Cut, because you might be at work and I’m posting a scan from a freaking Garth Ennis comic.
On scans_daily I noticed a few scans from The Slavers, a Punisher MAX story written by Garth Ennis. It’s about a woman who was sold into forced prostitution in America. I’ve never followed The Punisher comics, just looked at an issue now and then and confirmed that it still wasn’t to my taste. I have, however, seen that entire story posted in pieces here and there on the internet. It’s posted a lot, with a lot of commentary, so I think I’ve read The Slavers several times. There’s one part that always stands out.
The Punisher works his way through the underlings in the organization in typical grisly fashion, trying to get to the head of the operation. On the way, he stops by the office of one woman – the one who takes care of the financial matters for the slave ring. Things go the usual Punisher way; horrific murder. While brutally killing her, The Punisher goes into a monologue about how the woman had ordered the systematic rape of the kidnapped women as a way of breaking their spirits. Then, there’s this panel.
That panel makes no sense. “The old man is a soldier,” but doesn’t know that systematic rape, or at least the threat of it, has been used as a tactic to subdue the enemy in almost every war since the beginning of time? He somehow missed that? As for Cristu being a businessman – he’s in the business of forced prostitution, which is rape. It’s not a new business. But even if both of the men were new to the earth, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to think up rape as a method of torture. It’s hardly a secret that only women know.
The thing is, I think that Ennis knows this perfectly well. It’s possible that he just needed a dramatic monologue to break up the action, but I wonder if this is maybe an extremely rare moment we’re witnessing; a moment when Garth Ennis blinked.
As a writer, he’s never shied away from extreme violence, whether the victim of that violence was male or female. But this time maybe he thought he needed a reason. Maybe he thought that the woman knowingly running a forced prostitution business wasn’t enough. Maybe readers wouldn’t go along with The Punisher horribly torturing a female office worker. Maybe they needed a reason to hate her, and especially her.
Could be. Could not. What do you think?