Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blogathon 23: Garth Ennis's Best Female Characters (Part 1)

Anyone who's read some Garth Ennis comics for a decent period of time knows that Ennis seems focused around a certain type of masculinity. It's an older sort where men are men and they drink and hurt bad people and say "ma'am" and treat ladies with respect. It also means often keeping emotions bottled up and act condescending to women. Preacher dealt with that in a big way. The Boys did it again with a slightly different take. Yet, despite this recurring pattern, Ennis does have a habit of writing strong women who act as counterbalance to his men -- often pointing out the faults in this particular view of men and woman, too.

I want to focus on Annie January in The Boys, because she seems like a possible target to point out where Ennis writes women poorly, mostly because of her introduction: she performs oral sex on three men to get into a Justice League-esque superhero team. Ennis has said that the character began as one-note joke. Another example of how horrible and crude the supes in that world are. Someone who would be corrupted (willingly to a degree) and really just another supe for Hughie to see and feel disgust at. But, something changed and, soon, Annie reappeared and, slowly, became a more rounded character, someone who struggled with the choice she made, what says about her, who she thought she was, and where she is. Over the course of the series, she developed into her own person who falls in love with Hughie and, while understanding his issues with her actions, stops apologising and says that he needs to move on, because that's something she did. She regrets it, but she's not going to obsess over it and allow it to determine every aspect of her life. If there's a weakness to the character, it's her inability to move past Hughie. It's understandable given that he was a genuine moment of kindness at a time when she needed it. She even recognises this weakness. But, what I have to wonder is if that's really cause for criticism. Since when is anyone perfect and sound in their judgment, especially when it comes to matters of the heart? She fell in love and can't get past that. It winds up happy in the end when her idiot boyfriend gets over himself. I don't know what anyone else would want, besides that perfect embodiment of everything righteous and wonderful in a woman.

And what are those qualities, by the way? For me, someone making a horrible mistake and then doing their best to learn and grow from it is about as close as it gets.

More than other Ennis women like Kit or Tulip, there's a bit more of a flawed streak running through Annie and I appreciate that. If she were a male character, no one would pay a second look to those flaws. They would simply see an interesting character. A well-rounded character even. Look at her other half, Hughie. He is the entry-point character of The Boys and is horribly flawed. He's narrow-minded, whiny, and selfish. He doesn't always do the right thing and struggles. All of which make him more 'real' and interesting. The relationship between the two is so compelling and engrossing because they're both so flawed. Neither is perfect... except maybe for each other. (Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww...!)

In 30 minutes, Brian Cronin will share his thoughts on this topic.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Hero Initiative (Details in this post)! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]