Posted by: Graeme McMillan on October 14, 2007
Maybe I’m just getting softer as I’m getting older, but there’s something about THE NEW AVENGERS #35 that disturbs me. It’s not the gratuitous cover, with Wolverine turning into Venom even though that isn’t what the issue’s about in the slightest – although a second read-through did at least make me realize that there is a WolverVenom in the issue; he’s in the background of the fight scene on the last page – and it’s not the supervillain gathers lots of other supervillains into a giant supervillain army plot that we’ve all seen countless times before (Hell, if you read DC books, you’ve seen it a couple of times in the last three years alone). No, it’s the treatment of B-list heroine Tigra.
I know, I know; I shouldn’t really be bothered by the whole thing. The plot is essentially “Supervillains show that they’re not messing around this time by threatening superheroes’ families” (And, really, we’ve seen that story countless times already as well, so I don’t know why it’s supposed to be such a big deal here. Even within the Marvel Universe, isn’t the idea of getting at a hero through his family the entire point of JMS’s last six months or so on Amazing Spider-Man?), so the idea that Tigra gets threatened that her family are next shouldn’t really get under my skin. And it’s not really the idea that does; it’s the execution.
It may just be me, but there’s something weirdly misogynistic about Tigra’s treatment in the entire issue, even outside of the attack that leads to the threat – The cleavage shots of Tigra both in outfit (where she’s wearing a bikini and nothing else) and in secret identity (where she’s wearing a shirt that’s open enough to reveal her cleavage, and there’s a necklace nestled between her breasts to draw attention to them) and the dialogue from the cops (“She was covered in fur! In her panties!”) – but the attack itself is… I don’t know, maybe I’m being too sensitive, but seeing a female character repeatedly beaten, with her shirt torn open to reveal her bikini/bra (It’s not really made clear which it is, whether it’s meant to be her superhero costume or not), being called “a selfish little pig” and talked to like a child (“That’s your mommy. You love your mommy. She even loves you”), while she doesn’t even try to fight back or say anything past “Nnnng” and “Aaaiiee!” – okay, she pleads for him to “stoppp” once, but that’s the only actual word she manages – and the whole thing gets videotaped for an audience full of supervillains to watch and cheer at a bar later… It’s really, really disturbing to me. And not in a “Wow, they’re obviously bad guys” way, but in a “That scene would never have happened to a male character” way.
It’s because of that scene in particular, and the treatment of Tigra in general in the issue, that I had such a bad taste in my mouth that everything else in the issue could’ve been the greatest comic book ever – it’s not, however – and this would still have been a Crap for me.
Everyone else who read it; am I over-reacting to this?