Tom Strong, Alan Moore and Rape

I never want to make exceptions when it comes to rape. I never want to say “rape is never good except…”. Rape is a horrible thing. It is something that I wish our culture never had. I wish that we never had a society where people felt so much more important that they’d rape another person, male or female. I wish that comics didn’t use rape, or at least they’d having gravity and I wish Alan Moore didn’t use rape as well as he does because it inspired other people to do the same. Rape does not equal mature comics. It equates the sexual molestation of another person with robbing a bank, blowing up the White House or sending an army of alien invaders to kill the hero. It is a horrible crime that leaves the victims scarred, the criminals free most of the time and it can’t be dealt in a way that respects the victims a majority of the time. Adding it to children’s entertainment doesn’t help and it is simply a horror that we should not have in society, media or entertainment – not in that we avoid the discussion, but in that we should forcefully reprimand those who do it to dissuade all others.

Reading Tom Strong brought the issue to me and there will be spoilers ahead for volume one and volume five so if you care more not spoiling a 10 year old comic and a fill in writer’s very poor taste then please, by all means stop reading and return to whatever more important things you might be doing.

Tom Strong is an excellently written comic when Moore is on it about Tom Strong, the genius muscleman raised on an island whose life is prolonged with a magical root who brings his family, gorilla and robot butler to help save the world from various villains and to go on adventures in the universe, multiverse and through time.
Issue 4 of the series, Swastika Girls, deals with Tom fighting his German counterpart, the fiendish Ingrid Weiss of the Nazi party during the end of WW2. Weiss knocks out Strong who wakes up in her lab and then proceeds to destroy it and escape, presumably leaving her dead. 50 or so years later, Weiss and her Swastika girls return to wreck havoc on Strong’s family with the help of one of Tom’s rivals and it is revealed while Tom was unconscious, Weiss harvested his sperm to make a new child. Tom was raped in his sleep and the revelation is painful to Tom who has been married for decades to the same woman, Dahula, and they even have a 60 year old daughter, Tesla, who fights alongside her parents. The evil son, revealed in issues 6 and 7, Albrecht, has been raised as a Nazi, refuses to listen to reason and is ultimately defeated with the rest of his family but Tom is still emotionally defeated and his only solace remains because his family stands with him.
Contrasting this is issue #23, Moonday, by Paul Hogan where Tom and his family go to the moon in search of a Russian counterpart who vanished. Under the moon they discover a secret society of bat people who Tom had met before. Except that he forgot it because he got knocked up on pheromones and raped. Take a look at how they deal with this revelation.

from Tom Strong #23 Art by Chris Sprouse

from Tom Strong #23 Art by Chris Sprouse
from Tom Strong #23 Art by Chris Sprouse

It becomes a punchline. It becomes the zinger at the end. It treats this as a joke. Something given no depth, gravitas or reason. It reduces Tom being raped a second time as something like him forgetting to pick up the laundry. They never return to discuss his moon child at all. Seriously Paul Hogan, you gave no depth to this. You devalued the earlier situation. You reduced rape to a zinger. What the hell is wrong with you?

Luke Herr

Luke is a writer and an aspiring professional comic writer who is also the editor in chief of Nerdcenaries. He currently is working on a graphic novel called Prison Spaceship.