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In the "1000 Words" Dept. - Nothing New Under The Sun
(the ARX acta diurna)
In the "1000 Words" Dept.
So (via WFA) the cover art for upcoming Uncanny X-Men issue is brought to my attention by Heidi Meeley of Comics Fairplay, and since it was in the regular feature "Is It Gratuitous?" and since there was some snide glibbery to the effect that any depiction of female bodies must be obscene, rather than addressing whether or not this was Yet Another Instance of making sure that female characters are Pretty In Death or injury, contrasting to the way that male superheroes are portrayed, I figured that a couple hours with the Wacom was worth it, and hey presto-- before and after under the cut:

Here is the cover in question:

I took it into Photoshop, and I traced over it to get the exact body pose that Storm is in, and then I redrew it with a male chara in the same way.

Now, I couldn't come up with a single non-monstrous mainstream superhero whose costume reveals as much skin - it's telling that well, there's The Thing, whose angst is all about the fact that he's no longer a normal human male but rather is trapped in a trollish body, and there's The Hulk, who again, when he's shirtless is when he's trapped in a trollish body. Not exactly handing out the equal opportunity eye candy, are we now?

There is one superhero whose costume traditionally has shown more skin than most male characters (though more recent revisions have given him full coverage, too) but since we know from many an illo that it's perfectly okay to give superheroines strategically-sexy battle damage to their outfits, I figured I could take that liberty in the redraw, since not even Dick Grayson's costume is as revealing as Storm's now. And it still isn't, because I'd have had to tear off so much I'm not sure you could tell who it was after - hm, that's another experiment, isn't it? but hey, anyway, here's the redo:

I made the hip-joint a little less Barbie-like, and I left out the troubling semi-random, not-really-possible bits of fallen brick walls that hadn't disintegrated, but it's pretty close. I also left out the special X-Men Butt Glow™ in the original, because I just couldn't make it work properly tonight and I got frustrated. But even without that extra Butt Glow™ airbrushing the highlights are pretty close to the inspiration.

So, how many other similar Downed Superhero depictions are out there? --On the covers of the Big Two, I mean? There gotta be a bunch, right?

I mean, the Defenders of the Status Quo keep assuring us that there's no unfairness, and Privilegeboy wouldn't lie, surely!

ETA: Okay, this is evil.

Yes, the anatomy is as bad as you suspect. I don't know what the hell was going on with her right arm, or her shoulderblades, and neither did the artist. I couldn't figure out what all those lines on her left ribcage are, and neither could the inker. And no, indeed (altogether now) - "Breasts don't WORK that way!" (and neither does your pelvis, or any other human's.)

WIP - tracing the original to match Robin to Ororo's pose.

Same, but without the background showing through. Her right arm seems to either have withered away below the elbow, or to be stuffed down into the dirt, although logically it should be folded under her body, since the folds of her cape are quite wrong to conceal it. If it was folded under her upper arm, with her hand under her right shoulder - as I did with Robin - then her elbow should be raised into the light, and also larger, not atrophying away like that...

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21 comments or Leave a comment
goldjadeocean From: goldjadeocean Date: October 6th, 2007 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
What I want to know is, what is that brown patch of colour in Storm's armpit? It seems to me to be a small bit of "breasts don't work that way" but it could always be a mess-up on the colourist's part.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)

That's her left breast. (VEG)

The top of her smushed-under-her breast, peeking out over her bustier, to be exact.

I see I need to post the analytical tracing I did of it, to figure out WTF was going on (so far as I could) with the anatomy of the original...
(Deleted comment)
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

I *couldn't* draw him *as* wrong,

I found, because to give him some muscles automatically made it less a travesty, it filled in some of the Wrong - check out her *left* elbow, too: that's a doll arm, not a human arm, it's not drawn by someone who ever grabbed a mirror and looked at their own bent elbow to try to get a pose right, as I have done for drawing both female *and* male characters on the fly.

tammy212 pointed out that her whole bum looks like a doll bum, and when I started tracing it that became even clearer, all it needs is some joint break lines and you have the exact swivel setup of a naked Barbie that someone posed on his desk and drew. Which explains the elbows wierdness, the wiggly spine, and the ribcage mess some too.

This is one weird perspective setup, isn't it. Left arm and head seem over-large, which could be a wide-angle-lens effect, but there's no sense of that apparent distortion elsewhere in the image, and besides, the alignment of the distortion is wrong. It's like looking at a forced-perspective model from off-axis.

And where are her lower legs and feet? That's another reason I brought the shadows all the way down, because part and parcel with the Impossible Brick Mesh craziness is the Escher-brand Funhouse Infinite Floor Plane that starts immediately beyond her, so are her calves folded beside her? If so they're crushed flat under about 700 lbs of masonry. Do they extend in front of her? In that case, the perspective is *really* forced....or, the artist was drawing off the attenuated shins and teensy-tiny feet of a Barbie doll.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

addendum - Robin's tunic also made it impossible

for me reproduce the weirdness of Storm's pose, because his loose sleeveless doublet over singlet hides that ball-joint hip thing as well as the spine and ribcage distortions.
fjm From: fjm Date: October 6th, 2007 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Your icon so describes my day on Thursday.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 07:39 am (UTC) (Link)

good for you!

(what did you do?)
fjm From: fjm Date: October 6th, 2007 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: good for you!

Screw up massively from a position which could be described as "best of intentions".

A passion for natural justice will only substitute for natural empathy so far... after that it's blinkers.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Mm, no, that sounds like *Lawful* to me

without knowing the details, that sounds like classic Paladin's Problem, the kind of mess that Lawful Good gets into, applying rules too closely, or "letter" but not "spirit", which is why Lawful Good is too often too harsh (altho' paradoxically it is often ineffectual against serious Evil, Lawful *or* Chaotic.)

I made my icon (several, in fact) in response to (RL as well as online) accusations of Ebolness for dishing out gandersauce and snark and giving ijits enough rope to hang themselves and not being willing to be the stereotypical Good Guy handicapped by having to Be Nice when the Villain doesn't, generally - it's my acknowledgement of my anarchic Trickster tendencies, and my refusal to disown them as something Bad (same with all the Monkey icons); Chaotic Good is disreputable, disorganized, and doesn't have any dignity to stand on, and thus gets to gloat, to go Neener-Neener-Neener, and to lure the Evil Overlord into giving chase right over a well-planted banana peel...
fridgepunk From: fridgepunk Date: October 6th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Mm, no, that sounds like *Lawful* to me

There's also that element to Lawful evil that will present "good intentions" as a justifcation for all sorts of stupid - the whole "I was just being chivalrous!" or "but I was just complimenting you (and your people)!" which eventually scales up to "we had to destroy the village to save it" being presented as a sane and not at all sarcastic rationale for all sorts of ick.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

I've never written it out long, I don't think

but my personal philosophy, coming out of a lot of meditating on the Tao (among other things) is that Lawful Evil and Lawful Good are really a false distinction IRL - there's just *Lawful*, meaning those who valorize Rule Following and strict submission to authority and place those over all other goods, and within that Lawful plane there is a spectrum from most to least *overtly* selfish, when it comes to any and each action and choice, and the more Overtly Selfish someone's choices consistently are, the more you have Lawful Evil - the guy who sneers that "life isn't fair" and "winning is everything" and who measures his success by how much he puts over on everyone else while still playing within the rules of civilized society (ie he's not gonna turn pirate all on the salt sea, far less knock off a convenience store ever) and the more overtly Altruistic, you get Lawful Good - but that's complicated by the fact that Lawful Good types oddly always seem to make the altruistic choices that will benefit themselves, and rarely the opposite, no matter how much they talk about sacrifice. (And then it's further complicated by the fact that Lawful Evil types will mimic the talk of Lawful Good, even the ones who don't believe it, just to get away with more, aka "bullshitting.)

But overall it feels more like a continuum to me, and is part of why I say that Lawful Good is *useless* when it comes to worldsaving when the chips are down - they're the ones flipping through Roberts' Rules of Order while PM Saxon dances in glee...or chiding the Rebel Alliance for being too offensive and provoking the Empire with their defiance, yanno.
bright_lilim From: bright_lilim Date: October 6th, 2007 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)
"I couldn't come up with a single non-monstrous mainstream superhero whose costume reveals as much skin"

bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)


And he's wearing a swimsuit, because he's an aquatic being, and he's hardly up there with Storm, Wonder Woman, Zatanna, Black Canary or Power Girl* just to name a few well-known and scantily-clad herones - and ironically right after the Heroes for Hire situation there was a cover with him held prisoner by Venom's tentacles, and it was striking how non-passive and non-sexual they had made his pose, for comparison. I mean, how many visible sternums on superheros are there? let alone upper thighs? let alone on ones who are major players in either universe multiverse?

(Or even Painkiller Jane, who got a TV show recently, even if one so wretched that viewers campaigned for it to end.)
skalja From: skalja Date: October 7th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Okay

Totally agreed.

Plus, aside from that one cover, he's been put back in pants for the last few years. DIRTY POOL, MARVEL, DIRTY POOL!

P.S. I knew this cover was bizarre, but I didn't realize it was so ... bizarre. Well played!
voxwoman From: voxwoman Date: October 6th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Robin's butt cheeks need more exposure

to get the same level of revealing. Maybe he should switch to wearing a thong?

I don't read enough comics, obviously. But all I can think about right now is "Den". I think pretty much everybody was naked in that. The Evil Priestess(TM) wore a mask and a cape that never closed (it's been literally decades since I've read that series, so I'm going on memory here).

bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 6th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Robin's butt cheeks need more exposure

I know! Why aren't there Superheros in BattleThongs™? I mean, they're *superpowered*, so they don't need protection from scrapes and bruises and SuperWedgies, according to the justifications we hear all the time!

I'm also handicapped trying to draw Strategic Battle Damage™, because I've done way too much sewing, and I look at what they do to expose the gals, and I think "But Cloth Doesn't Work That Way!" (Paper napkins, OTOH, do.) Trying to draw rips that could actually happen, even with high-tech handwavy microfiber, is really problematic.

Looking online, I see that "Den" was not just obscure, it was indy. So no, that's not equivalent (nor any other self-published R-rated/X-rated comics with nudity).
voxwoman From: voxwoman Date: October 6th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Robin's butt cheeks need more exposure

Ah. I read "Den" in the first year of publication of "Heavy Metal" (the English version of "Metal Hurant") - I figured it was released in France, first, like the rest of the GNs in there (on the plus side, it introduced me to Moebius' artwork - because they ran Harzak and the "Airtight Garage"?)

Den's plotline wasn't progressive or anything - it had its share of helpless damsels in distress - but it was unique in my world because it was the only comic that had the male hero completely naked without even Barsoomian jewelery to help matters. Of course, he was hung to his knees, but the women were similarly overendowed.

You may want to try to dig up some issues to see how the artist/writer handled the naked fight scenes (of which there were many). It seemed rather intelligent to me, but I was about 18 when I read it at the time, so it may not hold up, 30 years later :)
shininghalf From: shininghalf Date: October 6th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love how the shadows indicate that her shoulders, head, and left hand are actually levitating a couple of inches above the ground. ^_~
From: deiseach Date: October 6th, 2007 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Her cape!

That's what seals it as gratuitious.

Look at how her (untorn, unripped, unshredded) cape is furling out *beneath* her. She's lying on *top* of it.

Now, going by how her cape (unlike that of the Dactyls) *is* actually attached to her arm by the bracelet, if you stood the figure upright, that means the cape would be hanging down in *front* of her.

Which makes no sense, as capes/cloaks are generally worn hanging over the shoulders and draping over the back, correct?

So if she fell/had a building fall on her, her cape - like Robin's in P@L's drawing - *should naturally cover her*.

That is, no ogling of exposed back/side/backside. Unless the cape had been ripped off her back, which it hasn't, all prettily furled beneath her like that.

And damn yes, the 'drawing from a posed doll' is the only legitimate explanation of how the artist came up with that positioning.
athelind From: athelind Date: October 8th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm still pondering the central question, but I can think of at least two non-monstrous male characters who wear costumes as revealing or more revealing than Classic Robin: Hawkman and The Martian Manhunter.

Okay, they've got J'onn wearing a full-coverage outfit now, but I don't know how long that's gonna last. J'onn's classic outfit was Vintage Barsoom: shorts, straps, buccaneer boots, and a cape. Other than a prominent brow and green skin, Classic J'onn isn't particularly inhuman -- and if green skin disqualifies one from beefcake status, then nobody has cause to complain about all those She-Hulk covers!
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 8th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Mm, I guess you're not the same species as me

because J'onn may be quite handsome to fellow Martians, but to my eyes this looks pretty monstrous - if I saw someone with that shape of a head and features walking down the street, I'd feel as sorry for them as I do for the guy I sometimes see in town who has a genetic or glandular disorder of some sort that has made his head that long proportionately and given him pronounced, almost neanderthal-like brow ridges and jawline.

However, She-hulk's face is perfectly acceptable by modern western *human* beauty standards: she's *not* monstrous at all, she's just very muscular (but not even egregiously, OMGveins! so like many male charas) and a different color. *HUGE* difference in treatment there.

And while Hawkman is shirtless, Robin has full-length bare legs *and* bare arms, so it's at best equal area - and do you really want to declare that bare legs have the same sexual connotations as bared pecs, on a guy? Because seriously, *how* many bared hips and thighs can you count up on superheroes vs superheroines? You got Namor, who's been covered up since, and Martian Manhunter, and he's not a-list either, and he's one of the monstrous ones - and he's covered up now too. Whereas the number of heroines in leg-baring, butt-cheek-baring (and midriff-baring) leotards is growing, given that Storm used to have a full uniform. Still waiting...
athelind From: athelind Date: October 9th, 2007 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Mm, I guess you're not the same species as me

Aw, jeez, I forgot Namor's nuthin'-but-trunks look.
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