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She Has No Head! – The Boob Window That Just Won’t Die

I had a whole other post written for today that had nothing to do with Power Girl’s boob window, I swear.  Because even though the Power Girl/Jen Van Meter controversy has been PG panelstirring up the web everywhere from Esther Inglis-Arkell’s column at 4th Letter (where it originated) to sister CBR blog Robot 6 to somewhat remote locations like Jezebel I had decided to skip talking about it since the controversy seemed to be drawing to a close.  However, the developments over the holiday weekend, namely Jen Van Meter showing up to comment on the discussion, really elevated this controversy to something I was interested in discussing here – and since this column is about ‘women in comics’ it seemed almost negligent to ignore it.

So here we are – talking about the boob window that just won’t die. For those not already in the know Jen Van Meter (who I should mention I’m generally a fan of) wrote a story called “Spin Cycle” in Justice Society of America’s 80-Page Giant #1 and a page within that section (see below) has Cyclone/Maxine and Power Girl discussing Power Girl’s costume.  And it had fans up in arms.

Powergirl and Cyclone

So my problem with this (and I think others have said it better) is that it’s one thing for Power Girl to have a ridiculous antiquated costume – and she does – for even Amanda Conner’s pitch perfect art cannot save it from being ridiculous. It’s a whole other thing for a writer, artist, or DC Editorial to take a time out to reprimand fans (and women fans specifically) for having feelings that aren’t “pre-approved”.

Ironically, I don’t really mind the boob window on its own.  It’s ridiculous, but especially considering the way the Power Girl title is currently being written and drawn with a really great sense a humor, I don’t mind it so much, and I find myself liking Peej despite the silliness of her costume.  However, I do mind the costume in context.  The context that is the boob window AND Supergirl’s skirt AND The Huntress’ bare midriff, AND Black Canary’s fishnets, AND Catwoman’s unzipped leather number AND Poison Ivy’s lack of any clothing that isn’t branches and leaves, AND Star Sapphire’s ridiculousness, and the list just goes on.  It’s all of them together…that’s what drives me crazy…I can accept one or two…but all of them together?  It’s too much.  I start to get tired.  It all starts to look the same…and it makes it impossible for me to believe any writer or editor “reasons” for such silly costumes.  I start to see it as a massive cover up – ‘er non-cover up and I do believe it sends female fans, feminist fans, and potential fans away in droves.

But this is an argument we’ve all had a million times before, and I’m not sure I have anything revolutionary to add to the discussion.  However, where this whole drama became more interesting to me than your average fan criticism about sexist costumes and the fact that we’re supposed to be happy about it, is when Van Meter herself showed up to talk about the story at 4th Letter.  Van Meter discussed openly what her intentions were in her story, and part of why she thinks went awry.

Here’s an excerpt of Van Meter’s comment on 4th Letter:

“So one thing led to another, and I found myself wanting Maxine to come upon PG doing something simple, ordinary, humanizing, and when I decided on laundry I started wondering what Maxine would think of Power Girl’s costume. There was nothing externally meta-textual going on for me, but I was indeed thinking that Maxine looks at super-heroics as at least one part theater; she’s got the theater background and knows that–in their world–there’re lots of reasons they’re not all running around in track suits and army/navy surplus. What I had in mind was that in “reading” the costume to this apparition of Power Girl, what Maxine is really doing is explaining to herself some of why she finds Power Girl so intimidating. I’m not pretending to be unaware of the conversations amongst fans and creators about the sexism that seems so deeply embedded in the genre, especially as it focuses on costuming; I am saying that what I was concerning myself with at the time was the notion that similar conversations might/must be ongoing in the world the characters occupy as well.  I wish I had caught how the scene could be taken while I was working on the script. I would have done something about it.”

So Van Meter was called out, and I think 4th Letter was right to do so, but in her comment we see that Van Meter is surprised by the fan response in part because the result is so different than her original intention, she apologizes, and also asks us (rightly so I think) to acknowledge that it was not only the writing here that caused the problem, but rather the combination of art and writing together working somewhat to cross purposes – and certainly not for any deliberate evil intention.

And I think Van Meter’s comments bring us around nicely to “the microscope” that I discussed in my first article.  An idea that while it’s critical that we have fans speaking out about what they see creators doing wrong, it can also be a crippling way to have to create new work – knowing that every little word and panel is going to be dissected (I have read no less than 10 great articles about this and they all focus primarily on one panel).  I can easily see how Van Meter, having one set of intentions clearly in her mind, handed in her script and didn’t really give it another thought.  After this incident I suspect she’ll be a little more aware and careful, and I hope she doesn’t find that awareness paralyzing as I think negative attention can sometimes be.

But it’s hard to feel too worried about that because I’m just so excited to see the system actually working.  To see that criticism and blogs and news sites can actually make a difference is awesome to behold.  And I think it has to do with more than just Van Meter being an intelligent, rational, engaged writer (although that’s certainly part of it) it also has to do with the level of criticism she received on 4th Letter from Inglis-Arkell, who although writing sharply and passionately, still kept things professional.  Van Meter acknowledged that herself when she commented the following day:

“I have to admit, I debated engaging the conversation for quite a while once I’d become aware of it. I’m usually pretty thick skinned, as comic writers must be, about negative reviews. We can’t please everyone, we know it, and writing for a living means getting called a hack on occasion. This is the first time, though, that I’m aware of my feminist cred being on the line because of something I’ve written, and I’m pretty uncomfortable with some of what’s come of all this elsewhere–people who clearly know nothing about me saying some pretty hateful, personal things. The tone of your initial post, while angry, was intelligent, precise, well-argued and reasonable; that’s what made it possible for me to post here, and I thank you for that.”

So this, to me, is “the microscope” doing what it’s supposed to be doing.  It’s not here solely to whip fans into a frenzy and to get them to hurl insults at each other and creators, it’s here to get creators to see what influence they’re having on their medium – positive and negative.  And when the system is really working like it is here – creators and fans learn something and move forward together more informed and better for it.  This whole dramatic controversy and Van Meter’s measured response is the success I think of good blogs at work and it’s quite frankly refreshing, because though giants like Marvel and DC may never “get it” or just not care, I feel confident that Van Meter does.  And I think that’s how you change this industry – slowly and from the inside – with fans that speak up about what’s not working and writers, artists, and creators that hear them and get it, and pay more attention next time.  And so that feels like a win for the little guy – that feels like constructive criticism actually piercing the veil and bringing about change.

So, here’s to breaking through walls – whether they be seemingly unimportant – like Power Girl’s boob window – or not.

157 Comments

The question is, should they change the costumes so that they are not as revealing, would the female audience that is drawn in be greater than the male audience that would not be?

Anon. if the male reader is just there to be titlated do we really want them to read? I have enough faith than men buy these comics for the characters as much as the women. Also, its not about bringing in women readers its about showing respect to the ones they have. To know that their female fans are important to them as is the way they feel. No one is saying peej needs a smaller chest, no one is saying that black canary needs a turtle neck. characters can be sexy and still covered up. Female costumes should seem to be functional and realistic. Have you ever imagined what the average DCU person says about a character like starfire being on the 6 O’Clock news that their kids watch? Its the basics of realism that allow for the fantasy to seem real.

The thing with that is, though, Anonymous, how many males are still reading the comics solely for the scantily dressed women?

Frankly, I liked the answer given in Kara’s JSA Classified arc the best, where she says she kept that hole open until she could find something to place over it, an emblem of sorts, something that showed she was part of some family. Was it a perfect answer? No, of course not, but it sort of made sense for the character and where she was headed.

As to why she’s not covered it up since, idk, but I will say that I prefer the boob window to the deep scoop neck that Kara sometimes sports, like here: http://spandexjustice.com/wp-content/images/supermanbatman27.jpg

“The thing with that is, though, Anonymous, how many males are still reading the comics solely for the scantily dressed women? ”

How many people expressed disappointment at not getting any more Michael Turner art?

There’s your answer.

Maxine is a great character. Total “Lil’ Sis” type of character. And, having only read the bit of the story reprinted in this article, I can’t understand what fans are upset about. Beyond that – if the story is good, what does the boob window matter?

That begs the question that male readers are more interested in a character’s design more than the personality of the character. Since the age of the average comic book reader is at least in his twenties, I would hope not. While the design of the character, whether male or female, is important to the overall feel of a character, I would hope that male readers would enjoy a female hero without an objectifying costume.

While I personally feel that PG’s current costume is better than all the other variations, I would like to think that if Palmiotti and Conner decided to change the costume, I would continue to enjoy the character as much as I do now, for as long as Palmiotti and Conner continue creating the title.

Not one, not two, but three of my close female friends, one of which is my wife, refuse to even walk into a comic book store because of the way women are portrayed in comics. None of them are terribly sensitive people, either… but they don’t think too highly of the way women are continually represented in comics. I think it’s definitely a problem, and it’s part of what’s keeping comics down.

And yes, I get that everyone in comics is a physical stereotype… the men are all hugely muscular with no fat on them, and the like. But there’s a huge difference: men don’t have to grow up being viewed as sex objects, and we aren’t quite so radically in the process of trying to understand our gender identity and how it relates to society. In general, being very very male is considered a positive thing by a good chunk of society; it’s considered powerful. A man with huge muscles and tight clothing, striking a superhero pose, is considered strong, powerful, cool, and the like; a women with revealing clothing striking a superhero pose is considered sexy. When men being in power and women being treated like sex objects is a massive issue in our society that’s been being fought about for over a century, I think it’s quite appropriate for women to be upset by the way female characters in comics are depicted.

Would we lose some male readers? Definitely. We’d lose plenty of young male teenage readers. We’d probably also regain some of the older male readers who are no longer reading comics because of the denominator that they’re aimed at. Would women start reading comics? Maybe… but at the very least maybe some women would actually walk into comic shops and not become instantly uncomfortable, and maybe they’d find some of the comics that depict women as… you know… people. Maybe we guys who read comics would even be able to have fun with our female friends or significant others in a comic shop and maybe, just maybe, we’d be more attractive to women for it ;-)

I’m much more okay with ridiculous costumes if there is an in-comic explanation for them. Therefore, I like the explanation given, and presuming that that was PG’s rationale, it seems reasonable to me.

Oh, and not all of the female characters end up with egregiously revealing duds: Kate Spencer as Manhunter, for instance, is a refreshing exception…

I always thought the costume worked better without the window (as it was through the late 70’s through the 80’s). There’s a house ad for the post-Crisis mini of her in that version of the costume that looks fantastic and doesn’t need the window to convey both her sexiness and power.

In my three years of comics reading, I’ve never encountered somebody buying a book because a costume was “sexy.” I don’t know if this is something left over from the 90s or if we’re just more civilized down here in The South, but I’ve never seen the big deal with the depiction of men and women in superhero comics as steroid abusing, impossibly thin, broad-chested, large-breasted fighters of EVIL.

It’s a comic book!

There are costumes I hate sure, like the Star Sapphire costume mentioned. But I don’t hate this costume because it’s SEXIST, I hate this costume because I think it looks bad, man. But somebody out there thinks it looks pretty good, and I guess if they’re enjoying it that’s fine, but I don’t see why anybody who enjoys something SOMEBODY ELSE finds gross is automatically a pervert reading comics to get his rocks off.

I’m sure the people out there looking for women to fantasize about have better ways to spend four or five dollars to see that. Especially something that isn’t even real.

Well said Kelly. Another well written, thought-provoking, post.

I agree with Nikki that female costumes should be more functional and less titillating.

I never had much of an issue with Power Girl’s costume. I figured it was mostly a ‘yeah, I got boobs, what of it? I can STILL punch you through a wall.” And knowing some larger chested women, an air vent might not have been a bad idea from a utilitarian point of view.

Now, if PG had been big chested, with the boob window costume, and she was a cerebral superhero, rather than a brawler, then I’d wonder.

Are we done yet, or do the sexually frustrated male comic fans need to vent some more about PG’s fairly ridiculous, completely INOCUOUS rack-hole?
Christ, never seen such obvious mommy issues coming to the forefront here.

That begs the question that male readers are more interested in a character’s design more than the personality of the character.

However, the character design should be expressive of the character. These are comics that we are talking about after all. Archie Andrews looks on the outside exactly like what he is on the inside. Part of the joy of superhero comics is that characters are able to take off their outer clothes and reveal a hidden side of themselves. Clark Kent looks like a normal person, but Superman reveals who he is inside.

The theater analogy that Jen Van Meter is drawing in the panels above is not a bad one. They are called “costumes” after all. It is just that comics can go a step further and use cartooning to make the heroic identity more expressive than just clothing could.

To me, that is ultimately what is offensive about some female superhero costumes. It is not how they are designed so much as the reasons given for them not being expressive of a fully realized character. Van Meter’s rationale of PG using the costume to keep men off balance is a good one, but it requires a version of Karen Starr who needs a vehicle to achieve that. Supergirl’s mini-skirt made a lot more sense in the Silver Age when she was sneaking out of the Danver’s house to meet Superman. A mini-skirt on a teenage girl sneaking out of the house reads moderately transgressive, but within the bounds of remaining a “nice girl”. Adding the bare mid-rift while subtracting the middle-class family changes the dynamic from “just a little naughty” to “jail bait”.

Big difference.

Sheesh. Go to any club on a Saturday and you’ll see plenty of women wearing far more titillating and less practical outfits.

Uh — any chance of this article being translated to “english”?

Unfortunately, comics has been, for the longest period of time, catered to a male-dominated fan base, because of this there has been alot of sex appeal.

There has been very little comics published to appeal to the females, even though female writers, artists, editors have existed in the past 20 years.

Even if female characters were written and drawn to be less sexist, there will always be sex appeal everywhere else.

I, for one, have never been interested in Power Girl. Regardless of the way the character’s been handled.

@ VeganWithaYoYo: Using the logic of your argument, I should walk into a comic shop and be instantly titilated by the overwhelming images of female characters. Guess what? I’m not. I find it hard to believe that the women you speak of are that uncomfortable walking into a comic shop. I see far more distressing portrayals of women in every other form of media you can name.

I think this entire conversation is laughable. Is the chief demographic for shows like The Girls Next Door, Desperate Housewives, or the Real Housewives of Orange County a predominantly male one? No. Are comic books the cause of current teenage fashion trends? No. And yet here we are throwing comics under the bus. Can anyone name one female comics character who is unfairly portrayed as anything other than smart, capable, brave, and powerful?

Are the women in most SUPERHERO comics (and this is an important distinction) dressed provacatively? Yes, probably. Are they portrayed as being inferior to men? Not any that I’ve read. Are there countless other non-superhero female characters out there who are very bit as awesome and not scantily dressed? YES! and yet here we are talking about PG’s boob window drawn on a piece of paper while Chris Brown is beating women and Whoopi Goldberg is saying that sex with a drugged 13 year old girl isn’t “real rape”. Are you kidding me? Really?

Turn on the TV. Take a look outside. Right now comics look pretty good to me.

I’ve got it! The perfect costume for all these crazy superhero types with the flesh showing and the underwear over the pants and the ridiculous capes! This is the answer! The Costume of the Future!

http://yfrog.com/1xskeletong

If its so inocuous I guess we’ll see the next disney princess with one eh torpor? Just because a character is female doesn’t make her an oedipal substitute. It seems, considering you are making the connection between maternity and overt sexuality you haven’t successfully gone through freudian oedipal separation yet. Not every man want a woman who dresses like a stripper.

The Ugly American

November 30, 2009 at 11:49 am

I said it before and I’ll say it again:

PeeGee == Poor Aerodynamics

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2009/11/your-mileage-may-vary-on-power-girls-costume/#comment-19381

to Aaron – Exactly the point. The function of club wear is to titillate and facilitate dancing. The function of a superhero costume shouldn’t be the same.

To Adam – I’m pretty sure he said “far more titillating and less practical outfits.” Not, “just as titillating and impractical.”

Robert Lee, the women you use as examples are not figures of respect by other women, they feed female gossip needs. Some women talk about how they dislike these women because of how the act and dress. Anyone who looks up to these women are considered superficial. You are right in saying those examples are there but not in how some women use them. Of course we can never talk about women as a group that thinks the same because of their gender but these are the experiences I’ve found. As for teen fashion, some teen girls push the limits. Teen girls experiment to find their sexuality, its a big reason Supergirl’s outfit has never offended me. Its what some girls do. Where does the ‘you’re not going out like that’ cliche come from after all?

Okay. I’m a PowerGirl fan.

Yes, I can see that the “Boob-window” is sexist.

However…

A good artist can sometimes make it seem unimportant… Reference the recent JSA vs. Kobra mini by Eric Trautmann. Both Don Kramer (inside artwork) and Gene Ha (on the covers) somehow imbue Kara with a “don’t mess with me” strength that draws the eye AWAY from the “boob-window”… (in my personal opinion)…

Kara comes across as a serious, strong, well-defined character.

Admittedly, I fell for Kara when she was being drawn by Adam Hughes and Bart Sears in JLE, but then I was also a teenager, like you were with Psylocke…

My favourite outfit was the JSA buttoned-over top (no “boob-window”) with the off-the shoulder cape…

But I also have an Adam Hughes PG sketch that really shows off her cleavage (from GlasCAC ’91) so I’ll just stay out of this from here on…

:-)

Waitaminute Nikki. What are female gossip needs? Is that like being catty, as my mom calls it? If so, labeling something a “need” doesn’t make it loftier. Doesn’t keeping a spectacle like that around just send the message that “if you want attention, do this”? Please don’t missunderstand my outlook here. I’m no chauvinist. My all time favorite show is Buffy, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I work a very dangerous job side-by-side with women. However, someone who is provacitively dressed and save the planet isn’t interchangeable with someone who is provacitively dressed and is a horrible person.

My wife recently had a job interview. I had to help her pick out an outfit of hers to wear. After about 15 to 20 changes I told her she had to go out and buy something that actually covered her breasts. In my mind PG (funny how her initials are PG) dressing the way she does fits with what I know about women. I also have three teen-age daughters who, believe me, have no problem wearing short skirts, mid-drift bearing clothes, etc. My 16 year old daughter, for halloween, dressed up as Polaris. And I don’t mean Polaris with a purple body suit, I mean Poloris with an almost string bikini and a cape Polaris.

I do find it difficult to buy into Wonder Woman sometimes because of her costume. She’s kind of like the mother figure of the DCU and she runs around in a one-piece?

Forgot a point……I don’t think scantly clad women in comics drive women readers away. Women still listen to female singers that dress half-naked all the time. I’m sure there are some people who are driven away by this, but probably a very small minority.

I agree Manta. If anything drives women away from comic shops it’s some of the booger-eating mouthbreathers that hang out there.

Thanks for this Kelly – I clicked away from the whole “discussion” halfway through the comments of the Robot 6 post. It’s great to see that there was some civil, intelligent discourse amidst the “you’re evil for liking breasts”/”you’re a sexless nazi because you don’t want to see superhero boobies” back & forth.

For mine, as long as posts about Power Girl’s cleavage elicit hundreds of comments and there are only one or two posts a week about comics written by women or starring women who aren’t superheros (or we don’t have people complaining about Los Bros Hernandez’ stories making the latest Cronin list)…the form will continue to be problematic on issues of gender.

I can’t help but read this post and all the subsequent arguing and debating and posting back and forth and think- “Really? We’re still debating this?”

Body image issues being what they are in this country, I still find amusement in how we get hung up on superhero costumes, whether it be Power Girl’s big boobs or Commander Steel’s crotch on the cover of an issue of JSA. (Funny how JSA characters keep stirring this debate…)

Why can’t we all just relax, take a deep breath, and realize that not all things are going to please us all of the time? Don’t get me wrong, I respect the opinions of the female readers posting above, and they’re well within the right to not care for, or find any appeal in Power Girl’s costume. Just like I don’t care for, or find any appeal in yaoi manga or romance novel cover art. The target audience is just DIFFERENT. That’s not a bad thing, it just is what it is…

Body image issues being what they are in this country, I still find amusement in how we get hung up on superhero costumes, whether it be Power Girl’s big boobs or Commander Steel’s crotch on the cover of an issue of JSA. (Funny how JSA characters keep stirring this debate…)

Don’t forget Cyclone’s lack of panties on another of Ross’ JSA covers!

“A good artist can sometimes make it seem unimportant… ”

I get what you’re saying, and agree with most of your post, but this bit is a problem unto itself. How many male superheroes have costumes so embarrassing it takes a good artist to draw attention away from that aspect of their character?

“The target audience is just DIFFERENT. That’s not a bad thing, it just is what it is…”

Power Girl is intended to be the Supergirl figure for grownups. If women aren’t part of her target audience, that’s a pretty big problem.

What is it about Kelly Thompson that has everybody in a tither?
This is the second blog in a row that she has people commenting in a flurry.

“What is it about Kelly Thompson that has everybody in a tither?
This is the second blog in a row that she has people commenting in a flurry.”

I’m awesome?

I get what you’re saying, and agree with most of your post, but this bit is a problem unto itself. How many male superheroes have costumes so embarrassing it takes a good artist to draw attention away from that aspect of their character?

I give up, how many male heroes are costumed to emphasize their penis, or who go shirtless? The only moderately successful characters I can think of off the top of my head are Namor and J’onn J’onzz. We used to be able to count Robin among those, but his design was so ridiculous that DC finally corrected it.

The fact is that the number of male characters drawn to entice female readers is just a fraction of female characters drawn to entice male readers.

You want to get female readers? Acquire the license to the Twilight books, I just read a review of New Moon that said there were more bare male chests in it than a gay porn movie.

And I’m sure we’d all be fine with that, wouldn’t we?

So is this resolved now? Can we all stop dogpiling on the poor woman now?

I’m awesome?

Here, here! (Or “her, her!” Whatever.)

Don’t forget Cyclone’s lack of panties on another of Ross’ JSA covers!

Thanks, Brian. I did remember it, but didn’t want to bog my post down with too many examples. Who knew JSA would be such a lightning rod title? :)

Power Girl is intended to be the Supergirl figure for grownups. If women aren’t part of her target audience, that’s a pretty big problem.

I’m not trying to be snarky, Clayton, but I’m not sure what “Supergirl figure for grownups” even means. Do you mean a Supergirl that appeals to grown-ups, or a character Supergirl fans are supposed to transition to when they get older? Because I’ve never sensed that DC is trying to do either thing with PG. They HAVE Supergirl, and PG’s ties to the Superman universe have largely been downplayed, outside of Infinite Crisis anyway. If anything, I feel like the current move is to define PG in her own terms, rather than being a Supergirl riff. Gray, Palmiotti, and Conner have really played up the sassy, self-confident angle on PG in their book, and I suspect Van Meter was trying to stay in line with their take on the character when she wrote her dialogue for the JSA special. I don’t think Van Meter has done anything that deserved being “called out” like she was by some of the bloggers out there.

Can we all stop dogpiling on the poor woman now?

You know, in a different context…

Hey, at least in the new issue of Detective (Question backup) The Huntress gets a new full body uniform. No bare skin, (and no cape) which makes a lot of sense in a Gotham City where damn near every crook has a gun.

I doubt it will be carried over to other books though, so next time Huntress appears in JLA, or what have you, she’ll have a bare belly.

” How many people expressed disappointment at not getting any more Michael Turner art? ”

Way, way too soon, regardless of what you feel about the man’s work. >:(

“I’m awesome?”

That, or nerds get really defensive when someone points out the obvious sexist undertones of female superhero costumes.

Or maybe a bit from column A, a bit from column B.

I doubt it will be carried over to other books though, so next time Huntress appears in JLA, or what have you, she’ll have a bare belly.

More than any other female hero costume change, this is the one that makes me the angriest. Huntress went from wearing a full bodysuit to having a completely useless opening on her abdomen. Power Girl’s excuse of being able to withstand gunshots may be flimsy, but at least it’s valid. On Huntress, it’s like she’s saying, “Hey, badguys! Shoot me HERE!”

Who did that design, anyway? Was that Jim Lee in the Hush storyline, or had it been established before then?

Was that Jim Lee in the Hush storyline

Yes.

“That, or nerds get really defensive when someone points out the obvious sexist undertones of female superhero costumes.

Or maybe a bit from column A, a bit from column B.”

I would add a column C, looking at the others blogs: There are tons of people ready to jump at any chance to mention all the sexist undertones they see and insult anyone that could possibly enjoy it. I mean seriously, there has to be a reason things are what they are; it’s business after all. If it’s right or wrong? It’s completely subjective.

This is one of the things comics and manga have in common… When a fanservice series makes it relatively big (at least becoming noteworthy), there appear the pitchforks and torches. Just look up “Queen’s Blade” and be disgusted (or interested, who am I to judge!). Of course, manga has it better in the sense that the fact it has stronger female characters and femenine oriented media is more known, and there are so many mainstream good shojo/josei series that you just can’t complain.

“I’m awesome?” and egotistical to boot too!!!

;-)

Wow, circle of life, and all that? The last time I updated my blog before the holiday vacation was to put in my two cents on the Psylocke article last Monday. Hey, I know! Why don’t we all click on my name, and go over there to read it?

/shamelessness off

Seriously, though, I’m noting that visceral responses to this subject being brought up are becoming a pattern, and that in and of itself is rather off-putting. Now, this is coming from someone whose parents were both active-duty military when he was born, and whose earliest memories of his mother have her wearing the exact same uniform as his father, so perhaps my internal concept of appropriate women’s clothing is out of step with the rest of the world, but if a female character’s costume is going to look extra “sexy” as opposed to a comparable male hero’s costume, it’s not that odd of a question to just ask, “why”?

And I can’t think of any flying, super-strong male heroes with a hole in the chest of their suit.

As for the scene being examined, I feel PG’s friend is reading into something that just isn’t there; she’s making a fundamental mistake of analysis, and applying a thematic approach to something that should be practical. Yes, costumes should be mostly practical, especially in-story. And if we can have a debate on how much it makes sense for Batman to have a big yellow circle on his chest, we can certainly ask about PG.

Kelly, you said two things I specifically wanted to call attention to, and one thing I slightly disagree with.

Re: Poison Ivy: Although I’ll agree that in the larger context you spoke of, Pamela is potentially problematic, in the context of the character herself, her almost-total nudity is appropriate. It’s a logical outgrowth (no pun intended) of her character. Additionally, in her case, sensuality *is* functional. But I’d hold her as an exception, certainly not the rule.

Re: The microscope: I could not agree more; these conversations need to happen. Those of you who are acting petulant need to grow up and realize that this is a real problem in the subculture we’re a part of; it’s you’re not going to contribute, the least you can do is not detract.

Re: The title of your column: Considering this week’s subject, “She Has No Head” is hilariously appropriate. She has a head, but IT’S UP HERE, THANK YOU!

Also, re: Mike Turner: The only two comic fans I knew personally who were very upset by his death were both women. I don’t know if that adds anything to the conversation, but there it is.

Like was pointed out on Jezebel, I actually like Power Girl’s look. Yes it is over-the-top, but so is the character. She Has gigantic breasts, but she also is often drawn as one of the few characters who has a waist to support her breasts. I think of her as the Joan-from-Mad-Men of the super hero set; I would rather have her flaunt what she’s got than cover up while a skinny, underage version of the same character (Supergirl) flies around in a short skirt with a bare midriff.

Yeah, in fairness to my awesomeness (or lack thereof) I think that ‘women in comics’ is just a loaded issue, so it tends to draw fire, which is good in some ways and bad in others (particularly in that I tend to be a sensitive person not yet hardened by the insults thrown at me thus far in life via the internet – please let’s not take that as incentive to start throwing more!). But I think that what sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when I hear the “it’s how it is, just deal with it” or “it’s superhero comics, what did you expect” and “women dress like that ALL the time, what are you complaining about” etc., is that the people you’re yelling at…they love comics too. They’re here commenting and discussing because they love comics. And while we’re all welcome to different opinions, they have a right to be heard – so telling them to effectively just shut up and stop complaining, is really not helpful in any way. We all just want comics to be better – can’t we love them and still want them to be better? And these people are complaining/discussing/arguing, etc. because something they’re seeing/reading/absorbing is upsetting to them and they know that it doesn’t have to be that way…they know that it can be better and they’re asking for it. There’s nothing wrong with that, even if you don’t agree.

I think comics in a way are light years ahead of other media if only because there seems to be a more grassroots movement of fans and critics affecting change…which I think this Jen Van Meter/Power Girl thing is a great example of. I don’t love the boob window (which is going nowhere by the way), but I do love what came out of this discussion on 4th Letter and with Van Meter…I think it speaks really positively about women in comics and the direction that we’re all slowly headed..and what intelligent dialogue and criticism can bring forth.

But I would just like to say, to the people that want to yell and stomp their feet that ‘this is just how it is, and we should all accept it and move on’…that argument has been used forever, there is a VERY long history of it…for many things (many of them far more important than comics) and you know what? It doesn’t work. Things do change. And you change with them or you move out. And the way that happens is by people who are not pleased with the status quo standing up and talking about it. This is us, standing up. You can be upset about it, and you can disagree with it, but you shouldn’t just be trying to shut us down from talking about it.

E.Wilson:
I totally agree on the Poison Ivy thing…this is a costume that I personally think there is a good reason for…but in the context of all the other costumes, it just makes me roll my eyes, which is kind of the point – DC can have the Poison Ivy costume because it makes sense, but they can’t also have all the others and expect me to still take them seriously.

There is some schizophrenia in superhero comics.

Andrew Collins said romance novel covers will depict attractive, bare-chested males, because it’s what appeals to their public. But in the romance genre, the pictures and the writing both serve the same function of drawing female readers who want to fantasize about those gorgeous hunks.

In comics, we have some series that are like romance novels in this way. Lady Death and Purgatori, as published by Chaos Comics, for instance. Or Red Sonja, I suppose. Those are fetishist stories, both in writing and drawing. It makes sense that these women almost naked, because the writing also is pure fetish fuel.

But Marvel/DC is problematic in that the Huntress is supposed to be taken as seriously as, say, Nightwing. Wonder Woman is supposed to be taken as seriously as Superman. The writing often reflects that. When George Perez, Gail Simone, and Greg Rucka work on Wonder Woman, they’re as respectful as if they were writing Superman. But the DRAWINGS don’t reflect that.

And so there is this dissonance, this sort of half-assed way of presenting strong female characters. Serious (for superhero standards) writing but with cheesy art.

PS: Realistically, a teenage girl with short skirt and bared midriff makes a little more sense than a grown-up woman doing the same. That is why Supergirl in Smallville didn’t rise many eyebrows.

While I do agree there’s a general argument to be made against the blanket sexualization of female superhero costumes (Huntress and Black Canary are the point women on this for me), I have no problem with PG’s costume in particular. There really really aren’t any practical issues with it, because nothing about the design actually impedes her from doing her “job” (unlike Wonder Woman’s strapless armored bustier, which seems like it would require her to stop and stuff herself back into it whenever she flew upside down or made any sharp sudden turns of her torso during a fight). And, from a character standpoint, I always assumed it was a reflection of her personality: a smart woman with a killer body and no hangups about showing it off. That’s hardly unheard off in the real world, nor is there anything wrong with it, per se.

I do find all of the ancillary hate directed towards Supergirl’s costume kind of puzzling, however. It’s one thing to criticize (rightly so) how she’s sometimes been depicted in the costume by certain artists (the late MIchael Turner being the most obvious example), but that’s a separate issue from the actual design of the costume itself. There’s nothing overtly salacious or “skanky” (whatever that means) in the design itself. It’s basically a glorified cheerleader’s uniform. Spend an hour in any suburban mall or a Starbucks located within walking distance of a pubic high school and you’re guaranteed to see about a dozen girls wearing similar attire (minus the cape, of course).

Kalorama –

In Supergirl’s case, it always seemed that it’s mostly the male readers that object to her. It offends them to see a female teen that acts so “slutty.” To me, the modern Supergirl is just a female version of the Conner Kent Superboy that started in the 1990s. He too was a hyper-hormonal horny teen when he started, and no one thought it was wrong, readers actually thought him funny.

It’s just the good stud/bad slut double standard.

Makes me wonder if the male readers that criticize Supergirl for being skanky are the same ones that drool over Psylocke and Power Girl.

[…] the new Powergirl powerful or sexist? Or […]

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm

It’s a better explanation for the uniform than the ‘I’m waiting until I have the right symbol to go there’ explanation.

…and also asks us (rightly so I think) to acknowledge that it was not only the writing here that caused the problem, but rather the combination of art and writing together working somewhat to cross purposes – and certainly not for any deliberate evil intention.

I think that’s a big fail for Van Meter if that’s the case – comics are writing and art working together to tell a story.
If she doesn’t think the writing and the art worked in unison to do that, you’ve got to wonder how it happened – if there was a failure of communication to the artist, or the artist didn’t put enough edit in, then the dialogue should have been changed to match the art (it’s one of the advantages to comics).

I find it rather troubling that a creator will ask for their work to be excused, because they failed the basic concept of the medium.

In Supergirl’s case, it always seemed that it’s mostly the male readers that object to her. It offends them to see a female teen that acts so “slutty.” To me, the modern Supergirl is just a female version of the Conner Kent Superboy that started in the 1990s. He too was a hyper-hormonal horny teen when he started, and no one thought it was wrong, readers actually thought him funny.

For me, the problem wasn’t how Supergirl behaved nearly as much as how she was portrayed by the artists combined with the burden of the Big Red S. There’s an expectation of a certain kind of morality and modesty that goes along with wearing the S-Shield. I think if you had the same character and removed her relationship to Superman, folks wouldn’t have had nearly as much issue with her.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 3:36 pm

This is the second blog in a row that she has people commenting in a flurry.

It’s the second blog in a row where we all get to go ‘man I hate superhero chicks in skimpy costumes! I better go look at some more pics of them to fuel my rage!’ and such.
Least that’s how it is for me!

Way, way too soon, regardless of what you feel about the man’s work. >:(

The guy drew girls with impossible bodies in very skimpy clothes.

Lots of people said they’d really miss his art when he passed.

Dan used a pin-up artist, who happens to be deceased and thus reminisced about, to make his point that lots of people put hot chicks over craft.

Boo-hoo.

@ kalorama:

It is not hate with regard to Supergirl’s outfit on my end.

I think the connection between Supergirl’s costume and a cheerleader outfit is exactly why the most recent design makes me uncomfortable. It is certainly not the worst female superhero outfit out there, but context is important. Kara Zor-El is just not a character who I am interested in seeing drawn in sexualized manner.

On the other hand, I have never really understood the objections to Wonder Woman’s outfit. It is actually a pretty modest one-piece bathing suit. She was created as an adult, so it is not that big a deal to me. The fact that it is impractical puts it right in line with nearly every superhero outfit that I have ever seen. They all wear absurd outfits. It is the genre.

FunkyGreenJerusalem:

Van Meter does actually talk more about this (which I did not excerpt in my post) on the original 4th Letter post. I don’t know if it will convince you or not – but it might be worth a look to see if goes to help convincing you how it might have happened and been more a failure of communication than anything else. Van Meter’s comments are towards the very bottom of the 4th Letter post I linked to in the first paragraph.

Also, I think we have to remember that writing one story for an 80 page giant is probably not going to give you the same control/communication that writing on a regular monthly title (often with the same team) does…which is still not necessarily a lot of control…but more than I suspect Van Meter had here.

I’ve now read two installments of “She Has No Head!” (this and the Psylocke piece) and I feel like I’ve already absorbed everything that Kelly Thompson has to say about anything ever. About eight times.

We get it. You’re a woman. You don’t like the way women are sexualized in mainstream comics. Thing is, you don’t have to read those comics. You can go read something that DOES flatter your political opinions, and stop venting your spleen about books that annoy you.

Wait, that reminds me! I don’t have to read this column, do I?

Ciao!

@ Rene:

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I was never a fan of either the Conner Kent Superboy or Psylocke. Not sure what that proves.

Wait, that reminds me! I don’t have to read this column, do I?

Ciao!

Odds that this is actually the last comment Keith makes in one of these columns?

I’ll be generous and say 100-1.

Costume debate! Snore…

I actually thought from the title that this column was going to be about the random panels on each page that simply have superfluous boob and ass shots during scenes that should feature dialogue, likely borrowing heavily from the “male gaze” theory of discussion. Instead we get the same old argument about costumes we’ve all read a million times before.

Odds that this is actually the last comment Keith makes in one of these columns?

I’ll be generous and say 100-1.

I’d say the over-under on the number of future Keith comments under Kelly’s byline is 9.5

I think the connection between Supergirl’s costume and a cheerleader outfit is exactly why the most recent design makes me uncomfortable. It is certainly not the worst female superhero outfit out there, but context is important. Kara Zor-El is just not a character who I am interested in seeing drawn in sexualized manner.

On the other hand, I have never really understood the objections to Wonder Woman’s outfit. It is actually a pretty modest one-piece bathing suit. She was created as an adult, so it is not that big a deal to me. The fact that it is impractical puts it right in line with nearly every superhero outfit that I have ever seen. They all wear absurd outfits. It is the genre.

First, there’s really nothing “sexualized” about Supergirl’s costume, per se. It’s basically a long-sleeved, cutoff T-shirt, fairly modest skirt, and boots. Her costume shows considerably less skin than most, and absolutely no cleavage. Unless you’re taking a position that it’s somehow untoward for a teenage girl to expose any bare flesh whatsoever, I really don’t see a foundation for that argument. Also, as I said, there’s a distinction to be made between how her costume is designed and how she’s drawn. Jamal Igle is drawing the same costume that Turner and Churchhill drew, but there’s no sexual suggestion is his depiction of her.

And the problem with Wonder Woman’s costume isn’t its immodesty (and there’s nothing “modest” about the star-spangled butt floss). It’s about the illogical and impractical nature of the design. Like I said, the fact that it lacks any straps or covering up top makes it physically impossible for it to actually contain the twins when she’s engaging in frenzied combat or flight. Also, it’s supposed to be armored, right? Well, what good is armor that leaves the vast majority of her vulnerable areas exposed? And then there’s the fact that she comes from an island populated entirely by women, who’ve had little to no ongoing interaction with men for centuries (by royal decree, no less) yet she sports an outfit that quite clearly reflects a Western male design aesthetic. How? Why? It makes no sense.

And I’ve never put much stock in the “that’s just how things are” argument. “Tradition” has, well, traditionally, been used to justify all kinds behavior that was beyond justification. Just because something is (or always has been) a certain way does not, by any means, presume that it has to or should be that way. More often than not, it’s simply an indication that people were too lazy to bother with changing it.

Well, you gotta admit what Keith said is pretty common in female comments in blogs about comics. I may go as far as call it a stereotype.

Do the authors really take these comments to heart? Some will, some won’t. Will this change the way women are drawn in comics? Unlikely; good girl art sells. Just look at the really popular artists and you are bound to find it’s full by authors that have tons of critics about this. Is it wrong? Well, I don’t really see why someone should feel anger or sadness over it, sorry…

There’s cute, sexy and then there’s perverted sexy. 99% of DC women art is the benign form.

Oh, who am I kidding, men hate woman, sexist, blah, blah, blah, daddy, Miller misogynist, that damn Jim Lee, boobs!!!

@ Keith (who is no longer reading) – Kelly’s first post you read, about Psylocke, was about a comic that she thought was poorly written and poorly drawn featuring a character that was rendered in a proportion unrelated to crime fighting. She talked about how her tastes have changed from the 16 year old who loved the same character.
This post is about how one writer’s take on rationalizing a ridiculous superhero costume caused her to be blasted by fans/critics and how the same writer addressed said fans and, Kelly believes, the writer has “gotten it”. It’s about being under microscope and how that can affect positive change.

How are those about the same thing?

Yours is a shallow reading of the posts, to say nothing of the fact that you’re ignoring her first post, which was a positive review of Stumptown #1.

Anyone writing about gender roles in comics is going to come under fire for their opinion especially in the faceless world of the internet. Gender roles in comics is a weighty issue and I for one am glad that someone is out there talking about it on a site like CBR, where a lot of people can see it and maybe have their eyes opened to a more progressive way of thinking about their weekly pull-list.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm

I don’t know if it will convince you or not – but it might be worth a look to see if goes to help convincing you how it might have happened and been more a failure of communication than anything else.

Well, reading her words rather than the para-phrasing definitely makes it seem less her fault – although blaming the artist still rings a little a weak – I just think it’s odd to so readily admit to them working at cross purposes.
Just annoying to see the big companies put so little emphasis on the fundamentals of comic storytelling rather than just rushing to print whatever they can.

Also, I think we have to remember that writing one story for an 80 page giant is probably not going to give you the same control/communication that writing on a regular monthly title (often with the same team) does…which is still not necessarily a lot of control…but more than I suspect Van Meter had here.

I understand that argument from a creators point of view, but having tried out the JLA 80 page giant and the DC Halloween Special this year, I’m not sure where the companies get off charging what they do for such lesser products – at the price they charge, the quality should be a lot higher.
(The JLA one felt like a new talent try out book, where first drafts were turned into finished products).

Waitaminute Nikki. What are female gossip needs? Is that like being catty, as my mom calls it? If so, labeling something a “need” doesn’t make it loftier. Doesn’t keeping a spectacle like that around just send the message that “if you want attention, do this”? Please don’t missunderstand my outlook here. I’m no chauvinist. My all time favorite show is Buffy, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I work a very dangerous job side-by-side with women. However, someone who is provacitively dressed and save the planet isn’t interchangeable with someone who is provacitively dressed and is a horrible person.[/quote]

Hey Robert, gossip needs are the fuel behind shows like ‘Gossip Girl’ and tabloids and Perez Hilton. A lot of people enjoy that spectacle just so they can criticise. Its a nasty business and it does send out that message. At no point did I think you were a chauvinist but there are good and bad women role models. Buffy is a moderately good one (her whole spike fiasco brought her down) and Paris Hilton is a bad one. Women recognise this but its like a train wreck, you just have to watch some people. Its not a case of either/or, neither should be provocatively dressed but comics are different than a woman’s free will. We have the power to change comics for the better.

That was a great read Kelly. More please!

There is some schizophrenia in superhero comics.

Andrew Collins said romance novel covers will depict attractive, bare-chested males, because it’s what appeals to their public. But in the romance genre, the pictures and the writing both serve the same function of drawing female readers who want to fantasize about those gorgeous hunks.[/quote]

but are they rene? I think most women find fabio types ridiculous, they buy these books for the fantasy narrative. Maybe some do picture the hunk on the cover in the story but its not a picture book like comics. Its a different medium with different rules.Take for example Twilight (god help me!) girls go crazy over Robert Pattinson as Edward but he’s the least physically primed out of the cast. The most popular romantic hero is Mr Darcy yet no allusion is made to his physicality. Women and Men have different manifestations of sexuality however I would argue that women’s sexuality is less exploitative. That said did you see the recent playgirl controversy? One of their latest features only photographed a guys chest and ass. I didn’t get the fuss but I guess in comparison to Playboy there is an argument to be had. (I don’t read playgirl, I would assume the other guys showed the goods)

Wesley –

The Conner Kent Superboy also had the S-Shield, and many fans in the 90s loved that he was such a teen “bad boy,” and he was always chasing sexy women.

But Supergirl wears a mini-skirt and bares her belly and says how Hal Jordan is cute, and she is some horrible skanky, according to fanboys.

To me, she is exactly the same as Conner Kent was in the 1990s.

But it’s not that I think the current Supergirl is such an awesome character, I’ve read only a few stories with her. It’s just the double standard that bugs me. Teen male heroes can be horndogs, but teen females have to be demure or something.

But Supergirl wears a mini-skirt and bares her belly and says how Hal Jordan is cute, and she is some horrible skanky, according to fanboys.

The concern some folks (I believe our own Joe Rice expressed some concern) had over the Hal Jordan thing was Hal repeating to himself that he couldn’t do anything with her because she was 16.

Nikki –

The Jacob Black character is the new hit with girls in the Twilight Series, and physically he is a Native American Fabio that runs around bare-chested. So yeah, many women like to watch handsome, athletic males in skimpy clothes too. But I agree with you that women’s sexuality is usually less exploitative. I said as much in the comment section of the last column Kelly wrote. Males usually are more visual than females in their sexuality.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm

The concern some folks (I believe our own Joe Rice expressed some concern) had over the Hal Jordan thing was Hal repeating to himself that he couldn’t do anything with her because she was 16.

She was coming on hard, and so he tried to distract himself from it.

I can see why such a thing is very sleazy in real life, but it was just meant to be comic relief in the book.

And then a few issues later, her crushing on Hal, and him realising she was really was just a sixteen year old girl who wanted to be a woman, played a big part in their characterization and the plot of the arc.
Turned out to be quite a good arc at that,

Nikki kind of already followed up on this, but in response to Rene, I would say that in the case of romance novels and in comics, we as readers/customers are being sold a fantasy. I’m not trying to spiral this debate any further out of control by drawing a direct line between comics and romance novels, but both the hunk on that novel cover and the superheroine on the comic cover are there to draw the reader in with an idealized fantasy. Also, both mediums ask us to yes, take their characters seriously in the context of the story. It doesn’t matter how silly/sexy they may look, the writers and artists jobs is to get us drawn in by their story regardless of goofy it may seem in real life. A millionaire swinging around skyscrapers while dressed as a bat sounds ridiculous on paper, but has been successful because we as readers were “sold” on that fantasy. Whether or not someone is “sold” on Power Girl and her costume is up to that individual reader.

Nikki also raises a wonderful point about how difficult it is to appeal in large quantities to both men and women at the same time. Our baseline responses to sex, sexuality, and romance tend to go in such diverging directions at times. This discussion, if anything, has highlighted how true that can be…

Supergirl being flirty? Nothing wrong with that. As Brian said, it was the “lady doth protest” Hal Jordan with his creepy “SHE’S JUST SIXTEEN BE COOL DUDE YOU CAN NOT BANG HER.” Which, honestly, I see more as cheap Waid character “work” more than an offensive stance.

(And allow me to add a late “Welcome” to our new accidental firebrand poster. I’ve always wanted to be the “nice” one.)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 5:28 pm

As Brian said, it was the “lady doth protest” Hal Jordan with his creepy “SHE’S JUST SIXTEEN BE COOL DUDE YOU CAN NOT BANG HER.” Which, honestly, I see more as cheap Waid character “work” more than an offensive stance.

Jordan’s a sleaze, we know that!

A young girl started giving him all her attention, he felt himself feeling the attraction and went ‘arrggh! Ignore it!’.
I can see that by trying to make it humorous, Waid opened it up to skeeviness, but once you’ve seen how their scenes play out in later issues, it takes the edge right out of that scene.

That said, I’ll take that over a story about her proving her worth and learning to stand alone as a young woman where every other panel is an up-skirt shot!

Hal came off as creepy, yeah. But it wasn’t just that episode. I’ve seen Supergirl being bashed many, many other times in message boards for being a “slut.” And usually by male readers. In all honesty it may have been because she is Superman’s cousin, and Superman-related characters are supposed to be more wholesome, I just found weird that we had another Superman-related character that used to be very much like Supergirl, except of the opposite gender, and no one objected to Superboy because he was a horndog.

But I dunno, maybe its not about gender, but about time. In some respects, America became more conservative in the 2000s than it was in the 1990s. People have also bashed Spider-Man for having meaningless sex very recently. Sometimes it puritanism is equalitarian.

That is “egalitarian,” I suppose. English is not my first language.

I’m pretty sure the later scenes you’re talking about actually happened in the same issue, Funky.

Rene, I agree completely. There’s a lot of sexophobia in comics, but I do think female characters take the brunt of it. A lot of creepy frustration and misogynistic rage raises its ugly head.

There’s not much that I can in all honesty and good faith really argue with in terms of what the post has to say, but I must mention that I couldn’t help but wince when I read “So Van Meter was called out.”

I would really love to see all usage of the term “called” like that and “I called him/her on it,” and so on, stripped out of fan-critical dialogue altogether, just because of the general vibe of schoolyard confrontationalism that it carries.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 6:03 pm

I’m pretty sure the later scenes you’re talking about actually happened in the same issue, Funky.

I’ve only read it in trade, so I’m a bit shakey on where the breaks are…

There was some bits on the gambling planet with Hal finally clicking on that she’s a child that led to a nice bit (which was kind of undone by dressing her as a sexualised child), and a bit that’s definitely in the last issue where they have a scene together, both a bit more respectful and understanding of the other.

I get the issue Joe has with it, I remember the delightfully angry post about it (he really should stick around and be more regular with his shit stirring), I just didn’t get the vibe that it was as creepy as he made out – had it not been played for comic effect, and paid off later on in the story, I’d be upset with it.

I just found weird that we had another Superman-related character that used to be very much like Supergirl, except of the opposite gender, and no one objected to Superboy because he was a horndog.

If there’d been constant panels full of his bulging package, I’m sure there would have been complaints.

Also, a lot of characters don’t write SG as sassy or snarky, they just write her as a spoiled bitch – which is sad as you can’t help but wonder if that’s just their own issues creeping through.

As a teacher in a school that includes middle schoolers, I admit I’m probably extra-sensitive to things I see as exploitation of teenagers.

Nikki said: “Hey Robert, gossip needs are the fuel behind shows like ‘Gossip Girl’ and tabloids and Perez Hilton. A lot of people enjoy that spectacle just so they can criticise. Its a nasty business and it does send out that message. At no point did I think you were a chauvinist but there are good and bad women role models. Buffy is a moderately good one (her whole spike fiasco brought her down) and Paris Hilton is a bad one. Women recognise this but its like a train wreck, you just have to watch some people. Its not a case of either/or, neither should be provocatively dressed but comics are different than a woman’s free will. We have the power to change comics for the better.”

Hold it. Nobody’s trying to change a women’s free will. And yes it is an either/or thing. That’s the whole point of all of my posts on this thread. We’re debating a stupid costume that 99% of the female population is unaware of. As far as womens’ issues go, PG isn’t even a blip on the radar. And sorry, the guily pleasure of being a gossip is not a need. It’s undignified and only serves to lower those involved in it.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm

As a teacher in a school that includes middle schoolers, I admit I’m probably extra-sensitive to things I see as exploitation of teenagers.

And it’s probably sad that I don’t think that a story involving a grown man realising a sixteen year old is a child and not a fully developed woman, is one of the better takes on her!

Yeah, the stuff on the gambling planet was in the same issue.

Totally off topic, but that’s a cool new blog you got there, Joe. Very funny.

I don’t think anyone in that issue has anything to apologize for.

There is a conversation that at least addresses the ridiculous costume design. Yes, we get a shot of Power Girl showing her cleavage. So what? Cosmopolitan does this on every cover.

The bigger problem is that we as an audience make a bigger deal of this than it needs to be and perpetuate this country’s sexually uptight views. Women have breasts. Yes, we get it. They look nice but their ultimate purpose is the nurturing babies. There is a good chance that most of you posting were nourished this way. You think of it that way, it kinda loses some it’s implied “sexiness”.

Are women portrayed unrealistically in comics? Yes, but so are men. Do men find breasts and scantily clad women attractive? Yes. Women also seem to like well toned shirtless men.

If we’re talking realism, then let’s consider the Amazons in Wonder Woman. It’s a wonder that she doesn’t lounge around topless int he Summer. In a society with no men, where women aren’t objectified, it is highly unlikely they would conform to our societies view of how they should dress.

If we’re going to argue about a costume’s functionality, that’s one thing. If we’re going to argue about why a particular costume offends us then maybe we need to question our own views and where they come from. Because believe me, if thew so-called “moral majority” hadn’t deemed what is appropiate for female attire we wouldn’t even be having this discussion

Thanks, Greg. Best part is I don’t have to make up anything. My li’l turds do it all for me.

I’m not sure it’s relevant in this discussion, but Supergirl in that story was said to be 17, not 16. The creepiness factor would still be high even if she were 18, though.

oh boy…wait till you all read Powergirl 7.

My girlfriend said, “I didn’t realize that we weren’t allowed to create what we wanted in our fantasy worlds, and that’s what comic books are — fantasies. Not sexual, just not real life.”

She makes a great point here; superhero comics are fantasy — adolescent fantasy at best. Perhaps the writing has gotten denser, and the art more realistic, but at their heart these are stories for boys. Characters are designed to reach their target audience; boys want to see big muscular men — because that’s what they want to be — and excessively feminine-looking women — because that’s what they want to attain.

These costumes aren’t a symptom of a problem, nor are they cause of a problem. They are what they are; the characters as they exist in that fantasy world. We cannot demand subjective realism in superhero comic books, because then the whole medium breaks down.

However, when you break a character down to JUST their uniform, THAT is objectification. This is the point that people railing against these costumes sorely miss.

To paraphrase, “These ‘objectification’ arguments of yours just don’t hold water in a complex world of jet-powered apes and time travel.”

Bravo Jack, bravo!

“It’s just fantasy for adolescents, it’s OK to objectify women! And those that complain are the ones that REALLY objectify women!”

That’s a giant load of horse shit.

Welcome to the playground kids. Let the name calling begin.

I don’t really see a problem with the boob window, it’s definitely not MORE revealing than a lot of other superhero costumes and as another blog said, a V-Neck actually shows more boob.

I’m glad to see so many tools are still commenting in this column, though. It’s one of my favorite to read.

And just so we’re clear, when I say “tools” I mean people like Keith.

But Keith won’t be commenting any more, Chris, so you’ll be missing out on him in the future.

How will we go on.

Who’s Keith? Is this one of those “big sh*tstorm happened in the comments, enough to get deleted, and I missed the whole thing, and the only trace it this mysterious reference to the culprit” type things?
I hate when that happens; I know I’d probably regret seeing it, but it’s somehow only human to feel like I’ve missed out anyway…

Naw, he’s just another weirdo really threatened by feminism who whined about never coming back.

The only problem with Power Girl’s “window” is when it’s drawn too large. In Wally Wood’s original costume she was top-heavy but the “boob window” was just a tasteful-yet-sexy cutout, not the sadly-common large window that so many artists draw for maximum pandering effect (maybe even by editorial fiat?). Amanda Conner already does a tremendous job at making PG’s outfit look like it can actually support her bosom, but even in her superb artwork the “boob window” often makes me wonder where PG’s nipples went (as it exposes areas where normally nipples should exist). As a guy I can’t say that I HATE the boob window, that would be a politically-correct lie. But I’ve seen women IRL wearing clothes with tasteful cutouts that weren’t “slutty” at all, and didn’t even expose that much skin.

The way I see it, Power Girl should just admit that she likes the look. Design-wise, it’s a very good costume, with the high collar, long sleeves, and tasteful cutout. But if the cutout-cleavage is the size of her head or even bigger, of COURSE it will look exploitative.

“Perhaps the writing has gotten denser, and the art more realistic, but at their heart these are stories for boys.”

Maybe it was like that once.

I disagree that the heart of the superhero genre is physical action and fights and so it’s targeted at teenage boys. At least since the 1960s, the heart of the superhero genre has been the soap opera elements, my friends. That is why comics with events sell so well, people follow this fictional world and want to see what happens next with the characters. It’s not so different from the very un-manly delight many a housewife feels with her daily soap opera.

The superhero can have universal appeal. “Smallville” certainly has lots of female fans, for instance.

Soap operas? The ones that have steamy love affairs, PG-Sex and mild violence as well as women who are required to pump up their lips and wear clothes that draw attention to their “fabulous” forms? I’m not sure I see a parallel.

Welcome to the playground kids. Let the name calling begin.

Joe Rice tends to do that when you challenge his views on feminism, just launches into swear-filled name calling. At least now I know it’s not just me!

I didn’t call anyone a name, I said that the sentiment was horse shit. Which it is.

But, yes, I tend to find people who are nastily disrespectful and ignorant about large groups of human beings pretty insult-worthy. A funny little attribute of mine.

I took issue with your focus of “the microscope” when dealing with the criticism of a relatively non-offending funny book in stumptown but find it much more apropos with this post. The official “women in comics microscope” is used much more effectively when it is used to criticize a book (here) than it is to praise one (there).

I hope you weren’t turned off by my comments to that previous post and wanted you to know that I’ve continued to read.

Regarding your joy at readers’ ability to affect the creators and their creations in the comic book industry. Its a phenomena that has occurred at least since the 1960’s. The rare and exciting case, particularly since the 80’s, is one where that change is not one made for the sake of adolescent minded fanboys but for socially enlightened readers.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

November 30, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Who’s Keith? Is this one of those “big sh*tstorm happened in the comments, enough to get deleted, and I missed the whole thing, and the only trace it this mysterious reference to the culprit” type things?

No, it’s all there – you just outed yourself for posting your opinions on an argument without having read the argument. BURN!

(Actually, it was one post – just always funny when someone needs to let you know how little they care about something).

I didn’t call anyone a name, I said that the sentiment was horse shit. Which it is.

First we get Dan pretty much defiling a dead man’s grave, and now we’ve got Joe flat out calling people horseshit to their face.

What is the web coming to?
When will the outrages end?
Won’t someone think (non-sexually) about the children!

I don’t understand why this is a big issue. Superhero comics are (by nature) ridiculous. Relax.

Still don’t understand why sex (which needs to happen for our species to survive) is so taboo yet violence in comics are glossed over.

They’re just boobs. Really. They’re actually quite nice.

@Joe “It’s just fantasy for adolescents, it’s OK to objectify women! And those that complain are the ones that REALLY objectify women!”

Your paraphrasing is off; that’s not what I said. It would be more accurate to say “It’s just fantasy for adolescents; everyone is an exaggerated fantasy-form and we cannot demand subjective realism of these characters. Those that distill characters down to a costume are actually objectifying them.”

“But, yes, I tend to find people who are nastily disrespectful and ignorant about large groups of human beings pretty insult-worthy. A funny little attribute of mine.”

If you’re referring to my statement, you’re reaching. Superheroes and superheroines are not human beings but are fictional constructs. Further, I wasn’t disrespectful to them. If these were real people, however, these costumes would be blatant exploitation and more deserving of our scrutiny, concern and/or condemnation.

You don’t agree with me? Fine. Don’t put words in my mouth to express your disagreement.

Okay, I found it, it’s just WAY the hell back there.
I thought people were referring to something more current in the thread; I had read it, but just filed it as “typical crank” and forgot the guy’s name. When I read “he’s not coming back” way later in the thread (or rather after coming back here after poking around elsewhere on the web for a while) I thought he’d been banned somehow, totally forgetting any “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore” style flounce-off that was in the guy’s original post.

Jack, that second comment was not about you at all, no worries. I think the stuff you’re saying is bullshit, but I don’t think you’re an outright misogynist. Superhero comics are not just adolescent power fantasies, and women are sexualized while men are neutered. It’s not an equal playing field, and that’s not OK. But I honestly see your position more as a “trying to stand up for something you like” way more than “HARRR SCREW WOMEN ONE HURT ME ONCE.”

WHAT?!?
Oh, okay.
Joe, could you maybe expand beyond first names when you’re right after a comment of mine and throwing around terms like “misogynist”?
(Though you say Other Jack isn’t one, you do say he’s talking shit and, as I said, your reply is right after mine, though I know my reply likely wasn’t visible when you were posting yours, but there were two Jacks down in this general area of the comments…)

Good point, Jack.

(oops again)

I found it refreshing that Van Meter got on the 4th Letter to at least give the readers the reasoning behind the decision. I may not agree with it, but it is always refreshing to see where a creator was coming from.

Kelly, you just keep on doing what you do. t times our views clash but there is no denying that you are a comic fan with a definite opinion on issues. As long as we can argue civilly, people should be enlightened.

Yes, you can be enlightened by comic book topics and reviews on the ‘net.

Finally, Palmiotti and Power Girl #7…I think I am shuddering in fear now….or at least gonna LMAO…

Maybe all this hubbub will convince her to drop Powergirl or whatever this is and go back to writing Hopeless Savages for me ^_^

Wow.

I think this is a huge debate, and I’m not sure this is the place for it (that’s not to say your post’s not good Kelly).

One likes to think humanity has progressed, but it seems that in many ways we’ve moved backwards.

On one side, it’s true that (superhero) comics target a particular demographic,, while Twilight or Orange County target a different group. Is there some overlap? Sure, but for the most part, superhero comics are read by guys. From a business perspective, you can thus understand people adopting a “sex sells” philosophy.

But that doesn’t make it right. The problem arises because everything is about the bottom line, and certain ethics are quickly thrown out the window if they’re likely to have a negative effect on cash flow.

Of course, if a girl wants to dress “slutty”, she should be free to do so. However, if she does, is it really her choice?

It’s difficult to be certain what proportion of our ideas about gender and identity are a result of hormones and what proportion are a result of society and marketing. Nature versus nurture? We don’t really know.

But if we believe such a thing is a problem, then comics are pretty far down the list of priorities in terms of where we need to fix things.

If you open up men’s magazines, they’re full of scantily clad hot women. If you open up women’s mags, they’re full of… scantily clad hot women. Why do we create this pressure. Is a women less likely to attract a partner if doesn’t bare sufficient skin? I don’t believe so. My girlfriend doesn’t dress “slutty” (not in public, anyway), and I wouldn’t want her to. Sure, I’ve been with some girls who show it off, but I actually find it something of a turn-off (not in terms of wanting to sleep with them, as I’m a simple-minded, testosterone-driven male, but in terms of actually wanting to be with them).

Girls don’t need buckets of make-up, expensive clothes, or plastic surgery to attract men, the competition over these things among women is driven by marketing and advertising, as that’s what makes money for make-up and clothing firms, as well as the entertainment industry.

Having said that, some things, such as physical fitness and attractiveness, are almost certainly not desired by men and competed over by women because of marketing or advertising. It’s natural for us to desire these things, and if a women lacks one or both, then she’s a step behind the competition and therefore less likely to find a partner, or at least a desireable partner. Markter’s and psychologists manipulate the desire to find a mate and/or partner to their end. I wish I knew a solution, but aside from pretty much destroying the whole current system and starting from scratch, I can’t see one.

Among the few errors I’ve just noticed above, the one that may be a bit confusing is at the beginning of the final par. It should be “…are almost certainly desired by men…”
I don’t know where the not came in. Oh, and it should be by men and women, as women would also naturally look for a partner who is physically fit, attractive, and intelligent.

What a wonderful landmine. I am going to have to step on it my self…at another time. (I want to saver it). For now, Kelly. I back you up, not because we usually agree on both the feminist side and the its ok to have bad ass sexy female characters with good reasoning behind it side, but actually from a much more traditionally male sexual identity side…you will see…since non of what I just said made seance.

“But I honestly see your position more as a trying to stand up for something you like…”

Honestly, I couldn’t give two shits what they wear. Their clothing isn’t relevant to me, since boob-windows, fishnets and plant-bras are causing just as many problems in the real world as bat-nipples, super-tight spandex and barechested olympians.

Don’t you think this whole argument really comes down to something a lot more simple and innocent than the ‘boob window’, like say, FASHION? PG was on the verge of extinction back in the 90s when she was starring in JLI and that heinous ‘all-gold’ suit came about. Think about Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl. Throughout the ’70s into the ’80s, her costume was usually depicted (incorrectly, if you look at Carmine Infantino’s original concept) as sweatsuit grey with yellow accessories (gag), with the gaudy repetitive bat imagery on the chest, belt, and boot tops, with what appeared to be a starched collar and ginormous ears and those stabby points under the eye holes. No one really cared about this character at all when Alan Moore put a bullet in her and remade her as an interesting character. I realize her character was languishing to begin with, but I believe her look was the biggest nail in her coffin. Bruce Timm got ahold of her and undid her costume atrocities on Batman: the Animated Series, and suddenly interest in Batgirl was back with a vengence. Vixen had a ‘bad hair life’ until Justice League Unlimited liberated her, and within a year she was back in the comics sporting the same look, and more popular than ever. Wonder Woman is constantly maligned by traditional dress, which is a constant barrier to her greater success (and God forbid the ass floss that artists like Ed Benes further insult her good name with). Zatanna wore a boob window to no fanfare whatsoever in the late 70s followed by George Perez’s (arguably the worst designer of women’s outfits-look at his Black Canary “Crisis” costume-pew!) ridiculous JLA togs, only to go back to the classic look, which I don’t think is about whorish fishnets as much as a great, smart looking outfit. Catwoman’s 90’s costume was much more fantasy driven than the current model (in fact, it was totally the Playboy cartoon bunny look with the boots and gloves), again, not as appealing a look. The current look has sharper lines and is much more simple yet effective.
In real life, we wouldn’t care about what the women saving our asses on a regular basis were wearing, but in a visual medium fashion IS important for female characters especially. We can forgive the men (look at Superman for crying out loud), but the women definitely have another job responsibility and I think it matters as much to female readers as the males-teen horndogs or otherwise.

As someone who would like his wife to read some of the superhero comics I read, I agree that some costumes are a little ridiculous but I also know lots of women who are in shape and attractive that like to show skin as often as they can and they’re not “trashy”. I know guys with great physiques that like to wear tight clothing to accentuate their muscle tone. Not everyone falls into these categories, some are more modest. Perhaps we need a little bit more of that variety in superhero costumes. You can balance a Power Girl costume with a Manhunter costume like you can balance Daredevil with a Doctor Strange costume.

I’m not sure if anyone has already mentioned it above (sorry, TL;DR) but I think the real problem here is… that sexuality is pretty much the only thing Power Girl has going for her.

She was created to be the Supergirl of Earth-2, and someone decided that to differentiate her, she would be all sexy, contrasting with the girl-next-door image of Supergirl. It worked, in that context… but then, when the first Crisis removed Supergirl AND Earth 2, Power Girl became an anachronism. They tried to give her a new origin, new powers and her own supporting cast, but all that fell by the wayside as Supergirl came back (in various versions) and then Geoff Jones, He Who Decides What Is Canon In DC These Days, simply decided that Earth two existed after all. Think about it: suppose PG suddenly became average-looking.She would just a completely average superhero. What other quality would she be marketed by? She doesn’t really fit in the “Superman Family” and I’ll bet her series would sell more poorly. Complain as much as you want about other comic book heroines, but at least most others have some hook beyond their skimpy clothing. PG has been The Bitch With The Big Boobs for so long, DC doesn’t seem to know how else to handle her.

Of course, there are no poor characters, only poor writers; I’m sure someday someone will find a new angle on her that will work, and people won’t mind her costume any more… so much.

I agree, Sijo. I kept meaning to bring this up, but what I think makes the Power Girl stuff especially egregious is that’s all she’s got. She’s a bitchy cipher who still exists because she’s got large breasts. She’s a Lady Death in superhero drag.

Sijo:

Not to step on your toes, but either Palmiotti or Didio said in an interview a few months back that the reason PG hasn’t been interacting more with the rest of the Super Universe was because they wanted to establish herself a little more as a solo player before getting her more involved with the rest of the Super-family.

And, yeah, while the re-boots never really took hold in the 80s and 90s, if she kept her confidence and abilities (and creative teams) she’d still be just as interesting as any other strong, female character. And her hook would be the same: sole survivor of a dead universe.

Joe Rice… obviously you have not read the new series to make a blanket statement like that. Powergirl is a fun, smart, and entertaining character and on a monthly basis a book that is made up of so much more than what a character
” looks ” like.

“… a bitchy cipher…”

Okay, I want a show of hands. Not including the 80 Page Giant that kicked all this off, when was the last time any of you have actually read Power Girl? The bitchy characterization hasn’t been used since the JLE years.

I was honestly coming back to post the caveat that I haven’t read the new series, so things could be different there. Sloppy work on my part not saying that. I’m talking about the general idea of the character as presented until the current series. Sorry about that!

Show of hands?
Me.

Loved her in Birds of Prey. Loved her in JSA. Loved her in JSA Classified. Loved her in JSA vs. Kobra. Loving her in her own series.

:-)

Dang it, doesn’t it suck when you come in to say “woops, actually” and then two people have already called you on it? Dang ol dang!

I tried her in those other series, but never liked or enjoyed them in general, and certainly not her.

all good joe…no harm, no foul. ;]

Alan Moore didn’t re-invent Barbara Gordon as anything. The re-invention came at the hands of Jon Ostrander and his late wife (whose name escapes me at the moment).

I wouldn’t call Power Girl a bitchy cipher in JSA, but I would call her a cipher. Like many characters in that book, she had (and has) little characterization beyond “former cast member of Infinity, Inc.”

The Boob Window intrigues me, because unlike the other lengthy list of absurd and demeaning costumes, there has become a level of metatext to it. The boob window has become a sort of meta-commentary. The problem is that nobody can quite agree on what it’s a meta-commentary for – the blank spot waiting for a sigil, her own confidence, etc. It’s a bit of a mess.

I think the blame here really lands much more on the artist, who turned that beat of the script into an attack on the reader. Because to my mind, the fourth panel nicely undercuts itself as Maxine fumbles her way through the explanation, such that it becomes, by the very end, a clear sort of over-analysis.

But, generally speaking, even if it hasn’t been played out exactly how I’d prefer, I like the appropriation of the boob window as a meta-commentary on superhero costumes. I wish it were used more broadly – I’d love to see the discussion between Power Girl and, say, Black Canary or Catwoman on their costumes. I’d love to see Power Girl and Supergirl get into a “For God’s sake, cover yourself up” discussion. Something that makes the fact that this is strangely the only costume that anyone is aware of the ridiculousness of matter more and impact the stories more.

But given the existence of the larger problem, I have to say I’m glad that there is a costume that can be used as a vehicle for critique and discussion of the problem within the stories. Even when that discussion misfires sometimes.

@Joe Rice: To be fair, I actually have no idea why I like Kara so much… I CAN tell you that it’s actually, definitiely NOT because of the size of her mammary glands… I go with Gary from Wierd Science “More than a handful means a sprained thumb”… :-)

I actually like Kara’s personality. In the hands of a writer who actually GIVES her a personality…

She’s had her origin story messed around with more than any other character in comics that I can think of.

Wouldn’t that make you more than just a little bit peeved??

;-)

Goddamnit, how about we just start drawing every female comics character in a burqa and be done with this stupid argument already?

[…] Someone has to mop up the latest Power Girl’s Boob Controversy, and Kelly Thompson just got a Swiffer WetJet. New combatants include writer Jen Van Meter getting into the fray and explaining what she MEANT by […]

Bernard the Poet

December 1, 2009 at 10:12 am

Tekende, I love it – either female characters should fight crime in their underwear or they should wear a burqa. You don’t think they might be some middle ground?

I don’t have a particular problem with Power Girl’s costume. As someone whose power set makes them invunerable, I’m willing to believe that she’d wear an outfit with a boob window because she thinks she looks good in it.

But Power Girl isn’t the only female character running around half naked, and in most cases it looks bloody stupid. We are meant to believe that Elektra, Psylocke, Huntress et al would choose to go out and fight crime, dressed in attire that would get them thrown out of most nightclubs. They’d catch their death of cold for one thing.

I have to admit, that while I like PG as a character, the main reason I’m buying her comic is Amanda Conner’s wonderful artwork. She’s one of only a handful of artists out there who’s work I will buy regardless of what comic it is. (Kevin Maguire, Adam Hughes, Frank Cho, and Mike Grell being the others…)

That said, I’ve really enjoyed Justin and Jimmy’s writing on the new series. The humor and general tone has been just right for the kind of comic PG needs. One that is fun and playful, and not ‘grim and gritty’ and Zombie Lantern filled…

And man, this thread has become the “Boob Discussion That Just Won’t Die…”

Bernard, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just sick of these stupid overly-sensitive complaints about any female comics character–either the costume shows too much skin (the most common), or she’s too sexual, or not sexual enough, or she’s not as tough as a man would be, or she’s too tough and seems butch…it just feels like nothing is ever good enough. No matter how a female character is portrayed in comics there’s SOMETHING wrong with it.

Notice such complaints about males are almost nonexistent–despite most male comics characters being pretty messed up in some way or another.

@ Bernard:

either female characters should fight crime in their underwear or they should wear a burqa. You don’t think they might be some middle ground?

Kelly Thompson expressed the problem really well in her post. It is less any one costume, or character, but taking them all together. For example, Jim Lee did a great job re-designing the Huntress and Poison Ivy, but the effect was that both were dressed more provocatively. By themselves, that is not a big deal.

However, if you line all the female DC heroes up, then almost none of them are wearing pants, many have bare mid-rifts, extreme cleavage and/or fish-nets. It is not any one part, but the whole that is the problem. Ideally, you would see a full spectrum of female characters who dressed and acted in distinct, coherent ways. Instead, we are over-loaded with female characters that tend to dress and behave in the exact same way.

Beyond just being offensive, it is boring.

Look, I get that skimpy outfits and fan-service are part of the genre. It is just that different characters should be handled … well … differently. Their designs should be an expression of their personality. Going to the same visuals over and over tends to the characters themselves blur together.

Ironically, Power Girl is perhaps the least problematic DC character for me in this regard. She was conceived from day one as a sort of fifties style bombshell. She was co-created by Wally Wood, who did a lot of satirical and lewd work. For me, that gives the creators working with her broad brand permission in that area.

The male characters are not objectified like the female characters, nor do the male readers live in a society so dominated by the objectification of the female form. Not exactly analagous. Not sure how that’s hard to understand.

And this isn’t a problem with comics. It’s a problem with superhero comics, especially fairly shitty/generic ones.

Robert Lee Hold it. Nobody’s trying to change a women’s free will. And yes it is an either/or thing. That’s the whole point of all of my posts on this thread. We’re debating a stupid costume that 99% of the female population is unaware of. As far as womens’ issues go, PG isn’t even a blip on the radar. And sorry, the guily pleasure of being a gossip is not a need. It’s undignified and only serves to lower those involved in it./quote

No one said you were trying to change free will. I said that its easier to change a comic book than it is a woman’s free will not that you had any inclination to do either. Just because most women are unaware of it doesn’t mean that those that are should be disregarded. Its not an either/or thing as to whether a character or person is good/bad in relation to the way they dress. Just because she saves the world doesn’t mean she can striptease and not come under fire. I would agree that there are more important issues than a comic book outfit but we aren’t talking about those issues right now we are talking about comic book outfits. As for gossip, I would argue its a part of the human condition for bad or good. I agree that its a low thing but we eat it up as a culture because we have a human need for these stories. We want to know our lives could be worse in the case of Britney or fantasise about our lives being ‘better’ in the case of the rich kardashians. Its not bread and water but I’m sure without bread and water there would still be gossip about who is hoarding supplies if you know what I mean.

Les Fontenelle I have a shirt with a deep cut out, but the cut out is on my back rather than my front. It shows ‘nothing’ but there is some inncocent skin and that bit of a tease. People aren’t questioning my areolas at least :)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

December 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Joe Rice… obviously you have not read the new series to make a blanket statement like that. Powergirl is a fun, smart, and entertaining character and on a monthly basis a book that is made up of so much more than what a character” looks ” like.

You need to kick some arse and get a trade out!

Alan Moore didn’t re-invent Barbara Gordon as anything. The re-invention came at the hands of Jon Ostrander and his late wife (whose name escapes me at the moment).

Kim Yale.

As promised my response, old friend.

http://bensfandom.blogspot.com/2009/12/form-and-function-power-girl.html

PS your “Awesome” comment made me laugh with joy.

I hate to come back to this but I read JSA All-Stars #1 this weekend and what I noticed was how Power Girl’s “Key Hole Window” went from fairly modest in the earlier pages to a full fledged picture window later on. I remember someone making the point that when the costume was originally designed that it was a legitimate fashion statement/design element, but then it became something else. That’s what happened in this one issue.

In response to that first commenter: Maybe I’m an optimistic, but I like to think a good amount of male comic book fans care more about story and character than they do about over-sexed heroines. And if we can see the more stoic heroines wearing costumes with just a little more dignity, I think that will only strengthen the fans’ support.

[…] or negative views here, here, here, here, here and […]

[…] or negative views here, here, here, here, here and […]

[…] With a great deal of agreement, admiration and old friendship, the following is in response to Kelly Thompson’s She Has No Head!-The Boob Window That Just Won’t Die. Part of an on going debate over the latest explanation of Power Girl’s […]

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