Bubbas’ Nightmare

On an odyssey towards a moral life and the perfect microbrew

Feminism, graphic novel style

Posted by Bubbas' Nightmare on 16 May 2007

(or comics, if you prefer)

I ran across one of Alan Moore’s creations at Big Brain Compromethea1.jpgics in Minneapolis a few months ago, but I didn’t get a chance to thoroughly read what I bought until a week or two ago.

Promethea is an interesting experiment in metafiction (a story about stories). She is a creature of imagination that has power within the “real” universe. Promethea’s presence is invoked by someone’s imagination, and her Avatar and Power is different, depending upon the nature of the person who invokes her. She is one of the Great Stories (one of my favorite themes in fiction).

Unlike most comics, this series uses endless cultural references (spoken and illustrated), intelligent if somewhat convoluted storylines, and employs strong women throughout the story. (Indeed, there are elements of Patriarchal qualities throughout the bad guys, who are almost all men.) However, it doesn’t dip into that “women=creation, men=destruction” crapola that so many comparative culturalists love to harp on. (Another story for another time.)

Best of all, Promethea is light on the Bimbo Effect, which is always a danger in graphic novels these days. Yes, there is flesh (particularly in one of Promethea’s Avatars), but sexuality is kept pretty strictly within the confines of moving the story.

A dialog between Promethea and Jack Faust, who has offered to teach her about Magick in exchange for sex:

Faust (describing Promethea’s body): God considered as Female, the most exalted feminine principle. This sacred receptacle is its sign. The vessel between women’s thighs is the Cup’s highest aspect. The Chalice. The Grail of divine compassion. It takes in. It receives. The Holy Grail is female. Remember that. It’s the essence of Female…That sacred cup brimming with the wine of stars. With the deep-pressed vintage of the soul.

Promethea: And this is all those manly heroes sought? One sip from compassion’s bowl to ease their dry, parched souls? They sought the Female?

Faust: Yes. They wanted to drink of the Female. To drown in it. Perhaps they even wanted to become it. All warriors. All magicians. All men.

Promethea: Ah. Then be quenched, man. Take your draught, and next we’ll see what mysteries man conceals beneath his coverings.

(And this is years before The Da Vinci Code!)

Rereading that section tonight has gotten me to thinking about how many feminists claim that men, as a class of people, hate women. I’m just riffing here, but I wonder if the root issue with men may be jealousy turned to hate.

Just a thought.

4 Responses to “Feminism, graphic novel style”

  1. aphroditesbody said

    Interesting thought for late night thinking. Most men of my acquaintance don’t hate women. They, unfortunately, don’t bother to take the time to give women any thought at all. Unless of course you count cooking, cleaning and some occasional momentary sexual gratification. But I do like the concept of woman as godhead. It makes “the women” feel some importance in several cultural evolutions. It would be pleasant to think that there might be men out there who search so desparately for the divine that they give their lives trying to find what is clearly in front of them for their enjoyment.

  2. There are men who do not hate women; that is why I qualified the statement. You are likely someone who carefully picks and chooses the people they become acquainted with. Or you’re lucky. Believe me, there are a lot of men out there who see women as less than human.
    For my entire adult life, I’ve always felt good sex to be a sacrament (not a Sacrament) to the divine that is within us all. That’s why Promethea made such an impression on me.

  3. aphroditesbody said

    I’m smiling. The comments weren’t meant to be kind to men or feminists. The fems are taking things too personally, in my humble opinion. The men…. well, they can’t help themselves for the most part. They just don’t think. Period. Maybe the jealousy is there though. Being female gives you the ultimate ability to create in a sense. But then on the flip side, you could say the same for men. No need for jealousy or hate there. I must cogitate on this a bit longer.

  4. Emil said

    Men are jealous of women? We probably ought to be. Women are so much more important than men, more evolved et cetera. I can see how stone age man would start a trend of opression out of a feeling of inadequacy.

    But I wouldn’t call Jack Faust’s magical teachings overly feministic. Magic is just about naming things; he makes these things he talk about special, gives them extraordinary significance by talking of them in extraordinary terms, and he talks as much and as gloriously about the male as he does about the female.

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