Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Converting People To The Religion Of Crime Through The Lesson Of Lust"

You know, God bless this new "Crime Bible: The Five Lessons Of Blood" miniseries starring Question & Batwoman, but read this blurb:

"The Dark Faith spreads throughout the DCU as the Daughters of Lilith take the forefront in a recruitment drive to convert people to the Religion of Crime through the Lesson of Lust."

and look at this cover:

This is extremely steamy stuff.

Which is absolutely fine, unless this ends up reading like a pulp fiction throwback "lipstick lesbian" adventure with more to titilate the boys in the audience than anything else. I have faith in Greg Rucka that this probably will not be the case. But...

I think it's the combo of the cover -- which is tastefully done but with a heavy sexual vibe -- and the unfortunate blurb which sounds overtly sexual & sleazy.

See, combine the image with the words:

Symbolically, who are the "Daughters of Lilith?"

Lilith is a demonic figure from Babylonian times who was considered evil because she couldn't bear children, couldn't "copulate normally," and brought disease, infertility, and unhappiness wherever she went. (there is debate whether she was originally considered a positive goddess-figure before the "patriarchy" got their hands on her, but that's a debate for another day).

In folk-tradition she is the first wife of Adam who had the audacity to claim they were equal; when he balks, she dumps him and goes away to live on her own. Which of course makes her an evil baby-killing demon, which is largely how she was perceived.

In modern times, feminists have attempted to "take back" Lilith by naming magazines & music fairs after her.

Lilith, with her shunning of Adam, her unwillingness to accept her dictated societal role as babymaker and passive helpmeet, and her association with radical feminism, has been associated with, among other things, lesbianism.

Now, does the "Dark Faith" & "Religion of Crime" of the "Daughters Of Lilith" put them symbolically at odds with organized religion? Why would they be at odds?

What is the symbolism of "recruitment drive" and "convert people" in relation to stereotypes and slander against homosexuals?

So the "Daughters of Lilith" are of the "Religion of Crime" and are actively trying to "convert people" and get "recruits" to their "Dark Faith" through the "Lessons of Lust."

Again, this is not to say that this is what "Crime Bible" is all about. But as I said, this ad copy does a disservice to the book. And associating the figure of Lilith with evil has a little bit of societal baggage attached to it.


  1. I'd say that trying to pretend that the figure of Lilith does not have serious cultural baggage attached to her is a bit like setting up Cain as your poster-boy for farm aid. Or perhaps more aptly, compare the succubus. Yes, there could be an excellent argument made for its underpinnings being found in psycho-sexual cultural politics, but you can't ignore the mythical tag-alongs.

  2. "'d say that trying to pretend that the figure of Lilith does not have serious cultural baggage attached to her is a bit like setting up Cain as your poster-boy for farm aid."

    very true, Mordicai, I just wish there would be a little more exploration as to her origins and meaning instead of it always being a "given" that she's evil.

  3. I might be imagining things, but I seem to recall the crime bible being very "Bizzaro Judeo-Christian," putting up the aforementioned Cain as a model example & whatnot. I wouldn't mind the "Daughters of Lilith" (whatever that means) coming out & blurring the line, a la Bendis's Hydra (who have at least the political jargon of anti-corporate anti-fascist freedom fighters). I think the "Lust" thing is really more of an issue given the ever-present-implied-evil of female sexuality...especially agressive sexuality.

    I do, though, give Rucka plenty of space.

  4. The "Wife of Adam" thing doesn't have much real purchase in folklore.

  5. Pduggie, that's an interesting article, though since I lack any training in Jewish texts or any of the text that he mentioned, I wouldn't mind some citations as proof of it.

    As for Greg Rucka, while I'd assume he'd be aware of it, it's entirely possible he's never heard the "first wife of Adam" legend.

  6. I trust, for the nonce, Greg Rucka's abilities to write intelligently about women. I also like the cover image, as far as it goes. I also expect nothing less from marketing people than to represent story points in the stupidest way imaginable.

  7. Either way, sounds like a rollicking great time! Eagerly awaiting this book if the cover is any indication.

  8. I have to believe Greg Rucka has heard the "first wife of Adam" legend, since Neil Gaiman recounted it in an issue of Sandman, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find an influential comics writer that hasn't read Sandman.

  9. jeez, maybe read the comic before over-analyzing it?

  10. Andrew: With respect, I think the thrust of the post was to point out the loaded nature of the solicit blurb which, when juxtaposed with the (quite nice, atmospheric) cover, might be construed as being somewhat... loaded... with a whole bunch of ideas that could be squicky, if that's the technical term.

    I have high hopes for this, if only because I can imagine Mr. Rucka tearing his hair out and rocking backwards and forwards when he thinks of DiDio and Winick getting their hands on Renee and Kate.

    (incidentally: A grab-bag of interesting Lilith information can be found on Wikipedia:
    Wikipedia: Doing your research for you since ages ago! ^_^)

  11. nice usage of "squicky" lol.

  12. I can't even tell you how many religions I've been indoctrinated to through the lessons of lust....