Alien-abduction comic crashes and burns.
In honour of the spookiest month of the year and the upcoming US presidential election, I thought I’d take a look at Saucer Country. Written by Paul Cornell, the book is about Arcadia Alvarado, a divorced Hispanic women running for president of the United States. Only days before she plans to announce her intentions to run, she and her ex-husband are abducted by aliens.
Saucer Country delivers on all the conspiracy-inspired alien lore one could want, but unfortunately Cornell threw up a pretty big barrier for me. In the first issue, following the abduction, Arcadia realizes she’s been raped. She comes to the logical conclusion that since she was with her alcoholic ex-husband, Michael, he must have assaulted her when she blacked out. But then she remembers an alien talking to her and concludes that the aliens raped her (seriously this is part of the story). After having a doctor confirm that she has been raped, Arcadia tells her chief of staff, Harry, that it was the aliens. And despite not believing in aliens, Harry goes along with this.
I am so tired of rape being a plot device. As far as I’m concerned it’s a sign of damned lazy writing, and in this case I’m not even sure what it is the writer is trying to accomplish. First off there’s the fact that both Harry and Arcadia’s campaign manager, Chloe, do nothing to investigate Arcadia’s sexual assault. Though neither of them believes in aliens, they respond to the situation by bringing in a UFO expert and even allow Michael, the most likely suspect, back into Arcadia’s life.
Second, there seems to be some weird Stieg Larsson-esque logic that says that having your female protagonist get raped for no real damn reason is fine, just so long as a guy in the story also gets raped.
And finally, I just don’t understand why the hell it was necessary. Arcadia’s main motivation to find out what happened to her seems to be the threat she believes the aliens represent to national security, and it’s fairly well established in issue 6 that not all parts of the abduction myth are necessarily true. So why run with anal probing? Why completely undermine having a strong female lead who’s running for president by making her a victim?
I was hoping Saucer Country would be a little creepy, but instead it was just crappy. Leave this one on the shelf.