I’m looking forward to Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner’s Power Girl. I dig Graymiotti’s work when they get a chance to tear things up in their own corner of things without worrying about whatever greater status quo there is. Their Jonah Hex is one of my top three books coming out of DC/Vertigo, easy. Over at Marvel, they did the sublime Daughters Of The Dragon and the very enjoyable Wolverine/Black Cat: Claws a few years back.
The latter two books are pretty cheesecake, but fun. Gray and Palmiotti give their main characters (Colleen Wing and Misty Knight in one, Wolverine and Black Cat in another) a lot of personality and manage to come up with some pretty funny funnybooks, without veering into outright comedy quip-a-minute Deadpool antics. The art helps a lot, too. The pair have an eye for talent, nine times out of ten, and Khari Evans/Joseph Michael Linsner are pretty great collaborators.
I’m looking forward to Power Girl because adding Amanda Conner into the mix is just icing on the cake. Other than being Palmiotti’s wife, she’s also an amazingly good cartoonist. Her comics look like Janelle Monae’s music sounds— just full of fun and eagerness and personality. They’re like the bit at the end of ’80s teen movies where Ferris Bueller has won, the loser got the girl, and everyone is dancing. They’re happy. And yeah, they’re a little bit sexy, too. Conner draws cute people doing neat things. That’s probably why she’s on the book in the first place.
If you put out a book that’s just Amanda Conner, Philip Bond, and Cameron Stewart trading pages on art, well, you’d have a hit. Doesn’t even matter what it is, I don’t think. I’d read what they draw regardless. Not liking Amanda Conner is like not liking air, only worse.
DC’s blog “The Source” (no benzino) recently posted two new variant covers for Power Girl #3 and #4 by Guillem March, artist of the upcoming Gotham City Sirens. March is a pretty good artist, but not really my thing. These covers, though, are emblematic of my main problem with more than a few books in DC’s line right now.
JLA’s got an artist on it who doesn’t care about things like storytelling or emotion or distinct faces or action scenes so much as semi-iconic poses and big ol’ booty all up in your face. This runs counter to the story being told in the book, which is fundamentally one about the relationships between the world’s greatest heroes. Yes, there is sex, but it isn’t about sex.
Battle for the Cowl: Oracle: The Cure features a broken Barbara Gordon who is apparently so psychotic that she will cripple and nearly beat to death random muggers while she blacks out in anger when she isn’t fighting other dudes on the internet. Other than an ill-advised shower scene, the book seems like it’s about Oracle doing computer-y things. The covers? Technically, they are good- the textures are so realistic as to actually be a little creepy. However, they’re about the fact that Oracle doesn’t wear a bra and how she’s got more cleavage than a fistful of rocks. PS, she also went up a few cup sizes and has been coated in vaseline.
Battle For the Cowl proper is about a bunch of people fighting for the right to be Batman, but everyone in that book is sporting a low cut top or boobsocks. Catwoman, a lithe gymnast super thief, is moving back toward being drawn like Jim Balent was on the book. Batgirl, the tiny Asian ninja girl, is looking like she’s been through a couple of enhancement surgeries.
DC’s trying to have it two ways, and it just isn’t working for me. I trust that Power Girl is going to be a good book because of the talent involved between the covers. The March covers, though, don’t say anything to me except “Hey, check out these chimichangas! Whatever, Power Girl, she can fly, but look. You can totally see all of her cleavage plus that might be a wedgie! And Terra, the chick from Teen Titans? Yeah, she’s stepped her game up, too.” For reference, here’s the same two characters the last time Conner drew them:
Terra looks more like a teenager/early 20s heroine, and yep, Power Girl is still stacked. However, one cover is amazingly interesting and the other is something my mother would slap out of my hands if she saw me with it.
There’s such a tonal difference between these covers and the content, and in the case of JLA between the art and the story, that the books end up problematic. I can’t read JLA. I’m not about to buy a comic that makes me look like some kind of loser pervert. I know that the story on the inside is gonna be one thing, but the covers are screaming something else at me. If I didn’t know the team involved, I’d walk right past this book shaking my head. It’d look just like another crappy T&A Power Girl book, and not something with anything I’d care about on the inside.
Which is it? A fun examination of a distant member of the Superman family or a book about how Power Girl has boobs and gee whillikers, they sure are a doozy? If it’s the one, why does the cover say that it’s the other? You don’t get to have it both ways. If you’re dressed like a policeman, don’t be surprised when people come up to you and ask for help.
The thing is, you can do the sexy cheesecake thing without coming across like Big Ol’ Boobies Monthly. In fact, Gray & Palmiotti have had one of the best, if not the best, example of it lately– Daughters of the Dragon. Here’s a couple covers from it:
And dang, that works. One cover’s got a ridiculous POV and poses, but it isn’t about T or A. The other is pouty, but look at that– actual personality beyond “Oh dearie me, I seem to have given birth to twins!” Wolverine/Black Cat: Claws was similar, but much more cartoony, and actually closer in tone to what the interiors/previews of Power Girl suggest it’ll be like.
Obviously, there’s a fine line between fun cheesecake and B.O.B. Monthly, but DC seems like it’s tilted over onto the ridiculous, rather than “Whoops, just missed it.” You can do cute, sexy fun without putting two on the glass in every panel. We’re all grown now. Why do we need the sub-softcore to draw people in? Comic readers can’t be that pathetic.