Magnus, Robot Fighter #3 Part 1

So, we’ve reached the third issue. Let’s see that opening again!

That’s

As designed by a male writer and drawn by a male artist, which requires frequent boob shots and high heels.

North Am being literally Hitler.

If you like the Bechdel test, you hate men and want to kill black people for our robot overlords.

For the capstone, the next panel of the comic?

That’s right, the hovercamera is a guy. Wouldn’t want to accidentally have two women talking when it’s not a joke about how horrible that is.

Meanwhile, Magnus has been booking it.

Magnus: still a racist. Comic: still thinks this is funny because robots aren’t people.

Magnus’ new goal is to find “feral humans” in the hopes they have his robot dad’s brain, and kill everyone who stands in the way of that.

We then go to sad Hispanic(? Not good at guessing comic book races) woman robot.in a robot church, and then Ice Queen Bitch and Our Hero fall through the roof. He staggers away, she gives chase.

I’m sure glad her appearance has nothing at all to do with the male gaze. Aren’t you?

MUCH REALISM

SUCH FEMINISM

Anyway, in case you were confused about how if the bitch who didn’t blindly support every murder Our Hero’s committed was evil, she then tries to shoot innocent Hispanic woman robot.

See? says the writer. I totally put in women when they have a purpose. Like being sexy (in an independent way), or a victim.

Of course, it makes no sense that someone who just explained how it’s against the law for a human to take any action that would harm a robot would be about to shoot a robot, but it’s important to show how Our Hero isn’t just a random robot murderer. He won’t harm robots that aren’t attacking him…or saying he needs to do something…or standing between him and something he wants…

Point is, look, he saves this robot, therefore the fact he kills a dozen robots an issue isn’t racism.

Because the writer’s greatest skill is his subtlety, we then get an entire page of people reacting to how super awesome he is for helping out this robot.

Meanwhile, H8R is contacted by the church which apparently has Ice Bitch’s human dad as its head (although come to think of it, maybe he’s a human-looking robot?) telling him he can stay with the church without upgrading away from being a minstrelbot if he helps them track Our Hero.

But we do learn another women exists in the process. Sure, she’s PC Police miniHitler helping in the genocide of black robots and never actually appearing on panel, but we have to take what we can get in comics.

Oh fuck, right, women aren’t allowed to be pastors in most churches so this isn’t incidental representation, it’s “look how super ultra evil they are, they even let females be pastors”.

Still. We have to take what we can get in comics, and sometimes that means existing offscreen solely to show how evil the enemies are for including us.

Now, there’s nothing noteworthy about Mr. Aryan’s continued racism, but there’s another thing standing out here. Ethnic Victim Woman is a robot, who by nature outranks Ice Bitch the evil non-racist. Instead, she cowers meekly next to her white savior. I mean, otherwise we might have two women talking without it being the butt of a joke about how totally unrealistic that is! Even worse, Ethnic Victim Lady speaking up would remind us that we’re now in a world where non-white characters can exist beyond being jive-talking sidekicks but as actual important people who white people have to defer to.

Thank god we dodged the bullet there!

Join me next week for part two, Stupid Women Caring More About Not Being Raped And Murdered Than White Men’s Rights.

36 Comments

  1. illhousen says:
    Yep, looks worse in context. Taken in isolation, it’s funny because it can be taken as a mockery of people who think that “no, seriously, she likes dressing like that” is a valid argument against accusations of objectifying women. And against those who think that inserting a meaningless conversation to technically pass the Bechdel test means your work is feminism-friendly.

    Because there are people like that.

    And they deserve some mocking.

    But the author of that comic happened to be even worse than them because he doesn’t pay even lip service to feminism and mocks anyone who tries to get in the way of his fantasies about sexy female nemesis (who will probably see the error of her way or some shit) and his power fantasy about a white man who totally has it worse than a black slave.

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    1. Roarke says:
      I respect a good power fantasy, if I’m being perfectly honest.

      It’s just that power fantasies, by their nature, usually render everyone but the person fantasizing powerless. And there are better ways to do so than by making jokes which reveal that you truly don’t think those other people exist for anything other than your satisfaction.

      1. illhousen says:
        Oh, I am fine with power fantasies in general. I like playing RPGs which make me the center of everything and tell me I am awesome.

        I disagree, however, that they make everyone else powerless. In RPGs you typically have a number of companions who are badass in their own right, even if not quite as badass as you.

        Certainly, even in a power fantasy there is a place for characters existing for reasons other than fulfilling protagonists’ desires and fetish for unjustified oppression (which is weirdly popular).

        1. Roarke says:
          I disagree, however, that they make everyone else powerless. In RPGs you typically have a number of companions who are badass in their own right, even if not quite as badass as you.

          That isn’t quite what I mean by power; I don’t quite know how to express it. It’s all about choices, and how the existence of things serves the person playing the power fantasy. In RPG’s, your badass companions tend to follow your orders without question, and even if they dissent, you get your way like 99% of the time. If they turn on you, you almost always either kill them or beat them up until they rejoin you. And there’s the fact that they’re never quite as badass as you. That’s another way they serve the power fantasy – they’re badass, but you’re even moar badass!!1!one.

          The same is true of villains. A really strong villain in an RPG is still going to be beaten by the player. The reason they are powerful to begin with is to make them worth defeating. That’s what the power fantasy is about.

          Perhaps saying they “make everyone else powerless” is making too strong of a statement, but it does take power and agency from other people to give to the player, even if they are just NPC’s.

          Certainly, even in a power fantasy there is a place for characters existing for reasons other than fulfilling protagonists’ desires and fetish for unjustified oppression (which is weirdly popular).

          Rejoice, Magnus. Your wish will finally come true… Your wish will not come true unless there is an oppressive robot institution. Even if it is not something you approve of, a white male robot fighter requires a sexy white female human hunter to defeat.

          1. Farla says:
            I think the particular problem here is that comics is particularly strident about being a power fantasy, and the particular power fantasy is about a world where only you, single white heterosexual male reader, matter. It’s aimed at people who feel offended by anyone else having anything, because all things are theirs.
            1. Roarke says:
              1. Single
              2. White
              3. Heterosexual
              4. Male

              Well, I fit 3.5/4 and I find this shit repulsive. Would you say it takes 4/4 to enjoy it?

              edit: I know the fifth condition is “entitled” and it just didn’t fit with what I meant to say.

              Reply
              1. Farla says:
                Well, also inflated but extremely fragile self-esteem that desperately needs validation. There’s plenty of entitled people that aren’t so desperate as to get their fix from comics.
              2. Roarke says:
                Mm, to be sure. A lot of entitled people can get their fix from other people, the socially-competent jerks.
  2. GeniusLemur says:
    I think that “Leeja Clane, Human Hunter” intro may be intended satirically, with the evil dictatorship advertising their political correctness, while the story makes it obvious that it’s hypocritical tokenism at best. Assuming that’s correct, there are 3 basic problems with it:
    1. You remember how Saddam made a big deal about how politically correct he was? No? What about Stalin? Mao? That’s right, no totalitarian government has ever patted itself on the back for being politically correct. The idea doesn’t fit with totalitarian thinking at all. And they’re making a big deal about how it passes the Bechdel test, even though all their programming supposedly does? Isn’t that like advertising that your sitcom contains jokes? (not laughs, there are plenty of sitcoms that don’t contain those)
    2. The parody they’re trying to pull is of a subject that’s already beyond parody. We live in a world where the hot chick actress who played the hot piece of tail love interest female lead in Michael Bay’s Transformers seriously argued that she was doing a strong female character. A parody of entertainment for being hypocritical like this is like parodying slasher movies for being stupid: no matter how you mock, someone’s already done it and expected the audience to take it seriously.
    3. We’ve already seen so much honest racism, sexism, speciesism, etc. and shitty writing that it’s all too easy to believe that the writers are doing it straight.
    1
    1. Roarke says:
      1. You remember how Saddam made a big deal about how politically correct he was? No? What about Stalin? Mao? That’s right, no totalitarian government has ever patted itself on the back for being politically correct. The idea doesn’t fit with totalitarian thinking at all.

      editedit: Okay yeah I was rather right, the original definition of political correctness is more or less totalitarian.

      But there are still ways political correctness fits into a totalitarian government, because it’s all about the government enforcing views that it considers its citizens incapable of or unwilling to conform to.

      1. GeniusLemur says:
        The modern meaning is what I was using (never heard the term used in any other sense), the idea being that “everybody should be heard and differences respected” is an idea entirely incompatible with totalitarianism, which by its nature is not going to allow anybody who hasn’t been prescreened and approved to be heard, and tends to force different people into the approved mold or simply wipe them out.
        1. Roarke says:
          From Wikipedia:

          In the early-to-mid 20th century, contemporary uses of the phrase “Politically Correct” were associated with the dogmatic application of Stalinist doctrine, debated between formal Communists (members of the Communist Party) and Socialists. The phrase was a colloquialism referring to the Communist “party line”, which provided for “correct” positions on many matters of politics.

          So, if the original contemporary meaning of the term “politically correct” means “agrees with Stalin,” then I think it has a place in a totalitarian society. But I understand that the modern meaning has been conflated with “tolerance” so I’m sorry I couldn’t make that clear.

        2. Farla says:
          I think what’s confusing things is that “politically correct” has never been a movement but a label applied to mock a movement. (Among other things, the very word choice says it’s about pandering to people to look good.)

          It’s just it was so thoroughly co-opted by War on Christmas and “But why can black people say it but I can’t?” assholes that it’s taken on a veneer of reasonableness.

    2. illhousen says:
      Actually, Soviet Union was big on presenting itself as more progressive than decadent West.

      There was propaganda for international friendship (except for Jews, I guess) and propaganda contrasting the treatment of women in Soviet Union and the West (and Soviet Union was legitimately more progressive on that front in some regards. Women were allowed into the army long before USA did it, for example).

      Sometimes it reached the point of ridiculousness. For example, technically every official like mayors, governors, Union leaders, etc were elected by the people. It just so happened that the lists of candidates each contained only one name. And the 100% election attendance rate was… enforced.

      Every atrocity committed was justified by saying it’s for the good of common people, which isn’t surprising since the revolution itself was done by oppressed people rising against the oppression by those born into privilege. While the results were far from the noble ideals, Soviet leaders couldn’t really openly denounce them and found they can use them, twisting those ideals until they turned into the opposite of what they were.

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      1. Roarke says:
        Thank you for making the points that I was too clumsy to make. Mother Russia made you smart.
        1. illhousen says:
          Thank you, dirty capitalist pig.
          1. Roarke says:
            Mistaking me for an American won’t get you very far.
            1. illhousen says:
              Sorry. It’s rare I have an opportunity to call someone dirty capitalist pig. I cherish those opportunities, even if they are off target.
              Reply
              1. Roarke says:
                It’s alright. I’ll accept the epithet this once, since I’m sure I’ve been dirty, a capitalist, and a pig all at the same time at least once.

                You filthy Red.

      2. GeniusLemur says:
        What they did, of course, was completely different, but we’re talking about propaganda here. Mea culpa, guess we can strike point #1.
        1. illhousen says:
          Yes. Your other points are good, it’s just propaganda can be completely divorced from reality. Everyone knows it’s bullshit, but it’s not like you can say it aloud.

          To be fair, I do have trouble comprehending how that particular piece of propaganda would be relevant to our robot overlords.

          I mean, they are robots. Gender is an integer variable for them. Or bool, if they are old models.

          1. GeniusLemur says:
            Well, the secondary part about point #1 (the bit about “this passes the Bechdel test, like everything else we broadcast! Also, our sitcoms contain jokes!”) still stands.
            1. illhousen says:
              Not arguing. It’s obvious the author has a chip on his shoulder about the test. Or just heard about it and thought it’s a good target for mocking, whether or not it fits the world.
              Reply
        2. illhousen says:
          Also, I can just see someone writing a letter to Mosfilm about women being underrepresented and reduced to secondary roles and talking only about men (I am not familiar enough with Soviet movies to tell if it’s true for them, but I suspect it is), censure guys agreeing and passing the memo above about the issue.

          Then some politician would tell a long speech about how women are valuable members of the community, same as men, so they should be fairly portrayed by Soviet media and have realistic dialogues about worldwide Revolution and the inevitable victory of communism.

          Then a committee will be created to research and address the issue.

          Nothing would actually be done because the committee would be a sinecure for politicians’ relatives, but there would be much back-patting about how they are better and progressive than the rotting West.

          1. Farla says:
            Honestly, I long for the day politicians care enough about my feelings for empty pandering.
            1
      3. Farla says:
        Yeah, I think America’s still messed up by all that. Their response to the Soviets saying “we’re for all these good things!” was not “are not, we are!” but “well then FUCK THOSE THINGS!”

        I wonder how much less stupid the religious debates would be today if we hadn’t been defining ourselves as not-godless-commies.

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    3. Farla says:
      It makes more sense if you understand that some people view this sort of thing as censorship.

      So the idea is that in the dystopian hellhole of North Am, jackbooted thugs break down your door and force you, at gunpoint, to write in a line about a cat so your script passes the Bechdel test, even though that’s terrible writing, ruining your brilliantly crafted white-guy-appropriating-slavery-to-murder-robots masterpiece by forcing tokenism on you.

  3. SpoonyViking says:
    Will you try and take a look at the older versions of the comic, Farla? The original one from the sixties and the Valiant Comics sequel in the nineties?
    1. Farla says:
      Unless there’s some reason to think they’re way, way more entertaining than the insanely boring summaries were, no. I gleaned enough to know the blonde girl wins the “love triangle” and I think that’s all that’s relevant.
      1. guestest ever says:
        There’s another woman to form a triangle with? But those “s probably means it’s just fakepregnant fakewife, which I’m sure either doesn’t exist at all or is another robot for plot twist…

        I’m gonna bet on another robot. Then the hero could dump her and her hologram baby for the real human chick. That’s more like these dudebros’ style.

        1. Farla says:
          It saddens me how close you are. Soon you will know all of it, as I do, and as I do, you will regret that.
      2. SpoonyViking says:
        Well, to be honest, the request was mostly a selfish one; I enjoy playing the antiquarian for these kinds of narratives quite a bit, and I thought I’d get you to do the work for me. :-P
        Seriously, though, there’s one thing about the Valiant revival (not a reboot, unlike this one) which seemed interesting; apparently, that series actually made an effort at distributing blame equally between humans and robots for the impending Human-Robot War, and Magnus apparently also treated robots capable of independent thought as humans. I thought it might be interesting to see whether it serves as a counterpoint to this reboot, or whether, despite all its good intentions, its execution is still flawed.
        1. Farla says:
          Eh, maybe I’ll look, but my experience with comics has been that they absolutely never treat nonhumans as actual equals, you just get Pokemon-style situations where one group is good for treating them with more respect than another while neither is actually living up to the claim.
  4. Zephyr says:
    So is she “Human Hunter” because she’s a human who hunts, or because she hunts humans?
    1. Farla says:
      It’s a joke based on him being a robot fighter.

      Admittedly, making a stupid title to make a joke about how your main character and book have a stupid title is in itself stupid, but that’s comics. It’s considered the height of awesomeness to incessantly drop references, while you can never actually fix any of the glaring flaws.

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