The Supernatural Lesbian Kiss Power Grab

kissThe reign of bad girls in comics never really happened, even if comics have always been a little bit rooted in the concept of the bad girl.  One can argue that comics have some of their origins in the seedy “Tijuana Bibles” from the period before comics became an accepted mainstream medium.  At the very least though, there are the foundations for the bad girl idea in comics which goes back as far as at least Vampirella in the 1960s.  This was seen as a niche interest by many for a long time, an outsider in a medium dominated by superpowered individuals, but the niche did finally almost make it to mainstream in the 1990s with the rise of bad girl art in comics and bad girl characters.  This era saw the introduction of a number of characters that rose to fame though mostly also as quickly disappeared into the background.

With the rise of the independents in recent years, some of them came to specialize in material that was in the public domain or whose rights could be easily obtained.  Dynamite in particular could be noted for its recycling and retooling of material from other times and places, and it is in this way that through various avenues that it acquired Vampirella and a handful of other bad girls characters from the 1990s including Purgatori and Lady Demon.  While the characters are rooted in the supernatural, being either part-demon or part-vampire, or a combination of both, they are nonetheless presented as heroines, or at the very least anti-heroes.

supkissThis background provides them with at least something else as well, if not necessarily by the stories that born them then at least by association, and that is an overtly sexual nature.  Of course to be considered bad girl art, the characters would have to be inherently sexualized in one way or another, which mostly revolves around them wearing not a lot of clothes.  One of the same representations of female sexuality, especially in the era of “Girls Gone Wild” is a representation of women in same-sex relationships, specifically instantaneous manifestation thereof.  Thus for characters that is inherently sexual it might not be surprising that of the three Dynamite bad girls in question, that two of them in the past year have had the immediate impulse to lock lips with other female characters.

The depiction of homosexuals in culture is one which has been an evolving trend towards respectability, where even normal behaviour becomes stereotypical in one way or another, but the depiction of these bad girls in the midst of “Girls Gone Wild” moments is even weirder and worse.  The problem with the depiction is that it goes a long way past just run-of-the-mill gratuity, and goes some place else.  In both cases the characters (Vampirella and Purgatori) were not kissing out of passion but rather to draw power from characters that were their foes, as short lived as they were on panel.  There is no real precedent showing that vampires or the demonic have to suck powers out of people in such a way, and furthermore, I have never seen or heard of such a transfer of power between two male characters.  It thus superimposes the image of a lesbian encounter on another action where there is in fact no need.  No worth was given to either the character or the story and the image is one which is out of place by a sizable margin.

The role of these bad girls in the modern medium seems to be one that is somewhat out of place and still not entirely on solid ground.  While there have been moments of pure exploitation in the titles, there have also been times when the characters have been portrayed at least as well as any other female character in comics.  If the bad girls are going to have a chance at sticking around though, it might be time that they give up on gratuitous thrills and stick to solid character development and storytelling.