DC Entertainment Vs. Guro

Waiting for some ink to dry.  Some quick thoughts on gore.  I was thinking about why that panel from whatever the newest whatever is from DC Entertainment, where they had Black Canary’s face stitched on Frankenstein’s chest–and why though I don’t have any intrinsic problems with the idea of that kind of image(I like it fine, divorced from any other considerations of overall lameness), I don’t find it as personally relevant or interesting as say a random Shintaro Kago illustration.  Even though both represent the mutilation of the female body in the service of provoking a reaction in their audience.

In the case of DC Entertainment, the image is very obviously designed to provoke the contingent of feminists in their fanbase, or larger superhero fandom who will reblog the image all over the place and, like me, here, write some kind of piece about it which will make you want to go to the image and see for yourself, and then perhaps purchase the comic, or if not, continue the conversation until they get to the person who feels that they need to buy the comic on principle as a reaction to the reaction. 

So the way I perceive that image is very much not as an image of subversion, so much as I see it as an image of control.  It’s not even really that transgressive, for a variety of reasons.  Some just having to do with the limited horror of seeing anything new stitched to Frankenstein who is a character by design made out of other human body parts.  There is no part of Frankenstein that isn’t already a dead human body part.  So this is hardly new, and the aesthetics of that stitching is not very shocking to the senses.  Additionally the placement of the face, and it’s more flattened out nature lacks the identity violating nature of true body horror.  This isn’t Frankenstein’s body rebelling against itself, or anything but a choice to stitch another dead thing to his body.  It’s an act fundamentally of control.  To take the face of someone else and stitch it to you, is to try and map some of their power into your own.  To wit, Black Canary’s superpower being added to Frankenstein’s own.  By subverting Black Canary’s identity, Frankenstein gains greater power and control within his world.


By contrast, Shintaro Kago’s imagery is about the horror of a body out of control.  That your own body would betray itself horribly.  It is a troubling call out to the viewers own lack of control in the agency of their own functionality.  In this way, it is a subversive image.  It doesn’t promote the idea of power and control, it says that those ideas are foolish and non-existent.  That life is a cruelty of inescapable changes and humiliations to which you are bound.  These are images that legit unsettle.  It is not for nothing that so many of the subjects in these images are innocent young women.  These are existential provocations.  The likes of which, if they were promoted en masse on the level of a DC entertainment conglomerate level, would provoke a general unsettling far beyond feminists on tumblr. 

That’s what I’m thinking anyways.  It’s all a bit crap.

And no I don’t know what book the Frankenstein thing is from.  Some recent thing apparently.  I don’t really care.  I’m also not sure of the artist, because the artist, as per usual in this kind of thing, wasn’t ever listed.  Is it…Ethan Van Sciver?  Maybe?  i don’t know.  It’s impossible to find these type of things out.  I once spent an hour trying to find out who drew preview pages for a Prometheus comic.  Anyways.  COMICS!

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5 comments
  1. Adam B said:

    I had assumed the image comes from carelessness (not bothering to consider how women, much less feminists, would view it) rather than malice (actively trying to troll feminists to somehow increase sales). Do we have evidence that the more pessimistic interpretation is correct (like, has DC done this before?)?

    • This is a legit marketing tactic that is employed throughout the entertainment business right now. Because we live in such stratified times, it is a successfull emarketing strategy right now if you antagonize one group, so that your base dives harder to defend you, AND you get exposed to all of the neutrals and of those you get a percentage of converts.

      That said, I don’t think DC’s motive one way or the other, changes the primary thrust of this article, which was thinking about how power functions in these two different body horror depictions, and how that makes one subversive, and another controlling.

  2. Just what I expected. Comic book is not feminist. All they want is to do is sell comic book…. to straight male. That’s why despite DC treatment toward female character, they still survive and sell more book because man like this stuff. So in the future almost all superhero dead expect Batman (duuh… of course. Batman is DC ‘special snowflake’ after all. That guy so strong he can beat God despite being mere mortal *rolling eyes*) Though I kinda hoping Zatanna survive. I love Zatanna. That woman is strong, She can turn villain into rabbit with one spell. I wonder why there’s more Zatanna solo series.

    • I actually picked up an Esteban Maroto drawn Zatanna series at ECCC that I still need to read. It looks beautiful.

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