Gender Issues: Rachel Rising
Article by Mara Wood
Happy Halloween, and welcome to a new installment of Gender Issues! In celebration of this spooky day, we’re taking a look at one of my personal favorite ongoing series, Rachel Rising. Created by Terry Moore, Rachel Rising tells the horrific story of a woman who wakes up in the middle of a ravine.
Well, underground in the middle of a ravine. That happens to be the site of a mass grave of witches from decades and decades ago.
Rachel crawls out from under the ground and stumbles back home. She looks a little worse for the wear; once she cleans up, Rachel realizes that her neck is bruised, her skin is pale, and her eyes are reddened. On top of all that, Rachel’s lost a few days. People are not recognizing her, including her own family members. When Rachel gets in a serious accident later that night, she realizes that she is nigh indestructible. Turns out you can’t kill what’s already dead.
Rachel’s state of being is an interesting one. There are hints of violence committed by a date she went on, but the circumstances surrounding her death quickly move to the background as she deals with her current situation. With the help of her best friend Jet and her Aunt Johnny, Rachel copes with her new, surreal life.
Moore doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the extreme. Zoë, a young girl, has a murderous streak. Our second interaction with her sets the tone for the character: Zoë beats her sister over the head with a frying pan and suffocates her with saran wrap. Zoë’s actions are spurned on by a mysterious woman, the very same who appeared the night Rachel rose from the grave. This woman pulls the strings in Rachel, Jet, and Zoë’s lives. When she shows up, trouble follows very, very quickly.
Moore is well known for creating compelling, visually stunning stories featuring a diverse cast of women. His most famous work, Strangers in Paradise, follows two women as they wade through life, love, and friendship. Echo is a science fiction story of a woman gaining confidence and power. In the same tradition, Rachel Rising explores positive relationships between women within the context of stories with a wide appeal. Moore proves that female leads, in any type of genre, can carry the weight of a story. Rachel Rising turns the female victim trope on its head by letting her be the driving force in her own horror. Rachel’s actions – and the actions of the women around her – move the story forward. Take a few minutes this Halloween to check out Rachel Rising and marvel at Moore’s talent for character-driven plot.