Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett talks about scenes in new superhero comics, where one may lead, Amazon acquiring comiXology, and why Andrew Garfield is the right actor for Spider-Man.
Note: This column contains spoilers about Savage Dragon #194 and Invincible #110.
Last week, among other things, I wrote about (to paraphrase the instructive text which precedes these things) "superheroes I like."  I went out of my way to praise both Savage Dragon and Invincible for "constantly taking risks no Marvel/DC comic would ever dare to."  By which I meant both titles manage to successfully mix the giddy juvenile joy of seeing superheroes smack around big, dumb, fun supervillains with adult levels of sex and violence.  Case in point, and coincidentally enough, new issues of both comics came out last week, each featuring examples of the kind of content I mean.
In Savage Dragon #194, a skeevy douche he vaguely knows drops by the apartment of Malcolm Dragon, biracial teenage son of the original Dragon, to use his superhero cred to mack on the underage girls he's brought with him.  To make things extra skeevy, it's an uneven number of underage girls.  Thankfully this gets interrupted by a rampage by the supervillain Torment, during which several of the aforementioned underage girls are killed (though this is partially due to the fact they insisted on tagging along after Malcolm, proving themselves to be too stupid to live).  After being defeated, Torment gives the usual supervillain spiel about how he’ll never stop killing and Malcolm (spoiler alert) ends him.  You don’t see anything like that in Ms. Marvel.
And in Invincible #110 Mark Grayson, the title character, gets raped.  Honestly, I really don't have a lot to say about this--though I suppose you’ll be the judge of that.  It’s being called "controversial" and "game-changing," but the truth is this isn’t anything new; Mark is just joining the ranks of Starman, Nightwing and Green Arrow, all of whom are survivors of female on male rape.  So far it hasn't gotten a lot of attention outside the industry and I honestly don't believe this was done as some kind of stunt, a cynical attempt to get a lot of free media attention.  When I first read about this issue I thought it would be the perfect jumping off point for me, but then I actually read the story and as someone who has read the series since the very beginning, I can even say that the scene even makes a certain amount of "sense," in context anyway.  And I really don't have any objections to the way it was depicted.
But that having been said, I also don't want this becoming a go-to trope, just something to add a little extra transgressive oomph when things are dull and sales are slow.  Not so much because I find it offensive or object to sexual menace and assault being included in mainstream entertainment (though, honestly, I kind of do);  but because I fear what's next.  I fear the inevitable ratcheting and ante-upping of violent and sexual content, once the depiction of this sort of thing becomes commonplace.
And believe it or not, I even have less to say about comiXology being bought out by Amazon (see "Amazon Acquiring comiXology").  There are a lot of opinions about the deal swirling around right now, but the best thing I've read on the subject so far is a piece on Wired titled "Stop Panicking, People--Amazon Didn't Just Ruin Comics" by Rachel Edidin.  To quote the final sentence:
"So no, this is not the end of the world or even the first step down a slippery slope.  It's evolution.  I'd say "adapt or die" but honestly, that inflates the stakes.  Adapt or don't, comics."
I agree with it because, as both a self-imposed pundit and regular comiXology customer, I'm pretty much OK with it.  For better or worse, small companies getting bought up by enormous companies is what America is all about now, and it's also validation that comiXology was doing something right.  Amazon clearly believes there’s an enormous amount of money to be made from comics, and that given enough corporate will they could finally go main stream in America.
And finally there was a piece in Variety that caught my eye, "Andrew Garfield Says a Bully Helped Him Discover Spider-Man" by Alex Stedman.  It quotes from an interview Garfield gave the British newspaper The Guardian about his experiences being bullied as a kid.
"I had this general bullying experience where there was a kid who wasn't very happy and threw his weight around.  He targeted me because I was skinny and thin-skinned and he knew it.  ...Also, if it weren't for that bully, I wouldn't have found Spider-Man.  That's why I got so lost in the comics and the cartoon series.  I would fantasize about being him, and I would fantasize about him coming to beat the crap out of my bully."
Truly, Andrew Garfield is one of us.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of