DC 30 Day Meme Day 10 -A title you wish you could bring back

Posted: 07/21/2010 in Comics, Queer
Tags: , , , , , ,

I ran across this today at DC Women Kicking Ass. I guess it shows how new I am to being active in the comic book blogosphere outside of following a few creators’ blogs that I just found this thing a third of the way through. In the spirit of the Tumblr I found this at, I present for your consideration

Codename Knockout

Obvs the real answer is Catwoman but I strive for a little originality and especially when I write here I like to add at least a dash of queer to the mix. It certainly wasn’t the smartest of subtlest book on the market but Robert Rodi’s Vertigo spy sex farce seemed like it was breaking some important ground in terms of what comics could do and say about sex while attracting a cavalcade of the biggest names in the industry to contribute covers and the occasional guest stint on interiors. No joke, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee, Ed Benes, Phil Jiminez, J.G. Jones, and Amanda Connor all contributed at least a cover.

It wasn’t impressive and ground breaking because it was an action comic about a woman and her gay best friend, well okay it kind of was because that is actually kind of ground breaking, but that’s not the part I want to talk about. From the “On the Ledge” editorial that introduced the series onwards, the creators always stressed that the point of how they handled sex in the series was that they honestly did want to sexually objectify all of the characters across gender and sexuality lines equally which is a kind of novel approach. Like I’ve said before, people always say that men in comics are sexualized too but that isn’t the whole story because of how the depictions are framed and whose standards are applied.

By making the main viewpoint characters a heterosexual woman and a gay man, Rodi tipped the scales just enough to be able to portray men as sexual objects in a way that they have rarely been seen or understood in mainstream comics. The racial make up of the cast and “romantic” interests was pretty varied too. I guess you could say that the way to address inequality isn’t to drag everyone down into the same mud puddle, but that’s really no fun. If nothing else, it managed to really show how really easy it is for all of us humans to relate across gender and sexuality boundaries when it comes to postmodern dating and hooking up, as well as the fact that spy narratives really don’t have to be an exercise in male chauvinism to work.

Other than that, the series was pretty much just silly laughs and nudity which in itself was a nice departure from all the hard edged, po-faced stuff coming out of the Vertigo imprint even if the plotting was a bit sloppy. So yeah, I’d re-deploy Codename Knockout into 2010 because sex in comics needs fun, diversity, and self expression more than it has in years. Codename Knockout could have saved Sue Dibney, guys. Okay fine, no it couldn’t have but I like to dream.


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