Power Girl #7: A Very Short Review

There are long, elaborate and ghastly discussions to be had about sexism in comics.  All visual art forms that involve women (consider fashion modeling, or dance, or bimbos on book covers) have been wrestling with the issue for years.  A perennial character for this debate is Power Girl, as you can instantly understand with one glance at the cover of the current issue.  She has been the “Hey, baby– nice rack!” girl for years now.PG

What’s your estimate —  48DD?  50?  A ridiculous boob size is exacerbated by loony and impractical costume design, yes?  On these points no one can disagree.  However there is such a long, wide and persistent current of this kind of thing in genre art forms that it is not clear the cleavage battle can ever be won.  For a while now Power Girl has been trending another way.  A heroine with Superman-esque powers, she does not actually need a turtleneck for protection (although I would hesitate to eat saltines in what she is wearing now).  She has clung defiantly to her plunging neckline even though it generates aggravation and, as in this issue, unwanted attention.  With super-strength, anyone who bothers her can be socked into next week.  Her body is no longer her problem, it’s their problem.   Which moves the whole issue beyond sexist to comedic.

And I am delighted to report that Power Girl is hysterical!  I am a sucker for comics that don’t take themselves too seriously.  The scantily-clad gent on the cover is Vartox, an old Superman character of considerable power and an utter absence of tact — the Mr. Collins of the DC universe.   This time around the creators have supplied him with a home planet also trapped sartorially in 1968, complete with love beads, afros, bead curtains, and go-go boots.

Through plot machinations that we don’t need to go into the planet is ISO a consort, and attracted by Power Girl’s winning personality and purity of character — oh, you don’t believe that, do you?  Attracted by what guys are always attracted to, Vartox arrives on Earth in a spaceship shaped like himself to woo and win her in his famously boneheaded style.  “Not that I’m looking for one, but why can’t a NICE guy fall out of the sky?” Power Girl demands.  Things rapidly spin out of control to conclude next month.  Compared to other incoherent, ponderous and inconclusive offerings this week (Justice League, for instance, or Superman/BatmanPower Girl is gemlike in its focus and clarity.  And it’s funny!  We must encourage this, it’s too rare and hard to find in the comics.

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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Power Girl #7: A Very Short Review — 10 Comments

  1. When I was working in comics, Teresa Nielsen Hayden and I used to riff on cleavage: the technology used in comics for Improbable Mammary Suspension had been brought to earth by aliens who had shared it equally with all comic book publishers, because the technology was too powerful to be in the hands of one alone. Further, we had ideas of what those breasts might be used for. My favorite, from Teresa, was actually used by Keith Giffen in one of their comics: Our Heroine (her name escapes me now–it was a short-lived but brilliant book) takes off one of her breasts and lobs it at a malefactor. It’s a bomb. “What, you thought they were real?” she says scornfully, as the bad guy scrapes himself up off the concrete.

  2. Now that I have -not- seen, and I wish I had! Do you remember when Invisible Girl of the Fantastic Four switched over to an outfit that had a cutout in the shape of a 4 in front? Topologically impossible as well as being sexist!

  3. Power Girl has gotten somewhat less boobalicious in the last four or five years. She’s down to about a G cup, but her breast isn’t larger than her head.

    It used to be worse.

    On the other hand, when Seth McFarlane was drawing Spider-Man for Marvel, there were a number of anatomically impossible drawings of men. Peter Parker is clearly capable of auto-fellation, and probably things that require even more limberness.

    Rob Leifeild of YoungBlood fame has the same general passing knowledge of anatomy that, say, Sylvester Stallone does of subtle, nuanced acting. They’ve heard of this thing and figure they’ll get around to reading about it sometime when they aren’t so busy.

    What has changed, per a friend of mine, is that more and more, the art is being lifted from still photographs, run through a Photoshop ‘pen and ink’ filter, and then vectorized for direct manipulation. The result is that the artist can get an earlier start on the work and can ‘draw’ more titles in a month, which is good, because they really haven’t gotten a pay raise since about 2002.

    Most of the stills are pulled from the porn industry. The good artists are better at hiding this, but sadly…well…

  4. I remember a drawing of Batman, wedged into the cockpit of his Batplane, that that obviously ridiculous — why would he buy a plane he could not sit upright in? It should not be unreasonable, to demand intelligence in comic art.

  5. Most comic book issues take about 2.5-3 weeks to write and somewhere around 2 weeks to draw the conventional way.

    They take about a week to draw the ‘photoshop way’, and there’s no longer time allocated for coloring.

    Most comics try to hit a once a month release schedule….and most writers are either writing one book a month and living like grad students, or writing two books a month and making a decent salary.

    Most artists need to draw two books a month to make graduate student wages…

    The one benefit of the ‘draw clothes on scanned pr0n’ method of making art for comics is that the anatomy is generally humanly POSSIBLE.

  6. For loose definitions of ‘possible’. I consider that at her largest, Power Girl was pushing the outside of the believable, even if you postulate that her super strength allowed her to stand upright.
    It is always interesting, too, to see them rethink it. Remember ole Balloon Bod herself, Starfire of the Teen Titans? In the Fox cartoon she is much less well endowed. And I have a PR folder from the White House back from the Bush 1 years, when the Titans were enlisted to fight drug addiction. The George Perez art was used, but Starfire had acquired a dickey.

  7. I have two friends who wear G and J cup brassieres in real life. The loose definition of “G” is “one breast is roughly the same volume as a human skull”. (Known because the favorite use for old bras is to put anatomist skulls on display for Hallowe’en). Neither of them are strippers with breast augmentation.

    I don’t object to Power Girl being that large. It’s the utter lack of any effect of gravity that I go “Uh, you guys really don’t know any women, do you?”

    I’d never seen the Teen Titans stuff from ’91 for don’t do drugs. Got any web links?

  8. This Wiki page has the two major looks:
    http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Starfire
    Note that the TV cartoon version on the far right is quite flat chested; in the Perez art she always looks like the second-from-the-left. This page
    http://www.titanstower.com/source/whoswho/starfire.html
    has views of her iconic look from the 90s; note that it is impossible to actually build her costume and have it stay on a human body (however well-endowed or unsaggy) without spirit gum.

  9. Ah, the comic book art style of “We don’t really know what clothes look like. They’re too hard to draw.”

    Bleah.

    Most of my exposure to the DC universe in the last two decades came from Batman The Animated Series, and the other Bruce Timm/Paul Dini adaptations, through to the Justice League Unlimited series. Amazing how much more plausible the costumes get when they have to pass ‘will be shown as a children’s cartoon’. (Kevin Conroy should just be given the voice over work for all Batman movies ever made. Indeed, if I were Warner Brothers, I’d be digitizing his voice from all recordings to date so that in 30 years, when he’s deceased, the computer animated batman movies can keep being made…) 🙂

    I watched some of the Teen Titans series; the lackluster writing tended to make me go ‘meh’.

    As to the iconic look for Starfire, compare this to some of the classic Star Trek looks in the 1960s – most of which relied on double sided tape to stay on. No doubt as practical, too.

  10. Yes! The Batman cartoons are delicious. The newer ones (the Brave & Bold) are okay, occasionally rising into amazingness, but Paul Dini has rightly moved on to comic scripting and is no longer doing the TV cartoon writing.