Major content/trigger warnings for mild to medium descriptions of/conversations revolving around: child sexual assault, molestation, rape (as a plot device), gang rape, pedophilia, sexual harassment.
Stop that shit.
Maybe Mark Millar isn’t a bad guy.
I don’t know the man to say that about him.
But you know what I do know?
I know that (allegedly) in 1993, Millar pitched a story to DC that was in the same vein as Death of Superman except it would be called Rape of Wonder Woman. In his own forums, Millar supposedly wrote the following:
“I pitched this to DC for a laugh years back. The idea was that, like Death of Superman, we had Rape of Wonder Woman; a twenty-two page rape scene that opened up into a gatefold at the end just like Superman did.”
Because that’s not utterly disgusting at all, right? Twenty-two pages of a woman being brutally raped in full color, tearing her down to a level not at all comparable to Superman being killed at the hands of Doomsday. And he pitched it to DC because he thought it was funny.
That’s a thing he (supposedly) wrote. He also (supposedly) wrote a script for it.
I know that in 1999, when Gail Simone and other writers were collecting creator responses for their “Women in Refrigerators” project, Mark Millar basically dismissed the project as “giving male creators a bum deal”.
He goes on to say that:
The list does read pretty shocking at first until you think of everything the male heroes have gone through, too, in terms of deaths/mutilations/etc. Granted, the female stuff has more of a sexual violence theme and this is something people should probably watch out for, but rape is a rare thing in comics and is seldom done in an exploitative way.
Not only is this bullshit (because he compares what male heroes go through to what women in comics – heroes and otherwise – have to deal with in terms of sexual violence, harassment, and threats of both) but the statement that rape is “rare… and is seldom done in an exploitative way” is a lie.
A huge freaking lie.
Especially when it’s coming from Mark Millar who literally (allegedly) wanted to write a comic book about Wonder Woman, celebrated feminist superhero, being gangbanged against her will by hordes of god only knows what. He literally only uses sexual violence in an exploitative way. What’s rare is finding something Millar’s written that doesn’t have implicit or explicit sexual violence directed towards the characters.
I also know that after Mark Millar replaced Warren Ellis as the writer on The Authority at issue #11 in the early 2000s, the series became full of jokes and content that was heinous to say the least.
There are “jokes” about raping women and children.
It’s implied that Apollo is raped offscreen by a Captain America analogue in issue #14. In issue #28, the villain Teuton threatens to rape him again. In the uncensored version that doesn’t make it into print, Teuton actually starts to fondle and molest Apollo before Midnighter kills him.
There’s a particularly disgusting set of panels where The Engineer is molested by an overpowered time-traveling villain as a child – Just so it can throw her off as an adult in the fight against the same villain.
Jenny Quantum – future child of Apollo and Midnighter – has a character make a reference to raping her as a child. I think this happens more than one time actually.
The main villain is turned into a chicken and then it is implied that he’s going to spend the rest of his days being raped by humans that were previously related to him.
What kills me is that people like to bring up Millar’s run on The Authority as this super progressive thing. Sure, under his run Midnighter and Apollo got married.
But did you see what Millar made them go through before that?
I know that in 2003, Millar starts writing Wanted which has at least one pedophile as a main character. (It’s been a good five years since I read the book so I could be wrong, but I doubt that I am.)
I know that in Kick-Ass 2, there’s a horrific gang rape scene where a teenaged girl is brutally raped by several villains after they kill her father.
In his Ultimates run (the first volume), I know that Millar writes Bruce Banner/the Hulk repeatedly threatening Betty Ross with rape as he tries to kill her date after they’ve broken up. She ends up being shamed for breaking up with him and “not being nicer”. Because that’s not fucked up at all.
I know that time and time again, Millar resorts to using sexual violence and the threat of sexual violence as a sign that the villains in his works are truly horrifying. It’s not enough that these characters are killers or megalomaniacs with fancies of world domination. No. They have to be rapists and/or pedophiles on top of that and it must be shown or at least heavily implied. Because that’s the only way that the audience is capable of understanding that Millar’s bad guys are the real bad guys.
Millar thrives on violent nonconsensual sexual contact in his works. To him, the ultimate taboo is rape which is why he shows so much of it in his work (because that’s not bullshit at all). Quoted in Mark Millar and Todd McFarlane: Ladies, Comics Aren’t For You, we see Millar say that:
“The ultimate [act] that would be the taboo, to show how bad some villain is, was to have somebody being raped, you know? I don’t really think it matters. It’s the same as, like, a decapitation. It’s just a horrible act to show that somebody’s a bad guy.
One villain that’s a rapist isn’t an issue.
Ninety percent of your villains being rapists?
That’s a huge issue.
Back in 2013, during the TCA panel for “Superheroes: The Never-Ending Battle”, not only did we get such gems as “readers are not interested in women and people of color in superhero comics”, but we also got Mark Millar doing what he does best:
Millar defended his depictions of over the top rape and sexual violence by saying that, “I don’t think it really matters.”
This from a man that has written sexual violence, harassment, and threats into 90% of everything he has ever written. This from a man that got excited at the thought of writing wonder woman being gang raped and who wrote a teenager being gang raped over a decade later.
Of course he doesn’t think it matters.
Because it doesn’t.
Not to him, at least.
Now I stopped reading Mark Millar’s work a while ago.
Occasionally, I’ll see the movies based off of his stuff because they tend to remove the sexual violence and tone down the most egregious content. So maybe he’s changed in how he approaches sexual violence as something to signify how terrible a villain is or to cause pain to/piss off a male character in that time period.
But one thing is for sure:
You literally cannot look at the way that Mark Millar has handled sexual violence in any of his comics and go “this is how you cover those issues”.
The very moment that you say that Millar’s coverage of sexual violence against a character is the “right” way to handle that issue, you’re making it that much more difficult for people to talk about how problematic Millar is as a writer.
And when you compare a scene like the Engineer being molested to anything that is not about child sexual abuse (something I’ve seen with the recent Grayson #13 “controversy” – TW for descriptions of CSA/molestation and an image from the comic at the link), you are minimizing that.
The second you go “Millar showed us how rape affects the victim” while taking the scene out of context in order to dissect another out of context scene in a comic made a decade later, you’re doing it wrong.
Maybe in some other part of the multiverse there’s a Mark Millar that actively campaigns against sexual violence and uses rape in his comics, not as a plot point or for shock value, but to show how society treats rape victims at all levels.
Unfortunately, that’s not this Earth.
So please, when you get the urge to defend Millar or hold him up as a bastion in anti-sexual violence work that’s centered on the victim remember that he’s repeatedly said that rape in comics doesn’t matter. Remember that he (allegedly) wanted to write Wonder Woman being raped repeatedly in a comic book.
Remember that he constantly and actually dismisses criticism of his rape-centric works.
And then go find another hill to die on because Progressive!Mark Millar?
Yeah, it’s not happening.