By RazzaTazz 23 Comments
In terms of what is considered the absolutely worst crime in terms of morality there are usually two which top the list - murder and rape. In terms of comics these play out differently. Not wanting to make villains seem too depraved, rape is rarely something which a villain will partake in (and incidentally a hero is seemingly incapable of it, though logically speaking seeing as most people who rape are not strangers to their victims, it would not be unheard of). Murder on the other hand is something which is bad but not as bad - consider how people regard Zsasz versus Doctor Light for instance. This topic was raised recently in an issue of the Secret Avengers (#15) where Black Widow and a civilian get in a heated debate about the value of death, how this reflects differently on a superhero than it does to a nameless civilian. Legally speaking killing somone even if they come back to life is still murder, but from a moral standpoint it gets more ambiguous (though it is still wrong.) In terms of an ultimate crime though I would suggest another - and that is the manipulation or interference with an unborn child. This has been used only sparingly in comic book fiction (or indeed in any fiction.) I know of only three cases. In the early 1990s in Wonder Woman (issues #55-56), in Elektra in the late 1990s (issues #6-8) and more recently in Green Lantern Corps (in the Sins of the Star Sapphire story arc.) In each of these cases the threat to the unborn child is different - in the first Doctor Psycho was trying to see if he could kill a pregrant mother by corrupting the mind of the unborn child, in the second a divine being known as the Architect needed a new host and created one by impregnating a teenage girl and Doctor Strange and Elektra had to stop him, and in the third Kryb is trying to steal the unborn child of a Green Lantern Corps member and is willing to kill her in order to force an induced labour (though in two of these cases a doctor - Strange or Soranik was handily available.)
In a sense this crime is kind of related to the question of abortion, as it basically is involving another person in the decision of what happens to her womb and body. I can say in terms of this question that I am pro-choice, but I am pro-choice in a reasonable way, in that the woman making the decision should be makeing the choice for the right reasons. If the pregnancy could kill her is a good reason, if she is concerned about looking bad in a prom dress it is not as good. In terms of my own personal stance on this as it applies to me, I could only see doing this under extreme circumstances. The difference for me in terms of my own personal application of this and the universal one, is that if it is necessary for some cases then it has to be legal in all cases, but personally I feel that action have consequences and that those consequences have to be lived with. But both sides of the question would inherently regard this as a crime, and a serious one. Pro-choice would basically mean not having some other entity mess around with your pregnancy, while pro-life would also be interested for obvious reasons. What is interesting for me is that the most recent writer of one of these stories (Geoff Johns) is someone who I would assume has a fairly left leaning mindset based on statements he makes in regards to topics such as xenophobia, but the response which this writing elicited in me was something a lot more along the lines of pro-life than pro-choice (not that such stances have to be defined by poltiical leanings.)
Why does this seem like such a creepy thing to do though? It is more than just an aspect of being sort of a combination of both rape and murder, although in fact murder of a child is usually regarded as worse than the murder of an adult as their whole life is ahead of them. Instead it is in my mind more of a violation of basic biological processes, that there is something in humans that respects the creative process of life once it has been enacted and decided upon (see this is kind of similar to the debate over abortion, in fact it could be considered to be a pro life argument.) That is to say that in terms of life pregnancy (and conception) and birth are two of the major stages and the period in between is the source and application of many customs and beliefs. In a universe where things such as mass murder, genocide, or even the destruction of entire solar systems is relatively commonplace it is therefore interesting to consider that an unborn child is still considered inviolable.