Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not This Again

Newsarama just put up a preview of the new issue of Justice League of America, continuing what’s been a hell of a good story so far, pitting the Justice League against the Injustice Gang. Written by Dwayne McDuffie, it’s really got everything you want in a JLA story – superpowered action, snappy dialogue, suspense. Great stuff, all around. The first issue of the story was drawn by Mike McKone. He’s a terrific artist, and he made the book a joy to look at.

The second chapter, issue 13, was drawn by Joe Benitez. He’s nowhere near as good as McKone, but still drew a decent comic story. By the end of it, much of the JLA was captured by the bad guys.

Now, regular series artist Ed Benes is back. Which is why issue 14 picks up with this opening spread:

Are you fucking kidding me?

A half dozen JLAers are incapacitated, and the three that just happen to be displayed for the screen as a goddamn two-motherfucking-page spread are the three hotties, all trussed up and bent over like porn models? Come on.

I mean, come on.

Who approves this shit?

How much disdain for the casual buyer, or a reader with any—any—level of maturity does this show? This is the Justice League. The book is in no stretch of the imagination about sex appeal. For the first time in a year, they put a writer on who finally gets the book, who not only knows how to write a good action scene, but realizes they’re essential in a book like this—and this is how they treat his script?
You’re goddamn right it is, Luthor.

I don’t know what McDuffie wrote in his panel description for that page. Maybe he did describe the women, front and center, spread eagle, bent over, and thong riding up. But I really, really doubt it. The man has class. He probably briefly described what sort of devices were sapping their superpowers, and left it to Ed Benes to stage the scene.

Look, I don’t give a crap whether this is degrading to Wonder Woman, Black Canary and Vixen. They’re lines on paper, nothing more. And honestly, I barely care if it’s offensive to women. Because some’ll be offended, and some won’t, and probably most will just scratch their heads and say, “Aren’t all comics like that?” But whatever their reaction, it’s their own lookout.

But this… Let me be clear. It’s not offensive to me. It’s just lines on paper, and all that. But it’s the intention behind the lines. It’s the absolute lack of respect for the reader. Not because children might read it, but because adults read it. Grownups who don’t need Black Canary, Wonder Woman and Vixen to be their…ahem… "date” for fifteen minutes. Awkward fifteen year olds will love this. Stunted man-boys will, too. But that’s not a club I wanna be in, because the members all sweat and stammer and the seats are all sticky.

This isn’t porn. But I have no doubt – none whatsofuckingever – that the artist and the editor (Eddie Berganza) expect this issue to be used as porn, and that it’s that market they’re catering to by drawing this shot, and by including it in the preview. And no matter how much I’ve liked the story up till this point, and no matter how good the story itself may continue to be, despite the art, I’m not going to line up on Wednesday with a bunch of arrested adolescents who rush home and hide this issue under their mattresses.

If they can’t sell the Justice League without relying on crotch shots and bondage fantasies, DC should get out of the Justice League-selling business.

I wish—hell, how I wish—that I could read McDuffie’s story without this. But until Benes is off of Justice League and replaced by someone who wouldn’t be better suited to the Shanna The She-Devil Shower Spectacular, I just can’t read this anymore.

This is a cynical, vile marketing ploy, appealing to the lowest common denominator. I’ve held my nose and picked up other books like this, but not this time.

I’m not in that fucking club.


UPDATE: More thoughts here, now that I've seen the issue.


Kerny said...

DF if you sre reading this you suck and fail at life


Rob S. said...



ktbuffy said...

Well said, Rob! I don't read comics as regular issues, so I don't have the same perspective as you, but I whole-heartedly agree with your reaction. It *is* degrading to women -- the writers have gone to all this trouble to create strong characters, and then the artists tries them up like victims.

I think some blame should also be thrown at the purveyors of torture porn movies like Hostel...

Greg! said...

Among other things, this -- ahem... -- spread is a waste of two pages.

And do straight guys actually find this sort of distorted-anatomy art attractive? I guess so. I suppose there are gay guys who find the hyper-macho iconography of those old Tom of Finland cartoons arousing; I've always found it comical.

This, however, I just find insulting.

Rob S. said...

Greg, you were the second person to mention Tom of Finland to me today, although the first one to make it on my blog. Weird synchronicity...

Sharon GR said...

Wow Rob. But, how do you actually feel about it?

I don't find it degrading, but it would turn me off to picking up the book or series. As you already established, however, I'm certainly not the target audience.

Clearly, they picked their target audience already.

Rob S. said...

It's odd -- I find it only mildly degrading, but tremendously insulting. To me, it's really signifies a contempt for the audience.

The thing is, I am perfectly happy to be targeted below the waist for some things. But Justice League... ew.

Maybe it's the dichotomy of the noblest heroes being used so blatantly to appeal to our lower instincts.

Unknown said...

As of this month I've decided I'm boycotting every book to which Benes lends even a millimeter of pencils.