Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Rape as a Plot Device...or "Brad Meltzer is a Big Fat Liar"

I think I have earned up some negative credit....and I'm using it here.

Here are a few quotes for you...

"We thought long and hard about the issue of rape in a comic book magazine. We make it about power, not sex. We show the devastating consequences." - Brad Meltzer

"Meltzer's wife worked in Washington on the issue of violence against women, it was an issue very close to home." - The writer of the article where the above quote came from

"It's all in the execution. I think it could've been done terribly, but I hope I'll do it well. The worst thing is it's about power, it's not about sex. If I come in and just say, 'Hey, guys, this is what I want to do, I just want to sell some comic books,' then I wouldn't want me to do it. It's about the consequences." - Brad Meltzer

I'm quite sure he plotted the entire mini-series all at once, and that the rape was critical to the plot from the beginning - that it was a defining moment for the heroes who were present, and will be a crucial element going forward." - A defender of Meltzer's use of rape.

Well, Identity Crisis #7 came out today.

And guess what?

Spoilers, I suppose...but I'm not really gonna get much into the issue.

In any event, guess what?

The rape?




Not only was the rape not important to the story, it was not even MENTIONED in any issue other than #2.

What a bloody joke.

Why does a smart guy like Meltzer just lie like that? you folks think that Meltzer actually believes that he DID have consequences to the rape? Do you think that he really, honestly believes that he wasn't just using the rape as a plot device to get the heroes from Point A to Point B?

Do you think he really lacks that much self-awareness?


Blogger Mr. Rice said...

What's fan reaction to this shit?

I totally wanted to go to the websites and just post a thread that says "Ha!"

The rape was gratuitous.

The mindwipes were gratuitous.

The story made no sense.

This was shit.

12/15/2004 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I fucking love you guys, you know that?

12/15/2004 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Rice said...

Ed Cunard, everyone, of Check his blog out, too. He got me started in this game and for that no one should ever forgive him.

But he should get our damn name right in his links!

Hope to see you around here a lot. Keep the discussion going.

12/15/2004 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Y'know, I've worked at my university on the issue of violence against women and sexual assault and it all hits very close to home, which is why I suspected from the start that this was going to be a ridiculous red herring. So I'm sure it was totally shocking that that's what happened and there was graphic sexual assault for no clear reason and also the even more disturbing mindwipe thing. Awful, awful, awful book and it's making me furious.

But then again, this was not a comic I was convinced could be good, even before it became clear that the moral of the story is that you, superhero, have to protect your secret identity so that your beloved families will not be harmed, because if there was harm that came because of the identities getting out, it would be from the loved ones of superheroes. Urgh.

Rose, who still hasn't registered for a blogger commenting account.

12/15/2004 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Rice said...

Welcome, Rose. Glad to find parts of the internet where people are more demanding on comics featuring graphic rape.

On a side note, did I read you're another Kentucky blogger? Been in NY for a while now, but you can't take the Kentucky out of me completley. Just seems like there's an odd amount of Kentucky/Appalachian stuff on the internets these days.

12/15/2004 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger Alex! said...

I am almost happy about this issue. As much as I want to go into a rage over it, the shitty ending totally justifies my initial hatred.

A big "I told ya so!" to all the suckers out there.


12/15/2004 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I'm just happy I "Byrne-stole" the first issue, where I learned empirically that IDENTITY CRISIS is an ass comic, and did so for the second issue as well, when I realized that the whole thing was, really, so bad that I couldn't be bothered to read the fucking thing for free.

It's not because of the excessive nature of the rape, the bastardization of my iconic characters, or anything like that. It's just awful fucking writing.

12/15/2004 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Joe Rice sez:

"Just seems like there's an odd amount of Kentucky/Appalachian stuff on the internets these days."


Then again, there are cows across the street from me, so what do I know?

12/15/2004 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Repeatedly in the press for this series it has been stated how this mini will change the tone of the DCU for a long time to come. The rape was what lef the JLA down the path of mind wipes, including the mind wipe of one of their own. While this did not hook directly into the murder mystery plot, it is obviously fundamental to the "darkening" of the DCU.

Whether you like this or not, calling Meltzer a liar and saying the rape was irrelevant is just over-excited rubbish. You guys love to bag out the "fanboys" but your sounding awfully like charter members of a new HEAT-like organisation.


12/16/2004 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Mr. Rice said...


12/16/2004 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Mr. Rice said...

Let me ask you this, Derek:

Did the rape have anything to do with the story presented in the miniseries entitled "Identity Crisis"? Was it a part of the murder mystery? Or was it a red herring, one which showed the graphic rape of a woman?

Meltzer, when confronted with criticism on the disgusting nature of #2 said, "Don't worry. I deal with the consequences and it's central to my story."

Neither of those things are true.

Hence the "liar" title.

Whenever fans or a comic is critiqued, SOMEone comes in and says, "You're just a nerd/fanboy too!" Well, duh. It's in our subtitle. We are nerds. But we are nerds that demand comics reach higher standards than, "DC said it was important so I'MA GON BUY! Rape? I AM SURE IT IS OK FOR THIS STORY!"

12/16/2004 07:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Again, I do believe that the rape was important to the story. Meltzer has said before that the murder was not the key story he was telling here. Sure it was the focus of the narrative, but the real story looks to be the mindwipes which were very much started by the rape. Its a matter of perspective really. I can see your point though. Taken as a separate singular story, your critisism holds, but I don't believe this was ever intended as anything other than a prelude to a bigger story, or at least a catalyst to a general change in the DCU.

Sure, everyone who is into comics can be called a nerd. but you guys are clearly separating yourselves from the "fanboys". Thats cool... I don't like the whole "buy a title even when its crap" mentality either, but I am sensing an element of elitism here. Hopefully I am wrong.


12/16/2004 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Ed definitely that this was a horribly badly written comic. I only bought it because I expected it to be bad, and only lasted through the first few issues and then got this last one. When the first came out, there was a huge outcry about potential misogyny and violence against women and so I felt I should buy a copy and talk about it myself, but I was so depressed by issue #7 that I'm not sure I'll blog about it again.

And I don't think because I'm female or because I've worked with sexual assault survivors and have my own personal invested history I have some magical power to judge the way assault is used in the comic in a better way than anyone else, because it seems to me that it should be obvious to anyone that it's an exploitative shock tactic and little more.

I do think the mindwipes were the most interesting aspect of the story, but anyone who thinks that this was in any way resolved in Identity Crisis must have been reading a different book than I was. I'm interested because it made the superheroes so unethical (at least by my standards), and I think the most interesting thing to come out of the last issue is the idea that to love their families superheroes shouldn't trust them. I realize this is all part of the darkening, but it's not exactly sensical and I'm not convinced it's going to go anywhere. I was laughing and sick by the end of the montage about how heroes have to be reminded to love their loved ones. Wow, you guys are great.

But this isn't the place for me to be starting my manifesto for the Society for Cutting up Superheroes, so I'll stop here for now.

And Joe, I was raised in and have moved back to northern Kentucky. I know of four Ky. comics bloggers now, so we can't quite take on Ventura County, but we're getting there. Anyway, it's quality not quantity, so they can bring it on! (Or not, if they're actually reading this. I was just teasing, guys!)

12/16/2004 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that last comment was Rose, not some other random female comics blogger in Kentucky. Maybe I should login here.....

As another aside, what drove me crazy in the quote form Meltzer is that I really, really, really hate it when men say, "My wife is a feminist, so I can do no wrong when it comes to women's issues." Am I the only one who thinks that's a really stupid argument? I hope not.


12/16/2004 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

As another aside, what drove me crazy in the quote form Meltzer is that I really, really, really hate it when men say, "My wife is a feminist, so I can do no wrong when it comes to women's issues." Am I the only one who thinks that's a really stupid argument? I hope not.Like the "I can't be homophobic--I had a gay friend once!" argument.

Then again, I can't possibly hate hack writers - some of my best friends are hack writers!

12/16/2004 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Mr. Rice said...

Holding stories to understandable standards is not elitism. Throwing hands up in bewilderment when people repeatedly choose poor quality is not elitism.

We, as comic fans, are so used to classically being picked on that we refuse to put ourselves under any critical light. That's not good. When we're acting like fools, it's up to us, the nerds, to call ourselves on it.

12/16/2004 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Don't take my elitist badge away from me, Rice. It's all I have left.

12/16/2004 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger obsolete said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/16/2004 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger obsolete said...

Derek wrote this: "Again, I do believe that the rape was important to the story. Meltzer has said before that the murder was not the key story he was telling here. Sure it was the focus of the narrative, but the real story looks to be the mindwipes which were very much started by the rape."

The mindwipes were the story, sure. And they were started because of the rape, yes. You have successfully summarized what the story actually was.

I think we're having semantic difficulties. It's not that we don't feel the rape was used as the clearly was.

It's that Meltzer should have used a different catalyst. He had several possibilities, most of which were not needlessly horrible and required very little follow up. Something like rape on the other's too complicated to use as a footnote. That's disgustingly insensitive and, frankly, it's just bad writing. You don't introduce a jarring element of any kind if it isn't crucial. It interrupts the narrative flow, becomes one of the focii when it shouldn't.

So, the question is, "Could Meltzer have kicked off his plot in a less jarring way?" The answer is a resounding yes.

Then you kind of doubled back:

"Its a matter of perspective really. I can see your point though. Taken as a separate singular story, your critisism holds, but I don't believe this was ever intended as anything other than a prelude to a bigger story, or at least a catalyst to a general change in the DCU."

This wasn't intended to be a story? That explains a lot. Thank heavens this is only a prelude! The ramifications of Sue's rape will be explored in the REST of the story, I'm sure.

Of course, now that I think about it, she was mindwiped to forget about the rape, and so never knew about it, and then she was killed in a highly stupid fashion. So going back and exploring it now would seem kind of weird. No, really weird.

Having this be the catalyst, this thing you can't really go back and examine without it being weird, is a bad idea. Making things darker, period, is a bad idea. But having a catalyst like this is pretty rape-tacular. And by that I mean...not good.

And comics, I thought we all agreed on this, should be good.

If not liking pointless rape in my magic ring stories makes me a snob, then I find myself pretty fucking proud to be snobby.

12/16/2004 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so Sue was definitely mindwiped? I was wondering if I'd have to buy the middle issues someday to find out. Yuck. That's an awfully insensitive, immoral, cruel, and patronizing thing to do, even for superheroes. This just keeps getting better and better.


12/16/2004 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

To be fair, Sue was not, in fact, mind-wiped.

At least it was not established in Identity Crisis that she was mind-wiped.

Maybe at some later date, a writer will say that she was mind-wiped (explaining, I guess, why such a major event never affected her in the slightest), but as of right now, that is not what happened.

And Derek, I think the title of the entry really addresses your major points.

1. The rape was used as a plot device. A means to get from Point A to Point B. That is ridiculous. So if that's all that it is used for, and it's never going to be mentioned again, then yes, it was NOT important. No, there WERE no consequences.

2. Meltzer said repeatedly, to take heat off himself, that, basically, "Don't worry, I'm not callous! This will all be resolved!"

And it wasn't.

Hence the big fat liar comment (which, of course, was also used more than a little tongue in cheek, unless you have never read/heard of Al Franken's bestselling book about Rush Limbaugh).

But please, keep arguing! I love free discourse! And that's what this blog is about!

12/16/2004 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger obsolete said...

I'm sorry, I must have gotten some information from an unreliable source. I thought she was mind-wiped.

I'm glad to hear that that was not the case.

12/16/2004 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Tim - What's amazing is that Brad Meltzer, on Green Arrow, wrote an arc that did ALL the things he PROMISED to do in Identity Crisis!

And then he comes on and does Identity Crisis...and does NONE of the same things!


12/18/2004 04:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yes, it's bad writing, but it's only one part of how bad Meltzer's writing is. It's the laziest part of the laziest arc in comics. Have an obscure character and want a quick way to gain sympathy? Want to look tough and gritty and with it? Have her raped!

Uh, no, sorry.

Here's what the real tough, gritty, with-it answer would be--have Ralph raped, and let Sue comfort him. That would be scary. That would be tough. That's would be something nobody's ever done before. Which is why no one has.

Blue Jean

11/15/2005 08:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, blue jean. i'm just coming to this page after reading about aaron eckhart being the new Two Face for the new Dark Knight movie with Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. That led to wikipedia, which led to a helluva lot of interesting pages about comics... including the What If? stories; the Wha..Huh? one shot which parodied them; and the most anticipated story in Wha..Huh? being the parodying of Identity Crisis. I'm loving all the commentary, and wish I had bought these. I agree with someone elsewhere that Crisis on Infinite Earths made Psycho Pirate interesting. I agree that rape should not have been used as a red herring to hook readers into a plot device which sounds suspiciously misogynist. But there was one comic which did take the lead in portraying male rape and the consequences. Unfortunately, the victim became a serial killer of prostitutes. But the way Milestone comics handled that storyline, and the origin of how the serial killer came to be the way he was was harrowing for me, and very potent. It was sympathetic and gritty and distasteful and classy all at once. It was well done, and realistic. Milestone was the best.

I do agree with you, how much more interesting would it have been to have Ralph be the original rape victim, and Sue she who comforts? The possibilities of that, and why a mind erase would have had to have been done in that case -- the devastating rape of a superhero, are interesting.

-- Annie

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