Wednesday, 26 March 2014

How to Become a Female Superhero

I picked up a couple of comics at the recent London Super Comic Con, put out by zenescope - Robyn Hood volumes one and two. This is part of their Grimm Fairy Tales series. I enjoyed the story, but there was something about it that also made me feel uncomfortable.
I rather liked the way the heroine scoffed at the idea that she was a "fantasy land orphan" brought through a magic portal (even though she was).
And then she got into deep trouble at high school and .... seriously - did it have to be rape?

I don't have an in-depth knowledge of comic book characters, but I do know some origin stories. Batman saw his parents shot dead. Green Arrow was stranded on an island and forced to find a way to survive. Daredevil was blinded by radioactive gunk. Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider. There are all sorts of ways to become a superhero, so why are the women so often raped?
Half an hour of googling has yielded me twelve female superheroes who have been raped at some point, and four male superheroes - Batman (depending on which version of the story you read), Green Arrow, Nightwing and Swamp Thing (not sure how that one worked).
As an origin story, Red Sonja is raped and calls upon the goddess Scathach for revenge, and so gets her powers. Frank Miller's version of Catwoman was raped. So was Lady Bullseye from the Daredevil comics (by the yakuza). I understand there are more, but the names of the characters mean very little to me.

The Robin Hood parallels in this story (by Pat Shand, Joe Brusha, Raven Gregory and Ralph Tedesco) are quite fun, and Gisborne seems to be rather more than just King John's henchman, so I want to know what happens next.
I just wish they'd found some other origin story.

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