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Damn you, MacPherson!!

So, just when I was about to expand DC Comic cover snark this month to include a discussion of two horrible horrible horrible horrible statues that DC solicited this week, Don MacPherson had to alert me to a piece he wrote on those two statues at his neat site, Eye On Comics. You can read his piece here. Don also made a catch that, admittedly, I do not think I would have noticed, regarding the JSA cover solicited for July. Click on “read the rest” to see the creepiness (or click on the link to Don’s column).

Here is the cover, by Alex Ross, featuring Citizen Steel.

jsa7.jpg

Notice anything creepily unusual?

Look closer (as Don so ably does for us).

package.jpg

How freaking creepy is THAT?

My pal Jake said to me, “I think there are two equally creepy options – 1. Ross intentionally, on his own accord, drew a big bulge in the guy’s pants or 2. The model Ross had for Citizen Steel had a big bulge, and Ross decided to paint it in.”

Pretty darn creepy.

Thanks, Don, for the insights – and I hate you for preemptively beating me to the punch!!

53 Comments

I think you’re just used to seeing male characters depicted with no genitals, while female characters’ sexual attributes are “lovingly” detailed and the subject of undue focus from artists who enjoy drawing “sexy” women (and by that I mean that there is an immature equation in the work of many comics pencillers whereby giant breasts automatically equals sexy, and an arched-back pose wherein a woman’s ass and her breasts are equally automatically sexy.

I think this is an improvement over the typical empty-crotch look.

Those statues aren’t that surprising really. The oversexualization of comic book characters goes all the way back to the original Phantom Lady and really aren’t any worse than what you see on tv, only the proportions are a tad more ridculous. Someone on MacPherson’s site basically referred to a comic book shop as “an adult bookstore,” which I think is taking it too far. There is nothing pornographic about your average comic and those that happened to be are treated as such. No, comics are not for kids anymore…than they have been for the last three decades. And ultimately, proper parenting is a more logical reaction than decreeing comics as pornographic…just as it is with TV and video games.

As far as Citizen Steel’s crotch goes, well, whatever. So the guy has impressive junk…he is also made of steel. Your package would be impressive too if it was made of metal.

Your package would be impressive too if it was made of metal.

I’d rather not be informed about the abundance or lack of impressiveness of Brian Cronin’s package…

Funny, but when I saw that pic, I though “Good for Commander Steel”. Don’t hate on the guy, Brian.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander! And I’m sure people are taking quite a gander there…

As Exhibit A in the collection of evidence that my brain decides to think of things I’d never want it to:

“Sure, you villains think you have me trapped–weaponless, hands in the air. But you don’t know about my cybernetic LASER PENIS!”

Wow, Brian. You sound like a dopey frat boy. “I wouldn’t have ever noticed this on my own, but shit! Now that another guy told me about his package, I’m totally creeped out by it! Yet I can’t stop looking! I better stare at this close up because it’s so — umm, creepy!”

As I mentioned yesterday on my blog: Isn’t it bizarre that there was actually a conversation where someone said that the woman in skintight leather and the nubile teenage girl who flies around in a cheerleader skirt needed to be sexed up some more.

It’s really funny, this “oh noes! Male superheroes have dicks! I can’t think about that!” attitude when most of the same people are drooling over Captain Tittyshow.

Double standards AND subconscious homophobia- it’s an awesome mix.

Well, finally. I was never against huge breasts and behinds on superheroines, but I did call for equality. I’m glad to see it’s happening – maybe fanboys will see what fangirls are complaining about, and everyone will eventually give up and relax.

Eric wrote:
It’s really funny, this “oh noes! Male superheroes have dicks! I can’t think about that!” attitude when most of the same people are drooling over Captain Tittyshow.
Double standards AND subconscious homophobia- it’s an awesome mix.

Eric, perhaps you ought to read the column in question before assigning an “attitude” to the person making the point in the first place.

Don’t be silly, Don. This is the internet, not some Victorian-style “Know the facts before criticizing and acting like an ass” jamboree.

Ah yes, who can forget Captain Tittyshow?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him having a big package, but I am a little concerned that it’s causing him to have a “pants tent”

The new Steel and Bulleteer should get along swell.

Ross routinely draws pants bulges into his superheroes. I understand his devotion to realism, but I think there oughta be a point where you say, “Y’know, I don’t *really* need to draw that.”

But see, comics are a visual medium, and the people need to be drawn as attractively as possible. You don’t want ugly people in your comics, do you? You’re probably just jealous.

(The amount of schanfreunde I’m getting out of this cover and the reaction to it is off the charts)

But acting like an ass is all I have?

Well, that and my massive (non-metal) penis.

Nice catch.
Go back and take a look at the Cyclone cover…she’s not wearing panties either.
Damn Alex Ross…effing pervert.

Does anybody else look at that picture and think of ‘The Frighteners’?

I didn’t notice it at first, I just thought “oh gee, yet another one of these shitty JSA covers.” It took the second zoomed in picture for me to notice. What weirded me out about it wasn’t that a bulge existed, but what must have been Ross’s thought process.

It was his clear devotion to accurately reproducing what an erect penis would look like in a superhero costume. Either he planned on giving Citizen Steel a boner, or whoever his model that he painted from had one, and he made damn sure he captured a good likeness.

And for the sake of honesty, I am equally creeped out by the giant nipples Howard Chaykin draws on every Hawkgirl cover. Something Brian mocks in every DC cover snark entry.

This isn’t about shock at superheroes having genitals, it’s bewilderment towards artists’ devotion to drawing them.

Pass the word around, Citizen Steel is the male equivalent of Power Girl!

DubipR wrote:
Damn Alex Ross… effing pervert.

Well, that’s going too far as well. I don’t agree with the artistic choice, but saying his depiction of Citizen Steel is a sign of poor character is a huge leap.

I guess this is one way that Citizen Steel and John Henry Irons Steel are similar.

I can’t wait for the day that all superheroes are finally nude and we can get past all this nonsense, and get back to masturbating to strangers’ drawings.

I guess this is one way that Citizen Steel and John Henry Irons Steel are similar.

Can we pleeeease not do this? :/

I can’t wait for the day that all superheroes are finally nude and we can get past all this nonsense, and get back to masturbating to strangers’ drawings.

…you mean the rest of you stopped?

Yeah. I’m allfer showing some dick, if only in the interests of equality, like T said.

Doesn’t mean it’s not funny and doesn’t mean it’s not worth bringing to our attention so we can laugh at it, though.

I think the pose is the weirdest bit. I mean, the guy’s got some junk, that’s cool. But does he actively need to be thrusting it at me?

Yeah, the women in comics are usually drawn with respect and restraint. Especially when drawn by Greg Land. There’s someone who would never compromise artistic integrity for cheap exploitation!

…what?

“I guess this is one way that Citizen Steel and John Henry Irons Steel are similar.

Can we pleeeease not do this? :/ ”

I will fully admit that this was a really hack joke.

Yeah, the women in comics are usually drawn with respect and restraint. Especially when drawn by Greg Land. There’s someone who would never compromise artistic integrity for cheap exploitation!

Yeah, and Brian (as well as other posters here) never complains about any of that stuff, because he totally loves stiff, sexist art.

…what?

Sorry, you can’t just make up accusations. Well, I guess you can, but it’s totally absurd.

I was actually responding to the person who posted directly ahead of me, finding an easy example of artists who “actively thrust” exploitative cheesecake art on me. But thanks for playing!

Oh, I’m not saying it wouldn’t be equally bad id it were a woman. I just meant that it looks like he’s just thrusting into mid-air. Look at his arms – it’s like he’s just thrust his pelvis out at that exact moment.

“Huuuhh,” he’s saying. “Huhuuuuuuuhh.”

Weirdo.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but the last few years of increasing awareness of how women characters are portrayed in comic books has yielded changes that I believe were an unintended consequence for the audience. The wide spread protests, snark and educational essays in blogs and forums have, ironically, actually caused the problems of the exploitation of gender to become worse.

Instead of writers and artists toning down the cheescake and soft porn in regards to women, they have instead increased the hyper-sexualization of the male characters in order to make all things equal.

Alistair wrote:
Oh, I’m not saying it wouldn’t be equally bad id it were a woman. I just meant that it looks like he’s just thrusting into mid-air. Look at his arms – it’s like he’s just thrust his pelvis out at that exact moment.

Actually, in the context of what we’ve seen of the character so far, he’s no doubt examining and experiencing his new, liquid-steel-enhanced body.

Over at Postmodernbarney.com, blogger Dorian has weighed in on “Crotch-Gate” and offers a trio of comparison pics, in various flavors of NSFW. I won’t link directly, though I find them remarkably tame. All crotches are clothed, it’s just what can be seen underneath that varies.

After comparing them to Citizen Steel, not only do I see *no* erection in evidence, I honestly think that his “package” would have to be deliniated much more explicitly (As in Dorian’s final two comparison pics) to approach the same realm of surreal, physics-defying gratuity that allows for a superheroic woman’s spandex outfit to routinely detail every erogenous zone, crawl up her rear in a viscious wedgie, show graphic cameltoe and a perfect bikini wax, and lovingly cup and pocket (rather than depress) perky braless breasts with permanently erect nipples.

She fights crime with friction rashes *and* a yeast infection! To say nothing of the flying, skirted nymphettes with no underwear at all. All the better to give spectators an eyeful and subtextually imply readiness for a sexual encounter, right?

Perhaps fear of furors like this are what lead to the comparative modesty of Superman and Batman’s overbreifs, which seemingly behave less like spandex, and hide those naturally occuring vertical wrinkles that point wangward. But if your gonna be honest about it, the bulge is still there. http://thatsmyskull.blogspot.com/2007/03/be-careful-what-you-bitch-about-ask-for.html And why shouldn’t it be? No feminist so far has called for *concave* chests on females, so lets stop depicting the male pubic zone as a shadowy, flat indistinction.

Duh, if you had super hero power coursing through your veins, you would be sporting wood also. But you’re not. Not at all.

Wow. I can’t believe this was actually some kind of scandal.

We’re not allowed to make fun of covers anymore?

Creepy? How OLD are you that an anatomically correct male is creepy. Have you been staring at Power Girl’s breasts so long that you’ve forgotten that men have sexual organs too?

I say it’s about time the basement dwelling boys of comics fandom got a taste of their own medicine.

“How OLD are you that an anatomically correct male is creepy.” – Beth

Being a feminist and heterosexual female superhero comics fan, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to pick up the average mainstream superhero comic without being ashamed and disgusted by the various depictions of Supergirl, Powergirl…et al, – characters that, we shouldn’t forget, were intended to appeal to and bring in young female readers. However, this doesn’t mean that I want the artists’ bizarre playground of sexualized superheroes to be leveled by having equally exaggerated depictions of male genitalia. So guess what… I find the protruding, ERECT-looking penis of Citizen Steel CREEPY. Guess I’m an immature adolescent boy too, eh?

I say it’s about time the basement dwelling boys of comics fandom got a taste of their own medicine.

Then go rant at them.

Are you even talking to someone in particular or are you just hopping on the bandwagon that feels most justified?

Do us all a favor, and stay the hell away from things you know nothing about.

Frankly, what I find most “creepy” about all of this is Cronin’s panicky, homophobic reaction to the sight of a rather unremarkable bulge. Grow up.

Even if Brian was afraid of the penis, that doesn’t make him a homophobe. You should bone up on the meaning of such a powerful word.

Pun intended.

Sure, it doesn’t make him a homophobe, but it sure makes him a hyppocrite. Emma Frost can be bulging out of her corset, but a guy in spandex cannot have the faintest bit of downstairs masculinity?

Aaaaaand where did he say “Emma Frost should be bulging out of her corset?”

If you make something up and pretend someone else said it, it doesn’t make them a hypocrite.

Well, he did describe it as creepy.
Not sure why an erection would be considered creepy. If anyone can explain, please do.

Yeah, the “creepy” thing is what is bothering me about this whole post. He uses the word “creepy” FIVE times in this post. And in the post, he never says that it’s a possible erection he thinks is creepy. It’s the sight of “a big bulge” that is creepy. Is it homophobic to express such sentiments? I don’t know the poster personally, so I cannot say if he is homophobic or not. To me, it seems more prudish, or simply ignorant to have such a distasteful reaction to human anatomy. I’d ask the poster to think for a while about WHY he finds male anatomy so “creepy”.

Time to grow up kids.

This is nothing compared to the hyper endowed boys over at Class Comics! I think it’s funny how breasts are being compared with penises (yes, I used the correct term, sorry) — I didn’t realize that breasts were the sexual organs.

Still, I get the hyper endowment bit, (and I think that it would still be an impressive package) but what makes it …uh… stand out more is the fact that the lines or shadowing of the costume all point towards his crotch, giving it more attention, or at least more of an illusion it’s that much bigger and that much more erect than most other crotches painted by Alex Ross.

I’d be more upset however, if the art was of a sexualized objectified nature … a zipper running down just above his pubes, a woman running her hands down her chest on one side, and a man on one leg for example, all the while with the same amount of emphasis as the costume suggests.

Sexual objectification unfortunately continues to run rampant through comic books and I think is the bigger issue … pun not intended.

It’s one thing to draw realisticly or unrealistcly sized goods, but it’s the context of how those are played up. Women in comics are more often than not depicted with bodies and poses that are not attainable by all women, *and* are usually drawn in a way that is sexually suggestive or revealing.

Just as men are drawn with bulging muscles like Superman or Batman, very few males are drawn that aren’t toned and ripped but they aren’t posed in such a way or clothed in such a way that depicts sex. You probably won’t see Superman bursting forth from water with his head and arms back dripping wet before he kicks a villain’s ass as you would Power Girl.

Not that sex or sexuality is wrong, but when it is drawn for that alone and does not present a reason behind it, or justification, then that is where the problem lies.

Wonder Woman, for example, being drawn with a more muscular physique and larger sized breasts and little else is one thing if it is meant to convey that the character is not afraid of her body, and is invulnerable in the sense she needn’t have to wear a lot, and just happens to be endowed as she is, but when the breasts or g-string sized thong she can be depicted in is the forefront of that for the sake of appealing to a horny heterosexual young male, then that is a problem.

My mom grew up with Wonder Woman and Supergirl, and she helped me get into comics, and picking up them now, she was distraught at the “out of proportion” bodies of both.

I’m all for having a sexy looking hero, but that shouldn’t be the center of it. I think that Wonder Woman can be impressive with a “bulkier” exterior, or that of the “classic” look as appearing on all sorts of media and merchandise these days, where thinner arms can still equally represent that a woman who may seem “frail” compared to a big man is as strong as or more so than one.

Like the controversy over the Mary Jane Laundry statue, although not necessarily wrong that she is in a cheesecake pose or even that she has massive breasts popping out with her thong showing, but it’s more wrong that there was probably no discussion to presenting it as “Mary Jane Discovers Peter’s Secret” (as Adam Hughes says that was his initial intent) than to sell some T & A. There was probably no discussion that even if MJ is indeed wanting to be sexy and wants to show off that it could be depicted sexy by having more average sized breasts or at least wearing a t-shirt. But I digress.

Society is all about sex and putting it in every ad from bubble gum to candles and beyond. But a lot of that sex or definition of sexualizing one’s gender is predominantly female.

Obviously magazines such as Men’s Health are all about depicting Today’s “perfect” male specimen, but the ratio out there in magazines, comic books, or other media is definitely not equal.

Puritan, Quaker, or just one’s own awkwardness towards male sexuality either by a complex or a type of homophobia by depicting a man with sex organs is an issue, but the fact that Citizen Steel (who now can probably joked as having a permanant hard on or erection of steel) actually having a package isn’t.

why is a well hung man creepy ?
well endowed women and huge muscle on guys are normal in comic books
i think noticing and thinking about another (cartoon) man’s penis is creating
your experience that you are feel as creepy – it actually is just you thinking
a hung crotch looks good – strong – amazing – powerful – hung is good buddy

dont worry you dont have to have sex with him — or think about it sexually
or do you mean to say all wild sexual images MUST make the viewer think
about sex and they can not help it —- if so — all comic books should be banned
from the hands of children

why is a well hung man creepy ?

That’s where we differ, RJP3. You think it’s just a “well-hung” guy, and I think it looks like like an erection.

The former is not creepy to show on the cover of a superhero comic, but I think the latter is, similar to the seemingly panty-less drawing of Cyclone on the cover of the previous issue of JSA (and similar to the other two horrible statues of female superheroes Don also mentioned in the above link).

Ya’ll that think that is a boner, grow up. Have you never seen an adult male in tight fitting clothes, like some underwear that are spandex/cotton blend? That isn’t an erection you daft twits! Its a normal male, albeit with every bloody muscle in his body tensed all at once in apparent violation of nature.

The fact that you think it’s “creepy” to illustrate anything other than a flat, genital-less crotch area is extremely homophobic. I’m a gay man, I love comic books. If straight men get to oggle endless cheesecake heroine poses and bulging breasts, why is it “creepy” for an artist to realistically depict what a man looks like anatomically down there once in a blue moon? I have no doubt there was no creepy intention behind it whatsoever. Ross was just painting a male model in a realistic way. The only creepy part is that your implication that there is something wrong with it. Don’t imbue shame and awkward reactions where none needs to exist. I think you got issues, dude.

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