FEMALE FURIES #2 / Writer: Cecil Castellucci / Artist: Adriana Melo / Colourist: Hi-Fi / Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual / Publisher: DC Comics / Mar 6, 2019
Female Furies #2 is a very uncomfortable comic to read, especially if you’re male and at least a little bit self-aware. The constant, overbearing, misogynist awfulness of Darkseid’s minions and Apokalips itself is expanded on even further in the second issue of this run as Cecil Castellucci continues to see just how much abuse the Furies can take.
Everything about Female Furies #2 is just as tightly wound as the first issue. The constant parade of micro-aggressions coupled with actual abusive behaviour and rape; the tight close-ups by artist Adriana Melo which really detail the anguish on Aurelie’s face as she succumbs to the vile, sleazy behaviour of Willik; the harsh red tones of colourist Hi-Fi contrasting Aurelie’s degradation with the cold, industrial blues of Barda and Lashina’s mission and their dismissal of their leader’s “weakness.” Carlos M. Mangual’s letters pile on top, crowding the pages with the disdain of the men of Apokalips and shouting down Aurelie and the Furies at every turn.
Castellucci digs into some additional themes in this issue, particularly the way in which women can be complicit in patriarchal violence against other women. Aurelie tries everything to convince the other Furies that she’s being routinely raped and abused by Willik, but they all dismiss her, calling her a liar, a weakling, and a crybaby. They’ve all been forged in the flames of Apokalips as well, trained from birth to believe that any sign of weakness would hurt them, but none of them have gone through what Aurelie has gone through. Barda claims that she would “excel at whatever [Willik] throws at me,” but that’s an easy position to take when (as far as we know) she’s never had to put up with these kind of lecherous advances from somebody in a position of power.
Even when Aurelie finally unleashes her fury on Willik, in a moment that should be a cathartic explosion of violence against an abuser, it turns into a defeat – she’s arrested, and Granny Goodness has to plead with Darkseid to be allowed to handle her insubordination. It’s more fuel for Darkseid’s generals to paint the furies as “unstable” and “emotionally compromised.” Aurelie highlights the double standard, shouting that if she were a man, she’d be “applauded for putting him in his place.” This reflects our world, where men who get emotional (in sports, for example) are seen as “passionate” and “fiery” while women who act the same are treated as “crazy” or “unstable.”
The story takes a dark twist in the consequences of Willik’s rape of Aurelie; when she visits Granny, it’s revealed that she’s pregnant as a result. This is treated as little more than a minor inconvenience by Granny, who simply presses a button to deal with the problem. Later in the issue, it’s revealed that Aurelie’s “happy accident” (a particularly disturbing term of phrase, given the providence of the pregnancy) has been used in one of Granny’s experiments to create some kind of grotesque changeling which she gives to her nemesis Tigra. Thematically, it highlights the way that Granny is working on a number of schemes to achieve her desires, but it’ll be interesting to see what role the changeling plays in future issues and whether Aurelie is aware that the seed that was inside her is being used in this way.
If I have a particular criticism of this issue, it’s in the pacing – a lot happens, with very few moments that allow the reader to pause for breath. As a result, the issue feels like a headlong rush that stops abruptly at the last page. I would have expected another page or two to provide a suitable endpoint – as it stands, the cliffhanger page (of Beautiful Dreamer spoiling Granny’s latest scheme to fix the issues with the Furies) doesn’t have the weight and impact that it perhaps should.
That aside, Female Furies #2 continues to show a side of Apokalips that is more like our world than we might care to admit – everything is turned up to 11, but it’s easy to see parallels between the misogyny and sexism of Darkseid’s generals and troops and the way that women in our world are often treated. It might be uncomfortable to read, but that’s absolutely what the creative team are going for – we need to feel uncomfortable to recognize the things that we have to change in ourselves.
We almost got the righteous fury that I longed for in my review of issue #1 in Aurelie’s demolition of Willik, but it seems that Castellucci, Melo, and the team aren’t going to let the Furies cut loose until they’ve been brought to the very brink. Here’s hoping it’s a satisfying moment when it happens!
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Chris has been writing comics for a large chunk of his life, but only started making them properly in 2011. He’s worked with chap-hop superstar Professor Elemental on a series of anthology comics as well as writing stories for a number of prestigious small press publications including Futurequake, Aces Weekly and the Psychedelic Journal and creating his own comic book series ‘Brigantia’ with artist Melissa Trender.