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“Going Two Ways Without Skytel Pagers”

April 28th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , ,

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.

power-girl-03-variant-cover-color-alternativepower-girl-04-variant-cover


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.

34976_4_002Battle 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:

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Pause.

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:

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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.

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14 comments to ““Going Two Ways Without Skytel Pagers””

  1. As interesting as it would be to see a good Power Girl series that preview sucked total shit


  2. and holy mother of god, does Terra have a “T” boob-zipper tab? I wonder why they haven’t updated Superman like that.


  3. I understand completely David, there’s wanting to support a book because it looks like it’ll be a (mercifully) crossover/continuity-free romp with a flying brick in a cape who happens to be a beautiful woman and being thought a lewd pervert because she happens to have boobies. I walk this fine line with my fandom of Kara Zor-L every day and those variants will not be helping my case.

    I have a similar problem with any book that might feature the works of Frank Cho. Cho is one hell of a talented illustrator but his work just seems such over the top T&A that it seems the companies commissioning his work just yearn for the fanboys to go into Tex Avery-style paroxysms. Look, I’m a charter member of the Horndog Hall of Fame but there’s a fine line between suggestive and lurid, though comics covers these days seem to be blurring it more and more in the interest of getting the dirty old man money.

    Stac


  4. Not that it makes it any better but the actual covers for Power Girl( http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/comics/?cm=11701 ) are much better than the variants.

    And I think the design of the costumes add to this. Compare what the women on the DotD cover are wearing with what Terra and PG are wearing. PG literally has a boob-window.


  5. I refuse to buy a Power Girl book until her boob-window is shaped as an S-Shield. Though more would be exposed, it’d be a funny and intelligent way of expressing the character.


  6. @Jbird: In Conner’s art, it’s more of a cool addition to the costume rather than a “yank here.”

    @kwaku: Yeah, that’s a fair point. The costumes on women I like the most tend to involve pants, because wedgies are ugly.

    @Stacy Dooks: I agree. I dig Frank Cho’s cartooning a lot. He had some wonderful stuff in Liberty Meadows, and I like that he actually draws female characters that aren’t supermodel thin. They have weight and heft, and he actually cares enough about the female body to draw it in motion similar to how it’d look in real life.

    But, you’re absolutely right. Sometimes I feel a little awkward reading his stuff when he dips too far into the cheesecake and away from the cartooning. Your point about the difference between suggestive and lurid is dead on. You basically said exactly what I wanted to say in fewer words.

    @Salieri: That’s kind of silly and really specific, isn’t it?


  7. hey crew, read the article…even played the video by janelle and told amanda you thought her art reminded you of this and she watched it, and smiled from ear to ear the whole time.

    now, the preview for powergirl was a chunk of a bigger picture, so please give it a shot…and for the life of me, we have NOTHING to do with those t&a alternate covers and the choice of artist or content. what we do have to do with is amandas covers and interiors…and you are right, terra is in the book, but she looks like the series terra, not the over the top one above.

    david, you nailed it. justin and i love the woman, but unless there is personality going on, and some kind of soul to the character, its just a cold t&a book…and honestly, we dont do those. on the surface some people thought daughters of the dragon was that, but like you said…give it a read and thats dealt with.

    again, thanks for the kind words and please give powergirl an issue or two to get running, we are trying our best not to disappoint.

    jimmy palmiotti


  8. We both know I like March, but I also like Conner. That said, the March #4 cover shows less breast and makes less of a big deal of breast than the left-hand Conner piece. Just giving a busty babe a little girl’s face doesn’t fix the issue, it creates a new, more unsettling issue.


  9. Regarding the last sentence of your piece: Oh hell yes, they can.

    Hm. I’ll have to check out the DoD tpb at my shop this week. Adding it to my list right now. I’ll give Power Girl a look, too (partly ’cause a creator showed up here to gamely engage). I believe I remember the preview pages being pretty but not super-compelling … wasn’t there a lot of familiar backstory there? LOVE to see that dealt with, but maybe it didn’t make for a preview excerpt that SINGS.

    I’m usually a trade guy these days, but I’m likelier to buy monthlies of a series that is likely to not sell spectacularly (due, I mean, to things like having a female lead). I’d only buy the Conner covers though, even if I had to chase ‘em to another shop. It’s nice to have comics laying around my apartment that don’t embarrass me in front of guests (“Hey dude, hide your porn like everyone else does …”).


  10. Yeah, I’m getting a bit tired of buying comics I’d feel awkward reading in public as well. My little sister tried reading a comic from my weekly bag, and she saw the “Bosom Buddies” cover from Cable and Deadpool (featuring Deadpool and the B.A.D. Girls) and decided right there the comic wasn’t for her. It wasn’t the worst example of T&A, but it was enough to turn someone from the general public away.

    Looking forward to the Power Girl series though!


  11. just to further the point

    http://dcublog.dccomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/pgl-cv1a-copy.jpg


  12. @Tekkamansol: I would not want to buy that comic.


  13. I have to say, that second Daughters of the Dragon cover would stop me from buying the book. Those are some sexual poses, with their squished-together rears and flexing.


  14. @claire: That’s totally fair. We all got different limits, I think.