“For the One I Love”
Writer: Ben Raab
Penciler: Pete Woods
Inks: Scott Koblish
Colours: Kevin Tinsley
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft & Kiff Scholl
Editors: Kelly Corvese & Jason White
Original publication date: November 1997
Pete Wisdom is a right bastard in Excalibur #114, “For the One I Love.” But that’s good news for returning guest Dr. Keith Friedlander, current president of the Pete Wisdom Haters Society! We talk gendered violence and representations of BDSM in and around a sequence that made some of us angrier than we’ve been in a while. Also! We see the painting! And coin a new trope about the very real thing every woman actually wants.
On gendered violence:
“I would argue that the violence she subjects him to is very different than the violence he subjects her to. The latter is more about gendered humiliation.” -Anna
“Sari looks scared here—like she’s acting out a trained response to someone doing this before… with the implication that he’s done this before.” -Anna
“Raab is trying to insinuate that they had rough sex, and Pete was the sub… But he doesn’t understand the BDSM community.” -Mav
On bad guys:
“I get Pete is supposed to be unlikeable, but there’s unlikeable in a useful way, and unlikeable in a way that makes me question why this character is being treated like an identifiable protagonist.” -Anna
On gendered tropes:
“The story kind of boils down to that ‘psycho ex-girlfriend’ trope, which is very misogynistic, and problematic, and dated.” -Keith
“The 90s was often a time of complete excess in superhero comics, and we make fun of it for that… But anytime there’s an aesthetic movement in a medium—that’s worth studying.” -Keith
Want more Keith Friedlander?
Find him on Bluesky, @friedkeith.bsky.social
And! Check out his fabulous book chapter “Parents, Counterpublics, and Sexual Identity in Young Avengers” in Anna’s edited collection Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero.
You can also read more of Keith’s insights into superheroes and gender politics in his article for The Middle Spaces on the MCU’s Thanos: “Despite the Genocide: Deconstructed Masculinity and Thanos Fandom.”
And! Keith is the past President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics – aka the organization through which Anna, Andrew, and Keith all met for the first time! They hold yearly events and regular symposiums, and the membership is a mix of academics, fans, and critics; it’s also very reasonably priced (with a free option for the financially challenged). If you’re not up for joining the society, you can still follow them and the work of the society’s members on Twitter! (@ComicsBD)