Life On Mars #5: Sanctuary


So: I like the *art* of Comics. I mean, mostly. I mean…even some of the crappy stuff (sometimes simply because it IS crappy and I get off on it).

My interest in comic books (and related culture) was so strong as a child & teenager, that I (through, perhaps, sheer willpower alone) ended up getting involved with the Comics Industry as an adult. I became a comic book editor, writer, and journalist-type individual.

At some point— I would say about 12 years into my involvement with said Industry (and I’ll include my teen years working in Comics Retail within that span)—I realized that I was largely not welcome in said Industry unless I fit certain parameters. And those parameters were, unfortunately, being sexually available & passive. I wish I was exaggerating here, folks, but I’m not. It was almost comical, the sheer exaggerated savagery of all of it.


As time went on, I discovered a new way I could possibly be “accepted”—and this was playing The Woman Card. Playing it *really* well; being a victim, an “inspiration,” a weaver of tales about females for females and males trying to wash away their collective Guilt. Which, unfortunately, I couldn’t do very well either.

As I write this, I cannot help but think of that scene in Heroes In Crisis #6 where everybody hugs Wally West and tells him how brave he is and an “inspiration”—and meanwhile, he looks as miserable as fuck. That’s pretty much how I felt in that part of my career where I had become an “inspirational female in the Industry.”


Now: despite my initial misgivings about it, Heroes In Crisis is a very interesting series to me. You may not know this, but the very first ideas about this mini-series were floated during the early 00’s DC editorial meeting to discuss 2004’s Identity Crisis. Basically, the idea that sometime after the gruesome Identity Crisis, the heroes would have some sort of “retreat” to deal with their subsequent trauma.

And so the “Sanctuary” in Heroes in Crisis is essentially created to treat the PTSD of superheroes. Which, I guess, is sort of a progressive storyline. Certainly, there was some controversy regarding the treatment of the Wally West character—and, in turn, characters with severe trauma issues. But the reality is, people deal with their trauma in a spectrum of ways; and I do think that is reflected in Heroes In Crisis.


I have something called “Complex PTSD.” This is like PTSD that is one trauma “pancaked” over another over the course of a lifetime. I take a small dose of Prozac to regulate my highs and lows—it’s not a “magic bullet,” but it does help. And so I can say that I think Heroes In Crisis dealt with the issue of PTSD better than, say, Uncanny X-Men dealt with metaphorically gender non-conforming individuals.

Anyway, to be honest: I like reading comics, and engaging in comics-historian type enterprises…but I also feel that it’s not an environment that has been particularly kind to either “non-conforming” females or females who don’t conform to being strictly females. I base this on over twenty years of personal experience and observation. And rather than patting me on the back as if I was Wally West and telling me I’m “brave” or stuff like that, I’d prefer you let me be the comfortable crank that I am. I take solace in being that crank.

The question then becomes: how can you continue to enjoy a hobby/industry that has been filled with individuals who don’t like you for existing and being yourself? Doesn’t it get “ruined” by all that?

I suppose that’s where “boundaries” come in. At some point, I have to enjoy these things for their own sake—sans context, sans dreadful connections and resonances. That does mean, to an extent, that I inhabit a “self-made” world filled with my own interpretations and a very narrow window for outsiders. I do this as a self-preservation tactic. And I continue to write on this and my other blog as a way of “communicating” and perhaps “giving back.”

And that’s pretty much it. That’s what I do. I guess I am a bit of a crank, a bit unusual. But I’m being myself. I think that was Wally West’s problem in Heroes In Crisis, by the way. He tried to pretend that he was the same chipper go-getting Teen Titans-type guy despite his massive trauma. Whereas someone like Harley Quinn is just sort of “bathing” in Shadow-Self. Don’t get me wrong, I think too much shadow-self can be bad too. But you gotta process. (The journey Booster Gold–who pretty much “owns” being a goofball–takes in Heroes In Crisis is a similar, less extreme version of what I’m talking about.)

Anyway—that’s today’s post. Be good.