Saturday, November 6, 2010

Yet Another Piecemeal Heroine

"Y'know what sucks?" I started saying to a friend on chat. "Reading a book about a heroine, who knows bad guys are hunting a creature, who gets there first, and instead of taking the creature somewhere safe - not even to her home, just somewhere -safe-, she wastes time interrogating it, in public, with the bad guys hunting, and then gets upset they find her and kill the creature."

There, I have just spoiled the 00 issue of Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez. I don't feel tis anything worth crying over either.

Sometimes, I feel like the world wants me to think I'm asking for the DAMN MOON, for wanting a protagonist female who THINKS THINGS THROUGH.

My friend's response? "So, she's holding the idiot ball?"

Which lead to me discovering the term and it's TV Tropes Definition. I hadn't heard the term before.

But let us continue with the ignorance rampage through these 13 pages (just when I decided I couldn't read anymore, turns out it was done.)

LM is hunting a creature that's said to be terrorizing the town. She's intrigued because it's possibly part mechanical, like herself. She's aware that there are men, hired by a particular company, also hunting, because they too are intrigued by the mechanical. On top of that there are DIFFERENT MEN, hunting it to kill it.

She darts the creature and then starts talking to it, right where they are. No picking it up to take it somewhere safe; not even a rooftop, not even a sewer, not even a shadowy corner.

It would be one thing if things went to crap while she was trying to convince the creature to trust her, but instead she's overwhelmed by an urgent need for information NOW NOW NOW.

She's even TOLD the beast that it's being hunted by others. And it's said it expects to be killed. It can't help not thinking straight, it's been tranqed. But what the hell is her excuse?

I understand setup, I really do. But why not have her take the creature someplace, have the bad guys track it, and have the creature freak out thinking it's a trap and distrusting her or something and thus trying to run away, end up running right into trouble; that is, if the writer really needed her angry and without information.

Instead BAM! Dead sapient creature. No information. And then, she stalks towards the shooter, all pissed off and punches him upside the face. Only to listen to his religious fervor about 'purity and abominations' etc...

So while I'm rolling my eyes at yet another persecuted minority without anyone having to deal with race(eta: sexuality or gender), I'm also rolling my eyes at a heroine being pissy. Not bad ass. PISSY.

And then it gets worse.

No, I'm not kidding.

Having strolled into the midst of the hunters. She reveals herself as being part mechanical. Thus, she's in the middle of hired mercenaries when their employer offers them triple their fee to bring her in.

And then, the cues of the story try to tell me I should think it bad ass that she wounds, grievously wounds, perhaps even kills these men. These men who were only doing their jobs. These men who wouldn't have had to try and attack her, if she hadn't presented the opportunity by striding in there, holding the ignorant ball.


And then? Their employer, the man calling the shots, commands his attendant to shoot her. She responds and wounds this employer. She begins to stroll majestically out of scene, after kicking his face in or something close, judging by the blood spatter in the comic (did I mention this blood spatter comes on the end of heels? Yes, hunting in heels. Let us all laugh together).

So, this man, who's proven he wants to capture beings like her, ALIVE, who is in the midst of his big villain speech about vivisection and future technology, she wounds him, and LEAVES HIM ALIVE.

And I'm supposed to think she's bad ass? I'm supposed to think she's a character I could identify with?

I don't care that she's an anti-hero, who holds life like hers higher than other life. What I care about is her plot/writer induced ignorance. A powerful man, in charge of a powerful company, who can afford to hire mercenaries to hunt down what he wants and offer them triple their fee on the spot, who can KILL without fear of reprisal, who is INTERESTED in this woman, and who has already shown a disregard for regular human life.


Has he no heirs? No VP's, no wife, (or lover), or family to want revenge against her to keep the plot going? Would it not produce plot to have her wanted for murder? Is she not smart enough to permanently mangle his jaw and break his hands and knees and legs to at least slow him down while avoiding the label of murderer?


She leaves him alive.

Now let's move on to the art. There was apparently a need to show middirff, to have hip hugging low riding pants, to have peekahole breast window in a mechapunk scenario. There was apparently a need to show the female protagonist in poses of impossible body structure, impossible balance and impractical martial arts poses.

Because the heroine can't be smart and strong and ruthless, and possibly modest or modestly matching the times. She must be sexy. Oh yes.

And again, if her revealing clothing was meant to make people uncomfortable by showing her inhuman, inorganic parts - that would be one thing. That would be psy-ops in action. This is just a high heels wearing woman, who talks a good game, but doesn't actually do anything worthwhile; who is presented as an overly emotional (not overwhelmed by emotions related to particular issues, mind), sexy, steampunk sexamatrix (in the sense of male gaze fantasies about overpowering women).

And here I was hoping for something perhaps dealing with disability, assistive devices, mechapunk backgrounds & culture, and you know, an actual self-empowered, brightly thinking female protagonist.

Yup, this ticked me off so much, despite a current painscale at about 7.5 (specifically in my fingers), I typed this all up anyway.