Armagideon Time

Following the cinematic success of The Planet of the Apes, price Jack Kirby was inspired (with a little prodding by DC editor Carmine Infantino) to create a weird and wild riff on the franchise which occasionally transcended the source material.

The same cannot be said for Stan Lee’s similar attempt to channel some of that post-apocalyptic turnabout mojo in the debut issue of Marvel’s Savage Tales magazine…

…which swapped out the surly simians in favor of menacing misandrists.

Here’s the official explanation from the ‘zine itself:

The result is, perhaps, something just a wee bit new under the sun. Not quite sword and sorcery — certainly not science-fiction — and not exactly a political polemic. Robin Morgan clobbers Buck Rogers in the 25th century! Kate Millett zaps both Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless — then takes Mongo over for good measure.

Actually, it’s closer to Andrea Dworkin and John Norman fighting each other with rusty knives, while Robert E. Howard presses a borrowed handgun to his temple.

“The Fury of the Femizons” takes place in a future world run by the U.S.A. — the United Sisterhood Alliance, that is — a gynocracy established after the women of the world had enough of males’ oppression, belligerence, and habit of sending unsolicited photos of their genitals.

Those were some grim times, let me tell you — mass confiscation of fedoras, rows and rows of manacled bros forced to march for days without even a sip of Gamer Fuel, the agonized pleas of “NOT ALL MEN” cruelly ignored by the God-Empress Sarkeesian.

The women of the Sisterhood spend their days engaged in gladiatorial combat or culling the herds of feral males and spend their nights having sandwiches brought to them by domesticated sex slaves — all in accordance with the established principles of radical feminist theory. (“Objective #1: Overthrow the patriarchy. Objective #2: Get fitted for metal corsets that expose maximum cleavage.”)

Lyra, an esteemed warrior of the Sisterhood and the in vitro sister of Queen Vega, pays lip service to the realm’s guiding principles, yet feels unsatisfied with her way of life. This is not lost upon Syrani, the queen’s advisor, an ambitious woman who combines the looks of Lieutenant Ilia with the political ethics of Karl Rove.

Lyra’s dissatisfaction is partially due to to the fact that she has read, or rather “viewed,” the forbidden headband-powered “mind tapes” which document how life had been before the feminist revolution. It is Lyra’s hidden stash of those recordings that leads Mogon of the Hills, a male sleeper agent posing as a sex slave, to confront Lyra in hopes of recruiting her to his cause.

Mogon hails from a tribe of “noble” men, which unlike the feral wildmen, have learned from their gender’s previous mistakes and want to establish equality between the sexes. (I can only imagine how it was done: “Mogon, come forth! For your trial into manhood, Kelpor will tell you what he did today and you must stay attentive through the entire tale!”)

Lyra hesitates about helping Mogon carry out his plan to destroy the sperm banks the Sisterhood uses for replenishing its population, but comes around once she realizes the other reason for her recurring sense of dissatisfaction…

…the need for a lover with both a slow hand and an easy touch. After the pair are done exploring each other’s Forbidden Zones, they ride out to a secret camp in the ruins to meet up with Mogon’s compatriots to plot the raid on the baby-making factory. (No, not Africa, you silly infertile yuppies!)

What they discover upon arriving, however, is a trap laid by Syrani’s secret police force, which are dispatched in an orgy of violent innuendo…

Having killed a dozen agents of the state’s security apparatus, Lyra and Mogon return to the royal palace and pretend that nothing ever happened. This incredibly cunning plan fails to work, and Lyra is brought before Queen Vega to answer to charges of treason. To spare Lyra from execution, Mogon decides to take the fall, and provokes the warrior princess into killing him in front of the royal court.

The exonerated Lyra puts on a brave face, even going so far as to demand some sex slaves for a threesome in order to give horny fanboys some wank material maintain appearances…

…yet she still longs for a man like the one she publicly eviscerated.

“The Fury of the Femizons” is a terrible effort, even by the dismally low standards of heroic fantasy potboilers. It does, however, offer an interesting and embarrassing glimpse into how the feminist movement was perceived by the funnybook industry at the dawn of the 1970s — name-dropping and professed good intentions resolving as offensive caricature and the projection of one’s own behaviors on a marginalized other. While it was nice to see John Romita work his artistic magic (check out those shading effects) outside the limitations of four-color superhero fare, it’s clear that Stan the Man was phoning in a “mature readers” retread of his Atlas sci-fi and romance material — shallow irony and laughable melodrama spiced up with the mildest of titillating content.

Though the bulk of this post was written and posted to AT 1.0 back in 2008, both the quality and (even more timely) themes of the tale more than warranted the Sisterhood’s induction into the gender-blind assembly of Nobody’s Favorites.

Related posts:

  1. Nobody’s Favorites: Whoa oh, here she comes
  2. Nobody’s Favorites: Koan and forgotten
  3. Nobody’s Favorites: Fitful prose

5 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Role perversal”

  1. Aberration, The

    Feminazi stole my sperm, “but I’m a nice guy” so it’s “not exactly a political polemic.” Oh, what a load of crap, made all the worse by the beautiful (if shit-printed) art. (Wander the comments under the linked video at your own risk/amusement, as much butthurt Trilbyism belches forth.)

    Oh, GOD. I went to look up the craptacular Liberality For All, and found Steampunk Palin, which is pretty hilarious in light of her current ten-buck-a-month drunkcast.

    (Man, I hope all this linking works.)

  2. Crowded House

    Comics-demonstrating a subtle, nuanced grasp of male-female social relationships and dynamics since……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  3. Chris Wuchte

    Interestingly, this story was later included in “The Superhero Women”, the fourth title in Stan Lee’s collections marketed at bookstores (after Origins of Marvel Comics, Son of Origins, and Bring on the Bad Guys). So, to impressionable minds in the early ’80s, it was presented as on the same level of the debuts of characters like Red Sonja, Black Widow, Invisible Girl, Ms. Marvel, etc. I remember as a kid, most of it going over my head, but thinking “Obviously this must be an important story, or else it wouldn’t be in here.”

    Man, that really was a weak book. As I look at the cover online, I see it even features Hela. Really, they had so few women they had to reprint a Hela story?

  4. Zeno

    This goes a long way towards explaining why, back in the mid 70s, Stan got invited so much to hang out at the Playboy Mansion.

    (Truth be told there’s very little mystery in Stan’s friendship with Hef: Two publishing industry vets with larger-than-life public personae and whose work pandered directly to the distinctives fantasies of sex and power so prevalent in a young man’s mind).

  5. Ben Herman

    “Andrea Dworkin and John Norman fighting each other with rusty knives, while Robert E. Howard presses a borrowed handgun to his temple”

    I really should not be reading your blog while eating lunch. Nearly did a spit-take at this line.

    Regarding the “Femizons” story, at least the artwork by John Romita is gorgeous. And a few years later it did inspire Roy Thomas & John Buscema to create the character of Thundra, who I’ve always thought was cool and interesting in an offbeat sort of way.

Proudly powered by WordPress. Theme developed with WordPress Theme Generator.
Copyright © Armagideon Time. All rights reserved.