Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Puppet Weddings, Follow-up to On Rape 2.

A while back, I wrote an examination of the Nightwing-rape incident and why it didn't work for me. The comment-conversation wandered toward incidents of telepathic invasion as a mechanism for rape, and how differently it tended to be treated...especially if the perpetrator was a woman.

One of the examples mentioned was the Imra/Rokk courtship, almost-marriage, in Legion of Superheroes. Since I finally managed to find issues and read it, I thought I'd give my impression of it. A word to the wise, my sole experience with Legion up until now has been primarily the reboot, so I'm probably shaky with details. So if long-time Legion fans would like to correct me on details, or add their own perspectives aided by more experience with the storyline, please do!

I was surprised, but I really liked the storyline. I liked how sympathetically Imra was portrayed throughout even as she was forced to come to terms with unconsciously using her good friend in such a manner. And while the rape comparison wasn't made in regards to that relationship overtly, it was clear that Imra at least recognized the seriousness of what she'd done. (A few issues later, when Rokk is being controlled by Brainy's evil computer and she has to go into his mind to stop him, she even says how she swore she'd never touch his mind again.)

The rape element itself (regardless of whether or not there was any actual sexual content) is lowkey, but more similar I think to the Starman incident than to Nightwing. While Imra is clearly sympathetic, having not realized what she was doing at the time, Rokk was definitely not in a position to consent, seeing as how he was actually comatose at the time and being animated solely by her will. Thus it escapes any sort of the "well, he must have wanted it deep down" stigma attached to other such instances. (I'm not saying that's fair, but it's not an uncommon belief with regards to male victims, and one of the problems with the ambiguity of the Nightwing scene...)

What's interesting is, as Indicia mentions in the comic, the comparison with Dr. Psycho's invasion of Imra's mind, which *is* portrayed as more of a violation. But I don't necessarily think that the difference in portrayal has to do with gender as it does with intent. Also, it probably should be noted that Imra's primary control over Rokk came about when the latter was comatose after Dr. Psycho basically switched off his brain. Thus whatever figurative sexual assault comparison one could make with Rokk and Imra pales in comparison to the brutality of that assault. And really, given the timing, Imra's own victimhood lends an air of sympathy as this case, she might be reacting to her own assault by escaping into her fantasy with her fellow victim.

It probably helps that Rokk has no recollection of the events himself at least as of issue 100, which is the farthest I've managed to read, and seems to sympathize with Imra at least as much as the rest of the group does, Imra's harshest critic remains herself. This lets Rokk steer clear of the heavy, heavy angst that tends to plague characters like Nightwing (though I'd have probably liked a *little* more of the aftermath from his perspective, the less introspective aspects of the Legion title would have made it harder to do), which is probably a good thing over all.

And unlike in Nightwing, there *was* a payoff moment of sorts. When Imra frees Rokk from her control, and he wakes up, she confesses everything that happened between the two of them. Which was actually enough for me. In a case like Nightwing and Tarantula I would have wanted more of a condemnation than that, but in this case it was accidental, really, and enough for me that she owned up to her misdeeds, opening herself up to his possible anger (and who could blame him if he were) without ever playing the victim card herself.

And it reminded me of why Cosmic Boy's still my favorite Legionnaire in any incarnation I've read so far (awful outfits not withstanding...when you're a guy and *lavender* is probably your best fashion choice thus far in 50 years or so of're a little fashion-challenged)...yeah, he's sometimes a bit of a bitch but...

The guy wakes up from a weeks-long coma after a brutal mental attack to find everyone dressed up and Imra telling him that they were getting married, that she'd been controlling him like a puppet and probably would have perpetually if her love for Garth hadn't gotten in the way. And what does he do? He gets up and declares that he has to get to work, vowing to reunite them.

Now THAT is a good friend. :-)

But digression aside, I don't believe that Imra got away with her misdeed because she's female so much as the fact that it was unintentional, an accident, which she owned up to at first opportunity. She was forgiven by her victim, again, because of the accidental nature and their own close friendship.

It does make for an interesting read either way. Thanks for telling me about it, guys!


  • At February 27, 2006 2:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nightwing was also on the other end of a "telepathic intrusion" in the New Teen Titans. Raven, who had been manipulating Wally West's emotions, also did the same to Dick Grayson later in the series. It's been a long time since I read the issues involved, though, so I don't remember the resolution.

    Man, I hope Raven isn't doing it these days or she'll have to start hanging with Zatanna. :)

  • At March 01, 2006 9:20 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I don't think I've read those issues. Telepathic Intrusion though, I think, gets weird and tends to have a bit more gray areas.

    I'm not sure I'd consider manipulating emotions to be on the same level as rewriting someone's memories/personalities or actually mind controlling a comatose victim, but that might be splitting hairs.

    Though Raven hanging with Zatanna would be a nice change from all the Brother Blood stuff, IMO. :-)


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