Upsetting Day: Foreskin Man 🌭

One of my favorite kinds of fiction is the world where everyone only cares about one specific thing. In Road House, bouncers are celebrities known across the land. In the universe of Duets, all that matters is how good you are at karaoke. And in Foreskin Man, the entire population is locked in an endless war over the practice of circumcision.

Created by madman Matthew Hess to promote a proposed 2010 California bill that would have banned medically unnecessary circumcisions of minors, Foreskin Man is so deranged that upon release it was immediately condemned by anti-circumcision groups themselves. Even the leader of the group that Hess was a part of disowned it, calling Foreskin Man “inflammatory and 180 degrees different from the direction we want to go in,” adding “I can understand why people would be offended.”

But what’s to be offended about? I mean, it’s pretty straightforward. Miles Hastwick, ex-research scientist, has somehow accumulated enough wealth to open a “Museum of Genital Integrity” which he uses to expose the evils of circumcision through commissioning lifelike sculptures of baby dicks. But as so many Twitter activists have shown us, awareness of social issues is not enough. Sometimes Miles has to take things a step further as Foreskin Man, the defender of the innocent (baby genitals).

What are Foreskin Man’s powers? They are plasma flight boots and no second thing, unless you want to count powers that aren’t explicitly called out in the narrative, like how Superman would have to project some kind of force field to lift a plane without it collapsing around him. For instance, Miles has a superhuman ability to be on the scene wherever circumcisions are taking place. Maybe it’s a Night Man-type situation and he can hear foreskin crime?

But seriously, aside from all the weird stuff we’re going to get to, that’s one of the strangest aspects of Foreskin Man. His only power is that he built some boots that let him fly.

Hess was clearly going for a Batman-type technology-powered hero, but what makes Batman fun is he has a million different bat-themed toys. Foreskin Man just has the boots, and they don’t even flop around festively as he flies through the air. The only foreskin-themed thing about him is the emblem on his chest, which I didn’t realize was supposed to be the head and foreskin of a penis until I’d read every Foreskin Man comic multiple times.

Is he strong? Listen, bub: he routinely gets the shit kicked out of him by a handful of random goons.

The whole thing seems like the author wanted to create an anti-circumcision superhero, but then didn’t want to make him seem too powerful, so he overcorrected and made him suck ass instead.

Foreskin Man doesn’t even have any lore, one of the things that people love about superheroes. He isn’t an alien whose foreskin gives him superhuman powers under Earth’s yellow sun. He didn’t see his parents get circumcised in an alley behind a movie theater when he was young. He’s just Miles Hastwick, a guy who hates circumcision. We don’t even know if he’s circumcised! But the answer is almost certainly not, based on what this comic thinks that does to you — more on that later.

In issue one, Miles Hastwick throws a party for the opening of the Museum of Genital Integrity. It’s not enough, he bemoans. The pro-circumcision lobby is simply too strong.

This is a line that would probably hit harder if the character thinking it weren’t walking into his futuristic Foreskincave complete with giant electrical orb and speedboat. I mean, the museum seems to be getting a lot of funding, and Miles isn’t independently wealthy. He’s absolutely spending donor money on foreskin-themed speedboats, right?

But there’s no time to contemplate that — somewhere, a circumcision is about to occur!

I know that getting into comic art criticism in a series called Foreskin Man is like critiquing the lighting in a snuff film, but I want you to take a look at Amber Young and her son, Orlando. Literally every woman in Foreskin Man has a huge rack and a terrible case of porno face, and literally every child looks like an adult man who was cursed to be a baby by a spiteful witch. Did I mention that there are Foreskin Man trading cards? In a just world, that would be nothing more than the random utterance of a lunatic to a competent and caring medical team.

No stats? I need to know baby Orlando’s Energy Projection rating! How strong is he compared to Nameless Goon With Knife? These are the questions that trading cards are supposed to answer!

Anyway, Doctor Edric Griswold wants to cut that baby’s foreskin. And here Hess betrays his own view of the people who perform the procedure he despises so much.

Yes, this doctor — a mouthpiece for the practice of circumcision — doesn’t actually believe in anything he’s telling this young, sexy, fully made-up new mother. He just loves cutting foreskins, ok? He loves it so much, in fact, that seeing an intact foreskin is his trigger to morph into a monstrous, animalistic form. That’s right: he’s a Foreskin Hulk.

It’s like we’re watching someone create the concept of superhero comics from the ground up. Our villain has no motivation and doesn’t even believe in his own stated goal. We don’t even know what made him a Foreskin Hulk! Did a nuclear bomb go off while he was being circumcised, or was he the product of a Weapon X-type program to create the ultimate circumciser? Who cares? Let’s get to the really important stuff: Foreskin Man having sexual tension with every woman he meets.

You might have noticed something by now, which is that mild-mannered Miles Hastwick and Foreskin Man are identical save for one feature. Did you spot it?

Yes, instead of Clark Kent-esque glasses to conceal his identity, Foreskin Man wears a fake goatee at all times that he isn’t flying around to prevent the culling of foreskins. It looks idiotic, but wouldn’t it be easier to wear it only when he transforms? That spirit gum has gotta itch, right? I guess it’s probably pretty hard to apply fake facial hair in a dramatic fashion.

So far I’m not seeing what’s offensive about Foreskin Man. Sure, it’s offensive on a technical level, but— oh. Oh no.

That’s “Monster Mohel.” Yeah. Full-on Nazis probably read this comic and were like, cool it with the antisemitism, pal.

But Monster Mohel isn’t just some roaming, foreskin-obsessed lunatic like Doctor Mutilator. He was called here by Jethro, a rich, Jewish— oh, come on.

Evidently, Foreskin Man is hamstrung by a Batman-like unwillingness to kill. He has his foe at his mercy, when the father of the child points out that it’s not really any of his business what happens to this baby’s foreskin. At least, it wouldn’t be, if the villains hadn’t knocked out and possibly killed the baby’s mother, who nobly and boobily attempted to prevent the ritual from taking place.

I’m sure we can all see that there’s only one reasonable solution here.

Right, illegally kidnap the man-faced baby, that’s the easy part. But did you guess what happens next?

If you had “give the baby to the Intactivist Underground to be raised as one of their own,” then it’s legally a hate crime for you to come within 200 feet of a bris.

The IU celebrates their new addition by burning an enormous sculpture made from hundreds of stolen circumstraints. Two notes here: one, circumstraints are used for a lot of infant procedures, not just circumcisions. These assholes just made it that much harder for hospitals in the area to X-ray babies. Second, those things are made of plastic, so these hot, sexy babes just exposed that infant to a cloud of toxic fumes. Does that count as irony, if baby Glick gets health problems from burning stolen circumcision apparatuses? Does fucking anything count as anything anymore?

The first two issues of Foreskin Man take place in the Bay Area, but circumcision is a global problem. Issue three sees him going to Kenya to confront Githinji, a circumciser so prolific that Foreskin Man has already heard of him when a woman tells her that he has kidnapped her son and taken him on a trans-Atlantic flight solely for the purpose of circumcising him.

This is a world in which there are famous circumcisers. And there are also famous anti-circumcision heroes, and tales of their exploits resonate across the globe. When Foreskin Man is rescued from three men with one knife between them by Vulva Girl, she is not meeting a strange, goatee-less white man in a vaguely-themed costume. She is meeting a legend.

Vulva Girl, sorry yeah her name is Vulva Girl, can fly like Foreskin Man, but she can also project beams of energy. Her power source is the Siri Amulet, about which we learn less than nothing. She is a much better superhero than Foreskin Man in literally every way, from her powers to her emblem.

Foreskin Man and Vulva Girl work together to save some girls and boys from a globally-renowned husband and wife team of genital mutilators. And just to remind us that this is Africa, it all goes down not in a hospital but in tribal huts protected by blow dart-wielding warriors.

To get real for a moment here, anti-circumcision advocates often try to connect their cause to that of female genital mutilation. The bill that Foreskin Man’s author helped write was even called the “Male Genital Mutilation” bill. And look: should we be cutting any baby’s genitals? Probably not. But to make foreskin removal and clitoral excision equivalent requires some pretty advanced mental gymnastics. You’d have to depict circumcised men as broken, unlovable freaks who—

Holy shit! In issue seven of Foreskin Man, we get an opening narration by a victim of Doctor Mutilator. This is what I meant when I said that Foreskin Man himself probably wasn’t circumcised. In the world of this comic, circumcision is extremely common and the pro-circumcision lobby is an immensely powerful force. At the same time, being circumcised makes you a bitter sexual mutant who, uh, can’t cum? Can’t make a woman cum? It’s kind of unclear.

But there is hope for the circ’d: the love of a good woman who talks loudly in bars about the arrests of famous circumcisers.

It’s a truism that men care far, far more about their penises than the vast majority of women do. But Foreskin Man stretches this reality to comical extremes. Seriously, if you showed the last panel of this comic to most normal people without any context, they would assume it was about virgins or men who’d had their dicks exploded in the wars.

In case you were wondering, yes, the circumcised dick whisperer does have a trading card. It says that she “has a gift for soothing the pain that is trapped within so many circumcised men. She is naturally drawn to those who need her affection the most.” You thought I was kidding about the dick whisperer thing!

Alas, Doctor Mutilator is released from prison thanks to liberal soft on dick crime policies. The system has failed our gritty protagonist, Donovan Tracer. Foreskin Man has failed him. There’s only one thing left to do.

He becomes a Foreskin Punisher! He wears a Mardi Gras mask as a disguise, because New Orleans! I take back everything bad I’ve said about this comic, this kicks ass. My only note here is that “Blowback” is too generic a name for a dark genital revenge antihero. How about “The Prepucinator?” Or “The Sheath?” Or, I don’t know, “The Frenulum Avenger?” We’ll workshop it.

Foreskin Man arrives on the scene just in time to stop Foreskin Punisher from gunning down the Foreskin Hulk. What a world. It turns out that Donovan’s dick whisperer girlfriend is pregnant. “Don’t throw your life away for revenge,” Foreskin Man pleads. “I’m torn up inside by my roiling emotions!” Foreskin Punisher replies. “Excuse me, but I need to tear a baby from a woman’s body so that I can circumcise it,” Foreskin Hulk interjects.

Our hero saves the day and Blowback decides to become an intactivist dad instead of a dark counterpart to the clean-cut (crucially, not like that) Foreskin Man.

God, I’m already up to 2000 words and I haven’t even covered the sadistic, pedophilic Filipino nurse, the attempted circumcision on a thrill ride atop The Strat in Las Vegas, or the anti-circumcision newscaster whose job is continually threatened by her pro-circumcision boss.

I haven’t even covered Foreskin Music, which exists in-universe as one character’s ringtone.

Taken as an intact whole, Foreskin Man fails not just as a superhero comic, but as propaganda. Rather than actually trying to convince anyone that circumcision is a problem, it just assumes that the reader is already on board with its worldview, in which a blond, blue-eyed superhero is one of the few brave warriors to stand up to a motley crew of mostly ethnic minorities who crave the separation of infant boys from their precious foreskins for reasons of profit, religion, or possession by an ancient, malefic foreskin-hating blade.

Foreskin Man is the Road House of genitals. It’s the Cocktail of… cocks. If it has any enduring value, it is in posing one question to its readers, a question that we’ve all asked at one time or another in our lives, a question that cuts into the fleshy, protective sheath of our society:

Special thanks to Thrillho for the hotdog tip.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: SpottyReception, who expressly does not have any strong opinions about baby foreskins.