damn time, thanks to magic / aliens / weird tech.]

    Personally, I'd rather not see rape or sexual abuse in my escapist superhero fare to begin with, since it's such an icky subject, to put it mildly. And if either does occur, I would rather have it happen off-panel, so the story is about the aftermath and dealing with the consequences, not on the incident itself. Mostly, though, rape is just a bad narrative cliche these days: writers should shelve it if they can't think of anything good to do with it.

    But otherwise I agree with what you're saying. :-)

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  15. The number of female heroes in the DCU is not a constant. It's whatever the writers want it to be. How about continuing to kill, but also continuing to create?

    Oh, and the worst DCU death is Martha Wayne. Talk about being denied her own agency. Perhaps I missed something, but has there ever been a really great, interesting story about her? Ma Kent practically gets her own books, but bupkis for Batman's mom. Invisible for 60 years: the Martha Wayne story.

    The second worst is Lara, same reasons.

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  16. There was a recent Batman mini-series, called Death and the Maidens written by Greg Rucka with art by Klaus Janson, that explored Bruce's memories and feelings about Martha a bit. I don't remember much about it (it's been a year or so since then), but I do remember being struck by the realization that I'd never really seen her character explored before then. It's worth a look.

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  17. Andrew Vacchs (spelled wrong probably) wrote a two-part Batman prestige story about taking on child pornography/prostition rings. During the story, it was revealed Martha Wayne had also fought against such evils and that was possibly the actual reason she and her husband were killed.

    It's not the best written story, but I liked it just for that fleshing out of her background and the implication she had as much to do with Bruce's warrior spirit as his dad did.

    -- Anun

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  18. I remember that one, now that you mention it, Anun. I didn;'t read the comics, but I read the novel tie-in. A quick googling reminds me that it was called Ultimate Evil.

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  19. Given that a female superhero got her head popped off in 52 within the last few weeks, I think you may be exaggerating the dangers of Geoff Johns, Defender of The Delicate Flower That Is Womankind. And frankly, if a moratorium on dead superladies prevents another Identity Crisis, then I'm for it. They can start offing women again when they learn to write better.

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  20. Spencer -- If I focused on the responses, it's just being defensive. I focus on the source of the responses, I'm showing a different line of reasoning.

    I don't have context for the quote, but then, neither do most of the conversation participants until someone scans the pages or transcribes them online.

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  21. AH -- The danger isn't in Johns himself, but in the widespread acceptance of this solution. There's a huge flaw in this solution -- How is anyone going to learn to write better if they aren't willing to think about more complex issues than quantity?

    That lets writers off the hook far too easily, and breeds the laziness that slides back into writing gendered stereotypes as opposed to good characters and situations.

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  22. The way I see it, forbidding them from using one of those cliches--that killing the hero's lady friends is a great way to shake them up--is in fact necessary to spur them to think of something else. Think of it; if you can't kill someone close to a hero, but you still want to shake them up, you might actually have to resort to something a little more creative than Stock Plot #3 (you touched my stuff, you sumbitch). Since it's clear to me that none of AuthorCo. are much interested in exploring the ramifications of Stock Plot #3 (except maybe Morrison, but he already said his piece on that in Animal Man), they damn well SHOULD have it taken away from them.

    And gosh, if they can't come up with a way to make things interesting that doesn't rely on the hoariest of cliches, then maybe they shouldn't get paid to write things.

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  23. A.H: Not to speak for Ragnell, but I think you're missing her point.

    She's not saying that killing love interests isn't cliche, or that the cliche should be abused as it tends to be.

    What I think Ragnell is arguing is that using femininity as a reason to not kill a character is as bad as killing the character just because she's a woman.

    It's still singling out a character based on her sex. The criteria for death of a character should take into account a lot of factors...importance of the character, impact on other characters, implications of the death...

    It shouldn't be taking sex into account at all. Because then you've got the reverse sort of sexism, the "women must be protected and treasured and never be allowed to risk themselves" guilded cage sort of sexism. Either way, it's incredibly stupid and ultimately even harmful.

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  24. Oh, I understand her point. I just disagree with it. If women in comics were dropping like flies for entirely heroic reasons, I'd probably agree with it to some extent. But from what I've seen over the past year or so, they get killed so that men can Feel Something About It, whether it's sorrow or enjoyment from the validation of being so badass that they can punch someone's head clean off her shoulders. Given the circumstances, I think a moratorium is justified.

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  25. AH -- See, I find such a measure unjustifiable. It's a step backwards rather than a step forwards.

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  26. I think I agree.

    I think what's clouding the issue is that death is just getting overused lately and a moratorium on cheap death generally would probably be welcome to most of us. But a moratorium on women's deaths in isolation wouldn't really fix the basic problem that comic death generally has been a lot more common and a lot less heroic lately. And oh, how I hates me the "death as lazy writer's shortcut" trick.

    Speakig of, Doug Ramsey's death way back when still annoys me--it screamed that the writer didn't want to have to write a romance between a teenager and an older woman. bah.

    BAH, I say.

    BTW, The Invincible Super-blog has a great piece on Death and the Maidens. Sounds like the definitive Martha Wayne story.

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  27. I still can’t help feeling that everyone is reading WAY too much into this comment.

    Yeah, it would suck if everyone treated female characters with kid gloves. But I don’t see any evidence in the comment or the comics themselves that this is the case, or anywhere near the case. Johns made a decision not to kill one character in one story, based in part on previous events in that story (the deaths of Phantom Lady, Lois-2, Hawkwoman, Jade).

    It was a story decision, not a policy decision. A policy sidelining female characters from danger would be bad, but we’re a long, long way from that.

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  28. Rob -- I probably would've ignored it if I'd read it in the context (it's offhand as hell), but when I posted this there were two pages on that thread, a mention on my livejournal friendslist, and the sole comment on WFA in the post that linked it, and everyone took it to mean a policy that he wouldn't kill women and nobody took that policy as a bad thing -- the only bad reactions were the ones that thought he was being a hypocrite.

    Like I said, the reaction was alarming. That it ws an overreaction is besides the point.

    (I think I may need a written communication class.)

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  29. Ah. (thumps head.) I'm getting it now. Thanks.

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  30. Ragnell,

    Apparently for some reason Blogspot didn't post my reply, and I was only able to check this thread again now.

    A moratorium on deaths for a particular subset of people does not bad stories make. The possibility of death does not make stories any more suspenseful, compelling, or real. Likewise, the impossibility of death does not make stories any less suspenseful, compelling, and yes, real.

    We knew that Captain Kirk and the rest of their crew were never going to die in the series (just the red shirts), in fact, you could say that there was a 'ban' on the deaths of their particular characters.

    We know that all the big comic books properties (ie Spider-man, Batman, etc etc) are never going to die (and if they do, immediately returned back to life), and you know what? you could say that there was a 'ban' on the deaths of this particular subset of characters (the a-list subset).

    Having this 'ban' does not make the stories the writers wrote bad, or unreal. If they were, we wouldn't have legions of fans supporting this character or a lot of critics raving about them.

    But by your logic of "And that is treating female characters as inferior. Well, rather, its treating the fans of female characters as delicate people who need to be coddled and fed only "Safe" stories.", it makes these characters inferior. Captian Kirk is inferior? I think there are people who are going to have a problem with that statement.

    You very well know that that 'defense of death' has been used and abused by a lot of creators over the years to the point that its become shorthand for 'suspense'. It's a lazy shortcut. It's unnecessary. It doesn't make for good stories. It's used by Mark Millar for shock value.

    The Death for Superman was (at least IMO) a pretty bad story. But it had death in it.

    Spider-man loves Mary Jane is a current series where nobody would probably die (it's an all-ages book after all) and yet, they have pretty good stories.

    What I'm trying to say is that it's all in the execution. Having a moratorium against the death of women in comics doesn't automatically mean that women are inferior. If even without death as a possibility, a writer still continues to push the envelope with characterization and plot development, then what's the harm?

    Now, if a writer chose to apply that moratorium by not doing anything with the characters, that's a bad thing. But notice it wasn't the moratorium's fault, it was the writer's decision.

    That's all I'm saying. Let's wait for the execution before we storm the castle.

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  31. "It must suddenly and immediately become as overtly present a threat in the lives of male superheroes as it is for female superheroes. If both Green Lantern and Black Canary are captured by a group of supervillains, and the writer chooses to have the villains leer and make sexualized threats -- they would be levied at both characters, not just Dinah."

    How prevalent is rape of men compared to rape of women? I can see some villains (male and female) wanting to sexually assault male heroes, but quite a lot more being likely to want to sexually assault female heroes.

    By all means throw in some sexual abuse of male characters, but I'd rather see more reality reflected in fiction than quotas.

    Unless there's a 50/50 split of men being raped and I'm just not hearing about it...

    "We know that all the big comic books properties (ie Spider-man, Batman, etc etc) are never going to die (and if they do, immediately returned back to life), and you know what? you could say that there was a 'ban' on the deaths of this particular subset of characters (the a-list subset). Having this 'ban' does not make the stories the writers wrote bad, or unreal."

    I'd say it does. It makes it harder for me to treat the universe involved as a mature one when the writer doesn't get to call the shots. They don't need to exercise the choice, but do need the choice.

    Again, personal preference.

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  32. It's not like comics really reflect the reality anyway.

    Statistics indicate that one in four women in the US will be sexually assaulted, one in ten men. This is going off of reported incidents, and there are many reasons to believe the stats might be higher. (Men in particular are not as likely to report rape as women because of the negative stigma attached.)

    However, if you look at comics, the stats become closer to three in four women and one in thirty men.

    So it's not really representing the average.

    Considering that rape is about power, not sex, it's not surprising that it would occur among otherwise straight men as a tool for hierarchy. (Like prison rapes, or those among animal packs like wolves or primates)

    Also, I've heard that rape is not uncommonly used as a device for interrogation and torture of prisoners of either sex during war.

    Child sexual abuse also, though primarily only in the backstory of female heroes in comics, tends to know no gender in reality.

    I'm not saying that I think Batman, as an example, should be raped. But Batman works on the basis of inciting fear. And fear is a primary motivation to try to assert dominance. To prove yourself through the control of another person. Rape is a means of doing so, and thus, it wouldn't necessarily be out of place, in certain circumstances, for the threat to exist.

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  33. Sam -- If the problem is that all death is a cheap trick, why limit this rule by gender?

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  34. Ragnell,

    is it limited by gender? we already have the example of the same moratorium being imposed on major characters.

    If it were up to me, I'd limit it by gender precisely because of the disproportionate number of killings these past few years. I don't think anyone is going to deny the fact that there have been way too many women deaths relative to men deaths, and I doubt you'd disagree with that.

    in any case, what exactly is so wrong with that? Does limiting it by gender(or any other classification) really make a statement concerning feminism and sexism in comics? Or is that just someone reading too much into something? Can't it just simply be someone not wanting their women characters to die? How is that any different from not wanting their favorite characters to die ? Because they're women?

    We all know that if we had it in reverse, people (probably especially including you) would rail against it as well. That's what the whole 'women in refrigerators' bit is for. We saw that already pretty recently with the deaths of Black Goliath and Freedom Ring, where people went up in arms because the writers were killing minority characters. Why weren't there anyone celebrating the fact that with their deaths, their respective subplots were actually "more real and suspenseful"?

    Because it's all in the execution. Letting someone live cheaply is just as bad as killing someone off cheaply, and I think that's what you're really mad at. What I'm trying to point out is, a moratorium on women's deaths doesn't automatically equal "cheap living", so to speak.

    I just think you're getting a mad on a bit too prematurely. There's been no indication (at least, not yet) that the statement is going to lead to the marginalization of women characters in comics, so why go there?

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  35. denyer,

    then that probably means that you're a 'vertigo/independent comic' only reader, because Marvel and DC sure as hell won't be killing off their major characters, which would make reading 99% of all major mainstream superhero comics unreadable and unsatisfactory.

    not to mention, you probably don't enjoy 90% of media in the world, considering that most of it is composed of serial and/or franchised media that depends on their major characters never dying.

    I'd like to refer you to Scipio's most recent post:

    "Sundellian Axiom 10
    Suspense in comics is not attained by placing the hero in mortal danger. The reader realizes that the hero will not be injured. Suspense is attained by creating a situation in which the problem is, not whether the hero will be killed, but how he will escape in jeopardy. Or how he can escape in sufficient time, to save those vulnerable beings who are also placed in jeopardy. Or how he can escape in sufficient time to frustrate the villain's plan, which is drawing to its culmination."

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  36. Sam -- Pay attention to the actual conversation. We aren't talking about what the actual policy is. We're talking about the hypothetical policy that caused the reaction in the linked thread.

    And if you'll reread my original post, I say exactly what is wrong with limiting this by gender.

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