Jerry vs. Toxic Masculinity
Jerry is struggling with his body image. Having just won Beth back, his insecurities are getting the better of him, and he wants to get a more attractive body to impress her. Attempting to kick Rick out of the garage so that he can install some workout gear, his mad scientist step-father gives him the easy way out with his new invention, the metamorphatron 5000. The experiment seemingly goes well as Jerry is given the ideal male body.
Jerry’s new-found masculinity is posing a problem in the form of turning him into a misogynistic douchebag. After Rick decides to give the metamorphatron 5000 another try on Morty’s hamster, they discover that it turns people into monsters. As the titular characters manage to revert Jerry back, but the beast has been let loose in the form of a creature living on his stomach.
The beast, Dilfagog, begins to grow more and more as Jerry’s insecurities get the better of him. And the monster grows uncontrollably into the worst type of chauvinist male. It is up to Rick and Morty to help Jerry find the confidence he needs to overcome the masculine monster that he has become. But, ultimately it is up to Jerry to fight his lack of self-confidence to save himself.
Now, you may be thinking “of all the amazing characters that the Rick and Morty franchise has to feature, why would they do a comic book about Jerry.” Especially when you consider the other characters that have appeared in the Rick and Morty Presents series including The Vindicators, Krombopulos Michael, and Pickle Rick. However, we should argue just how much of an underrated character Jerry actually is. There has always been a cliché in sitcoms that include an everyman character. As downtrodden as Jerry is, he happens to be one of the most honest iterations of the everyman as there ever was. He works full-time to take fund his family and can never get ahead. He is continually trying to impress his wife that is much too good for him. I could go on, but essentially there isn’t much difference between Jerry and a Homer Simpson. It is the honesty of Jerry’s depression, lack of self-confidence, and inability to stand up for himself that makes him a better character. So, of course, why not, he deserves his own comic title.
As far as Rick and Morty comic books gold, they are almost consistently entertainment gold… or, at least silver, maybe bronze. Either way, for the most part, they are all extremely well-done. With that said, they are a mostly brainless comedy that continues on with the satire of science fiction clichés that the show is so well known for. Most often, there is no political agenda, and they don’t really have much to say other than “hey, look at this cool thing, now laugh at it.” So, the theme of Rick and Morty Presents Jerry was a bit surprising.
In this book, Jerry is very much a victim of those two trigger words that have been flying around everywhere you look on social media, toxic masculinity. In fact, Jerry and his monster, Dilfagog, are very much toxic masculinity personified. Aggressive behaviour, sex-driven, competitive, and chauvinist, Jerry becomes everything that is horrible about being a man. The commentary on this being that it is all driven by a lack of self-confidence. Pretty on point, I guess. In the end, it is Jerry who has to acknowledge his own weaknesses and accept himself for who he is if he doesn’t want to be this monster, or more honestly, a douchebag. Now, this theme and interpretation may be too insulting for some men who are proud of their aggressiveness and misogyny, but who cares?
This single issue story was much better than anyone could have anticipated for a Jerry featured comic book. In all honesty, we were all expecting a book where Jerry goes through a series of mishaps to beat down this downtrodden character even further, which would have been entertaining in its own right, but we cannot be disappointed in the direction that this comic went. As I said, this is probably the most relevant Rick and Morty comic book that we have seen thus far. And, despite the social commentary, the humour is sharp as ever, and the whole story fits well in the Rick and Morty Universe. Kudos, to Oni Press and writer Ryan Ferrier for pulling this one off in a big way.