Friday, April 17, 2009

DC Nation Page - Unfortunate Navel Gazing



If you bought any DC Comic this week, you no doubt noticed this DC Nation page.

It is hard not to notice, what with Supergirl's breasts so prominently displayed, thrust in your face.

The thing that strikes me here is not Supergirl's physique here, although that clearly is a more buxom Kara than we have seen recently. No, the thing that strikes me here is the composition of this page.

This isn't Kara in the foreground of the picture. We don't see her looking at some villain defiantly. We don't see her poised for battle.

No this is only Kara's breasts and midriff in the foreground. I don't think I have ever been given such an up-close view of her navel.

By deliberately not showing Kara's face, this panel sort of dehumanizes her. She isn't a whole woman, a hero. Heck, she isn't even a person. Nope, this panel seems to suggest that the only thing of Supergirl worth showing is her breasts and flat abs. Isn't this sort of off-putting?

And there is no reason for this composition other than the salacious positioning of Kara. Move the viewpoint back another 5 feet and we would have a Supergirl standing in front of the Justice League ... maybe leading them. Move Kara back 5 feet and she is standing amongst the men, a member of the team.

By only showing the top quadrant of her body, you remove any chance to recognize her as a person. Instead you reduce her to a prop: two big breasts on the 'hot' girl member of the team. It doesn't help that Green Arrow and the rest of the JL men seem to be staring at her chest.

Sigh. Doesn't Supergirl deserve better than this? Don't we as readers deserve better than this?

The sad thing is that I had such high hopes for this Justice League series when it was first announced so many months ago. James Robinson on a team book? Sounded too good to be true. Now between the incredible delay in its release and its downgrade to a mini-series and now this prurient breast shot, I'm worried.

Is this really the image that DC thinks will best promote this mini-series? (I don't think this a better panel than any of the pages recently spotlighted on the The Source all of which were wonderfully rendered.)

Is this the best Justice League:Cry For Justice has to offer ... titillation?

Isn't this the upper body equivalent of a Supergirl 'panty shot' ... an unnecessarily suggestive pose put in simply to arouse some section of fandom? And I think you know how sick I am of those.

I was just shaking my head after seeing this. I'm still shaking my head as I write this. What a misfire for DC.


I want to again state that my dislike of this portrayal of Kara is due to her positioning in the panel and not due to her sudden pulchritude as shown by Mauro Cascioli. Heck, I even complimented Cascioli for his 'statuesque' Kara as shown above from a Wizard cover. Her body type there seems the same as that on the DC Nation page. I understand that different artists are going to draw characters differently ... not every artist is going to draw Kara with the physique that Jamal Igle and Gary Frank have done recently.

No, it is how Kara is seen (or mostly not seen) on the DC Nation page that bothers me. It is pandering.

And I think Supergirl deserves better.

31 comments:

Mauricio said...

I first.. I didn't think much about it, but you're right, if they wanted to highlight Supergirl, then you would be able to see her complete face/head., like it was done in the old 'Showcase 95'. That was a great promo, I really like that image even if that wasn't really Supergirl (it was matrix..) for me.

TalOs said...

First, all due respect to the late Micheal Turner I really well and truly HATE that 'costume' he gave her now more then ever before! UGH! Secondly, you're 100% correct in your observation Anj for I too think it cheapens the world famous icon that is Supergirl come that particular chosen last page shot and I for one am laying the blame completely at Dan DiDio himself for approving this to go out when said and done at that! >:<

Unfortunately with me currently enduring a nasty ass cold, chest infection as well as frickin' inflamed/swollen tonsil (that i've been taking meds for since it first hit me on frickin' Easter itself) it has prevented me as such from being able to go and get my comics thus far this week and to see apparently THIS disgusting exploitation of a mere 16 year old Supergirl being included within all of DCU titles very last pages makes me even more angrier not to mention sick to my stomach at that! UGH!!!

For shame DC! >:<

Anonymous said...

I think your looking way to much into the composition. I think what they were just trying to do was Highlight the symbol in the foreground. Honestly no pervyness included I truly like the way its displayed. I for one LOVE her costume. way more interesting then the one piece matrix wore. She looks strong an mature in body. maybe supergirl face brought the scene down. She is a girl, beautiful an all, blonde haired, blue eyed. they obviously wanted a strong roughness here, hence a pretty good reason to cut out the way too pretty.

Nikki said...

I posted the same thing on dailyscans and as a girl myself and the women on the site just found it funny. The characters do seem to be looking at her assets but if they really are it shows more about them than her.

Personally I think its part of a bigger picture and the characters are looking past her at whatever is in front. Maybe this is where they recruit her?

jeff Caporizzo said...

You could make a case that for many comic readers and writers, Supergirl represents ONLY a specific male fantasy, and not a dimensional character. The combination of power and invulnerability in the package of a girl-woman is a well-worn sexual fetish, Lolita wielded her power as well, she just wasn't Kryptonian. My point here is that you shouldn't be surprised.

What would be really refreshing is if kara was written by someone other than a middle aged white guy for once. Can you imagine the leaps this character would make in a title if written by a woman who had actually lived through awkward teen years, or if part of the creative team producing a Supergirl title included young women to inform and shape the content?

The thing we all lust for in comics is an authentic voice right? A certain truth to a character or situation or dialog that allows us to accept that one character can run through walls, or another can leap a tall building in a single bound.

What I'm saying is that for Kara to be what she could and should be, it only starts with making sure her breasts and belly are accompanied by her head and legs, it ends with some real effort made to capture what a 17 year old demi-god would really sound and act like against a landscape filled with fantasy and wonder.

Until then she may as well just show that skin, because who needs to read the word bubbles anyway?

TalOs said...

Anj said... No, it is how Kara is seen (or mostly not seen) on the DC Nation page that bothers me. It is pandering.

And I think Supergirl deserves better.
My sentiments exactly! Anj sums up exactly how I personally feel at the end of the day right there come this 'piece'! Heck, the artist may as well have wrote 'PROPERTY OF SUPERGIRL' in great big bold letter across her breasts. It's simply degrading and perverted what DiDio authorized to go out come this world beloved icon of ours who's only a mere 16 year old girl for cripes sake! Disgusting! >:<

TalOs said...

On a lighter note all together, how was the recently released Supergirl trade? Did it include ALL the issues that we originally bought upon them being released come this time around? :/

Landry Walker said...

jeff Caporizzo: "Can you imagine the leaps this character would make in a title if written by a woman who had actually lived through awkward teen years"

As a white male Supergirl writer approaching the end of his 30's who is specifically exploring the character in her awkward teen years, I have to ask: What do you imagine said title would be like if written by a woman? What specific differences would you expect a female perspective to bring?

Yota said...

All's I'm saying is at least her breasts are a reasonable size, and each is not the size of her head. And, thankfully, the artist didn't give any physical cues about the temperature at the scene...

--Yota.

jeff Caporizzo said...

Landry, thanks for replying. Quick answer to your question - I'm sure I don't know. The thing is like you I'm a white, 39 year old male.

And like you I write creatively for a living. Except I write ads for TV, radio and the web. From time to time I have to capture a specific "voice" for my spots - whether it be a housewife, gen Y teen or tween, retiree, minority group, urban hipster, whatever. 9 times out of 10 I don't get it right, so I make sure I tap the group I'm trying to write for early and often - sometimes using co-creation - to make sure my work authentically reflects the "voice" of my key audience. It always helps the creative.

And maybe you've done all this research or taken like-minded steps, and thats great. My point in the previous post is that you'd be the exception that proves the rule in comics.

TalOs said...

HOLY CWAP! Y'all have to check out DC Comics 'The Source' latest piece 'A day in the life of SUPERMAN Group Editor Matt Idelson'!

WARNING! SOME MAJOR SPOILERS COME SUPERGIRL!!!

http://dcublog.dccomics.com/2009/04/17/a-day-in-the-life-of-superman-group-editor-matt-idelson/

And as if that weren't enough DC has previewed there July Solicitations for the 'Supermanfamily' up at Newsarama too!

AGAIN, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/090417-superman-july-2009.html

Unfortunately no signs of us getting another issue of Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in 8th Grade though from what they've leaked thus far. *Lest out a disgusted sigh at DC* >:<

Landry Walker said...

@Jeff:

To clarify, I don't necessarily disagree with you. If the intent is to create a story of what it is like to be a female superhero specifically, there is some logic to having a female write the story.

But my approach is to sidestep the matter and focus on the person first. I was a very awkward teen. So my own awkward teen experience is what I draw from when I write about the difficulties inherent with the age. I'd have (much) more difficulty with writing from a perspective I have no shared experiences with, say a retiree. Even if the character were male, I would be at a comparative disadvantage.

Equally if I had been a very confident exuberant teen who fit in easily, I would have difficulty writing what I write. So we play to our strengths. At least, ideally we do. I don't really do any homework. I just look for the common ground and use that as a foundation. But then, my work is different than yours. If I were in your position said research would be more vital.

In regards to this book: James Robinson is one of the most talented writers I could name. I have no doubt he will bring an air of authenticity to the cast of this series. I also suspect the above image is an innocent misstep. It can be perceived as a dehumanization of the character, but I have trouble believing that was an intentional choice. I think it was an effort to play to the icon of the S on the uniform and the definitive strength of the character.

Gene said...

FAIL.

Just today I was informed by a person of alleged intelligence that Supergirl is not a good role model for children because she is some thin, blond haired Barbie type with a skimpy outfit. Obviously this person has not read a Supergirl comic book in her life.

This particular image DOES NOT help dispel such ignorance.

They should have stuck with the crazy gorillas fighting.


Hey Talos!
Get better soon man!

jeff Caporizzo said...

Landry thanks again, this is interesting,

I think I could make a case for research across mediums. Yes its vital to marketing, but we've all read about PIXAR's extensive (and expensive) creative team trip for a month rolling down Route 66 in prep for the movie CARS, and how that investment was evident in the quality of the work.

And I agree with you. Robinson is not in my crosshairs, I think I was taking Andrew's gripe over SG's sexualization as a jumping-off point. I do think she is emblematic of what we both agree is an issue in comics, good writing and character development as the grounding foundation, the "real" part of a world of fantasy.

Good writing as defined by delivering some authenticity. We love "Killing Joke" because suddenly the Joker was a bit more multi-dimensional as a character. We love the Dark Knight because Batman aged, and fought a futile fight against getting old (like we all do), we loved Watchmen because the characters were f'ed up - just like people. In each example something in the book convincingly delivered the real, and delivered it with the writing and the strength of the character.

Finding your common ground with the character makes total sense, I guess my question to you and your peers is - what is your solution when you may not have that common ground? How do you push the work (and yourself) to deliver the real?

Nikki said...

I hope I'm not the only female here but I want to say that both Sterling Gates/Landry Walker/Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Kelly really GOT the awkward teen perspective on the character.

(I know anj has an issue with the party issue Jimmy Palmiotti did. Perhaps her behaviour wasn't heroic there but it was teen selfishness for sure)

She doesn't have to be shy and unpopular to be awkward. I know when I was a teen (hey it was only 2 years ago I remember) I acted in ways I thought I should to get people to like me before finding out I am so much better as myself than any act I put on. I saw plenty of other 'popular' girls do the same. They put make-up on at the age of 13 for school, they wore skirts that could resemble belts, they treated other people well when they weren't with their clique but excluded them when they put on their act.

As for what a female writer could bring...experience. Girls are bitches, especially in those years. Your 'arch-enemy' is just as snide as Belinda Zee if a little less theatrical in her gestures. They would circulate whispers that were more likely to take root as unquestioned fact in the minds of your peers. They would go to your friends to get the 'inside info' and then bring it up in a bitchy argument out of nowhere.

LOL Good times, we are all idiots in school

Landry Walker said...

Because we're talking about writing fiction, it kinda comes down to dictating the story so that the aspects of the character you do have common ground with are highlighted. Even if that common ground is remote.

If I were writing a story about a female retiree as a character, I could choose a story that I have personal experience with. Say the character is dealing with the loss of a family member. I've experienced that, as most of us likely have. While the character might react differently from me, I can still extrapolate their attitudes and reactions based on the emotion of the event, as the emotion itself is fairly universal.

So while the passive aspect of the character is something outside of my experience (female, retired and seeing more of their lives in the past than in the future), the active aspect of the story (the loss of said family member) is something I can relate to.

However, if the story was specifically about being a retiree or about holding a female perspective... At that point I have the option to pass on telling the story. And if I don't have that option, I just have to do my best. But with what I do, that is an unusual place to be. The amount of stories that can be built upon common ground is vast, even if I have to use a bit of imagination to get there.

jeff Caporizzo said...

Landry that is fascinating - nice to have a window into the mind of a writer.

Nikki thanks for making both our points actually.

Landry Walker said...

Nikki: "Perhaps her behaviour wasn't heroic there but it was teen selfishness for sure"

I agree. I really enjoyed Palmiotti's party issue. I thought it was a very authentic take on one personality type of girl in that age group.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to think it might be time for a costume change.
After all, Supergirl has always had a whimsical streak.
I'm just wondering if we've derived all the value we can from a bare midriff, a look that commenced back in 1996 or when Paul Dini and revived Supergirl for the Superman Animated Series.
Although for sentimental reasons I'd hope a new costume included a skirt.
But then I'm like that...Old and sentimental.
:D

John Feer

Yota said...

Nikki said...

LOL Good times, we are all idiots in school
Ha. Yeah, we are...

But, no, you're not the only girl here; I think there's another one of our sex lurking around here, somewhere.

Anj said...

First off, thanks for everyone for commenting here. It has been a very interesting conversation.

Mauricio said: I didn't think much about it, but you're right, if they wanted to highlight Supergirl, then you would be able to see her complete face/head.

Anonymous said: I think your looking way to much into the composition. I think what they were just trying to do was Highlight the symbol in the foreground. Honestly no pervyness included I truly like the way its displayed.

Nikki said: Personally I think its part of a bigger picture and the characters are looking past her at whatever is in front. Maybe this is where they recruit her?
It is interesting to hear everyone's perspective.

I think it interesting that some folks thought the emphasis was on the S-shield and not the breasts.

And while it could be a crop from a bigger panel, it means DC decided to cut out her head and just accent the breasts. Almost makes it worse ...

Anj said...

What I'm saying is that for Kara to be what she could and should be, it only starts with making sure her breasts and belly are accompanied by her head and legs, it ends with some real effort made to capture what a 17 year old demi-god would really sound and act like against a landscape filled with fantasy and wonder.Thanks for the interesting point.

First off, I think there have been Supergirl writers in the past who have captured that essence.

Heck, I think we are lucky to have 2 writers now (Gates and Walker) who seem to get it.

It just is that serious portrayal of Supergirl is made that much harder when she is portrayed as only a healthy chest measurement. It lowers the bar.

Anj said...

All's I'm saying is at least her breasts are a reasonable size, and each is not the size of her head. And, thankfully, the artist didn't give any physical cues about the temperature at the scene...Thanks for the post and the reality check. I suppose I should be looking at the bright side.

Anj said...

In regards to this book: James Robinson is one of the most talented writers I could name. I have no doubt he will bring an air of authenticity to the cast of this series. I also suspect the above image is an innocent misstep. It can be perceived as a dehumanization of the character, but I have trouble believing that was an intentional choice. I think it was an effort to play to the icon of the S on the uniform and the definitive strength of the character.Thanks for the post.

I have read enough of James Robinson to know he is a great writer and that this series' story will be wonderful.

And if this is one panel in an issue that shows Supergirl in a positive light I would probably overlook it.

It is more that it was chosen as the panel to showcase the title that bothered me a bit.

Anj said...

(I know anj has an issue with the party issue Jimmy Palmiotti did. Perhaps her behaviour wasn't heroic there but it was teen selfishness for sure)Thanks for the post.

Enough people whose opinion I respect have supported the Palmiotti issue that I think I need to re-read it again with an open mind.

She doesn't have to be shy and unpopular to be awkward. I know when I was a teen (hey it was only 2 years ago I remember) I acted in ways I thought I should to get people to like me before finding out I am so much better as myself than any act I put on.You could almost look at the early issues of this title as the same growth experience ... with Gates/Igle having her 'become herself'. At least in my mind., they have done that.

Anj said...

I agree. I really enjoyed Palmiotti's party issue. I thought it was a very authentic take on one personality type of girl in that age group.Hmmm ... yet another vote for a reread of the Palmiotti issue.

My main gripe with that issue has always been that the story seemed to portray Supergirl in a selfish/unheroic light as a foil to the very heroic and upstanding Terra. You shouldn't be the guest star in your own book.

Anj said...

Nikki said...

LOL Good times, we are all idiots in schoolHa. Yeah, we are...

But, no, you're not the only girl here; I think there's another one of our sex lurking around here, somewhere.
Glad you are here.

Thanks everyone for a very interesting dialogue.

Eric said...

I agree- this has been a really good conversation and has made for an entertaining read.

Saranga said...

Wow i'm late to this discussion.
@ Anj: I'm glad you picked up on this picture. My initial reaction was oh look, S shield, then it was, oh hang on, S boobs, then, where the fuck is her face? Why is the only one without her face?
@ Nikki and Yota: I'd just like to check in as another woman who hangs around here.

I will be writing a post on this pianel and will probably link back to both your post Anj, and the comments, I hope that's OK with everyone?

Anj said...

Wow i'm late to this discussion.
@ Anj: I'm glad you picked up on this picture. My initial reaction was oh look, S shield, then it was, oh hang on, S boobs, then, where the fuck is her face? Why is the only one without her face?
@ Nikki and Yota: I'd just like to check in as another woman who hangs around here.

I will be writing a post on this pianel and will probably link back to both your post Anj, and the comments, I hope that's OK with everyone?
Thanks for the post. I guess we'll have to see the actual book to see if this was a cropped pic or not.

And go ahead and link back!
No problem.

Saranga said...

Well, I did my post and did link back here.
Anj, when you've re-read the party issue please post your thoughts on it again. I think the ensuing discussion would be fun. :)