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Research Outsourcing: Rape Comics

4459948-killing-joke-joker-takes-picturesNow that my class on comics is over, I can get back to focusing on some of my own work. It’s another one of those times where I am doing some research for a comics paper and so it’s totally useful for me to just outsource some of my research to the internet.

In this case I am working on a project that involves comic book depictions of rape and sexual assault. So what I’m looking for are examples in comics of depictions of or references to rape and/or sexual assault regarding a main character. That is to say, that I don’t particularly care about every instance of say Batman investigating a rapist on the loose or anything like that. I’m looking for things like The Killing Joke where Batgirl was assaulted by the Joker.

5duanu5I’m interested in both female and male occurrences (so Nightwing totally counts) here as well as both hetero or homosexual. In fact, I’m actually having a hard time racking my brain trying to come up with a homosexual occurrence… which should totally be a point that I make in my paper, unless someone can think of several instances that are skipping my mind. I’m also interested in occasions where there is an attempted rape that might be thwarted. And obviously, as I said before I’m looking for not just rapes, but sexual assaults. So no matter how you feel about what actually went down in The Killing Joke, it is certainly on the table here. Also, I’m mostly looking for mainstream comics here, so the more examples from the big two (Marvel and DC) the better. That said, don’t feel like it HAS to be from one of the big two. For instance, Invincible, from Image Comics, with its female on male rape is certainly relevant. The point is that I’m not really looking for say Manara’s Click series, which is certainly about rape — that’s the whole point — but is not mainstream enough to really affect my argument.

kickass2rapeI’m not necessarily looking for comics that show the actual rape, though if you can think of any, I’m certainly interested in those. Most of them are going to be implied cutaways, and that’s fine. The key here is that I am looking for examples where an assault certainly and unambiguously happens. So Kick-Ass 2, which has a clear rape that is stated before the event and the aftermath shown afterwards totally counts. One of the things I want to talk about is the way it is treated as an unseen event in the few cases where it is referenced at all.

I am mostly looking for superhero stories here. Much like the stuff from Manara, there’s tons of comics that deal directly with those issues, particularly in the indie world. That’s now what I’m going for here. I’m looking to investigate how the topic is dealt with in superhero narratives. But if something is ambiguous as to whether or not it fits as a superhero story, or you think it’s a strong enough entry that I should probably be aware of it, totally let me know.

galbh8Finally, if there’s books where you think it is either ambiguous as to whether or not a character has been raped or where there is a very obvious and blatant narrative element to deny that there was a rape when it makes sense that the reader would assume that there was, please point those out too. The key examples I’m thinking of here are Black Canary in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters for the prior category and Jessica Jones in Alias in the latter. In Black Canary’s case, the character is stripped and brutally tortured and though the book makes no textual mention of sexual nature of the assault at all, it certainly is drawn to look like the bad guy here was raping here. In Jessica Jones’ case, the story goes out of it’s way to say “no no no, even though Purple man mind controlled her for a year, he never raped her. He just raped a whole bunch of other people.” Cases like these are particularly interesting to me for this article.

So give what you got. Thanks in advance.


41 comments for “Research Outsourcing: Rape Comics

  1. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    The first thing I thought of was the hair shaving scene from V FOR VENDETTA. Its even more brutal in the comic. The character is debased, dehumanizing act of violence. That’s had a lasting impression since I first read it in 1984.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Certainly an interesting choice, though it may be too far out of the mainstream for what I’m talking about. But I think it definitely fits in the gray area.

  2. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I’ve mentioned it in a previous thread and it is still the first that comes to mind. “The Evil That Men Do” mini-series about Black Cat written by Kevin Smith.

    This series both includes an attempted sexual assault and flashes back to a previous sexual assault.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      That is one of the ones on my list, yes.

  3. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Also, it is another gimme, but I have to assume that the Comedian’s attempted rape of Silk Spectre and further sexual interactions later is a must-include example.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      This is the one I thought of off the bat.

    2. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Yeah, Watchmen is certainly the obvious choice for a book that addresses it directly.

  4. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Guido Crepax’s Emmanuel is rife with rape, only it’s presented as “she enjoys it so that makes it okay, even if it started without consent and over her verbal objections”. And some of the rape is F/F.

    Tom Strong was raped by a Nazi woman whose name escapes me and there was a son that resulted. I forget if the rape was done the old-fashioned way or more clinically/medically.

    Invincible was brutally and bloodily raped at precisely the issue I decided to stop reading.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Crepax I don’t think I can consider mainstream enough to count… certainly not in this country anyway. Though it is an interesting thing to keep in mind. That said, he fits in that same vein as Manara. He’s certainly exploring rape in his works.

      Tom Strong I hadn’t considered. I can’t decide if he’s mainstream enough or not.

      Invincible, obviously I had already considered, since it was one of the examples.

  5. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    There was that terrible mini series Identity Crisis which dealt from the fallout of Dr Light raping Sue Digby. But that was so poorly done I don’t know if it’s worth including.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      This is certainly one I’ll be using. No matter what people think of the story (and I think it had a lot of good points, actually) it’s prime for this discussion.

  6. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I’m lazy. Also, yeah you’ve been blocking out some.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      Blocking out some? What do you mean?

    2. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Several homosexual rapes are mentioned on the Wiki. So that should help the brain racking. That’s all.

  7. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I can also think of a much less clear example that is from a mainstream comic (Spider-Man). At one point in the comics (obviously a ret-con), it is revealed that Norman Osborn impregnated Stacy Gwen in the past. She never outright tells anyone she was raped, but during the flashback scene she says “No” in three separate panels and when she told Mary Jane about it, she describes it as if there may have been something beyond simple charisma that got her into bed.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:14 pm

      It’s vague. I’ve been considering it. It is a pretty crappy story… but that doesn’t matter. What makes it notable is that, as with Alias, it feels like they WANTED to write a rape story but stopped because they couldn’t bring themselves to cross that line, so they “fixed it” by saying she wanted it.

      Which is actually a big part of the argument I’ll be making in the paper.

  8. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    For homosexual assault, there is the gruesome death of the Invisible Man in LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Yes. Another one that is outside of the mainstream… and specifically by Moore… who actually deals with it a lot.

  9. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Now for possibly the most disturbing one I can think of. Uncanny X-men #321, Legion Quest #3.

    In this issue, David Haller (Legion) has previously gone back in time. He approaches his mother using telepathy to disguise himself as Charles Xavier. He then has sex with his mother.

    It is both rape through subterfuge (using powers) and incest.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Now that’s one I hadn’t considered at all!

  10. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Tank girl ……but you know its been like 25 years since I read it. Also the graphic novel of Sin City.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      Tank Girl is definitely outside of the mainstream. it was an alternative comic even then. Sin City is outside, but notable… I haven’t decided on it yet

  11. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Wow, that’s a rough topic. Have you read the Alan Moore interview where he addresses the issue of why so so many of his works include rape? He said something to the effect that non-sexual violence is the routine topic of comics, but in the real-world sexual assult is massive and to not include it is to ignore its importance. Or something like that, only better said. I’m not a big fan of Moore on this point, but he, unlike the majority of writers I suspect, has actually thought deeply about what he’s doing and why.

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      No I haven’t. Do you have an article name (or even better a copy of it it)? I should definitely check it out.

    2. avatar
      December 6, 2016 at 12:28 am

      Here’s an essay on Moore that is largely about the interview I mentioned, with a link to it:

    3. avatar
      December 6, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Moore: “my thinking was that sexual violence, including rape and domestic abuse, should also feature in my work where necessary or appropriate to a given narrative, the alternative being to imply that these things did not exist, or weren’t happening. This, given the scale upon which such events occur, would have seemed tantamount to the denial of a sexual holocaust, happening annually. I could not, in all conscience, produce work under those limitations without at least attempting to change or remove them.”

  12. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Never read the David Quinn/Tim Vigil Faust series…

    1. avatar
      December 5, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Nor have I.

    2. avatar
      December 6, 2016 at 1:30 am

      Good… I feel scarred after doing so… I think I took 5 showers that night, lol… I just liked Vigil’s penmanship (having liked his Jonah Hex art) and like Quinn’s Dr. Strange run and fingered this sounds cool… boy was I wrong.

  13. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    If you go back to classic(?) era manga rape is occasionally a plot element in Tokugawa-era stories. Lone Wolf and Cub has at least one rape scene as a major plot element but I can’t remember if it was movie-only or comic-only.

    1. avatar
      December 6, 2016 at 1:32 am

      Lady Snowblood’s character is essentially born from it.

    2. avatar
      December 6, 2016 at 4:18 am

      Yes, I think non-American comics may be better about it in general.

  14. avatar
    December 5, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Bueno Excellente from Hitman/Section 8 fights crime with the power of perversion, I believe is how it was stated. The implication is he sexually assualts criminals.

    In the Walking Dead it is implied that Michonne is raped when she is held by the Governor’s men. (There is the latter implication of forced sexual encounters when considering the nature of Negan’s harem of women/wives he has taken from other men, but I don’t recall anything directly stated.)

    Preacher has the scene with Herr Starr being forcibly sodomized and then requesting a repeat of the act in future sexual encounters.

    Those are the first three to immediately come to mind. I know TWD and Preacher don’t easily fit into the mainstream superhero genre, but I think their popularity makes their inclusion, perhaps, worthwhile or noteworthy.

    1. avatar
      December 6, 2016 at 4:20 am

      I haven’t decided if I want to consider Walking Dead mainstream or not. It certainly is worth considering.

  15. avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Avengers #200 the rape (and the enjoyment thereof?) of carol danvers.

    Also, not in any way sexual, but on the topic of carol, to this day she is wary around Rogue after the whole absorbed memories ordeal in Avengers Annual 10.

  16. avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 4:00 am

    First thing that comes to mind is that time in Superman where Sleez mind controlled Superman and Big Barda and made them make a porno.

  17. avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 4:04 am

    There’s some in The Boys.

  18. avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Constantine was raped by Swamp Thing and his wife once.

    And I think the new Hawkeye being raped was the reason she trained to be a super hero in the first place?

    I want to say Damian Wayne was the product of rape, but my brain is telling me that he was a clone and not “born”?

  19. avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Iirc Apollo was raped in one of The Authority books, but I can’t recall which

  20. avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 11:33 am
  21. avatar
    December 6, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Anything involving Starfox. There were some issues of She-Hulk where she defended him in court and had to wonder if she was actually one of his victims.

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