I think that Power Girl is the exception because they actually acknowledge it in her case. With other female characters, it’s kind of like they give them these bodies all the time and don’t acknowledge that it’s not that common or how improbable it’d be for all of them to look like that and that some of them shouldn’t look like that. At least with male heroes you can argue that they’d all work out and be in really good shape. (Although like I mentioned, even with male heroes not all of them should look the same!) I think it’s good that with PG they make it so she does stand out in a way and she does have to deal with it, it’s part of her daily life. Also, my past relationship with someone of a similar body type makes me see Power Girl’s as more realistic than many other people do, it seems. And my way of seeing it is that while Power Girl should be kept curvy, not all female characters in comics should be. But comics have trouble keeping their characters different. How often did colorists forget that Connor Hawke or Vixen are not supposed to have white skin?
I recently came across something on the internet that made me nod in approval. Ironically it’s a character that was originally conceived by Rob Liefeld and she looked like an awful 90’s stereotype back then, but the new creative team completely redesigned her.
This is Glory:
I don’t know if the series is good or not, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for character variety when it comes to superheroines, at least appearance-wise. If comics are fantasy fulfillment then they should cover different spectrums. As far as this character goes, I really can’t see how anyone could ever take her back to being the small-waisted character Rob Liefeld created and I haven’t even read a single comic featuring this character!
O.k, so someone reblogged my recent article about Power Girl’s body type and added to it: “lol wtf? Curvy my ass. She was a skinny girl with ridiculously improbable breasts. Both versions fail to draw breasts realistically and to complain because basically, they’ve made them smaller? Don’t make me laugh. Typical male.”
I’ve got a few things to say about that comment. The first is that apparently she just glanced over my article, as I clearly stated there are some characters that I wouldn’t want to see as busty. So this isn’t a crusade to make all super-heroines busty or anything like that. I’m using this case because it’s the most recent. Before I had a blog, I nerd-raged at my local comic-book store about how Cassandra Cain/Batgirl was portrayed in this image:
See, to me that’s NOT Cassandra Cain and obviously the artist didn’t know about her and gave her a huge chest. No, Cassandra Cain looks like this:
But that’s an example from years ago already and it happened the time of one cover. There was no point to make a full article about that.
Tim Drake/Red Robin looks like this:
NOT like this!:
But again, this is from before I had a blog and just the time of one issue, not as a current ongoing series. Rob Liefeld recently drew 10-year-old Damian Wayne way too tall to be his age, but there’s no point in mentioning how Liefeld’s art is bad at this point, everyone is pretty much aware. So that’s why I addressed Power Girl. It wasn’t a ‘typical male’ agenda, she was just the most recent example.
Second, Power Girl’s body type isn’t unrealistic, as the reblogger claims. It’s not a body type that you’ll see very often, granted, but it does exist and there are women out there who look like that. I’ve previously dated a girl who was even more naturally endowed than Power Girl. The rest of her body type was average, she wasn’t chubby. (I’m not saying being chubby is bad, I’m just saying that a girl with an overall average build CAN be busty too!) One sad thing I’ve noticed is that the hate busty women receive often comes from other women. To the person who claims that busty women are unrealistic, you should check out this blog, Busty Girl Comics. It should educate you a bit, I hope.
And here’s where I’m going to add some oil to the fire, so to speak. I like naturally busty women. That’s the body type I feel the most attracted to. Does that make me a ‘typical male’? Does that make me a pig or a gross human being? I’d like to think it doesn’t, as I’ve always done my best to treat women with respect. I also know a lot of men who have VERY different preferences than I do when it comes to women, so I don’t consider my taste to be necessarily the ‘typical’ one! And to reverse this, I’m a man with a square jaw and an average height and build. When some female friends tell me their type is ‘a lean pretty boy’ or ‘a muscular tall guy’ (both of which I’m not) I don’t tell them they’re being ‘typically female’. Earlier as I was browsing my dashboard, a girl I follow mentioned in her blog how (to keep our examples comic-book-centric) she had a ‘crush’ on Frank Castle/The Punisher. I didn’t think “Of course, ALL girls like bad boys! How typically female!” (Heck, I even liked her comment.)
But that’s not even the point! My articles weren’t written because I like busty women. My gripe with body types as they are portrayed in comics is real. Maybe my preferences allowed me to notice this where others wouldn’t when it comes to Power Girl, but I don’t think it should make all of what I said invalid. I’ve pointed out Tim Drake/Red Robin, does that mean I’m into lean, athletic boys? No, it simply means I’m tired of the ‘all characters look the same way’ trope. I also think that dismissing my point by making a very sexist remark on my person when you don’t even know me was incredibly stupid, conceited and ignorant. (Hey, if you get to insult me, I get to point out how you acted!)
Well, my fears about Power Girl in the New 52 were half-right because there were two artists in this book and one got it wrong. You see, I recently picked up ‘Worlds’ Finest #1’, DC comics’ new title featuring Power Girl and the Huntress.
Now before I begin, this isn’t about me fixating on a specific part of the female body. Whether I’m a pervert or not is for me to know and while I will be discussing breasts in comics, it’s because it’s the most recent example of something that bothers me a lot in comic-books. I’d do a similar article if someone started drawing Dick Grayson/Nightwing as a bulky body-builder!
There’s a serious lack of different body types in comics. Few characters escape it, be they male or female. Very often all heroes will have the exact same build and will be differentiated only by their costumes and hair color if it’s shown.
When I met Marcus To to have an issue of ‘Red Robin’ signed, I congratulated him on drawing different body types for Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake/Wayne. Nightwing should be more lean than Batman because he’s more agile. Batman is supposed to be tall. Tim should look younger, but not like he’s 12. Marcus To was a great example of an artist who’s aware that not all characters should be copy/pastes of each other wearing different clothes.
Even great artists fall into that trap though. And recently, no better example of this has been as obvious as with George Perez’ work on ‘Worlds’ Finest’. Before I begin, I want to state that Perez is an awesome artist and he’s done remarkable work in the industry. A lot of modern artists could learn a lot from him. With that out of the way, let’s move to the criticism I have with this issue and his artwork in it.
So apparently this is Power Girl now:
However, this is Power Girl as I remember her:
Yes, the ‘boob window’ was a bit much and I’m actually glad it’s gone. But my point is that Power Girl was always a shining example of a different body type in comics. She was curvy, but in a way that looked natural, not in the unrealistic and gross way super-heroines were drawn during most of the 90’s.
And to clarify again, this isn’t me saying that all super-heroines should be curvy. Another good example I have for a female heroine with a different body type is Cassandra Cain/Black Bat, who was always portrayed like an athletic martial artist and not a pin-up model. If an artist suddenly drew her with lots of curves, I’d complain just as much as I am complaining now for the semi-loss of PG’s curves. (Yes, SEMI-loss, more on that in a bit!)
It gets even worse a bit later when this happens:
O.k, I’m sorry but those look like they’re made of silicone, perfectly round and ignoring gravity. It seems Mr. Perez had an issue with drawing large breasts on a woman (because busty women can’t be taken seriously, apparently) but he still gave her perfectly round ovals that no woman on Earth would have naturally. And no, I am not attacking women who choose to get implants, I’m just saying that PG is not supposed to have those, so why draw them like that?
Thankfully, the other artist on the book, Kevin Maguire, does it right:
See? That wasn’t so hard. It’s not exploitative, the whole picture isn’t centered around that aspect, but she IS curvy. It’s how she’s meant to look. And here’s what she looks like in her civilian clothes:
Again, not exploitative, just natural and realistic. She’s shapely and she does have a bit of natural sag. They’re not two unnatural round objects.
I feel bad saying this because I do enjoy George Perez’ art usually… But I seriously don’t know if I’ll be able to stick with this title if George Perez remains as the main artist. I guess I can put up with Perez’ art as long as Maguire is still on board.
DC has released an image revealing the new look of Power girl in the New 52, DC’s relaunched continuity:
Here we see her on the left side, with Huntress on the right.
To compare, here’s an image of her in the previous continuity:
Some things come to mind when I compare the two versions…
- The Good: They got rid of the ‘cleavage window’ on her outfit. As much as it’s fun to look at it, there was just no good in-story reason for her to intentionally flash her cleavage while fighting super-villains. Also, I like that she wears pants now, the general look of the new outfit feels more ‘warrior’ than the previous one, with the bracers and all. Another plus is that she has a symbol on her costume now, which calls back to Superman but it’s her own, making her seem more confident all-around. Having a symbol on your chest instead of a cleavage window will go a long way to having people taking you more seriously as a competent superheroine.
- The Bad: I might get some crap for this from people who will misunderstand me, but hear me out first. I hate that they have reduced her chest size, and not for the reasons you might think. First of all, this is just one cover image and perhaps generally speaking, Power Girl will be as busty as she was. But with this as the only indicator of her new look, we have to assume she won’t be. Now many of you might think I’m just being a gross male stereotype for stating this, but I’m really not, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I’m somewhat offended that along the road to make Power Girl seem more believable and competent, they decided that reducing her breast size would make her be taken more seriously. Does that mean busty women in general should not be taken seriously then, is that what DC is trying to say? The same thing has been done to Lara Croft recently, and very often I’ve heard people outright state it; they take this character more seriously now that she doesn’t have large breasts. Does that mean we shouldn’t take Christina Hendricks or Monica Belucci seriously as actors and that they should only have roles as bimbos and airheads? If we follow that logic, the fact that they are busty makes them impossible to take seriously, right? Busty women should not have careers related to their particular skills, only their chest size defines them, right?
Listen, I’m the first guy to dislike it when an artist gets carried away with a character’s body type. When Cassandra Cain/Batgirl was drawn with large breasts on the cover of a Batman special a few years ago, I geek-raged over it, because that character is supposed to be lean, athletic and not curvy. When they draw Nightwing too bulky to do acrobatics, it annoys me. When Tim Drake/Red Robin was drawn like a body builder in an issue of ‘The Return of Bruce Wayne’, I complained. When anyone draws Damian/Robin way taller than a 10-year old should be… Guess what, I complain! I understand that each artist has their style, but at some point it’s also an artist’s job to portray these characters the way they’re meant to be. And Power Girl IS supposed to be busty! It’s not just how artists have drawn her over the years, it’s genuinely been referenced many times in stories she appeared in. It IS part of her character and who she is. To ‘back-pedal’ her chest size is an insult to curvy women everywhere and just as sexist and intolerant as making every single superheroine extra busty. One extreme is not better than the other.
I think that superheroes and superheroines should come in all shapes and sizes. It annoys the hell out of me when only hair style/color and the outfits differentiate one character from another. I think every character should be different. That includes leaving the bustiest superheroine of them all with her cup size intact in the new continuity. And maybe they will, after all I’m basing this on only one image, but I still believe everything I’ve stated.
That is all.