Super-women in bondage

Ok, so now another issue in my continuing – and increasingly less sycophantic – coverage of Final Crisis up to and including Issue 6. So far, I have read every issue at least four times, though some of those times were more like excited skimming between pages drawn by Jones, Manke or Pacheco. Not thrilled with the other artists, but meh, I’m a journalist, I get deadlines. I’m also awaiting with bated breath Superman Beyond #2, which is really the only other tie-in besides “Submit” that I’ve cared about.
In speaking with friends and reading other blogger’s takes on the story so far, I’ll agree that it’s a bit disjointed and the plot a bit frenetic. I wish that Morrison and co. could have followed a better plan/schedule, but I think I will lay this at the feet of DC editorial (DiDio!!!) who strayed from Morrison’s original, cooler idea of having the Big Seven leave this plane to transform into the New Gods of the Fifth World. Besides that, Countdown to Final Crisis was a fucking atrocity, especially after they were able to make 52 interesting at least half the time, and finish in an incredibly strong way that made me forgive them bringing back the multiverse.
But I digress.
The real point I wanted to make here is this: I’m displeased with the way the female characters have been used in this story. Really displeased.
And most of my ire focuses on the visually interesting but emotionally devoid battle between Supergirl and Mary Marvel. Honestly, Jones’ art is fantastic, but I could not care less about this battle, and especially because of the sorority-girl manner of speech they display. I don’t want my super-folks to resort to calling each other “slut” while pillow-fighting with buses, buildings and innocent bystanders. While I nearly had a geek-gasm over the deliberate visual references to Miracle Man issue #15 – the single greatest superheroic dust-up ever. Period. Don’t pretend you haven’t read it, Grant. – And I like the (attempted) reversion of traditional gender roles by staging the climactic physical battle between two female characters, something about this wasn’t working for me. It was way too much like foxy-boxing, or a match between two WWE “Divas.” There was no emotion.
I love the unnecessarily Judeo-Christian overtones in having the “evil” combatant – a very-literally demonically possessed Mary Marvel, who is usually as chaste as a nun – dressing like a dominatrix with a stupid punk-rawk-grrrrrl hair cut and making numerous, uncomfortably sexual comments. I feel like Grant could do something a bit more cerebral to make her a threat to the reader’s sense of right and wrong.
Tie this in with the already increasingly unnecessary treatment of Mary Marvel-as-sex-object by, you know EVERY CREATOR IN THE DCU, and it just pisses me off. It’s not like she was ever anything but a symbol for traditional female virtue, but again, if she’s going to become a bad guy, it’s too obvious to make her evil-superwhore.
Supergirl also is under-utilized. She doesn’t do anything except beat on Mary without any apparent sense of concern to damage she might cause to Bludhaven, which still has living residents. While this again is a story of superheroes at war, and a deliberate nod to Miracleman, I feel like if you are going to have Supergirl in a story, let her stand for things as well as her cousin would, or at least let her try. Don’t have her threaten to break the bad-guy’s neck. (This I actually would be willing to forgive in the sense that “evil is winning,” and superheroes who stand for Truth, Justice and … you know, are acting like Jack Bauer).
Still, Freddie Freeman has to save the day. Though we’ll give Supergirl the chance to bend gender roles by becoming a macho super-bruiser, we won’t let her worry her pretty blonde head about morality or a rational solution to a threat.
Grant I thought you could do better than this.

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