With The Dark Knight and Watchmen, the masses have become more familiar with an approach to super-hero storytelling with which those of us who read comics have been familiar for years. Darker, more mature and more violent plots and characterization has been in vogue for about a quarter century, pretty much since the publication of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen in 1986. Many have argued — justifiably — that the trend has taken things much too far.
Even Dick Giordano, notable comic artist and editor for decades, says things have grown too dark in the genre. In a recent interview with The Toronto Star, Giordano admits as much, even taking some responsibility for the trend.
Many point to the unnecessary Dr. Light/Sue Dibny rape scene in Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales’s Identity Crisis in 2004 as a prime example of the excesses of the grim-n-gritty trend. This week, as I thumbed through the pages of a recently released super-hero comic, I happened upon another such “Eww” moment.
In the plot of Project Superpowers: Chapter Two #4 (written by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger, with art by Edgar Salazar), the various heroes are forced into battle with the malevolent Captain Future, and during the melee, Masquerade zaps/phases into him, possessing his body for a few moments, only to be released by a teammate seconds later. It’s fairly typical super-hero action; no big deal. Yeah, another hero is killed a couple of pages earlier, but it’s in such an over-the-top, cartoony manner that it doesn’t come off as disturbing as it really is.
No, scripter Jim Krueger saves the really disturbing stuff for the final page. In the first panel (at right), the villain offers up an ominous threat to the woman who overcome him: “And girl, you have been inside me. When next we meet, I will return the favor.”
My first thought: “Eww.” To ensure I wasn’t reading too much into it or overreacting, I showed the sequence to my non-comics-reading spouse.
“That’s just icky,” she said.
OK, Project Superpowers creators, here’s the thing: we get it — Captain Future’s a badass. He’s eeeeevil. We kinda picked up on that when he put that fist-sized hole in one of the good guys. Hey, I got it just when he destroyed the pretty oak tree in the middle of the Pentagon (that was a weird sentence).
Threatening someone with a sex crime at that point really wasn’t necessary, was it? What’s coming in the next issue? Puppies in a wood chipper?
Actually, that’d be kinda funny. Only with fictional puppies, of course. Or some of those yappy little Pomeranians.
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