Reviewer’s note: I feel as though I should preface this review by saying I am not an erotica fan. Long before E.L. James’ Twilight fanfic took the nation by storm, I discovered it was not a genre for me. Having said that, I understand why it has its fans, and why there are some people who enjoy the genre. I’m just not one of those people.
When Dark Horse announced they were reprinting Milo Manara’s Click! stories, I was curious. All I knew about them was that they were erotica, they were out of print, and they were terribly difficult to get. I wanted to see if this was 1980s proto-50 Shades; 50 Shades before it was cool, so to speak. In other words, was this a pop culture phenomenon that was before its time?
Click! is about a woman who unwittingly has a transmitter implanted in her skull. The transmitter is connected to a remote, of sorts, with an “off,” “min” and “max” setting. When the remote “clicks” to min or max settings, Claudia’s arousal and sexual drive are over stimulated, turning her into an insatiable sex kitten.
Which is the first problematic part of the comic series: on one hand, Claudia is technically a willing participant in her sexual escapades, but she’s being driven to these desires unwillingly. After she masturbates in public places, has sex with strangers and causes a scene, she feels a great, overwhelming sense of shame. Which is not exactly the stuff of entertainment, folks. It’s not outright rape, but it definitely feels rapey.
One of the stories even involves outright rape, as a woman is raped, every day at 6pm, in order to teach her husband a lesson. She eventually escapes, only for her rapist to follow her. In a truly bizarre turn, Manara attempts to soften the blow by revealing her rapist was in love with her all along, but that actually makes it even more distasteful, if such a thing was possible.
A very long-winded introduction to the collection attempts to explain away these problems by pointing to a revelation that the device in Claudia’s brain was a placebo, of sorts, and that her shame and the device are “false,” but her continued shame suggests otherwise. A scene in which she fingers herself and begs her uncle to whip her with a belt — he was whipping her as a way to humiliate her and teach her a lesson — is especially disturbing and distasteful. Not to mention, she seems utterly beholden to the remote’s whims.
I’m not usually given to being offended, and in some ways, this comic genuinely shocked me. For one thing, I can’t figure out who the target audience is. On one hand, it seems too juvenile to be for adults, on the other, it’s far too disturbing to be for teenage boys.
Click! feels like an unfortunate product of its time, which makes it so very puzzling that Dark Horse would dredge up this bizarre relic. Not everything old is classic, and some things deserve to stay in their time. Unless it’s meant to be studied as a throwback to a bygone era. But even then, I can’t even bring myself to recommend it. Mostly, I’m disappointed that just as comics make huge leaps forward in breaking the stereotyped mold, something like this rears its ugly head.
Author: Milo Manara
Artist: Milo Manara
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publish date: 10/19/2016
Acquired via Publisher