Killjoys Analysis – Writing, Women, LGBT
I left out more intensive analysis from my review of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys to avoid spoliers. As a six issue miniseries, spoiling the plot would leave little incentive to read, so I’ll delve deeper into some of the comic’s main problems here.
Having too much to say with too little space cause info dumps near the beginning. While the story is well written enough to avoid straining the patience of the reader, it does have an egregious moment. It narrowly avoids a scene of “as you already know,” a death knell for any script. Instead the comic sidesteps with a character asking “Don’t you remember?”, which has the decency to logical make sense: our protagonist has been through a lot when she was young, at its unlikely she would remember a random event from her childhood already filled with bloody events. It’s a short moment in a short miniseries, which may make it seem like I’m nitpicking, but it’s also an example of a larger problem of the series.
For a main protagonist, our central character rarely acts or talks in any significant way until the end of the series. The book’s marketing describes The Girl’s arc as a coming of age story, but her changes feel mechanical, and is the least interesting arc of the whole series. In a longer series, it would likely have been much easier to flesh out her character. But as it stands, her development is ultimately underwhelming.
The comic’s treatment of women is a mixed bag. While our main character is female, she does little in the way of dialogue or action. The most we get from her is indecision between the duality of violence and non-violence. She’s a blank slate, and other characters fill in the gaps for us. Perhaps The Girl doesn’t have a name because she’s meant to symbolize something greater, a universal role model for women to stick to non-violence methods for peace. This reading makes sense considering her power is localized where everyone comes from – the womb.
Her true power is inherited from her mother, a rebel fighter whose energy and anger transposed through the womb to our protagonist. It’s a sort of deux ex machina, a power barely alluded to and not really feasible in this world (at least to my knowledge). It’s an ending that rings somewhat hollow, asserting that the path of non-violence is superior and always will work out.
Many sources of power are coded female throughout the story. The main villain, CEO(?) of BL/ind, is a powerful woman (who’s also a dominatrix). The Phoenix Witch responsible for passing souls onward to the afterlife saves The Girl and recommends the path of non violence. The Girl’s revolutionary power (if I can call it that) is from her mother, inherited through the womb. Destroya, a giant robot alluded to by other droids as their savior, is also is coded female. It wrecks havoc and helps free Battery City.
The sense I’m getting from all of this is that the comic asserts 1) women are powerful, and 2) that power can be used for good or evil. The villain being a dominatrix in particular highlights the latter, as she appears to have an obsession with power and control. So you could extrapolate from there that the oppression within, the power dynamics, stems from the CEO’s own perverse obsessions.
In terms of the artwork, there is little in the way of exploitation of women’s bodies. One shot showing the dominatrix’s arse in leather, and even then it’s not very revealing. The sex work Blue does is in between the lines rather than explicitly shown.
Overall, while I appreciate the comic’s feminist attempts, while somewhat successful, are still hindered by semi-eus ex machina happenings and a protagonist who is more often described by other characters than displays her own emotions.
Particularly curious is the treatment of LGBT characters. The domestic partnerships of Blue and Krose are torn by BL/ind. Red is dying because her model is obsolete, subject for termination by Bl/ind. Krose’s pesky emotions are preventing him from doing his job as an assassin. His partner is also terminated by BL/ind, and Krose is put into reprogramming. Under the corporate oppression, LGBT peoples are marginalized and eradicated. Perhaps this erasure will end when the dethroning of the corporate overlords.
Particularly curious is the doubling of Red in Blue in the Killjoys sucessors. Two kids with blue and pink hair represent the hollow pretension that pervades much of the Killjoys supposed successors, merely joining the revolution because it’s fashionable. At one point they give The Girl a makeover, and complain that if they had known fighting was so tough, they wouldn’t be doing this isn the first place.
They are a curious bunch, and get at some of the posturing of the group as a whole, as well as illustrating their own ignorance. Red is is dying while Blue struggles through corporate bureaucracy to save her. Pink and Teal know nothing of the oppression they fight. Can they really be apt to fight a system they know nothing about?