Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Elemental Sex Special #1, which was published by Comico and is cover dated October 1991. Enjoy! (And once again, it’s totally Not Safe For Work, so be warned!)
I must admit – I cheated a little and didn’t pick this comic at random, for a purely juvenile reason (check the day of the year). I hope you’ll forgive me!
This is the second story of in the first Elementals Sex Special (there were quite a few of them), and of the four I’ve read (I own the first two SS), it’s by far the best, mainly because Bill Willingham is the best artist to work on them (Tony Akins, now filling in for Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman, drew a story in the second issue, and it’s quite different from his work these days). Let’s check out this page, shall we?
Of course, the naked woman (her name is Mary) dominates the page. Willingham, however, does some very nice things with the page to both humanize and demystify her nakedness. First, we see the Chaykin-esque sound effect (or is that Bruzenak-ish?) along the top of the page – the phone is ringing. Mary’s first words are “Every time …!” because of the cliché of the phone ringing whenever we’re in the shower. It’s a fun little joke and shows us that Mary might be a villain (she kind of is), but she’s still a person.
The drawing is superb, too. Willingham doesn’t draw much anymore, so we tend to forget what a good artist he is, and this splash page shows it. He doesn’t ignore the fact that Mary is in the bathroom, so he places a toilet in the room, complete with fuzzy seat and tank covers. The towels on the rack match the colors of the tiles, because people buy towels that go with their decor. Mary is in the middle of drying herself, so she bunches up her hair in the towel to keep from dripping everywhere. Willingham makes sure to draw the water flying off of her, as it would if she’s getting out of the shower in a hurry. Her exit almost looks dangerous – her feet aren’t on the ground or on the edge of the tub, and she looks like she’s about to land awkwardly (she doesn’t, though). Willingham does a fantastic job with Mary herself. He gives her normal-sized breasts that hang naturally because she’s bent over, and her hips and thighs are nicely proportionate. She has a gorgeous body but not a ridiculous one, and Willingham even gives her a hint of armpit hair (we never actually see enough of her armpits to figure out if that’s just a shadow, however). The way she’s getting out of the shower makes this both an erotic drawing and a curiously innocent one – she’s a hot babe who’s doing something mundane, and that combination makes her both beautiful and vulnerable. When she seduces Monolith later in the issue, she takes charge (he’s a virgin), but this image lingers, giving their sex a touching aspect even as she’s trying to get information out of him. When she realizes that she cares about him, this image again comes to our mind, and it makes her change of heart more believable, because it is one of those male fantasies, that a woman only needs some good sex to change her loyalty from the bad guys to the good guys. Willingham gets away with it because he’s set up Mary so nicely as a decent person, starting with this image.
Of course, the mature readers of superhero comics can’t handle this kind of nudity, so Willingham’s interesting stories about their sex lives never moved to mainstream superhero stuff, but this is a pretty interesting concept. Sigh.
I’m still taking votes for the writers that you want to see in April. Give me one, two, or three writers you’d like to see, and I will try to fulfill your requests! It’s all contingent on whether I own the comics, but that shouldn’t stop you!
Next: I promise, the next one is random again! And it’s an example of a first page from one of the best-loved series of the 1990s! Chew on that while you peruse the archives!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.