GERRY CONWAY responds
Gerry Conway is best remembered (by me) for one of the longest and most distinguished runs on "Justice League of America," but that's just one of many fine credits. He created Firestorm, was Editor-In-Chief of Marvel Comics, and co-wrote the second Conan movie. In the past year he's been a consulting producer and writer on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and has written episodes of Law & Order (with more to come) and Silk Stalkings. He's also writing a series pilot/presentation currently called The Brotherhood for Studios USA. Sadly, he's no longer writing comics, but maybe someday.... In any case, he raises an interesting contextual point here--one worth thinking about. (GS)
I haven't read the comments of your other respondents, so mine is a fresh, uncontaminated response. As a writer who's killed (Gwen Stacy), raped (Cinder of Cinder and Ashe), and maimed (well, no, I don't think I ever maimed anyone, but if I did it was probably during a blackout in the late '70s), I can hardly plead innocence when it comes to violence against fictional females. In fact, I think you're on to something -- there does appear to be a disproportionate high number of female superheroes who've met gruesome deaths. Of course, since comic book superheroes began life as an adolescent male fantasy figures, and for the most part continue to fill that role, we shouldn't be surprised the (primarily) male creators of comics act out subconscious adolescent male hostility toward women in their art. Powerful women = mommy = enemy/love object/tormentor of the post-pubescent male psyche. Sadly Freudian but true. Even so, the intensity of violence against comic book superheroines (in fact, against everyone -- male, female, super or otherwise) seems to have increased exponentially since I quit writing comics in the late '80s. I was appalled by the comic page reproduced on your web site, but I suppose it's representative of what's happened to the medium. It confirms a belief I developed in the '80s -- that more and more, mainstream comics were being designed to appeal primarily to the kids in River's Edge. (If you don't know the movie, find it, rent it, and tell me I'm wrong.) In this context, violence against superheroines is part of a continuum -- a cynical, spiritless dehumanization of the superhero art form. As a friend of mine remarked recently in another context, "Welcome to the post-ironic world..."