The Man-Killer Moves at Midnight!
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Jim Mooney
Letterer: Charlotte Jetter
Colorist: Stan Goldberg
Originally published: April 1973
Terrible narration as usual, but I sorta liked the characters and the story. It’s a female empowerment story that comes off as extremely dated. The art, especially, is interesting. The Man-Killer is violently pro-woman and anti-man, and she’s drawn in such a manner to remove a lot of her feminine qualities. She is strong, but her character design removes a lot of her femininity – she has relatively short hair, her suit has built-in abdominal muscles that blend in with and conceal her breasts, and she wears large shoulder pads that give her a wider, more masculine frame. She also attacks using a tank with a very phallic battering ram, and en equally phallic laser gun thing.
On the flip-side, the equally pro-woman but less anti-man Cat is a prototypical comic book heroine: a curvy body in a skin-tight suit, long hair, and large luscious lips. She is no less powerful than the Man-Killer – in fact, she’s arguably more powerful – but she retains her femininity.
Sure they’re both caricatures and a little hackneyed, but that’s alright; it was interesting and I dug it. Not in that I thought any of the points were well-made, or that I thought it was thought-provoking, but more as a neat view of the ridiculous way I’m sure lots of people thought about feminism and women’s liberation at the time (and maybe still do?).
Conway still gets on my nerves. He has some rather weak points: the Cat and Spider-Man agreeing that, without a demonstration, a super-heroine might easily be dismissed based on gender; the premise that the Man-Killer’s attacks might turn the world against women and feminism as a whole; the fact that a feminist heroine in a feminist story needs to seek help from Spider-Man to beat the bad
guy girl; the Man-Killer’s plan to punish men by taking out a power plant; the nonsensical and unresolved theft of radioactive material; the fact that, after making her sad, Spidey and the Cat don’t actually do anything to punish/arrest the Man-Killer. Whew that’s a lot.
So…well-made points about an important social issue? No. Plot holes? Yes. But overall, it’s still a step-up from Conway’s normal output.