Men’s Rights Activists are pissed off with a comic that made them a bit uncomfortable

Men’s rights activists are a strange lot. Considering most men’s rights supporters tend to be male, white and middle class they cry of being oppressed by feminism, which is just bizarre logic. This isn’t to say that fourth wave feminism hasn’t got it’s massive issues (mainly due to it be propagated by middle class mainly white women that ignore the plight of working class women), not to mention their versions of the enormous arseholes that dominate the men’s right’s movement. While both sides hammer against each other the idea of egalitarianism gets lost and it’s just a slagging match between groups which solves nothing.

This however doesn’t mean we can’t point and laugh at people for frankly, being arseholes.

I write wee reviews of comics every week mainly of comics that catch my fancy, and one such comic was Crossed:Badlands. Basically it’s an extreme horror comic created by Garth Ennis that he uses to investigate the human condition, or politics, or the very nature of human morality itself. When Ennis isn’t writing the series it’s generally just extreme gore with a large dollop of misogyny so it’s tedious if you’re not into that sort of thing. Recently though the singer and writer Max Bemis wrote a two-part story that piqued my interested and I reviewed them here and here. I’m not going to go over the story again here so go read the reviews if you want to know what I thought; my issue is the reaction to them.

As can be seen by the comments below my reviews or on this Reddit thread that introduced me to the term ‘legbeard‘.It’s the outraged sense of entitlement that’s both sadly hilarious and concerning as after all, these people exist in the real world and not just online, so they have to interact with women but they see them almost as a different species but if they just stood back and realised that the only thing under threat is the fragile ego of men that see the world as theirs.

So seriously guys, get a fucking life. Chill out, get a decent haircut. Learn how to talk to people, especially women, Maybe develop the ability to laugh at yourselves. Talk about interesting things. Listen. Then maybe perhaps people, especially women, will speak to you and you won’t end up sounding like your entire emotional development stopped at age four.

What I thought of Crossed: Badlands #92

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In the first part of this story writer Max Bemis made it clear he was making a point about how a section of male fans treat women online. This issue starts with a flashback of imprisoned comics creator Leigha suffering rejection after rejection because of her work being targeted towards women before she decides to self-publish.

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As for her captors in the comic shop they’re welcoming a couple of other survivors who’ve found their shop, one of which is a comics fan, and indeed, is looking for a Garth Ennis comic which means in this little meta reference that there’s a Crossed version of Ennis roaming this world doing what the Crossed do…

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The guys in the shop seem happy to see the pair of newcomers right up until the point where they reveal they’re gay and are in a relationship. Seeing as the captors of Leigha have shown themselves to be sexist, misogynistic rapists, it comes as no surprise they’re also homophobes. At this point it’s clear that Bemis is forcing a certain type of comics fan to confront what they are, and what they are is worse than the fictional Crossed because they hold their opinions in our world.

As this is going on Kit, one of the rapists, is professing his love for Leigha, something not reciprocated, though she does discover she has a fan in the shape of one of the newcomers.

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Talk moves onto the comics Leigha is being forced to create to keep the rapists happy, so she’s forced by the ringleader Lance to show her latest issue of the Anti-Crossed to the newcomers, and it speaks for itself…

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Leigha uses the Anti-Crossed comic to attack her rapists as the comic is the only thing they’re living for. It also allows Bemis to take a direct hit at his potential readership.

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Needless to say this doesn’t please Lance, and it results in carnage, albeit somewhat mild for a Crossed comic. Also, not one infected person appears in this issue. The only violence is perpetrated by humans upon each other and this allows Bemis to target his victims.

It doesn’t quite work. It’s a tad unsubtle in places not to mention that it spells out it’s point in the comic-within-a-comic device used, but that’s probably the only way it’s going to be driven home. It isn’t exactly Wildean satire; it’s a blunt tool smashing readers in the face. In this regard it’s hugely effective in pointing out to the sort of people reading this that think something like GamerGate was justified, or that the latest example of a female figure in the news being threatened with rape is the sort of thing they should live with. No, instead Bemis points the finger at those people and firmly lays responsibility at their feet.

If you like a serious bit of social commentary and satire with your horror this is for you. If you trawl YouTube videos so you can leave sexist comments, this probably isn’t going to make you feel good about yourself.

Good.

What I thought of Crossed: Badlands #91

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I normally don’t bother with Crossed:Badlands outwith of a Garth Ennis story, or the recent Keiron Gillen storyline and I wasn’t going to touch this comic until issue 100 when Garth Ennis is due to return. However this arc’s writer Max Bemis wrote the hugely fun Oh, Killstrike! which was a pretty sharp satire on comic fandom and this Bleeding Cool article piqued my interest so I thought to give it a try.

Set at the outbreak of the Crossed virus, Bemis’s story, Comic Store, takes place in exactly where you think it might as the survivors of the shop remain inside safe from the horrors of the Crossed outside, but rather than worry about things you or I might, these people have other pressing concerns.

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That’s right, they’re concerned about the ending of their favourite comic stories. From the off this doesn’t feel like a normal non-Ennis Crossed story; it feels like Bemis is making it clear to the reader from the off that if you’re at all touchy about having parts of fandom being satirised then this is the time to fuck off and go read The Avengers.

The groups discuss their love of comics, and indeed, why superhero comics (and this aim is very clearly targeted at superheroes by Bemis) made them feel better people, but in the world of the Crossed, there’s no hope, not to mention there’s nobody that can create new comics. That is apart from the female creator they’ve imprisoned in their storeroom which has been turned into a room where she’s raped by the shop staff members for a year.

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I have to confess to be extraordinarily uncomfortable with this storyline by this point, but that’s the point. Bemis is forcing the reader to confront the horror of a line like ‘rape-room’ as this really isn’t a story about the Crossed, they’re just the backdrop. This is about a section of comic book fans who are frankly, misogynist pricks, and not just that, people that are closed minded in terms of what they think of as ‘comics’. This is summed up perfectly in the flashback scene going back to C-Day.

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Leigha is established as a creator that’s self-published for a decade and has worked her way up to build an audience from outwith traditional superhero comic readers, while the shop owners are clearly desperate because their customer base is either stagnant or in decline. If at this point you’ve got any doubt that Bemis is targeting a certain type of superhero comic fan the rest of this scene blows any doubt away.

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After a bit of Crossed carnage, Bemis sets out Leigha’s fate clearly.

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So the four survivors have kept Leigha imprisoned and have raped her constantly for a year, but they offer to stop, or at least back off a bit if she creates a superhero comic about the current situation with the Crossed to help them feel better in themselves, and of course, make them less scared of the Crossed. Leigha creates a superhero, The Anti-Crossed, who is hilariously funny because it’s the sort of bullshit one might expect from a superhero set in this reality. It also gets a good reaction from our rapist protagonists.

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Promising Leigha more freedom, not to mention more food if she progresses to a weekly deadline, our group of rapist wankers manage to use her work to escape real life, and at this point this becomes not just a pretty bloody brilliant bit of horror but the best bit of satire on the modern superhero fan (or a section of them) I’ve read.

As Leigha gains more power over the group she crawls back from wherever she’d placed herself mentally to protect herself, but Bemis doesn’t relent with hammering fans over the head as Leigha uses her Anti-Crossed comic to attack her rapists.

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This is dark, black satire/horror that as said, is only using the universe of the Crossed as a backdrop for commentary upon fandom, not to mention the sort of arsehole that throws around rape threats on Twitter. It’s probably not going to be acceptable or easy reading, and I’ve said how uncomfortable I was reading some of the earlier pages in this issue but stick with the story as it’s worth it. My only major problem is the art is too sexualised during one rape scene, and the Anti-Crossed pages could have been done by a different artist completely to make them stand out, but this is a brave attempt to use the world of the Crossed to make a point.

Next issue is the conclusion of this two-part story. Let’s see how much darker Bemis can make this and who else he’ll upset?

What I thought of Oh Killstrike #3

Thoughts about #1 and #2.

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This issue of Oh, Killstrike goes for the comic fandom jugular by taking on comic conventions and the double-edged sword that is cosplay before diving back into the plot to find Jared’s long lost father while having a pop at 1990’s mainstream comics.

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And instead of snide sneering the comic provides a perfect reply to the fans (many of which were barely a stain on their parents duvet in the 90’s) dismissing the 90’s and ignoring the legacy of it which is what Image Comics are today. It’s worth buying this comic for that page alone.

So Jared and Killstrike track down his father to London, Dalston in fact which for those of us on this side of the Atlantic is funny in itself.

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Next issue everything is resolved. Can’t wait!

What I thought of Oh Killstrike #2

Thoughts about #1.

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After the glorious pisstaking of last issue, this one sees Jared, and Killstrike (an Image Comics type of character from the 1990’s made real) go to New York to find Jared’s father, a British comics writer from the 1980’s. Or at least go to the company that employed him then in order to find out his current location and the issue starts with a wonderful gag that’s too good to spoil here, but here’s another that’s good in it’s own right.

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In fact there’s a quality line on virtually every page here.

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Then there’s a great dig at middle aged fanboys and a mention of Vertigo Comics, or at least, the version they can use in this lovely little satire.

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There’s a nice playful tone on the surface of Oh, Killstrike, but there’s a sting in the tale as writer Max Bemis has picked his targets well, and most of the time the barbs he’s throws hit dead on.

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Oh Killstrike is the sort of satire Mad would have done back in the day and that isn’t easy praise to give as Mad is the height of American humour comics, but this is an utter joy and I recommend getting on board now to enjoy it as much as I am.

What I thought of Oh Killstrike #1

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Remember the 1990’s? Remember how American superhero comics were to the MAX? Or so EXTREME they hurt to look at with all those ridiculously bulging muscles, biceps, bosoms, and of course everyone had a HUGE GUN, or a MASSIVE CHOPPER because all these heroes were EDGY to the MAX!!

Basically Image Comics at the start published endless crap superhero comics by the likes of Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane that sold by the container load, but as as memorable as the last glass of water you drank. Marvel and DC decided to get a piece of the action and their characters bulged and groaned under the weight of their biceps and unfeasibly large breasts, not to mention the massive guns because a real hero shoots people’s guts out as he or she is saving them.

Oh Killstrike is a four-issue series by Max Bennis and Logan Faerber giving a tongue in cheek look at those horrible days of 1990’s American superheroes, and opens with a reminder of the real horror (or if you were working as a dealer at the time and were smart, the real joy) of the 1990’s boom, the ability to make lots of money from a comic that is entirely worthless culturally.

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There’s truth to be told in these panels. Comics like X Force #1 were printed in massive numbers and are in many cases lying around in warehouses, sheds, and back offices in numbers. I know of one dealer in the UK that burnt a box to try to reduce demand, and for years and years it inhabited the 50p boxes of many a dealer. Now it’s actually becoming something people are interested in. There’s a lot of other examples, but it’s now at the point where some of the utter shite Image, Marvel and DC pumped out is nearly becoming collectible again.

This though is a satire of those and these times as the rampant consumerism that drove the speculator boom of the 90’s hasn’t gone away but has rebranded itself as ‘geek culture’; something multinational companies use to sell people that were kids that like shite superhero comics stuff that’s fun, but essentially the cultural equivalent of shoving sugar into your brain via your eyes all the time but the jist here is a sort of reverse Zelig, as Killstrike becomes real in our world.

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Oh Killstrike isn’t perfect but it’s a lovely little comic full of nice dialogue, not to mention digs at the comics of a couple of decades ago that for all their crapness, made some serious impressions upon people. In reality the 1990’s were a great time for comics, but a dismal time for superheroes which sadly means far too many people think the era was overwhelmingly rubbish, but it really wasn’t. This though isn’t about setting right history but to have a laugh and it does just that.

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As an idea it seems limited for even four issues, but the mission Killstrike finds himself on in order to get back to his dimension is to find our protagonist Jared’s father, a British comics writer that became famous in the 1980’s so the pair head off to Manhattan to find out his current location…

So yes, I’m on board for this just to see if it’s Grant Morrison…..