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Rainmaker Returns

If you don't know the history of the GENął comic book, here are some details from Wikipedia.

The concept:

Genął is a fictional superhero team and comic book series originally written by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi and illustrated by J. Scott Campbell. It was published by Wildstorm under the Image Comics banner. The comic features a loosely-organized team of super-powered beings composed of five teens (three girls and two boys) and their mentor.The Indian character:Sarah Rainmaker: Rainmaker can influence local weather systems, manipulating air currents to grant herself flight and direct water with a gesture. Amplifier bands on her wrists augment her ability to project lightning. Rainmaker is Apache, and a bisexual.The controversy:Genął was subjected to controversy early in its run mainly due to J. Scott Campbell's depiction of the female form. Although comic books of the time were well known for exaggerating the feminine form to physically impossible standards, Campbell was particularly risqué in that stories often involved the main character, Caitlin Fairchild wearing as little clothing as possible, without causing the book to be labeled as an adult title.

In the second issue of the ongoing series, the character of Sarah Rainmaker was revealed as being a lesbian. Criticism came from all sides over this issue. Many suggested that this was entirely conceived to titillate male readers while the following issue's letter pages were filled with letters protesting that lesbianism was not appropriate for comic books. Meanwhile, critics from the gay community criticized Rainmaker's portrayal as a flighty lesbian when, in the next few issues, she made out with her male teammate Burnout while drunk.

Sexual content was also depicted overtly in the script (usually written by Brandon Choi) including unintentional groping, intentional voyeurism, and drunken coupling.

The series also received some controversy from the fans when it was made known that a panel showing Sarah Rainmaker sharing an open mouth kiss with another woman was replaced with one of a tepid kiss on the forehead. However, J. Scott Campbell has commented on several occasions that the editorial move was a suggestion, not overt censorship, and he agreed with the editor that the original version of the kiss did not suit the story.

The influences:Genął's most obvious influence is Marvel's X-Men which originally featured five young friends who were trained in secret by an older man who tried to protect them from a dangerous world. Many of the more social aspects of the team were inspired by the second generation X-Men spin-off series: New Mutants.

The character of Rainmaker highly resembled the X-Men's Storm in that both characters had weather controlling powers and little modesty which led them to frequent skinny dipping.

I didn't read much GENął. It was about as lame as it sounds. Rainmaker was an especially derivative character: a weather witch like Storm and an Apache like Thunderbird. Like the other team members, she seemed to exist primarily for her pinup value.

In other words, she was a classic example of the white man's dream of an Indian princess. An exotic creature, remote and untouchable but exuding sensuality. As a bisexual bombshell, she was arguably even more of a white-male fantasy.

I bring this up because Wildstorm (now a DC imprint) has just relaunched GENął. I picked up the first issue to check it out. On the plus side, it isn't pure sexual titillation like it was before. On the minus side, the storytelling is as weak and uninteresting as ever.

Rainmaker has the least page time of any of the characters. In her one big scene, she apparently makes eyes at a female clerk in a coffee shop. Which is good because you rarely see Indians portrayed as gays or bisexuals.

But two customers comment on her as she leaves:

CUSTOMER #1:  There goes a pretty little squaw. Prolly on her way t'get plastered, maybe.

CUSTOMER #2:  Maybe she's on her way ta buy a casino.

Which is bad because it's heavy-handed--people don't talk in such blatant stereotypes.

In short, fans of Indian comics can give the new GENął a pass just like they did the old GENął.

Related links
Comic books featuring Indians

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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