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Shiny shiny, shiny books of leather: Graeme dominates the comics from 8/29

Graeme McMillan

I have no idea why I’m so surprised at just how gratuitous and disappointing GENE SIMMONS’ DOMINATRIX #1 is. I mean, if ever there was a book that sounded as if it was going to be gratutous, it would be something called Gene Simmons’ Dominatrix – And am I really the only person who’s both disappointed and relieved that it’s not a comic about Simmons’ actual Dominatrix? Think of the rock star gossip and awkwardness that we’ve all missed out on – that was advertised with the line “T’n’A meets CIA”. The cover art, as well, in its weird air-brushed glory, fit with the idea that this was going to be an entirely tawdry exercise, and yet… somehow, it still disappointed.

I think it’s that there isn’t even the slightest pretense of this being a comic about anything other than the apparent transgressiveness of having its central character be a Dominatrix. Ignore the flat dialogue that attempts to titilate (we see the main character at work, saying things like “Beg me for it worm… And maybe I’ll let you have it,” and also get her friends get excited about her job, saying things like “I want to hear more about this wack job that you beat up”) or the ridiculous cheesecake artwork – You too can watch the main character’s internal struggle as she washes dishes by focusing on her breasts! Look, she’s so excited by daily household chores that her nipples are standing to attention! – and you’re left with something that’s so depressingly inept, it’s almost comedic; a spy is so excited by his session with his dominatrix that he accidentally blurts out a secret so bad that he immediately gets kidnapped. But that’s okay, because he has a magic pill that gives him superpowers – but he doesn’t take it, he gives it to his dominatrix, because… um… well, just because! And then she beats this guy up! Because that’s what dominatrixes do (There’s even a caption where she feels guilty about it, because she’s not getting paid to hurt him)! And then, after she beats up the bad guy, instead of trying to do anything about the guy she saw kidnapped, or the secret she’s apparently learned that is so dangerous that said guy gets kidnapped, she goes home to have some tea. Only to get ambushed by a super sexy spy who’s also dressed in fetish wear!

Of course, when you read the text piece at the back, suddenly the story itself seems like high art. Especially when you get to the quote from Gene Simmons’ original pitch for the series: “maybe one zipper going UP HER BACKSIDE (the guys have a zipper in the front…she has a zipper in the back-easy access!!)”

“Easy access,” ladies and gentlemen.

Oh, it gets worse. That text page is supposedly written by the fictional lead character, who asks the female readers of the book to send in photos of themselves for Gene Simmons to pick his favorite out of, which is kind of unsettling on all manner of levels (That they have to do so calling themselves “submissives” and be dressed in their “best s&m or m&m outfit (after all, we all know chocolates and leather go well together)” just adds to the “Oh, Jesus, Gene Simmons is looking for free masturbatory material” moment). Add that to the artwork in the story that completely objectifies its heroine and the script that fails to pull a sympathetic lead character out of its various scenes but does succeed in making her unfulfilled, lonely and a sellout (There’s a couple of scenes where the tone of her narration is “Well, anything for the money”) in the process, and you’re left with a book about a woman in charge – although, yes, you can make the argument that a dominatrix is another male fantasy object and not in charge as just subservient to men in a different way – where the overall feeling is one of women being mistreated and abused more or less as usual in the industry. Crap, then.

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