By Philip Schweier
July 17, 2017 - 15:04
Legion of Super-Heroes #3 (1973) was the first comic book I ever bought, and for the rest of my childhood, the Legion was the most consistent title I followed. So a few months back when a friend conscripted me into a Legion Facebook group, I was delighted.
Both fandom and Facebook welcome all types, so it has never bothered me in the slightest that the group includes members of the LGBTQ community. But once in while, someone would post the Legion Hunk of the Day – a beefcake illustration, often shirtless, or a near-nude image with a costume painted on with Photoshop.
Not to sound prudish, but being a straight male, I find such images distasteful. I regard it as similar to when a women objects the annual swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated.
After a few days, another member of the group – let’s call him Bob – commented on the inappropriate nature of the Hunk of the Day/Lady of the Night posts:
“This type of thing turns the characters we love into sexual objects and I’m sure we wouldn’t do that to our loved ones in our real lives.”
I would agree, although I don’t love my make-believe comic book heroes the way I love my real-life siblings and other family members
“Also, this type of thing suggests exactly what the detractors of comics have been saying for years – that those of us that still read comics haven’t grown out of our parents’ basements and we could never establish “adult relationships.”
And at that point, Bob lost all credibility, because it would appear he has applied entirely too much legitimacy to the comic book characters. I understand, comic books in general are a large part of who/what we are, and certain titles and/or characters impact our formative years in a variety of ways. Emotional value becomes attached. But in the end, these are COMIC BOOKS!! We’re not curing cancer, nor are we doing the Lord’s work.
Nevertheless, I respect Bob’s opinion and his right to voice it. At the time, I saw no need to respond, choosing to see where the conversation would lead. Some agreed with him, others viewed such posts as harmless fun.
One of the admins of the page weighed in on the debate, saying that as long as an image is respectful and not pornographic, a member has the right to post it. “Those who do not like it can scroll past it.” This practice would also apply to Bob’s original post.
As one of the instigators of the debate, I defended my post, saying that it was in response to the overwhelming number of beefcake images. I saw no equal attention paid toward female Legionnaires, and I merely hoped to bring attention to the imbalance. I won’t lie, it was no “equal rights for women” strategy. It was purely aimed at those of us who prefer the female form.
I don’t approve of sexualizing comic book characters, which is why I intentionally selected a published image. There are MANY provocative fan illustrations available on the Internet, but choosing one would be inappropriate.
It was later stated that Bob left the group, perhaps due to what he felt were personal attacks. It’s unfortunate he felt his enjoyment of Legion fandom diminished. I have been in that exact situation, and made the same choice. But it was MY choice, and I need only reconcile it to myself. Ditto for Bob.
But such is the nature of social media: anybody at any given moment may disagree with something we post. We must acknowledge that possibility, and mentally prepare for it.