Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Where She-Hulk Lost Me.

I already linked an essay and added some thoughts on the direction of She-Hulk but I forgot to add something. When the Eros storyline started I got really irritated by the idea that Slott was retconning a rape into Jennifer's past.

Then, as the storyline went on, it did turn out to be a misunderstanding. That should have eased all that irritation.

It didn't, because the whole context of the storyline was that Eros was on trial for rape when the idea that she might be a victim occurred to She-Hulk. When the resolution came and it was revealed She-Hulk was a misunderstanding, so was the woman who originally filed charge.

Which means we have another fake rape accusation in the pop culture consciousness. In a culture where it already so damned hard to bring a rape to trial because so many people that women are just waiting to make an accusation at the slightest offense. Where I can get into a 45 minute argument at work with men who think that there is actually some sort of gain in going to the police to report a rape, which goes the exact opposite of every statistic and anecdote I've ever heard about it.

This doesn't make anything better. It doesn't make anything better at all.

He should've just left Starfox the fuck alone.


  1. ???

    I got the impression from the final issue of the storyline that he did mind-control the woman who accused him of rape into having sex with him, but that he had no intent to do so because Thanos had caused him brain damage such that he lost control and awareness of his powers. So while it wasn't rape because he had no reason to believe that she wasn't competent to consent, it certainly wasn't a "false rape accusation".

    But it was generally a weird and slapdash resolution to the storyline given the magnitude of the issues raised.

  2. There is only one logical explination.

    The mind-controlling bacteria is affecting everyone in Marvel now.

  3. correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you overreacting just a little bit?

    to call a false rape accusation against an obscure comic book character in an obscure comic book that sells to only a few thousand people in a planet of six BILLION significant in the collective pop culture consciousness is stretching it. I seriously doubt that some poor woman who was raped somewhere in the world will choose not to report a rape because of what happened Eros and She-hulk. I also seriously doubt that people are not going to believe a rape accusation because of the aforementioned reason. Lastly, I really doubt that this incident will validate enough people's opinions regarding women to the point that things actually change (or remain the same, depending on who you are).

    This is, at best, a blip in the radar of the pop culture consciousness. To say otherwise is, IMHO, sensationalism.

    This doesn't make anything better because it doesn't do anything at all aside from telling a story (good or bad, it's up to you).

    Just to clarify, I'm not saying that it's not a bad thing, it is. But in the relative hierarchy of bad things, this shouldn't receive this much of an outrage.

    Certainly not to the point that it affects the pop culture consciousness.

  4. I gotta disagree, David--mainly because the "pop culture consciousness" is more a constellation of work and resulting commentary. Not to mention that it is a matter of degree: She-Hulk sells tens of thousands of copies a month. Is that as much as the New Yorker? No, but it means that the idea (or the creeping danger of the "false rape" scenario) gets that many more eyeballs.

    Your "what does it matter, it's just comics" stutter is something that both Ragnell and Karen Healey have discussed, and dismantled, at length. It matters not only because the ideas are reached a wide audience, but because this is a medium we care deeply for, characters we have spent years with, and issues that effect our lives.

    And make no mistake, a single work of art can be extraordinarily influential. The old saw trotted out about the Velvet Underground (and, to a lesser extent, Big Star) was always "not that many people bought their records. But everyone that did started a band."

  5. That's pretty much where the series lost me too, and though I mildly enjoyed the next few issues after that, it lost momentum for me and I passed by the most recent couple issues without really missing 'em in my life: a title drop more from ennui or boredom than actual conscious pruning the title from my list.

    I've said it before, I'll say it again: I don't object to the concept of superhero comics addressing the subject of rape or sexual assault. But tacking such an obvious fantasy element onto it made it harder to approach, and in the end minimized the theme to just another mind-control switcharoo story.

    (In addition, I very much disagreed with the story's portrayal of Captain America in a cameo appearance, but that's mere fanbull entitlement, and I can't do nuthin' but shrug my shoulders, 'coz there's been a heapin' shovelful of even worse portrayals of Steve Rogers since then...one last week, as a matter of fact.)

    I am also very disturbed by the exceptionally large number of Google referrals I get to my blog by people searching for the words she-hulk rape. I think it's very highly likely that they are not specifically looking for discussion of that storyline but for something very different indeed.

  6. By way of the correction requested:

    That Slott wrote this scenario into an issue of She-Hulk is not what puts the "false" accusation idea into pop culture consciousness (nor does that particularly resemble what Ragnell in fact said). Rather, that it was already in the pop culture consciousness has allowed it to be again reproduced in this work of popular fiction without the writer really thinking about it, or its implications, all that much.

    This is, of course, somewhere off to the side of another pertinent question, that of where anyone gets off making suggestions to a woman about what the appropriate level of outrage ought to be when a cultural artifact thoughtlessly replicates an idea that is quite harmful to women, and that remains prevalent enough in the culture without being bolstered.

  7. Regardless of how it was handled, Slott poisoned his light confection with a rape storyline. Even if he handled it with intellegence, insight, and tact, it didn't belong there.

  8. captain qwert jr.
    I don't know if you've read the two volumes of my SHE-HULK book, but I think it's an unfair characterization to call it a "light confection."

    Vol. 1 #2 had a key scene where a character contemplated suicide.
    Vol. 1 #3 featured a grisly murder.
    Vol. 1 #10 was very short on any kind of gags-- focusing instead on the near Dickensian child of Titania-- and her lifetime of disappointment.
    Vol. 2 has spent a lot of time focusing on Malory Book's physical rehabilitation of a near crippling attack.
    Vol. 2 #3 has the LEAD character contemplating something tantamount to suicide.
    Vol. 2 #4 has Jen revisited a town that she destroyed as She-Hulk, and wondering if there can ever be any redemption for herself.

    Before we even reached issue Vol.2 #6 we've taken quite a number of darker turns. I like to think that this is a book that could go anywhere and examine any subject.

  9. ragnell,
    First you were mad when you thought I retconned a rape into She-Hulk's past.
    And now that you see I haven't you're even madder.

    Just to clarify, while there may have been a misunderstanding with She-Hulk's past-- there is NO simple misunderstanding with the initial victim from issue #6.

    She slept with Starfox against her will. The fact that this was something that happened while Eros' judgement was impared--impared by something Thanos did-- does NOT undo the act itself.
    A horrible crime was committed. And Eros WILL have to answer for this. At the end of #13, Eros' father orders him to "seek the forgiveness of his victims and then... and only then will his good name be restored." There is still an important path this character has to take.

    This is NOT a case of a simple "misunderstanding".
    It's not a FAKE rape allegation. And there will eventually be a measure of justice.

    I think leaving Starfox "the fuck alone" would've been more irresponsible. He had a horrible set of super-powers-- a history of womanizing with every female he could get his hands on. I'm content with the story-- a story that shown a modern light on this character and how he can be perceived, but ALSO with all of the discussion that these issues caused-- including the insightful takes on your blog.

  10. I just don't see how, even if this storyline was a misstep, it was bad enough to poison the entire title. Is there no margin for error when it comes to this kind of thing?

  11. Been trying to post with my nethandle but no luck so far, so I have to do this as anonymous.

    Why does She-Hulk have to be "fluff" and "lighthearted" to be enjoyed? Is the character only capable of non serious stories? Is she worthy only of being in ASSISTANT EDITORS months issues? I think it is a grave disrespect to pigeonhole the character into that "retro and fun" peg, because...that's not what She-Hulk is only about. She is worthy of serious comic character studies like Captain America, Spidey, Storm, you name it.

    As for Starfox, sorry. That story was years in the making. When I got back into comics a few years back and read on Starfox, I thought, "This guy is is a ticking timebomb". When Slott wrote that story, it was like, "It took THIS long for this story to be told?!?" I don't feel a lick of sympathy for the character, as for me, he was rotten to the core to begin with.

    I Co-Mod the Ms. Marvel Messageboard, a character that is NO stranger to being part of one of the disrespectful stories that Marvel has ever published: Avengers #200. All Slott did was build on what was already there with Starfox to begin with, and while I'm not all that enthused about one of my favorite characters being the victim of a sexual assault, what AVENGERS ANNUAL #10 have taught me in Carol Danver's case is that there is healing, that the character does NOT need to be tarred for all time as a helpless victim.

  12. Mr. Slott, I appreciate you stopping by to explain.

    You did get the first part right. I was irritated about the retcon because it seems to have been a retcon that's happened to every female character I follow. I ranted about it, and several people linked some of your CBR posts and said that it wouldn't be a big problem, that you were complaining that no one else gave a rape storyline the seriousness it deserved.

    So, rather than be relieved that the retcon didn't actually happen, I was bothered even more because I'd been led to expect more of you. When you wrote the Starfox storyline, you ended the storyline on the note that here was a noble hero who was victimized by an accusation of rape, which is just as cliched and disrespectful a storyline as the woman who has a rape in her past to draw strength from.

    You put a story I hated on the surface of a story I hated even more.

    That was the point where I started to lose interest in She-Hulk. I'm sure you're a lovely well-meaning person, but your story rubbed me the wrong way and I haven't been able to rekindle my interest in your series.

  13. ragnell,
    I think we're just going to have to disagree.
    When it comes to the question of whether She-Hulk was raped by Starfox-- that was NEVER spelled out in the first part of the story. It hung as an unanswered question-- a horrible doubt. It's not until the final chapter that that question is answered. And the answer is "no".
    As to Starfox's actions in the present-- he is HARDLY a "noble" character. He does some pretty awful things-- and though they were done in an altered state-- they are still actions that he is going to have to bare the shame of-- actions that he will have to seek redemption from.
    Please show me how Starfox is portrayed as "noble" in this storyline.

  14. Starfox has always been a rather creepy character. He's a character from a different time, when the use of his powers to seduce women was played off as a joke, and it's only really the peculiar comic book mentality that insists nothing gets thrown away that has kept him alive.

    I admire Mr. Slott for trying to do something with the concept, but I think he failed with the execution. I think because he was trying to please everyone (those who wanted to see Starfox get his comeuppance as well as those who wanted him revitalized) he ended up pleasing no one.

    Actually, I agree with you, Ragnell. Starfox should have been left alone in limbo, and Marvel should have quietly tried to erase all traces that he ever existed.

  15. Actually, the more I think about it, the worse it gets.

    On the one hand, Starfox was a member of the Avengers. OK, so they've been acting like complete dicks for the past year. But I doubt they'd associate with a rapist.

    On the other hand, the accusation of rape is pretty consistent with how his behaviour in comics in the past and when it happened in the She-Hulk comic it didn't surprise me. He is a deeply, deeply creepy character on so many levels. He was a product of more sexist times, and the idea of him being brought back fills me with unease.

    There isn't really a way you can reconcile the two. Dan Slott- hi Dan!- is a brave man for trying. But I still think he (or you. Argh, which pronouns should I be using?) would be better off having left well enough alone.

    There was no way this story was going to be published without being offensive to someone. And I think it's a real shame that it turned out like this, though.

  16. richard,
    I hear what you're saying. But the moment you STOP taking risks and START double-thinking which stories you should or shouldn't tell, is the moment a writer becomes a hack.

    Whether this story succeeded or failed, I'm glad I took the risk in telling it.

    I've received numerous e-mails and PMs from female readers about this story-- and while some have said that the subject matter was risky and, to some, uncomfortable, everyone who took the time to write told me that I handled the subject matter respectfully-- and ESPECIALLY when compared to how other male comic book writers have handled the subject matter in their books.

  17. I think we're just going to have to disagree.


    Thank you for coming to discuss it with us, though.

  18. I have to admit, while I really enjoy the series in general, I thought the Eros storyline really fell flat.

    His powers are creepy and it's an interesting idea to explore that. But I found the execution of the story lacking.

    Honestly, I thought Starfox was the wrong character to use for this. His powers ARE creepy, but the entire storyline basically felt like it required a complete retcon of all of the previous issues with the character. Is he evil here? Is he out of control? When exactly is the turning point?

    But Eros isn't a character that's really plausible as a villain, so it becomes a matter of "it's not his fault, he was messed with". So it requires two turn-arounds in perspective. "Wait! He was a rapist, all along?!" "Wait! It wasn't his fault?!" By the end, my head was spinning trying to make sense of it.

    I think if the story didn't seem so...segmented, if that makes sense, I might have been able to follow it. But so much happened in between "Did Eros really...?!" and the Thanos revelations that were unrelated to the plot, that I was thrown. I was just getting used to the idea that he was a villain, now he's a victim... I guess I just lost my equilibrium.

    I do have to ask one thing though...what did it accomplish? Eros's powers are creepy. But, he's been using them all along. Presumably before Thanos messed with him, even. Thanos gives Eros a pass for what happened after, but that doesn't change the fact that before then, we still have a heroic character using a creepy, dubiously ethical power pretty casually. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the end of the story, but honestly what purpose did the story serve in the long run? It didn't seem to change anything

    I'm sure the story's not over, but honestly, I'm having trouble seeing how a new segment will make this less confusing to me.

  19. kalinara,
    I think I can address some of your concerns if you look at the way I structured the Eros stories:

    Part 1
    Eros is accused of using hiis powers to violate women. She-Hulk, his fellow Avenger, decides to defend him in court. She's treating this as a law case that she's trying to win.

    Part 2
    While trying to get character witnesses to help Eros' case, She-Hulk revisits a moment in the past when SHE had a romantic encounter with Eros.
    Later, during the court case, she notices similarities to what happened to the woman Eros has been accused of violating and HER previous experience with Eros. This problem that she's distanced herself from as a lawyer is suddenly one that strikes her to the core on the most personal level. Did Eros use his powers on her in the past? Is he using them on her right now?!
    She goes after him as She-Hulk, takes him down, but before she can be sure that justice will be done-- Eros is taken away by his powerful father (similar to the way a son of a powerful family might be taken out of the country...

    Parts 3 and 4
    The fallout from Parts 1 & 2 continue to affect She-Hulk and both her life and the lives of her friends immeasurably. (Basically, making She-Hulk's reasons for mistrusting Eros grow and grow).
    Due to Civil War, this section of the story expanded out to four issues. Originally, this arc probably would've been only 6 issues long instead of 8. While this contributed to a bit of a lag-- I can't complain because the Civil War issues brought in so many new readers to the book...

    Part 5
    She-Hulk travels to where Eros has been absconded to. To her disgust she discovers that Eros is being tried for his crimes in what she believes to be a "kangaroo court". However, even the standards of Eros' people, it appears that he IS guilty. He DID violate those women-- and women around the galaxy. His own people now think he's scum.
    And with his favor at an all-time low, one last witness appears to testify on Eros' behalf... his brother, the Evil Lord Thanos.
    (And, not being a dolt, She-Hulk finds this incredibly convenient...)

    Part 6
    Through Thanos' testimony it's discovered that Eros is ALSO responsible for all of Thanos' crimes.
    It's all too convienent for She-Hulk and she wants to re-examine Thanos testimony.
    When she does this, she discovers the truth: That Thanos VIOLATED Eros' mind, implanting ONE false memory (the one that exhonerated Thanos of his past crimes). But the process of that procedure damaged the part of Eros' brain that controls his powers. Everything he's been doing in the recent past has been beyond his control. Did he still do what he was accused of? Yes. Will he have to pay for it? Yes. He is ordered by his father to travel the galaxy and seek the forgiveness of those he has wronged.

    ALSO-- and this is an IMPORTANT part of the story-- Having had his OWN mind violated, Eros vows to NEVER use his powers again! At this point he asks Moondragon to psychically nueter him.

    MOONDRAGON: I'm sorry, Eros, but it appears Thanos's device caused irreparable brain damage.
    MOONDRAGON: This is why your powers have been beyond your control. Now if you wish...
    MOONDRAGON: ...I can shut them off telepathically. But I must warn you, this procedure is irreversible.
    STARFOX: Heather, after having MY mind tampered with in such a CAVALIER fashion...
    STARFOX: ...I could NEVER dream of using those powers again.
    STARFOX: I shall be GLAD to be rid of them!

    This is why the story got told. Eros's powers were creepy and immoral. You can see from many posts both here and on other boards, despite your personal interpretation of his past adventures, other posters agreed on this point.

    After a suitable time, if someone brings Eros back and has his him go back to his old ways (but WITHOUT his powers), he can be the same Eros fans like-- but getting by on his NATURAL charm-- without even the HINT or POSSIBILITY of using his creepy, creepy powers.

  20. You know, I never thought of Starfox's powers being weird--and certainly not "creepy and immoral," because they aren't, inherently. Inherently, they're great--a "feel good" power is probably one of the nicest ever.

    Being able to "stimulate the pleasure centers" of someone's mind didn't seem creepy to me when I first encountered Starfox lo, these 23 years ago (when he joined the Avengers), nor did it even seem particularly sexual (I suppose I was a bit "pre-sex," being 8). Back in those halcyon days, I can't quite recall Starfox using it on women--but I remember him often using it on guys. The implications were likely lost on me.

    I suppose I just thought of it as it was described--a "feel good" power. Which doesn't have the taint of anything bad about it at all. So then it never felt "natural" or "obvious" to me to tell a story that had nothing to do with what I thought the character was about.

    That being noted, there's still a difficult "false rape" problem that is directly analogous to modern issues. We are told that a) a woman is incapacitated in some way by a man (whether Eros power, Rophynol, alcohol, or GHB); b) the person created the sense-altering state then violates her (there is no "will," legally speaking, as she is incapacitated and thus unable to give or retract consent); c) upon leaving the senses-altering state, she comprehends she has been attacked.

    Normally our story ends there—or, ideally (if terribly rare), with a prosecution and conviction. Yet here there is a twist: the man was not in control of his faculties! He was “drugged” himself, and thus did not intend to do this thing! Yes, indeed, he will even submit honorably to a type of castration—for surely the loss of something Starfox has had his whole life is a type of castration—and then he will wander space, attempting to atone for his awful crime.

    Thus we see how Starfox the “Creepy, Immoral” Rapist is turned into Starfox, the Tragic Hero with an Amoral Past (For Which He Is Not Wholly Culpable!). By relieving Starfox of guilt because Thanos—the most evil guy in the universe!—tinkered with his mind, the trauma and wrongness of the rape goes away.

    And I say, baloney. If he was going to be a bad guy, Mr. Slott, retcon him (and it IS a retcon) into a bad guy. Don’t water it down and then just use rape victims as props in a larger story about Eros’ struggled with Thanos. In real life, Starfox’s sentence could likely be mitigated by demonstrating evidence that he himself had been abused in some fashion, and certainly Thanos’ behavior constitutes abuse. But it does not take away the heft of the original crime, which Eros’ falling on his sword in the above dialogue seems to attempt.

  21. "Eros's powers were creepy and immoral."

    Maybe you should have taken that up with Jim Starlin, Mr. Slott.

  22. Actually, I believe it was Roger Stern that first gave Eros his "pleasure powers"-- and had him hide those powers from his fellow Avengers. Hmm? Hiding the fact that you can stimulate someone's pleasure centers BECAUSE you're afraid of what your teammates might think? Nah, there's NOTHING creepy about THAT!

    After seeing Captain America lecture Spider-Man about how heroes shouldn't hide their super-powers from their teammates, Eros thinks this...

    EROS (thought balloon): This could present a bit of a problem.
    EROS (t): I've yet to face a situation with the Avengers in which my own "special ability" would have been useful, so I never mentioned it. I suddenly realize that they're not even aware of it.
    EROS (t): What would their reaction be, if I were to reveal my other power at this late date? Given its nature, should I reveal it at all?

    In a word: CREEPY!

  23. Then don't punish the readers for that, punish Stern.

  24. "Punish the readers"? Are you serious?

    Look, what I've just posted here is showing that I've properly used continuity.

    AVENGERS #237 happened. Roger Stern wrote it that way. It saw print. That means it's canon.

    There are way too many readers out there that want continuity to mean "only the books I've read."

    And that's just not possible. There are hundreds of thousands of comic book readers-- there CANNOT be hundreds of thousands of continuities. Fans can't complain one week that "Writer X isn't sticking to continuity!" and then turn around and complain that "Writer Y isn't sticking to the continuity that I LIKE."

    "Punish the readers?"

    In the case of Eros, if you're an Eros fan-- in the long run you should be HAPPY that someone told this story. Because it has STRIPPED him of that creepy, creepy, creepy power.

    In the future, when enough time's past, you'll still be able to have Eros acting the SAME way he's always acted-- except getting by on his NATURAL charm (instead of the psychic version of a date rape drug).

  25. Huh, I had a fairly lengthy response that Haloscan refuses to print for some reason, so if Mr. Slott wants to continue this conversation, he can e-mail me at DanCSM99@aol.com, and I'll elaborate on what I mean.

    I think the problem is that, perhaps the story could have been done without implying heavily that She-Hulk herself was date-raped by Starfox. In the wake of books like Identity Crisis and Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, which treated rape far more cavailierly and offensively than Slott did, yet sold twice as many copies, I think it just...hurt... to see She-Hulk added To the List. And to see it done in the name of fixing a 20 plus year old continuity point like that...

  26. No. The story couldn't have been done without She-Hulk's doubts and concerns over how Eros might have treated her in the past. That's the heart of the story.

    When you have a story like PRESUMED INNOCENT or JAGGED EDGE, you have to worry/wonder if the defendant is guilty.

    And, yes, this book WAS done in the wake of IDENTITY CRISIS and SPIDER-MAN/BLACK CAT-- as a response to those books and how they treated the subject matter. The fact that you are drawing a DISTINCTION between "BEAUS & EROS" and those stories-- labeling them as cavalier and offensive-- shows that we were doing something right.

    As for how much a heavily hyped project sold-- written by a star novelist, star film-maker, and drawn by some of the top talent in the industry? I could care less. If I was interested in sales, I wouldn't be working in comics.

    And it was not done solely for the sake of "fixing a 20 plus year old continuity point". It's a story, in the wake of crass rape stories, that I wanted to tell.

    And Starfox's ability was not some obscure 20 year old continuity problem. It was canon. It was part of the character. How many times have you seen a Starfox scene where he's introduced by having a dozen space-vixens draped around him and fondling him? The second you give him "pleasure powers", those scenes become patently offensive. And you could still catch a scene or two like that from Starfox's most current, modern day appearances.

    Again, if anything, this story FIXES that. And that's a good thing.

  27. Okay, whoa. I remember that Starfox scene now; I'd forgotten the concealment of the power, and I think you're right about Roger Stern writing in that point (or foreshadowing, as some have asserted). I'm going to have to hit the longboxes tonite and brush up.

  28. Mr. Slott, thank you for the explanation. I'm probably never going to be a fan of that particular story, but it does make more sense to me broken down. :-)

  29. Is anyone taking bets on how many "creepy"s Mr. Slott will stop at? Put me down for seven.

    - Z

  30. Chris Sims at the Invincible Super Blog has called Starfox the "Creepiest" Avenger, and I tend to agree with that appelation. Starfox is indeed the Creepiest Avenger, right up there with Moondragon on my list of characters who had no right ever being Avengers.

  31. Mr. Slott, I can tell that your heart was in the right place when you wrote that arc. I will have to finish reading it before I can judge if your head was. By the way, "The 4th Parallel" rocks so far.

    Ragnell, I can understand your concern regarding fictionalized false rape accusations, but I suspect Dick Wolf and his Law & Order franchise, particularly SVU, are a worthier target of your ire.

  32. "I think we're just going to have to disagree."

    I'm sure your heart is in the right place but that ain't quite good enough. As a writer it is behoven to you to take on board when your readers are not getting the story you are writing. If they end up with a different interpretation from the one you set out to give them, then there is a problem somewhere along the way and it's your job to find some way of correcting the problem in future work.

    I'm not going to comment on the story under discussion because I haven't read it. I've enjoyed past issues of She-Hulk, but the thought of the story I'm reading getting constantly interrupted by some big event I have no interest in puts me off.

  33. "As a writer it is behoven to you to take on board when your readers are not getting the story you are writing. If they end up with a different interpretation from the one you set out to give them, then there is a problem somewhere along the way and it's your job to find some way of correcting the problem in future work."

    No. That's not my job at all. Over 26,000 copies of this comic were purchase. That's over 26,000 readers having over 26,000 interpretations. Everyone approaches a story they read with their own expectations, point of view, baggage, bias, skew, whatever. Everyone is going to see something different-- like a Rorschach test. It's not my job to knock on all of their doors and make sure they understand my intent.

    Seriously. After my sister saw FIELD OF DREAMS, she was convinced it had hidden Christian/Right Wing messages running through it. And I think she's completely wrong. And I've never met ANYONE who's agreed with her. But if you bring it up, she says, "Oh that Christian movie."
    Do I think it's FIELD OF DREAM's screenwriter, Phil Alden Robinson's job to get in touch with my sister and explain that? No. Do I think it's his job to take out ANY possible images or dialogue in his other works that might lead someone like my sister to POSSIBLY believe that again? No.

    So just like myself and Ragnell, I think we too are "just going to have to disagree."

    Though I do like the fact that you used the word "behoven". You don't see that a lot. :) I think I'll try to use it in a sentence today. Could be fun.

  34. Actually, if SVU is to be condemned for anything, it's the subtle contempt for civil and privacy rights the show's had since its conception, enough to turn one small l Libertarian.

    Mr. Slott: as in, "It would behoove you to register as a super-powered being?"

  35. I don't know if I agree that SVU is anti-privacy rights. It's just that one of the sources for conflict and tension with police officers is the application of such rights. The laws governing privacy rights certainly aren't perfect for anyone, and I think the Law and Order series do a decent job of addressing that fact.

    But to the Starfox story, I'll admit that I haven't read it yet (I'm one of the terrible people who only buys She-Hulk in trades). But from the discussion here, it seems like Mr. Slott is taking the complex issue of rape, compounding it with issues in comic books that make it more complex, and trying to tell a complex story about it.

    Starfox, it seems, is a victim of Thanos's psychic 'rape.' He inadvertently uses his powers to 'drug' a woman and has sex with her. Where does the blame lie? Does it lie with Thanos for initially violating Starfox? Then what about the rapists who were violated as children? Are their violators at fault for giving them the propensity to commit rape in the future? Is Starfox at fault? Is "I didn't know she couldn't consent" an excuse? I knew a guy who was (probably falsely) accused of rape, after a night when neither he nor the girl he was with could have been sober enough to consent, and where neither party was entirely sure that sex had occurred. But even if it had, who was at fault? Is the male automatically a rapist for sleeping with someone too drunk to consent, when he himself was too drunk to consent?

    It's a difficult issue, one that is not only excessively complicated in real life, but is further complicated in comics by things like psychic rape and unintentional superpowered drugging. Trying to tell a story that adequately addresses all the complexities of these issues, while being interrupted by editorial mandates and major crossover events, would be near-impossible.

    So, I can't say from personal experience whether Mr. Slott succeeded or failed in that attempt. I've not really known Ragnell to overreact to this sort of thing (despite some other bloggers' opinions of this site), but I've also not known Mr. Slott to do bad comics and tell unnecessarily simplistic stories. It doesn't look to me, just reading the comments here, that there was a "false" rape accusation, but a recognition of the fact that in real life, the definition of "rape" and the culpability involved are not clear-cut quantities.

    I think ultimately what Mr. Slott saw as the problem in the past rape stories of comics (failure to recognize the gray areas that arise in matters of fault and consent), and what Ragnell sees as the problem in rape stories in comics (that they are too frequent, demeaning, almost universally have the positive outcome of strengthening the victim's resolve and giving them a reason to keep fighting, and perpetuate this stereotype of the woman-as-victim, etc.) are not necessarily antithetical, but are certainly not in-line with one another.

    Please, if I've misrepresented the reactions of either party, let me know, but what I see is Mr. Slott addressing one problem, and Ragnell seeing it as a failure to address a different problem. I don't think either party is right or wrong, I just think that they each have a different focus.

  36. After having it broken down like that, and hearing the different sides of it, it makes a lot more sense.

    And I really can admire Mr. Slott for taking a risk like that.

    Although I don't quite understand his reasoning for why She-Hulk had to wonder whether she'd been raped in the past. Surely she could have been doubtful of his innocence/guilt without that?

    Because one of the main objections that people seem to have is that another strong female lead character has an apparent rape retconned into her backstory. That seems to be the crux of the problem (added to the story that most people didn't like anyway).

    Mightn't She-Hulk have been motivated by compassion for the women involved, and by desire to see justice done, that she would have acted in the way she did without believing that she'd been another victim?

    I don't know- I'm just throwing out ideas here. I think the rape lists are long enough without adding to them.

    I can see both sides of the argument. And I think part of the problem is that the story has needed clarifying in this way before I could see Mr. Slott's intentions.

  37. A rape was NOT retconned into She-Hulk's past.
    She-Hulk flashes back to a sexual encounter that she DID have with Starfox in the past (AVENGERS #213-- we used the actual dialogue from that scene)...

    ...and she wonders if Starfox used his powers on her back then.

    The question is raised in SHE-HULK vol. 2 #7. It's left in doubt until SHE-HULK vol. 2 #13. And the answer to that question ends up being "no."

    So if you read the story you'll see that a rape was NOT retconned into She-Hulk's past.

  38. Wait a minute. What exactly is Starfox supposed to be guilty of? Stuff that happened before Thanos' brain-tampering or stuff after? Because if he's not consciously using his powers, and has no reason to think or suspect the woman doesn't want to have sex with him, how can he be guilty of rape?

    As Slott describes it, this isn't even like someone drugging a woman or getting her drunk and a different guy having sex with her without knowing that, where you can argue that the guy should have noticed the woman's condition and recognized she couldn't meaningfully consent. This is like someone kidnapping a woman's family and telling her to have sex with a uninvolved and unknowing guy or her family will be killed. How could that guy be guilty of rape, when he has absolutely no way or reason to know or even suspect the woman isn't freely consenting to sex?

    This seems like yet another example of why creators need to...STOP TRYING TO FIX SHIT THAT HAPPENED 20 YEARS AGO WHEN COMICS WERE WRITTEN AND SOLD TO CHILDREN!


  39. Hi,

    Can you clarify for me that third sentence in your fourth paragraph? Because it reads as if you're saying that when you argue with your male coworkers about rape, you argue that women shouldn't report it because there's no gain.

    Am I reading that correctly?


  40. Rande, she's saying that there is no gain in falsely reporting a rape to the police, i.e. unjustly accusing someone of rape. That's how I read it, at least.

  41. Oh wait! What you mean is that the men at your work argue that women must only be reporting (false) rape in order to gain something, and you in turn snap back "What on earth would someone have to gain from such an action?"


  42. Perhaps the problem is that there's a retconning/reinterpretation period?

    Then again, Slott is doing this in response to something like Identity Crisis, where the rape was really used to "take back the Silver Age" (Meltzer's words) to show that all those silly stories only happened because off panel the villains were really violent and dark and therefore all those silly stories were justified because...

    ...wait, this is a New York Times bestselling author doing this. How hard up for validation does he have to be to create a story like this? Someone PLEASE tell him Come in Alone isn't about HIM.

    When Smith does it in The Evil That Men Do, it's at the expense of everything we've been told about the Black Cat's origins up to that point. There's not even a token "I remember my father was a thief"- ALL her motivations from the time she became a thief till the time she met Spider-Man flow from not only the rape, but being robbed of her revenge (Memo to Kevin Smith: Get into couples therapy, you prick. Love, Coyle). At the end of the series, she tells Peter Parker she's the first man she ever felt comfortable around. So all of that was done just to build up what a great guy Peter Parker is? I tend to think so.

    Okay, so Slott may have been unfairly seen as jumping on a bandwagon. Which he wasn't, because he's a better comics writer than either of these men (and, having met Smith and Slott, a nicer guy than Silent Bob. But I still didn't like it Mr. Slott, and I wish I had a better answer for why.

  43. I think I answered this somewhere else in this thread, but anyway...

    MBunge said, "This seems like yet another example of why creators need to...STOP TRYING TO FIX SHIT THAT HAPPENED 20 YEARS AGO WHEN COMICS WERE WRITTEN AND SOLD TO CHILDREN!"

    The fact is, Starfox is a character with a power to activate the pleasure centers of a person's brain. He's also a womanizer. That's NOT a good combination. If it was an OBSCURE plot point from 20 years ago that had never been brought again-- I'd have to agree with your ALL CAPS TIRADE.

    But the fact remains, this is who the character IS, and this is how the character has continued to function DURING that 20 years all the way UP TO today. More often than not when this character IS used, his establishing shot is usually him surrounded by fawning female characters.

  44. To Mr. Slott,

    1. Has there ever been an explicit statement in a comic about Starfox using his pleasure power to get women to have sex with him? And no, being surrounded by fawning female characters is not such a statement. I've never seen such a statement or even an implicit reference that he uses his power to manipulate women in that fashion. Being surrounded by fawning females may simply be because he gets their consent the old fashioned way and then uses his power to "boost" the experience. In the infamous Ms. Marvel situation, there was a specific reference in the story to Carol Danvers' decision-making being influenced by Immortus' machines. Is there anything even remotely like that for Starfox?

    2. How many frickin' times has the character of Starfox actually appeared in the last 20 years? It's not like he's some major character who needs to be "fixed" to maintain his value or viability.

    3. Your "fix" has actually broken the character. You made the character a serial date-rapist, albeit unknowingly (but I'm still not clear on his pre-Thanos mind-tampering behavior), and what the hell is anyone supposed to do with him now? Like JMS with Gwen, you've laid a big steaming dump on Starfox and made it impossible for any future creator use the character the way he was in the past if they want to abide by continuity, unless your story is retconned out of existence.

    Starfox's pleasure power, like Spider-Man's lack of a visible penis when he's wearing skin-tight spandex, is just one of those things you really shouldn't think that hard about. Or is the next issue of She-Hulk going to be about Peter Parker suing the guy who botched his circumcision?

    Super-hero comics were created for and, really up until the last decade, were written and sold to an audience made up largely if not mostly of children. Taking those characters and circumstances and telling "adult" stories for an adult audience is a whole 'nother discussion. But if creators are going to do that, they need to recognize the vast chasm that separates the comics they're doing now from the comics of the past...AND STOP TRYING TO FIX SHIT THAT DOESN'T FIT TODAY'S "ADULT" SENSIBILITIES.


  45. Can't speak for anyone else, but when I started re-reading Stern's AVENGERS run and ran into Starfox, the first thing I thought was that he was a ticking timebomb with his "pleasure powers". I thought that about Xavier (confirmed by writers like Brubaker and Whedon) and obviously Moondragon,from Shooter's AVENGERS run. Character like those are my least favorite, because no matter how many decent stories one can tell without having them abuse their powers, it's always there, lurking in the background. In the case of Moondragon and Xavier, it's not that much of a surprise. Ditto for Starfox.

    If Starfox did not have the "pleasure powers", he'd just be your run of the mill Eternal/Titan that just happens to be the brother of Thanos, with funky a Wolverine/Beast hairdo. That's how he was portrayed in Starlin's DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, no mention of "pleasure" in that tome.

    As for the old saw of "broken beyond repair", that's the biggest cop out in comics. There are pages and pages of characters who have been "damaged beyond repair" who still have stories written about them; just take your pick. I didn't have the reaction like some did to the so called "desecration" of Gwen Stacy. It was kind of pointless, but nothing that cannot be worked with. Same with Bucky; now that he is the Winter Soldier, the whole comic sidekick aspect of being Captain America's goofball kid sidekick during one of the bloodiest war's in history is effectively over with.

    As for Starfox, he has a lot to answer for. Whether or not we'll ever see that dealt with, be it in the pages of SHE-HULK or another book, is another tale to be told.

  46. Actually, anonymous 1,

    When has She-Hulk ever been marketed to children? Have you looked at those covers, for God's sake? Do me a favour and stop using the whiny 'Comics are for children' excuse whenever a creator does something you don't agree with. It's not helping anyone.

    I commend Dan Slott's bravery for trying to tell the story. My disagreement comes with the actual execution of that story (but hey, that's my opinion), and also I didn't like even the implication that another strong female comics character had been raped.

    Although I didn't like this story I won't argue that Dan Slott had no right to tell it. Comics have been marketed towards a mostly adult audience for a while now. He's shown that he can usually handle adult themes with a great deal of skill.

    And Starfox was always a goofy character who was then loaded with a creepy gimmick. Dan Slott hasn't ruined the character. He just pointed out what was already there.

  47. I just have to say that the rape story-line was my jumping-off point for this series, which was a shame because it was one of my favorite books every month.

    But I'd had enough rape story-lines in comics at that point and it really disappointed me to see even She Hulk being involved in one.

    Plus I used to really like Starfox. Seeing him cast as a rapist just seemed unnecessary and crass.