Mad Max: Fury Road has become the toast of the summer movie season. It has given us new catch phrases to shout at each other and made a group of MRAs so angry that they had to abandon their bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to honk like impotent geese on backwater message boards.
The feminist message, whether on purpose or not, made Mad Max: Fury Road stand out amongst other summer fare and earned it a war rig full of goodwill and devotion. Well, friends, that war rig has crashed and burned. I have witnessed the comic and I have found it mediocre. It will not make it into Valhalla. It was NOT shiny and chrome.
The Furiosa comic released last week by Vertigo had a lot of hype. More Furiosa? Yes please! The hope was that the comic would contain some answers to fundamental questions about the most bad ass woman to ever grace an action movie since Ellen Ripley. Why was she taken from the Green Place? How did she lose her arm? How did she become an Imperator in Immortan Joe’s male dominated society? Instead what we got was a comic that lightly featured Furiosa and contained all the sexual violence, lazy writing and insulting misogynistic tropes that the movie notably lacked.
It’s just plain terrible and I kind of want my $4.99 back.
The wonderful Mary Sue breaks down everything wrong with the comic page by page and their criticism is spot on. The comic features the wives of Immortan Joe before they break out of the Citadel. Instead of being presented as strong women yearning to take their own destiny into their hands, they are shown as weak, quarrelsome and self-serving. No tightly bonded sisterhood here. The comic makes the case that instead of being stolen from elsewhere or taken from the Citadel’s general population, the women are raised in their captivity and are completely at Immortan Joe’s mercy for education, spirituality, food and housing. The movie makes it seem as if they all came from different backgrounds (Capable knows about weapons, for example) and that they were thrust together as adult women. The comic blasts all that to hell and makes them into helpless prisoners.
The worst part is the abundance of graphic sexual violence the women endure. Mad Max: Fury Road makes it clear the women were raped. We know they suffered at Immortan Joe’s hands and they were impregnated by him. The movie is fresh and wonderful in the fact that it doesn’t linger on this or make it the only characteristic of these women. The audience doesn’t need to see it, we can infer what happened. The comic decides to plays it out for us in sickening detail, showing the rape of the Dag and how the other women are helpless to stop it. Furiosa stands by and watches it happen, emotionless. There’s a very disturbing scene that involves Furiosa walking in on a desperate Angharad trying to give herself a very graphically drawn abortion and all Furiosa does is backhand her and scream that she should be grateful for the life she has been given. It’s so terrible and out of character. I honestly had to set the comic aside after that for a while because it was just so deliberately awful.
Despite the comic being about Furiosa, she’s barely in it and it isn’t the woman we’ve come to know and love. She’s cold, cruel and seemingly doesn’t give a damn about the other women. She insults them, physically hurts them and lectures them about how lucky they are that they are well fed and cared for while others in the Citadel starve. It makes the movie plotline about Furiosa stealing them to give them a better life bizarre since in the comic she doesn’t care about them at all. It’s a complete and total mess. It doesn’t even make sense with what the film showed us. Furiosa is hard as nails but she clearly cares about the women and is risking her life to get them to a better place.
I was so incredibly excited to get more information about Furiosa and this comic was a disgusting let down. I wish it had continued the amazing, positive, kick ass “we are not things” philosophy of the film but I guess that was just asking too much. Mad Max: Fury Road was an incredible film about incredible people. The comic is a mix of wasted potential and unnecessary and graphic sexual violence. This is not the Furiosa we’ve all become obsessed with and it does a huge disservice to one of the most fascinating, fun and feminist films we’ve had in a very long time.
Image via Vertigo Comics.