Do the Math: Sometimes You Get What You Ask For

January 19th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Gail Simone being back on Birds of Prey is kinda like a big deal. I’m pretty sure that Esther is still going “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” even today. She’s gotta be hypersonic by this point.

Anyway, I liked the old BoP. Those first 12-18 issues or so are some of Simone’s best work, and I didn’t even really mind Ed Benes’s art back then. But, the new announcement bugs me because of DC’s history with announcing fan-pleasing things and then doing half the job on them, at best.

-Spoiler dies in a sexualized and degraded way. Fans form Project Girl-Wonder in protest of the way her murder devalued her character. A couple years later, DC Comics brings her back, completely sidestepping the issues behind people were mad at her death. She’s just… back.

-DC makes a big deal about the return of Milestone, a well-loved company that featured a truly multi-cultural cast. Rather than bringing DC Comics up to the modern day with regards to portrayal of race, the Milestone books are effectively quarantined. They were shuffled off into a series as filler between big-name runs (Mark Waid and JMS) and their reintroduction took place in Dwayne McDuffie’s already-hamstrung run on JLA. And then, in the end, they drop every Milestone character except for Static. They wanted a new toy and jerked everyone around to get it.

-DC announces the return of fan-favorite Gail Simone’s fondly remembered Birds of Prey, with art accompanied by Ed Benes. Simone on Benes: “[H]e also does lovely, subtle acting, and tremendous facial expressions and body language. I think he brings a very fiery European influence that is a wonderful remedy to some of the tired vaguely manga and video game-esque influences we’ve seen lately.”

And, well, I realize that Simone can’t trash her artist (that would be unprofessional), but that doesn’t actually reflect reality. Benes’s men have one face, his women another, and they all have the same flat, empty expression. The body language tends to be of the “crotch or butt thrust directly at the reader” variety, and the “subtle acting” is so subtle as to be nonexistent. The “fiery European influence” would be better termed “draws kinda like Jim Lee used to, only with bigger boobs,” and the “vaguely manga and video game-esque influences” is the kind of annoying strawman people pull all the time without actually naming names. Is she talking about UDON? Humberto Ramos? Paul Pope? Joe Madureira? Ed McGuinness?

Benes is a bad artist for comics, is my point. His storytelling skills are subpar, his love for T&A gets in the way constantly, and his people all look the same. There are numerous other artists DC could have paired Simone with to make a book that would be the girl power monthly it should be- Nicola Scott, for example, or the Lopez brothers from Catwoman. They’ve proven that they can draw realistic, funny, and attractive women, and, most importantly, they have strong storytelling skills. The Lopezes in particular do great work, even with a varied cast, in a style that would fit the tone of Simone’s BoP.

But hey- Ed Benes. DC says he’s nice? I say he’s polite.

Y’all can have him, though.

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16 comments to “Do the Math: Sometimes You Get What You Ask For”

  1. “And, well, I realize that Simone can’t trash her artist (that would be unprofessional), but that doesn’t actually reflect reality.”

    Like I mentioned in the comments on Esther’s post, Simone’s statement was borderline sycophantic. I don’t understand why she feels the need to straight-up lie about Benes’ qualities as an artist. It’s a little embarrassing for everyone involved when it’s so obvious she’s just bullshitting.

  2. I like to judge an artist’s “emotional” chops by imagining what each character’s face would look like if translated into an emoticon. A good artist like, oh, let’s say Amanda Conner, or Stuart Immonen, has a lot of :), :D, >:(, <:o, and everything in between.

    Ed benes is 😐 central.

  3. It gets worse, apparently…


    He does “amazing layouts” too now. And again with the strawman insults at other artists:

    “A lot of the top 10 hottest artists lack that talent completely.”

    Come on Gail, you’re better than this. :/

  4. As a European myself i am a little insulted at the comparision to Benes and our artists, and which European artists he’s inspired, exactly?

  5. Wasn’t Dixon already pretty much fired so he brought back Steph for no real reason other than he wanted to and was already on the way out?

  6. He’s apparently inspired by European artists, not the other way around. I mean, that statement is incorrect either way, but you’re reading it backwards.

  7. @AzraelNewtype: Apparently it’s both. From the Newsarama interview:

    “It’s definitely a European feel, and Ed is a huge inspiration to a whole generation of European & South American artists, all of whom feel very comfortable with that kind of sleek, sexy line.”

    I would like to see this “whole generation” of European artists that Ed Benes has apparently inspired.

  8. I’m going to have to go back and look at the original Simone/Benes run. I remember at the time thinking there was too much T&A, esp. for a book written to be about strong and complex women, and the same-faces thing … I knew it was too slick, too underdeveloped, but I didn’t feel about Benes the way I feel now. If I go back and look, will I dislike it as much as I dislike Benes’ more recent work, as though I’d just needed to absorb a fixed quantity of his repetitive flaws before my good will was evaporated … or will I find it better than his last-time-I-looked work, as though the artist himself has disappeared up his own ass (or that of his photo-ref …)

    If there were anyone celebrating Benes’ work besides Simone (or, hell, Gail, who often shows up online), I’d love to be pointed toward an example of this fine emotional storytelling. I remember an early bit where the Canary was tied to a bed, held by Savant and Creote in their intro storyline. That would be a good place for some emotional acting triumphing over an obvious T&A opportunity. I shall have to find this tonight …

  9. Benes also has a problem with shirt collars and ties. It baffles me.

    Great post. I was nodding in agreement the whole way through.

  10. Simone’s comments are so hilariously inacurate, one would assume that she was being sarcastic.

    God, Benes is just shit, he was crap on Gen 13 years ago, and didn’t get any better. That crass T&A ‘art’ stops me buying certain books and makes me embarrased to be a comic geek.

    Also hating Guillem March.

  11. Now March I like. But Gotham City Sirens is a guilty pleasure for me and must-read for my wife.

  12. anyone else want to see lea hernandez’ reaction to gail calling her style “tired”?

  13. […] Brothers calls out Ed Benes And, well, I realize that Simone can’t trash her artist (that would be unprofessional), but that […]

  14. None of this should be very surprising — for someone who first became known for pillorying the treatment of female characters, Simone’s been awfully forgiving of DC’s ongoing cycle of misogyny and violence against female characters. I wonder if she realized what useful cover she provides the company?

  15. […] David posted about Benes doing the art for Birds of Prey earlier this month, I felt some flickerings of that old […]

  16. @ beep I don’t know who Gail was talking about, but it wasn’t me. You shouldn’t be putting words in her mouth just to start shit.

    Sorry to disappoint you by not being upset.