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Rated X for X-Men?
We humbly offer our proposal for a universal comic book rating system
By Arnold T. Blumberg & Eric Moro
July 11, 2001
Cover art for JUST IMAGINE STAN LEE WITH JOE KUBERT CREATING BATMAN
© 2001 DC Comics
As we all know, Marvel Comics recently garnered headlines (the one thing it seems to do really well these days) by announcing that it was dropping the venerable Comics Code Authority seal of approval in favor of its own in-house ratings system. While we applaud this move and think it's high time that all comic book publishers shook off the shackles of this antiquated, ineffectual, and downright offensive regulatory body one born out of a desire to censor the medium and drive certain publishers (cough, EC, cough) out of business rather than protect the minds of youthful readers we also can't help but think that this is basically little more than a publicity stunt.
Still, it's a solid first step toward freeing comics from the legacy of their darkest hour, and we here at CINESCAPE are only too happy to help things along. Herewith then, we propose our very own universal ratings system for the comic book industry, one that we hope will guide readers to purchase comics based on their merits and offer useful information about their contents. Mind you, these are only suggestions. We do this out of love. Now go forth and sin no more.THE CINESCAPE COMIC BOOK RATING SYSTEM:
AA(rdvark): This issue features two or three pages of incomprehensible, illustrated story, backed by thirty pages of incoherent sociopolitical ranting. Third in a set of twenty in a subseries of eight in a series of 300.
DC-LEE G: This issue showcases a pulse-pounding panorama of purple prose as a comic book legend reshapes an industry icon in his own illustrious image! While this title is family-friendly, O Front-Facing Fanner of the Fannish Flame, readers may find themselves lost in a long, laborious labyrinth of alliterative dialogue and the most calamitous collection of clichéd characters since the parting of the perilous 7th portal! You've been warned, bunky!
K-R-BY HNDS: This issue contains Kirbyesque artwork intended to spark a wave of false nostalgia in anyone who remembers the '60s or any of a dozen '70s Marvel reprint titles. Square fingers, gleaming chins, and elaborate metalwork may frighten small children.
R-OSS: This issue contains down-to-earth superhero imagery set atop the everyday backdrop visible outside most bedroom windows. Realistic renderings of such heroes as Superman and Captain Marvel elicit strange feelings of deja vu gee, that looks a lot like Uncle Lou?
Chris Rock, Kevin Smith, Jay Mewes & Linda Fiorentino in Dogma
© 1999 View Askiew
PGIMAGE 13: This issue may contain anatomically intriguing women with enhanced attributes. Hormonally challenged adolescent males should read with caution.
SB (SILENT BOB)15: This issue contains a story written by "slacker" favorite Kevin Smith. While still mastering the art of writing for comics, the author's adventures are prone to "talking head" panels filled with less action and more dialogue/captions. Silent, he is not.
THE PUNISHER Vol. 4 #2 guest-starring Spider-Man!
© 2001 Marvel Characters
UK15: This Vertigo style comic contains gratuitous violence, subtle digs at the American way of life, and frequent use of the word f**k. Children under 15 or men of the cloth should read with supervision.
SIP13/33: This series explores the complex relationship between two young women embroiled in a web of criminal intrigue and their own tumultuous emotions. Suitable for girls 13 and over, but men under 33 may find themselves giggling incoherently at the subtle lesbian subtext.
BYRNE FACTOR 4: This comic contains mind-bending reversals of decades of continuity in favor of a 'back to basics' approach to your favorite characters. No one under 35 is allowed to read this issue without a handy copy of the relevant MARVEL MASTERWORKS or DC ARCHIVES nearby to see how clever the writer has tied everything together.
WAID ON IN G: This family friendly title also tilts at continuity windmills but does so with a certain boyish charm. Somewhere in hypertime, five billion other versions of you are also enjoying this issue, or its nearest parallel equivalent.
MAX: This issue features superhero adventures with a mature tone. UK15 swearing and the occasional use of black and white artwork substitutes for CCA-approved swearing and the occasional use of black and white artwork.
Batman, the aged avenger, in the 1986 classic The Dark Knight Returns
© 1986 DC Comics
(Mille)R: This issue transforms the general "happy-go-lucky" hero readers have come to know and love into an angst-ridden, down-on-his-luck anti-hero. Those suffering from severe bouts of depression and/or are unhappy with change are advised to skip ahead to the last issue of the story arc in order to witness some semblance (however slight) of a happy ending.
X: This issue contains mutant heroes ostracized by humanity and deals with heavy emotional and sociological themes.
XX: This issue contains mutant heroes from two different and contradictory timelines and may confuse readers under 13.
XXX: This issue features three different mutant super-groups teaming up to battle Magneto. Anyone without at least 15 years experience reading mutant titles will be unable to decipher what the hell is going on.