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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #54!

This is the fifty-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous fifty-three.

This week is a theme week! It is MIKE GRELL Urban Legends week!!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Warlord was cancelled after its third issue.

STATUS: True

Grell tells the intriguing story of Warlord’s beginning, ending and un-ending (which will make sense as you read) at his great website here:

While working on SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES and a slew of other titles, word came down that SEABOARD comics was looking for new titles – AND – they were offering to pay $100 per page, nearly double what I was earning at DC. So, I packed up my SAVAGE EMPIRE presentation and marched up to Jeff Roven’s office to give him my pitch. He liked it, and made me an offer that sounded good, but I was reluctant to jeopardize my position with DC (I had a wife and a dog to support). I asked him to hold off on announcing the deal until I had at least two issues completed, in order to ensure some security and demonstrate to DC, whom I considered my primary client, that I could do both without problems. Jeff agreed to wait, and I left to drop off pages at DC.

It was about a twenty minute walk.

By the time I arrived at DC, Carmine Infantino, the publisher, was waiting for me. Jeff Roven had phoned him as soon as I left the office to boast that (according to Carmine) he had “signed your boy Grell to two books a month.” Naturally, Carmine wanted to know why i hadn’t brought the property to him first. Money aside, I told him that, considering DC’s lack of success with the sword & sorcery genre, I didn’t think he’d be interested. “Why not let me be the judge of that?” he said. I followed him to his office to do the SAVAGE EMPIRE pitch.

It was about a twenty foot walk.

But in those twenty feet I realized “He’s never going to buy it.” Luckily, the phone rang as we walked in and Carmine excused himself for a couple of minutes while my brain went into high gear. In the next two minutes, I mentally rewrote the whole thing.

Jason Cord, the archeologist, became Travis Morgan, pilot of an SR-71 spy plane. Atlantis became Skartaris, the world at the earth’s core, a mix of Burroughs, Verne and half a dozen other “Hollow Earthers”. (The name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in “JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH”). The city of Shamballah came from the Tibetan city of gold, which, according to legend, lies buried somewhere beneath the Himalayas. (At the time, THREE DOG NIGHT had a song lyric: “How does your light shine on the road to Chamballah?”).

Tahnee, the warrior woman became Tara, queen of Shamballah. The only name that remained unchanged was the villain, Diemos. I confess, I thought about changing it to Phobos, but It just sounded so cool. The title was lifted from a Charlton Heston movie, “THE WAR LORD.”

Carmine liked the pitch and said, “Run it past Joe (Orlando). If he likes it, we’ll give it a year’s run. Gauranteed.” It was that guarantee that made the difference. Seaboard proved to be a crapshoot that didn’t pan out for anyone for very long. It vanished, along with some very good titles that should have had a longer run.

Unfortunately for me, Carmine wasn’t exactly true to his word. I picked up the third bi-monthly issue of THE WARLORD and read “THE END” on the last page. That’s how I found out it had been cancelled. No phone call, nothing.

Unfortunately for Carmine, Jeanette Kahn arrived a couple of weeks later and assumed the mantle of publisher of DC COMICS. It seems that Jeanette made it a point to read all the titles in the lineup and THE WARLORD was her favorite. When she looked at the roster and found it missing, she asked what had happened to it and was told that Carmine had cancelled it. I’m told (and I choose to believe it, because it makes a great story) that she said, “Well, I just cancelled Carmine. Put it back on the schedule.”


Later, when the big DC IMPLOSION hit and titles were being cancelled left and right, those that survived the cut were made monthly. THE WARLORD was one of them. In a short time it became the top selling title at DC.

Thanks to Christopher Elam, who reminded me that when Grell says “third issue,” he is counting First Issue Special #8, which was Warlord’s first appearance. So the “third issue” is actually Warlord #2, which was released in early 1976. Warlord #3 came out in late 1976, after Kahn un-cancelled it, which is why it says “Warlord is back!” on the cover. Thanks again, Christopher!

It’s a real interesting story by Grell (and be sure to click the link to see a funny framing story by Grell, as well). I especially like that Grell made sure to say the Kahn quote may be apocryphal, as it sounds like it.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Black Canary was raped in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.

STATUS: False

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters was a project that Mike Gold convinced Mike Grell to do for DC Comics, in an attempt to revamp the Green Arrow character, with the ultimate goal being the release of a new Green Arrow series.

Part of the revamp involved making the book a lot more gritty and realistic than before. Gone were the trick arrows, and also gone was Black Canary’s sonic scream.

HOW she lost her scream, though, was due to an event in Longbow Hunters, which was Dinah being captured and tortured.

Nowhere in the issue (and I just reread it) is it implied that Dinah was raped. Unless, of course, you wish to presume that if a woman is tortured, it is implied that part of torture will be rape.

But that’s a big leap to make.

In any event, when asked about it, Grell responded as follows (courtesy of the DCU messageboards):

In the Longbow Hunters I remember, Dinah is badly beaten and nearly killed. […] was this a rape? -Dhaise

Grell: Nope. No way. It always amazes me at how people read that into the scene. I tried to address the question in an issue of Green Arrow where Dinah is talking to a therapist. The line says, “People say things like ‘at least you weren’t raped’…as if that’s the worst thing that could happen.”

One guy even said he resented the fact that I had “shown Dinah being raped.” When I pointed out that it never happened, he coutnered that I had shown her “being punched in the face.” Again, although she is bruised and bloodied when we first see her in the scene, the only person who touches her lifts her head up by the hair…an instant before ollie kills him.

It is perfectly reasonable for folks to take issue with the scene. However, it does not appear as though Dinah was raped, and it was not the intention of the writer/artist.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mike Grell got his start working as an assistant to Dale Messick on Brenda Starr.

STATUS: True

It may be hard to believe, but Mike Grell, the guy behind such macho comic books as Warlord and Green Arrow, got his start working as an assistant to Dale Messick on her popular comic strip, Brenda Starr, which follows the adventures of a reporter who travels the globe having adventures.

Grell told the story at his ever-informative website

I first met Dale in 1972 through the auspices of Willard Colston, then editor of the Tribune Syndicate. Fresh out of art school, I had been trying, unsuccessfully, to peddle a comic strip of my own and Willard mentioned that Dale Messick needed another assistant. He arranged a meeting and I went to Dale’s Chicago lakeshore digs to show my stuff.Dale had the same impact on me that she had on all men. I was instantly charmed and instantly impressed with her amazing talent and wit. She regaled me with tales off the Golden Era of newspaper comics and showed me some of her collection of early drawings by pals like Irwin Hasen. Eventually, Dale got around to looking at my portfolio and said she liked the way I drew women. I came away with a week’s worth of daily strips to ink and a serious crush that has lasted to this day.

Grell eventually became more involved, inking everything but Brenda’s face (Grell joked, “I told Dale I was going to title my autobiography, ‘Doing Brenda’s Body.'” He left, though, in 1973 to move to New York City to pursue a comic book career. A career that, well, as you all know, has worked out well for Grell.

Dale Messick passed away in 2005 at the age of 98.

Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!

75 Comments

For a long time after I read Longbow Hunters, I didn’t think she was raped. Then everyone started mentioning it as if it were fact. You’re right, though, there’s not indication of it, but I don’t blame people for thinking it. I think a lot of people were offended by Grell’s treatment of Dinah (I wasn’t, but then I had no history with the character), and they grafted the worst thing they could think of onto the scene. Interesting stuff, as usual.

Yeah, like I mentioned, you can still quite reasonably take issue with how Grell handled Dinah.

There just wasn’t rape implied in the comic, unless you want to say that if you torture a woman, that will include rape – which seems to be a fairly big leap.

And when you add the writer/artist saying categorically that there wasn’t rape?

I think it’s fairly safe to say there wasn’t rape.

Re : The Warlord.

It’s actually after #2, which technically was the “third bi-monthly issue” since the first story was inexplicably printed in FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL #8. FIS #8 has a Nov. 1975 coverdate and WARLORD #1 is listed as “Jan.-Feb. 1976″. One issue of AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS (I forget the number) listed it as being “held” at #2. That was a bit more vague than usual for those times, which I always found odd.

That’s the reason why that cover for WARLORD #3 has “He’s Back!” on it. There was something like a 7 month gap between issues #2 and #3.

Thanks for the help, Chris. You’re a prince among men.

moose n squirrel

June 9, 2006 at 4:56 am

It’s easy to see how someone could assume Black Canary got raped. Many of the scenes where she’s shown being tortured or having been tortured are pretty sexually suggestive: she’s tied up in a way that exposes her in the most vulnerable way possible, her clothes are either torn or removed, etc. You can hardly blame readers for thinking an implied rape had taken place when the visual shorthand for sexual assault is present.

Similarly, Ron Marz didn’t mean to imply that Alex DeWitt had actually been chopped up and put in a fridge, but he can’t exactly get miffed at readers who saw parts of a woman hidden in a fridge and made the obvious connection.

It’s actually not that difficult to see where the idea that Dinah was raped came from. In the scene in question, she’s not only been beaten, but she’s not wearing any pants, only a shirt, which is all tattered. Doesn’t mean she was raped, of course, but it’s not too hard to see how the sequence might imply it to some people, even if not intended to do so.

Or maybe it IS just sexism, I dunno.

Moose n squirrel beat me to the point and said it better. Curses. ;)

It’s also not difficult to see where it came from because I can’t recall reading a Mike Grell comic where rape wasn’t part of the equation at one point.

Which is why I don’t read a lot of Mike Grell comics.

RE: the Green Lantern refrigerator scene.

Several years ago I read an article criticizing the restrictions of the comics code, and it featured Ron Marz complaining about having to change that scene. Originally, the scene showed the inside of the refrigerator, and you could see Alex’s body, but the CCA made them change it so the door wasn’t open all the way and you only saw her leg sticking out. This led many to assume she had been chopped up. Marz was annoyed, because the censorship created an implication worse than the original scene. So really, if Marz was miffed at anyone, it was the Comics Code, not the readers.

What makes Longbow Hunters different (not better, but different) is that Dinah is being tortured for information. She is investigating the case before Oliver is, and the bad guys find out about it. Raping someone probably isn’t the best way to get information out of them. Her clothes are torn because she can’t be naked in the comic book, but it’s not dissimilar to torture scenes we’ve seen in movies with men. Does anyone think the Vietnamese raped Rambo in the second movie, even though he’s shirtless? According to our reasoning, we should think so, but we don’t. Dinah’s torture is disturbing, as it’s meant to be, but rape isn’t part of it.

“One guy even said he resented the fact that I had ‘shown Dinah being raped.’ When I pointed out that it never happened, he coutnered that I had shown her ‘being punched in the face.’”

Get that guy a blog.

Glenn Simpson

June 9, 2006 at 10:25 am

The fact that Rambo is missing his shirt doesn’t suggest rape. But if his pants were around his ankles, it might.

Dinah isn’t wearing any pants. The only reason she wouldn’t be wearing any pants is if he was trying to get to her girly-parts. The fact that he was trying to get to her girly-parts suggests rape.

I’m not saying anybody is lying about intent, but it’s not an unreasonable mental jump to make, given that her pants are gone.

moose n squirrel

June 9, 2006 at 10:29 am

“Raping someone probably isn’t the best way to get information out of them.”

True, but neither is torture: it fairly reliably produces distorted information or outright lies, since the victim’s motivation isn’t to tell the torturer the truth, but to tell the torturer whatever the victim thinks the torturer wants to hear (hence all those witches they found back in the Inquisition).

It’s also certainly not uncommon for “torture for information” to lead to “sexual abuse for information” and then simply to rape (see also: every regime that’s ever engaged in widespread torture).

“Does anyone think the Vietnamese raped Rambo in the second movie, even though he’s shirtless?”

Rambo’s torture is explicitly framed as a demonstration of the (male) hero’s fortitude and courage; in other words, look at what a total badass Rambo is, he’s putting up a fight even when he’s getting tortured! Black Canary isn’t even the focus of her own torture; she’s a damsel-in-distress, an object of Green Arrow’s concern and desperation.

“Her clothes are torn because she can’t be naked in the comic book”

Okay, I am working from memory here but…

If memory serves, Longbow Hunters was a Mature Readers book and did show Dinah in the nude. If not in this context, certainly in bedroom scenes with Ollie.

All true points, people. I’m just saying that anyone who thinks that it states or is shown that Dinah is raped is simply making their own leap. As Brian pointed out, it’s never shown or even stated, and it’s our own beliefs and expectations that we bring to it that makes us think that. It’s a very interesting problem, and Grell certainly didn’t really make it any better.

Um, I remember reading that and the fact that everyone thinks it was rape is because after that Dinah lost her ability to have children. That was said on panel. So if they didn’t rape her, what kind of torture did they do to her that she could never have children?

moose n squirrel

June 9, 2006 at 11:34 am

I’m just saying that anyone who thinks that it states or is shown that Dinah is raped is simply making their own leap.

Yes, but Mike Grell makes it an incredibly easy leap to make. In fact I’d say he encourages readers to make that leap. To kill this metaphor, he all but walks us to the ledge and pushes us onto the trampoline.

Tron: So if they didn’t rape her, what kind of torture did they do to her that she could never have children?

Ron Burgundy: I’m gonna punch you in the ovary, that’s what I’m gonna do. A straight shot. Right to the babymaker.

Re: the non-rape of Dinah—Thank you, Tron. I knew SOMETHING had been said that tied her attack to her sex organs.

Re: Warlord—the words “The End” might well be on the last panel of #2, but as I recall there was a lot more copy that suggested the character could return, which when conbined with the lack of a chronological gap between “First Issue Special” #8 and “Warlord” #1 indicates a three-issue try-out was all that had been initially scheduled. I find such evidence more convincing than the thirty-years-after-the-event memory of a single person. (Note that on the old Urban Legends item about Marvel supposedly creating four titles during one lunch, Kurt Busiek says he remembered “The Champions” and “The Inhumans” as being launched as Giant-Size titles then quickly converted to regular titles when that format was scrapped, but “Len [Wein] doesn’t remember it that way.” All Kurt got wrong was that the two titles were actually “The Invaders” and “The X-Men,” the latter written by Wein, whose memory obviously failed HIM.) Anybody actually got a copy of “Warlord” #2 handy to tell me if MY memory is good?

When I read that this was going to be an all-Grell installment, I was hoping to learn some details about what happened to Mike with his “Jon Sable, Freelance” at First. He said in either its letter column or the company’s editorial/promo page that Tony Dezuniga was about to join him as the new artist, but instead Marv Wolfman replaced HIM as writer and somebody I never heard of was drawing the thing. At the time, I had the admittedly vague feeling only that he had been screwed, but never encountered any report of specifics. Again, I have mentioned something that is more of a mystery than an urban legend. Oh, well.

Grell put forth every indicator possible in GA:TLBH that Dinah was raped. He included all the visuals that would suggest it, and included nothing that denied it. That people drew the conclusion that Dinah suffered the worst–and to many minds rape is the worst thing that you could do a woman–is Grell and DC’s fault for not being clear. It was definitely implied, and therefore many people inferred it.

A comment to a therapist that there are worse things than rape is NOT a clarification of any kind. Its vagueness only elicits MORE speculation as to what ELSE happened to her.

It appears to me that DC wanted to benefit back then from the emotional scars, but now wants to be relieved of the emotional baggage to the character.

Grell didn’t draw rape.

No one implied rape during the scene. In fact, there IS an implication that rape may occur – but Ollie shows up and saves the day first.

The “no baby/no scream” stuff came later on, along with the statement (repeated twice) about “People say ‘at least it wasn’t rape.'” Then the discussion goes on to talk about how torture victims are misunderstood.

Mike Gold has spoken about how he wanted to do a story about torture victims, and HOW they are so misunderstood by people.

And “how else could she lose the ability to bear children?” She was tortured!

If Grell was unclear in the initial story, he specifically WAS clear in the ongoing series.

Feel free to say it doesn’t matter what the writer, artist and editor said on the matter THEN, what they say NOW and what they put in the actual product.

I, however, am sticking with them.

And, in addition, as I pointed out twice now, you can criticize the scene withOUT rape occuring. You can still think it is a poor scene without rape being there.

moose n squirrel

June 9, 2006 at 3:39 pm

And “how else could she lose the ability to bear children?” She was tortured!

They tortured her uterus? Come on, Brian.

Feel free to say it doesn’t matter what the writer, artist and editor said on the matter THEN, what they say NOW and what they put in the actual product.

There have been PLENTY of times when writers, artists and editors have done a bit of revisionist history after the mood has changed. Anyone remember Warren Ellis’s bizarre 180 on “The Authority” in the middle of Millar’s run? Right at the peak of the anti-Authority backlash, when we were getting obvious Authority-clones in Superman and constant comments from other writers about how very bad and naughty the whole Authority concept was, Ellis started talking about how that was his intention all along, and how you could obviously tell they were supposed to be bad guys as far back as his run because it ended with the heroes killing God. Now, having read Ellis’s Authority, and having read umpteen rants by Warren Ellis on the subject of politics and religion, I find it impossible to believe that the man would not find the concept of killing God noble, necessary and heroic – as it is portrayed in the Authority and in a whole bunch of other Ellis comics.

So there’s one clear example off the top of my head where a writer obviously flipped and changed his story on his own work because he wanted to look better. I doubt Ellis is alone in this; artists and writers tend to be bullshitters, especially in a field as nakedly disingenuous as corporate comics. Mike Grell saying he didn’t mean to make it look like a rape when indication within the text itself hints that she was raped really just smacks of another example of this.

moose n squirrel

June 9, 2006 at 3:50 pm

And, in addition, as I pointed out twice now, you can criticize the scene withOUT rape occuring. You can still think it is a poor scene without rape being there.

Sure, and people DO criticize the scene even on the assumption that she was “just” tortured, since it very clearly fits the “Women In Refrigerators” paradigm wherein female characters are reduced to objects for the male characters to react to. But what I’m reacting to, at least, is the vaguely weaselly behavior of Mike Grell, who does hint very strongly that there’s a sexual component to that torture and then insists later on that no of course there absolutely wasn’t, as if to imply that this either makes the scene better or that it just makes the sexualization of the torture sequence he actually wrote and drew go away.

Well, when reading the book and given all the subsequent hints in issues, I assumed she was raped but the later comments to the psychiatrist changed my mind on the subject. Frankly, I don’t really care one way or the other.

I do care whether people read The Longbow Hunters though. This was a really good miniseries and was followed by a very solid run on the regular series. I doubt Green Arrow would even have a series now if not for the consistent work by Grell and Ed Hannigan on this series.

I recall that when Grell’s post-Longbow Hunter series first came out, the buzz at the comic shops I frequented was that it was DC’s best selling title. After reading that Warlord was their number one title for a while, I’m further intrigued. Any chance anyone knows if there’s truth to that rumor?

I recall when Identity Crisis was on the racks noting to someone somewhere on the interent that I hadn’t seen an explicit rape scene in superhero comics before, and was promptly pointed to “Longbow Hunters” which I’d already read, said so, and pointed out that Dinah wasn’t raped … and boy, did that guy decide to rip me a new one over that. It was the most ridiculous “I’m always right and you’re wrong” episode I’ve ever been in on the internet.

How amusing that he wasn’t right in the first place. Closely held conceptions don’t serve us well …

“Grell didn’t draw rape.

No one implied rape during the scene. In fact, there IS an implication that rape may occur – but Ollie shows up and saves the day first.

The “no baby/no scream” stuff came later on, along with the statement (repeated twice) about “People say ‘at least it wasn’t rape.’” Then the discussion goes on to talk about how torture victims are misunderstood.

Mike Gold has spoken about how he wanted to do a story about torture victims, and HOW they are so misunderstood by people.

And “how else could she lose the ability to bear children?” She was tortured!

If Grell was unclear in the initial story, he specifically WAS clear in the ongoing series.

Feel free to say it doesn’t matter what the writer, artist and editor said on the matter THEN, what they say NOW and what they put in the actual product.

I, however, am sticking with them.”

Brian, I’m not going to speak for anyone else, but I a least was not arguing that a rape had occurred. I’m willing to believe Grell when he says he didn’t write that. What I WAS pointing out was that it was easy to see how people got the idea it had.

You and Grell seem to think it’s completely ridiculous for people to think she had been raped, but take a look at the sequence in question. As moose n squirrel said, all the visual cues are present, so it’s not hard to see people making the assumption.

And saying it didn’t happen just because Grell didn’t draw it is kind of silly. Storytelling, especially for the older set as Longbow Hunters was, often relies on implication and an audiences assumptions. So just because it’s not explicitly shown or stated doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, especially when the visual cues say otherwise.

It doesn’t really matter one way or the other to the story whether the torture included rape or not, but to say it wasn’t implied when it definitely was, intentional or not, is rather naive.

Oh, sure, Ken, I have no problem with saying that “Grell was sloppy with it” or “Grell made it confusing.” That’s fine by me. Heck, in the quote you quoted, I say “If Grell was unclear in the initial story, he specifically WAS clear in the ongoing series.” So I’m certainly allowing that people were confused by the original scene. It’s why Grell added the line (twice!) in the ongoing.
Just, when it comes down to it, if the question is “Was Dinah raped in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters?”, I’m going with “False.”

You know, setting aside the was she or wasn’t she debate for a moment, I find the scene that Grell used to debunk the rape myth kinda weird: “People tell me ‘at least you weren’t raped?'” I would love to know which character actually told Dinah that. Do people actually say that to women who’ve been terribly tortured? “At least you weren’t raped?” Kind of insensitive, no? I realize Grell wanted to debunk the rape myth, but the way he chose was kind of far-fetched and disingenuous. I can’t imagine several people saying that to someone who was tortured so horribly.

Also, I could never get into Grell because of his horrid, HORRID sense of anatomy.

(Is this the right place to submit a legend? Wasn’t quite sure, hope so Apologies if it’s not)

Surprised this hasn’t been covered here yet: It’s long been rumored that the Rob Liefeld-created Highlander rip-off X-Force villains the Externals were all killed off because there was a legal battle between Marvel and the Creators of Highlander. Any truth to this?

moose n squirrel

June 10, 2006 at 10:33 am

So how does she become infertile unless she was sexually tortured? And what exactly is the difference between “sexual torture” and “rape”?

moose n squirrel

June 10, 2006 at 11:11 am

I have no problem with saying that “Grell was sloppy with it” or “Grell made it confusing.” That’s fine by me.

But the thing is, Grell isn’t just “sloppy” or “confusing.” He invites the reader to conclude, using a series of visual cues and textual hints (torn clothing, suggestive body posing, missing pants, a stated if unspecified damage done to her sexual organs), that Black Canary was in fact raped. This isn’t a mistake or an oversight; as an artist and a writer Grell knows how to suggest what he wants to suggest, and all of his suggestions say “this character was sexually assaulted.” That he distances himself from the scene with later claims and throwaway lines in follow-up issues doesn’t take away from the fact that in that story, he wants us to think her torture had a sexual component.

Glad to help, Brian!

I really need to look for it, but the AWODCC issue with #2’s blurb says something like “This wraps up Mike Grell’s one-man-show so he can move on to other things.” I thought it was faintly insulting the way it was worded, but maybe I’m just reading things into that. As I said before, the main news reported it as “held”, which certainly left the door open for its return.

DC’s publishing schedule under Carmine was a strange, strange thing.

Actually, I an see how some might have misconstrued that Dinah was raped. If I recall, in the scene, she’s hanging from the ceiling by her wrists, and while she is wearing a shirt, she’s not wearing pants, shoes or hosiery. Given her situation, rape isn’t that big of a leap to make.

I just want to know is how they got her in that situation. With a scream she can flatten an army. She didn’t lose the scream until after the trauma.

Totally agreed, Ray. It IS easy to misconstrue the scene. That’s why Grell decided to address it in Green Arrow #2 (of the ongoing).

Re: Rape?

I suspect that because Green Arrow and Black Canary were totally mainstream Justice-League-member superheroes, Grell was obligated, no Code approval and a “Mature Readers” disclaimer notwithstanding, to a degree of rstraint by the company. Being on this occasion as dense as Hollywood’s old self-censorship arm the Hays Office was sometimes (for example, in “Casablanca” they never realized that the Claude Rains character was issuing attractive young women legally required travel documents in exchange for getting laid), DC execs failed to pick up on the implications of rape and approved the mini. When fan response began to refer to it, they realized their oversight and forced Grell to deny the act in the regular GA series. That makes the most sense to me, given all the facts.

I believe that Mike Grell didn’t intend to portray rape…consciously at least. But when *I* read the scene, I believed she had been raped. This was, of course, back before I’d read any interview with Mr. Grell so I didn’t have his words to go off of.

I believed that the position of the clothing, the nature of the scene construction and the nature of the injuries (specifically to sexual organs) implies rape occured. The fact that a significant number of readers saw the scene the same way indicates that the scene was constructed ambiguously.

Which isn’t necessarily a problem, but authors *have* to be aware that readers have a tendency to assume the worst/most outrageous thing they can imagine. For many people, that includes rape. If they don’t want to face these kind of questions for the rest of their careers, they have to be aware of and eliminate any ambiguity. (If for example, Black Canary was wearing pants that were very torn but still on her legs and made it clear that the infertility was from some sort of blow to the mid-section/external impact, far fewer people would read the scene otherwise.)

It would be possible to do, would it perhaps lose some of the impact? Maybe. I don’t know. I do think that the question is an understandable one though.

Thanks for answering it concretely!

Michael Heide

June 15, 2006 at 2:49 am

I just found out about Comic Book Urban Legends and read all installments in one sitting.

What I’d like to know is, is AJ Lieberman really John Byrne? That rumor started when Byrne allegedly said something to the degree of “People don’t hate my stories, they hate my name. I’m currently writing books for DC under an alias and they don’t get slammed.” Back then, everyone was convinced that AJ Lieberman (then writer of Harley Quinn and Gotham Knights) was the only suspect. On the other hand, it might have been JD Finn. Currently, Lieberman is slated to write the upcoming Martian Manhunter book.
So, if you have any background information, it would be much appreciated.

“A comment to a therapist that there are worse things than rape is NOT a clarification of any kind. Its vagueness only elicits MORE speculation as to what ELSE happened to her.”

But the comment is that people say “at least you weren’t raped,” which she is saying is true.

“And what exactly is the difference between “sexual torture” and “rape”? ”

The nerves in the clitoris are the most sensitive nerves in a woman’s body. Thus, if somebody wanted to make for a very painful torture, I would say there are quite a few things which could be done which would not be ‘rape’ by any standard definition, and would likely even qualify as what she would call “worse”.

I mean, jeez, am I the only person who saw ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’?

Sean:

I, for one, HAVE seen “Raiders…,” several times in fact, and have no idea why you’ve brought it up. Please explain.

I LOVE YOU GUYS. (I SAY “GUYS” BECAUSE I NOTE ONLY ONE NAME (KALINARA) THAT SEEMS FEMININE.) DAN COYLE, ADMITTEDLY, HAS READ FEW OF MY STORIES BUT HAS AN OPINION THAT MY BODY OF WORK RARELY DEALS WITH ANY SUBJECT OTHER THAN RAPE. NOT TRUE. I SIMPLY WRITE STORIES THAT ARE BASED IN A WORLD WHERE PEOPLE DO HORRIFIC THINGS TO ONE ANOTHER AND WOMEN ARE FREQUENTLY THE VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE. IT’S CALLED EARTH.

I’M ALWAYS A LITTLE AMAZED AT HOW MUCH PEOPLE READ INTO MY STORIES AND HOW THEY MANAGE TO PUT THEIR OWN IMPRINT ON THINGS THEY READ, PARTICULARLY THE “WAS SHE RAPED?” QUESTION. TYPICALLY, MOST MALE REACTIONS HAVE BEEN THAT, YES, DINAH HAD TO HAVE BEEN RAPED, BECAUSE IN THEIR MINDS THAT’S THE WORST THING THEY CAN IMAGINE HAPPENING TO A WOMAN, ESPECIALLY A WOMAN THEY LOVE. THIS LEAP OF MALE LOGIC, DESPITE THE LACK OF EVIDENCE, IS WHY I USED THE EXCHANGE BETWEEN DINAH AND HER THERAPIST TO STATE CLEARLY THAT IT NEVER HAPPENED.

IF OLLIE HADN’T ARRIVED THINGS COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT, BUT THAT’S EXACTLY THE POINT. I NEEDED THAT MOMENT IN ORDER TO PUSH OLLIE OVER THE EDGE AND FORCE HIM INTO THE CHOICE OF WHETHER TO SHOOT THE KNIFE OUT OF THE VILLAIN’S HAND (HE HAD ALREADY DEMONSTRATED THE ABILITY TO DO SO) OR PUT AN ARROW THROUGH HIS HEART. IN PAST STORIES, AFTER ACCIDENTALLY KILLING A MAN, OLLIE HAD SWORN NEVER TO TAKE ANOTHER HUMAN LIFE. I WANTED TO SHOW THAT, UNDER THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES, ANYONE COULD KILL A MOTHER TO PROTECT HER CHILD, A HUSBAND TO PROTECT HIS WIFE, A SOLDIER TO PROTECT HIS COUNTRY. OLLIE CHOSE TO KILL THE SON OF A BITCH, BECAUSE HE REALLY, REALLY HAD IT COMING. AND BECAUSE IT WAS A DRAMATIC TURNING POINT IN HIS OWN LIFE – ONCE THE ARROW WAS LOOSED, HE COULD NEVER GO BACK. HIS LIFE BECAME DIFFERENT FROM THAT MOMENT.

EDITOR MIKE GOLD AND I MADE A SPECIFIC CHOICE TO DEAL WITH STORIES TAKEN FROM THE HEADLINES AND DEAL WITH THE SUBJECTS HEADON, RATHER THAN SPEAKING METAPHORICALLY AND HOPING THE AUDIENCE WOULD GET THE MESSAGE. WE DID EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO SPARK DEBATE, NOT BECAUSE WE HAD ALL THE ANSWERS, BUT BECAUSE WE BELIEVED (AND STILL DO) THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO RAISE THE QUESTIONS. THAT’S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THE GA LETTERCOL BECAME ESSENTIALLY THE FORERUNNER TO THE BLOG, AN ONGOING DIALOGUE BETWEEN READERS THAT WENT ON FOR MONTHS ON END. YOU THINK WHAT HAPPENED TO DINAH WAS TERRIBLE? CERTAINLY IT WAS, BUT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE ABOUT IT? JUST A COMIC BOOK? SURE, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIMS YOU READ ABOUT IN YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER OR HEARD ABOUT ON THE NEWS? SOONER OR LATER, SOMEONE OUT THERE IS GOING TO HAVE THE RIGHT ANSWER TO THE RIGHT PROBLEM AT THE RIGHT TIME.

A PARAGRAPH BACK I USED THE PHRASE “COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT”. LET ME SAY, FOR THE RECORD, I NEVER WOULD HAVE ALLOWED SUCH A THING. DINAH IS ONE OF MY ALLTIME FAVORITE CHARACTERS AND SHE DESERVES BETTER, BUT, FRANKLY, SHE WASN’T THE STAR OF THE SHOW. HER MOTIVATIONS WERE NEVER IN QUESTION, SO THERE WAS NO NEED FOR A TRANSFORMING INCIDENT IN HER LIFE EXCEPT AS IT RELATED TO HER RELATIONSHIP WITH OLLIE. I DID WHAT ANY DECENT SOAP OPERA WRITER WOULD DO – I STARTED WITH A PERFECTLY HAPPY COUPLE AND THEN ROYALLY SCREWED UP THEIR LIVES.

THE WHOLE SUBJECT OF DINAH LOSING HER POWER CAME MUCH LATER FROM ANOTHER WRITER, BECAUSE MY MANDATE IN THE ENTIRE GREEN ARROW SERIES WAS TO PLACE OLLIE AND DINAH FIRMLY IN THE REAL WORLD, WHERE SUPER POWERS DO NOT EXIST. SOMEONE FELT IT NECESSARY TO EXPLAIN WHAT I SIMPLY CHOSE TO IGNORE AND THINGS SORT OF WENT TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET FROM THERE.

IN THE END, THE BEAUTY OF BEING THE WRITER IS THAT I GET TO SAY “I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG, BECAUSE I SAY SO.” YOU RARELY GET TO DO THAT AFTER THE SECOND GRADE.

THANKS FOR SHARING, BUT MOSTLY FOR CARING.

BEST REGARDS,

MIKE GRELL

Well, this will be anti-climatic after that, but…

Brian: I think you could alleviate the confusion by changing the wording of the question: “Black Canary was raped in the pages of Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.” That one’s definitely false, because it didn’t happen in the comic.

But the comic and the story are different, and, just like a punch that connects with someone off-panel, ever reader will create the rest of the story as they go. And for many readers, yes, she was raped in the story, if not in the comic. Does that make sense? Janet Leigh was never shown being stabbed in the shower in Psycho, but people “remember” seeing it vividly.

So a simple clarification of what the UL is can help settle things. She was raped in the pages of the comic? False.

A couple of different comments.

I have been a huge fan of Mike Grell since The Warlord and find his work “classic”.

I, contrary to most of the above comments, did not see rape in the torture scene with Dinah. Guess it’s a been there perspective that, I am greatful to see, is not reflected in the comments.

I read “The Longbow Hunters” when it came out in ’87 and, at the time, I did not see rape, just torture. Today, I see the same thing, though I can fully understand how someone else could, from the images presented, assume Dinah was raped. But, for my money, the writer’s own word and the fact that, as far as I know, Dinah’s story is she was tortured (not raped) clinches the argument for me.

In any event, there’s plenty evil that is done to render a woman infertile that doesn’t involve rape, which is a fairly specific legal charge. Few years back, when Rick James was busted for sexually torturing a woman, he wasn’t convicted of rape, just “sexual assault”. There is a difference, though in the popular mind, the difference may be moot, which is probably why we’re having this discussion.

In any event, an excellent post on an excellent comic, part of an excellent series on an excellent blog. Life does bring the occasional joy, does it not?

In the last years of Carmine Infantino’s tenure as head honcho at DC he liked to greenlight pilot issues of concepts. Some of those ended up in First Issue Special, some were released as one-shots or two-issue series to “test the water” and then wait for sales figures before continuing. Jack Kirby’s Sandman was a one-shot “pilot” issue that due to weather issues appeared to be a big seller (when it was really just that returns had been delayed) and was greenlit to an on-going. So Carmine planning on releasing 1, 2, or 3 issues of a title to test the waters isn’t so odd. Other titles from this era like this are Man-Bat and Sherlock Holmes.

Jenette Kahn also “un-cancelled” some other titles almost immediately upon arriving at DC including along with Warlord, Weird Western Tales (featuring Jonah Hex) and Young Love. (To go off on a tangent, these revivals may be connected to the unannounced cancellations of Blitzkrieg, which Kahn reportedly was offended by, and Swamp Thing, for which the comics press had received creator info and a synopsis for the never published #25 — these abrupt cancellations may have caused free time on the presses and/or been in order to free up time).

Re:Warlord

I think one urban legend – that the “First Issue Special” title was only produced as a filler for stories that weren’t considered “good” enouugh to have their own comics launched is disproved by the sucess of “Warlord” (incidentally also the title of a long running, very old fashioned British WWII comic).

1. The alleged/unintended/denied rape of Dinah: I still can’t make any sense of Sean’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” reference and would welcome a clarification. Admittedly, no one has joined me in being puzzled by it, but since then no one has indicated that THEY understand it and at least implied that I’m dense, either. In fact, I seem to be the only one who hasn’t ignored it.

2. The Warlord question: This can be resolved quite firmly by somebody checking the last story page of Warlord #2 and see if what’s actually there matches my memory or Grell’s. It IS that simple: One of us HAS to be wrong! I wish I could do so myself, but it’s just not an option for me now or in the foreseeable future.

I don’t get the Raiders of the Lost Ark reference either…

I, too, assumed she had been raped am I’m definitely a woman, so it’s not just the male leap in logic. Like many others stated, the fact that her pants were missing probably made us think that. When a lady is being tortured and her clothes are half gone I, as a woman, get very nervous for her! It doesn’t make the scene any less powerful that she wasn’t, however.

Someone needs to go over to Wikipedia and do some editing, because it is written there that she was raped! I think that may have been what put it in my head since I went to Wikipedia first after I decided to get into Green Arrow.

A previous poster mentioned Identity Crisis and what’s funny is that “rape scene” is pretty much implied, too. I mean, he had her bent over and everyone looked freaked out when they came in, but it was never stated that she was raped and they certainly weren’t graphic about it. In fact, I thought it was questionable whether she was raped or just attacked until I saw some notes in the back of the book, where they discussed the rape in more detail.

What does all this mean? Yes, many of us probably assume that rape is the worst thing a man can do to a woman. I can only imagine that too, although I wouldn’t know first hand (thank God). I don’t think it is sexist at all to think that. I’d rather be whipped and kicked and punced than raped. JMHO.

jrvandore said concerning “Warlord”:

“Jenette Kahn also ‘un–cancelled’ some other titles almost immediately upon arriving at DC….[T]hese revivals may be connected to the unannounced cancellations of Blitzkrieg…and Swamp Thing, for which the comics press had received creator info and a synopsis for the never published #25….”

Does he mean that a revival of Swamp Thing, picking up the numbering of the first run (which was quite standard procedure for DC at that time and for a few years to come, contradicting the allegation circulating in those days that “First Issue Special” was pandering to the collector’s mentality about first issues) was announced but never happened? If not, then he’s well off the beam here. The actual cancellation took place in late 1973, along with several other DC titles, almost if not truly all had “next issue” info to some extent in their last editions. Swampy, in fact, ended on a cliffhanger situation. At least five titles apparently left completed issues on the shelf, four of which were published and thrown away on the market the following summer. The real surprise is that two of them, Lois Lane and Supergirl, had their features continued in Superman Family, but didn’t use the completed material there (admittedly, Supergirl got a complete revamp in the SF book). Another was the reprint title, Secret Origins, and I don’t remember the one it shared a house ad with to fill the bottom of the last page of some old reprints in the then still going on 100 page Super–Spectacular format (Lois and Kara shared another such spot, and the latter book guest starred Joe Simon’s Prez, at least according to the cover in that ad, and he, Kirby’s Mister Miracle & The Demon, and Julie Schwartz’s two sci-fi reprint series Strange Adventures & From Beyond the Unknown were among the other casualties in this big cutback—a Prez issue being included in the post–Implosion Cancelled Comics Cavalcade collection notwithstanding).

In the above I wrote: “The actual cancellation [of Swamp Thing] took place in late 1973, along with several other DC titles, [and] almost if not truly all had ‘next issue’ info to some extent in their last editions.”

Since that posting I’ve remembered that Mr. Miracle had a genuine finale, so that right there eliminates “if not truly” from my statement. Sorry that I forgot. I also apologize for the poor sentence structure that caused me to add “and” this time around. I really do try to avoid that sort of thing. And finally, I should have started that out by acknowledging that I realize how old this particular thread is, but I check it regularly hoping to find that somebody—ANYBODY—has gotten hold of a copy of Warlord #2 to describe the actual content of its last story page, as if it matches my memory rather than Grell’s, the credibility of his claim of the intent of the attack on Dinah in Longbow Hunters goes down as well. If *I* find one, I’ll not only announce the content here, but also send Brian a scan of the page, regardless of whether it’s Mike or me who’s wrong.

In Longbow Hunters, there was no rape, but I think Dinah was presented in a way that Ollie (and the reader) would FEAR she had been raped, it was just a little more gasoline on the fire to push Ollie over the line he swore he would never take and kill the guy. I believe Grell when he says that it was never intended as implied rape, but I also believe the visual cues were there so that we would fear she had been raped. That in itself does create the problem that now the reader is asking the question if she was raped or not and since that wasn’t answered by the end of the mini series, people tend to believe things till they are debunked (as opposed to disbelieving them till they are proved).

Fair point, Joe.

>IN THE END, THE BEAUTY OF BEING THE WRITER IS THAT I GET TO SAY “I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG, BECAUSE I SAY SO.”

Well, you chose the wrong vocabulary the first time around. Not only do we have the visual accent on Dinah’s nearly-naked breasts and the torturer threatening her with his phallic knife, but we have three separate visual elements that draw one’s mind to Dinah’s vagina – a) the absence of pants, b) the rip in her shirt down to her vagina, and c) the way the long trickles of blood play on closure to accentuate the place where they are visually absent – i.e., the thin strip of shirt covering the vagina. Plus, if it’s so unthinkable that anyone would draw the obvious from the illustrations, then why is Dinah given a line later on specifically denying it? Why would that be necessary if this were only a few nutballs supposedly reading too much into things?

(“She was raped” isn’t an exclusively male conclusion, by the way. I’m female, and that’s the probability that immediately came to mind.)

As for the suggestion of clitoris torture – so, instead of being raped with a penis, she was raped with a knife or blunt instrument. Yeah, that makes me feel a *whole* lot better.

It seems to me that the reason why many people felt that rape had occurred is that we live in a society that has long equated sex and violence with rape. If the scene was only violent, nobody would think rape. But add the sexual elements mentioned above and people start thinking rape. If we start thinking beyond the realm of fictional comic books, we can see that many other people in our society adhere to this perception of seeing rape when we mix violence and sex together. Think of sado-masochism and the difficulty that the BDSM community has had in getting people to believe that what they do is consensual. How implausible it seems for a sadist to be seen as a victim of violence.

Some people like to stretch the definition of rape into a more broader concept that would encompass almost any instance in which a female has been violently assaulted. But from a technical, legal and historical point of view, rape is something specific – villain penetrates victim and in that process the villain is supposed to be sexually gratified. Torture on the other hand does not require any sexual gratification to be involved. Someone can easily torture the vagina (or the penis) without involving sex. Throw boiling water over the region. Use pliers to pinch, hammers to crush, scissors to cut. There are a lot of ways that a woman can become infertile through torture but I do not think it likely that a woman would become infertile through ordinary rape.

Of course, it is entirely possible for the two concepts to intersect and they can do so in a number of different ways but these are more subtle, nuanced matters. The point is that people do see things that are not actually there and they do so from expectation, fear, desire or a number of other possible reasons. In this case, people have indeed been conditioned to think rape when we mix sex and violence – from tradition, from the media, from antiporn feminists and so forth. We make this connection from expectation, from a general unfamiliarity with other ways in which sex and violence can meet outside the context of rape, from a stereotypical depiction of rape wherein we expect to see a female with torn clothings struggling violently against a stranger – even though many incidents of rape incidents actually involve little violent struggle but an abuse of authority, trust and power (eg. father and daughter, husband and wife). How often do we encounter the former stereotype in the media and how seldom do we encounter the latter? I’m sure you can all think of films and television shows where we see rape reduced to a simple depiction of violent struggle – partly because the censors would not allow anything else.

Therein lies an explanation of how many here are quite correct in that it is entirely reasonable for them to interpret the comic book as depicting rape – but also why Mike Grell and others are quite correct in that they are reading and seeing things that are not really there.

Synonymous began his/her posting of 10 October with a quote from Mike Grell’s own comment here, and then followed it with, “Well, you chose the wrong vocabulary the first time around.” I really can’t figure out what was meant there (first, was “you” Mike or Brian, and if Grell, was “first time around” in the comic or at the beginning of his very long posting here, and any event, just what was “the wrong vocabulary”?), but it did bring a vocabulary problem here to my mind. In this discussion the phrase “depicted rape” has been used a lot, but the reality is that there is no question that Grell did not “depict rape” in Longbow Hunters. The word “depict” means to show, to portray. The attack on Dinah, whether or not it included rape, took place “off–stage.” We did NOT see it, it was not portrayed. Mike’s DEPICTION of Dinah’s state afterwards IMPLIED she had been raped; the question is whether or not he intended it to.

Here’s an urban legend,relevant to this page:

UL: The only feature in DC’s “1st Issue Special” to directly advance beyond that appearance was Mike Grell’s “The Warlord.”

Status: False.

The last issue of 1IS featured a revival of one of Jack Kirby’s most popular (if mostly in retrospect) DC creations, “The Return of the New Gods.” It was awarded its own comic, picking up the numbering of Kirby’s original, despite the altered title (an observation only, I’ve no problem whatsoever with that being done). It was a victim of the infamous DC Implosion, despite having prepared a finale, that was published over two issues of the “Dollar Comics” format run of “Adventure Comics.” A reader complained in the letter column there that the title seemed to have become a repository for stuff left homeless by the Implosion, which the editor denied by giving a short list of what he claimed was the only material that fit that description, but he did not include the “Gods” resolution on it. Wonder why? This brings to mind another mystery that includes what to all (admittedly long–distance) appearances was a bald–faced lie from a DC editor via a letter column. In the 1980s, Tony Isabella wrote “The Shadow War of Hawkman,” which started in a mini–series, then bounced around various titles through the Crisis (despite Ostrander’s strong and repeated implication in “Hawkworld” letter columns, the Silver Age version of Hawkman survived the big event intact, but that’s another debate), eventually being the first storyline in an ongoing “Hawkman” series. During this, a plot point was that Midway City police commisioner (and longtime Hawk confidante) Emmett was immune to the Thanagarian absorbacon. Isabella promised he would explain that eventually. However, with neiher the Shadow War nor this side mystery resolved, Tony abruptly left the book, with the editor claiming in an announcement of the departure on the letters page that the writer felt he had done all he wanted to with the character (His successors never explained Emmett’s immunity either, by the way). THAT was such blatant garbage, yet never challenged in the news or letter columns of “Amazing Heroes” (my choice of comics info source at the time), that I wonder if ORGANIZED fandom (in those pre–internet days, that was mostly in the northeast and California) knew the truth but more or less agreed not to say anything publicly?

Wow. I’ve just recently discovered Comics Urban Legends and I’m devouring the articles as fast as I could.. these are GREAT stuff!! (my only problem is in 1 or 2 more days i would’ve reached #75 and THEN how long will i have to wait for the next installments? sigh)

This by FAR has had the most responses from the readers.. naturally im compelled to make my own as well :-)

When I read LBH, i too assumed she’s been raped. With all this discussion, i took out my copy and browsed thru it again..

Many have already pointed out how the art was suggestive, so i turned to the script instead.

Here, the bad guys had the ff exchange:

“Finished with your new TOY yet”?
“Naw, it’s better if you make em last”
“Cripes what a waste. Good looking broad”
“If you like.. maybe I’ll save you a piece or two”

and then later, talking to Dinah:

“Hello sweetheart..did you miss me?”
“I’m gonna give you one more chance BEFORE I get Nasty”

(BEFORE he gets nasty might mean Rape MIGHT be next..)

“So.. want a little of this while she still has a face? After I’m done, she’s gonna make you want to puke”

(again, sexual assault of some kind seems to be suggested).

As far as her injuries, the doctor treating her later said that “she lost a lot of blood, but except for cracked ribs and a concussion, most of it is superficial”.

No mention of sexual assault..i can imagine the hopital doing a standard Rape Assualt Kit on her (got that from watching CSI!!) but then again no mention of damage to the ovary or any such injuries that would make her infertile.

So i guess it is ambigous enough..could have gone either way. However I do find it curious that when a poster commented Grell’s work usually has sexual intonations of this nature, Mike Grell did not deny this, but instead defended his work as reflecting the Real World.

It seems to me however, that in THIS World, Really Bad Guys in that position.. hot young woman being interoggated.. shirt ripped, no pants.. well its’ easy to figure out where it would lead.

And while we’re talking about Torture.. reminds me of JJ Abram’s work (this guy seems to have a torture fetish or something, since his works Alias, Lost, MI3 all have torture scenes in them. Dont know about Felicity though.. makes me shudder to think what he’ll do with Star Trek..but i digress). Alias characters always find themselves being tortured.. sometimes in inventive manners (teeth pulling, “special” needles maximized for pain, etc) Yet it struck me they never used any form of sexual torture (Rape, electrodes to the genetalia, etc). Not that im a perverted sicko mind you, but I’ve read enough Mack Bolan and other spybooks to “pick up” a trick or two in torture. One just assumes that super-evil torture guys would be tempted if their victim looked like Jennifer Garner. All those seasons of Alias and not one rape related case I can recall, shows like CSI have them as regular fare. (sorry just rambling now about how this subject is handled by mass media. I’ll stop now)

P.S. What’s up with Mike Grell’s post in ALL CAPS? Hasnt he heard of netiquette? :-)

Tom Watson said: “I, for one, HAVE seen “Raiders…,” several times in fact, and have no idea why you’ve brought it up. Please explain.”

How can you watch Raiders and not remember the scene with Toht waving the White Hot Fireplace Poker in Marion’s face while hyperventilating?!? That was one of the creepiest things I’d seen in my life up until then.

That’s also a case of a situtation where a man would have tortured a woman without raping her. I’m sure Toht would have gained all kinds of sexual gratification from it but I really doubt it would have involved any part of his body penetrating hers.

I got the same exact feeling from reading Longbow Hunters. The torturer had been using ALL KINDS of torture methods but hadn’t made it to actually raping her yet. The conversation with his flunkies all but confirm that as well.

And for another answer, here’s a scan of the last page of Warlord #2. It’s as Mike said, just “The End.” No exposition or any other words. But on the other hand, there’s not even a mention of anything in the letter column about it either way.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v171/The_Unnamed_One/Various/Warlord2LastPage.jpg

I thought that Dinah had been raped, but I believe Grell.

But, this made me wonder. I also thought that Barbara Gordon was raped in “The Killing Joke.” Do you know anything about that?

Theno

Re: “Raiders…” I thought he was threatening to burn her face.

As for the “Warlord” scan, this is not at all what I remember the last page of #2 looking like; I would have sworn there was a panel with Morgan and Tara in a running–like pose, holding their swords out. Are you sure this isn’t from #3? Besides, something quite recently occurred to me that puts the lie to Grell’s story anyway. His words above: “I picked up the third bi–monthly issue of THE WARLORD and read “THE END” on the last page. That’s how I found out it had been cancelled. No phone call, nothing.” R—I—G—H—T! This guy is writing, penciling and inking (maybe lettering, too, for all I know) 19 pages of this every two months (counting the covers; DC cut back their story page count per comic from 18 to 17 during this title’s hiatus), and the company cancels it without telling him to stop producing the material? No way, but that’s exactly what Grell is asking us to believe! Even if he means he “picked up” the stats/proofs/whatever in DC’s office just before they were to be sent to the printers, rather than a printed copy at a retailer, the standard lag time of comics/magazine production would have required him to have completed at least the pencils of the next one, especially if he was NOT lettering them himself (mandating additional transport time for the pages). [By the way, does anybody know just how many issues—and which numbers—of “Warlord” DC put out without a writing credit before Cary Burkett’s name appeared there? The GCD doesn’t list any such occurrence (the last time I checked those indexes, which was a few weeks ago), but I know for a fact it happened (I had copies until early ’05, and reread them in ’04), and it needs to be reflected there. If somebody else wants to tell them him/herself, that’s fair enough, of course.]

I’ve rethought the above since I posted it, and here’s what I’ve come up with. As I theorized back in posting #19, a three–issue tryout was all that was initially commissioned of “The Warlord.” NEW: Before much of that was released, Infantino decided he did not want to go with the series anyway, but didn’t say a word to Grell, and the lack of a blurb to the effect of “Want to see more of The Warlord? Then let us know!” at the bottom of #2’s last story page was how Mike found out. This leaves Grell not having produced many seemingly unusable pages, but is NOT what his account above sounds like, however. The fact that nobody at all commented when I posted my “three–issue tryout” comment that it was not inconsistent with his claim means the statute of limitations on doing so with any credibility has long since expired, except for any newcomers, of course. Grell’s appearing to misremember or misrepresent THIS event means that his statement denying any thought whatsoever of rape in the attack on Dinah nearly twenty years ago is open to question, and my theory on THAT (post #37) remains very plausible. (I’m still waiting for The_Unnamed_One to confirm that his scan is from “Warlord” #2, which I am open to; it certainly can’t be from #3, which I suggested, as it is page 18, and by the time #3 came out DC had, as I said, cut back to 17 pages of story per comic. Sorry. By the way, my name is not “Tom” but Ted; you are probably thinking of the pro golfer)

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I think the problem is that Grell tried to depict the real world but had to do with censorship constraint. If his intention was that Dinah was tortured but not raped, then in the real world she would probably have been naked in that scene with injuries showing. That would have also brought on a feeling that rape had occured, I feel. Nearly any situation where a woman is tortured would elicit that feeling unless you were going to explicitly describe the whole scene leaving nothing implicit. Not a possibility in the medium.
(Another problem is the lack for many years of a legal definition for rape. For some people the word implies sexual gratification by the assaulter. For others any forceful introduction of a sexual nature constitutes rape. The latter is by the way a recently adopted official definition in some circles. A rapist is understood as looking for sexual gratification while ignoring he causes pain. A torturer willingly wants to cause pain.) The point is that Grell wanted to depict torture in a way that would throw Oliver over the edge and nakedness accentuates vulnerability. The scene was written to create a strong emotional reaction so as bring closure between the reader and Ollie committing murder: “It’s revolting to me and therefore I’m not challenging that Ollie takes a life.”

Leo Paris: “I think the problem is that Grell tried to depict the real world but had to do with censorship constraint.”

That’s essentially what I was trying to say way back in Post #37, 13 June 2006. Despite the lack of Comics Code approval, and the presence of a “Mature Readers” warning, the fact that Canary and Arrow were two decidedly mainstream super–heroes to the extent of being Justice League members meant that DC put limits on what Mike could do with them (a decision similar to one I reported about the disappearance of nudity from Marvel’s Code–less b/w mag SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN on CBUL #95’s thread, Post #49).

Boris and Natasha

May 18, 2007 at 5:49 pm

moose n squirrel —

I can think of lots of ways to render a woman infertile without rape, or any form of sexual assault or contact with genitalia at all. Blunt abdominal trauma, electrical currents run through the body causing internal burns in the uterus or ovaries, various drugs and poisons, even opportunistic secondary systemic infections as a result of general body trauma. And that’s with all of thirty seconds of thought.

And, well, not all genital contact is necessarily sexual. Clipping one of a pair of electrodes to a man’s scrotum and running current is not particularly sexual; it seems a push to claim that changes if it’s done to the homologous structure in women, the outer labia.

I don’t know about the US, but here in Scotland rape is a very specific allegation (one of the reasons that it is so difficult to achieve a conviction), in order for a rape to occur the man must enter his penis into a woman’s vagina without consent. Any illegal activity of this sort which does not include a male sexual organ is sexual assualt or torture, and the fact that she lost he ability to have children lends itself more to the idea of torture, perhaps using a blade (unlikely that it was clitoral but, and not intending to use a porn reference) deeper penetration using an instrument
such as a knife. Although many will disagree with me (and I myself think these actions are just as vile and disgusting – in fact even more so – than rape) it TECHNICALLY isn’t rape, although psychologically the point could be argued which has lent to most people’s decicsion that Dinah was raped.

This discussion has corrupted my innocent little mind

I asked Mike Grell about Dinah and the LBH because one of the writers for DC at the time portrayed Dinah as a rape victim, while citing the LBH as a point of reference. The writer basically was jumping on her soapbox, and letting the howling fanboys scream for grells’ blood over it.
Early on in the GA ongoing after LBH, Dinah is getting interviewed about her assault, and people just remark along the lines of ‘oh well, at least you weren’t raped’.

I am surprised so few people chided Mke Grell about posting in all caps.

Otherwise I’ve got nothing to contribute to the conversation…

I’m glad that The Warlord was un-cancelled–the first issues I bought were #13, 14, and 15. They were all on the comic rack at a convenience store at the same time!

Gerard Morvan

July 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

Re: The theratpist in GA # 2. If I recall the dialogue correctly, it was the therapist speaking of her own experience as a molested child who says those words about herself. “They say: “At Least, she wasn’t raped”. As if that’s the worst thing that could happen.” I always thought that she was speaking about herself, not her (then) patient.

But later on in the series, Ollie was put in the same position as Dinah, with his pants pulled down, and on the ground, arrows that looked like they had been used to torture him. And had to go to the same therapist for help.

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