Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
On Friday DC Comics unveiled Ed Benes’ triptych covers for Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps. And while some commenters focused on Hal Jordan or the work of the colorist, most were drawn to Star Sapphire and her wardrobe dysfunction near-wardrobe malfunction.
A reposting of the image at Major Spoilers ignited a lengthy and spirited comments thread devoted to the depictions of the male and female characters, hypersexualization, marketing (“sex sells”) … and Star Sapphire’s “crotch-star.”
“I have no idea how any editor would approve that sort of thing,” Salieri says. “Oh, wait, I do — the attraction of young virgin men to a comic book.”
“I don’t read comics for their correct depiction of women, or MEN,” counters Mike Keller. “… I read comics for their entertaining stories. I suspend disbelief and roll with it, because I know darn well life isn’t like that. If it were, we wouldn’t have comics like these. And I don’t give a rat’s tail if it caters to young ‘virgin’ males. They don’t market tampons to guys, or romance novels (mom calls then bodice-rippers). Get a grip. Your market is what your market is.”
Brent digs a little deeper: “… I don’t wanna actually see an equal amount of male objectification, but for the sake of intellectual honesty, I gotta admit that if the way Benes and others draw women were only driven by innocent escapism, then male bodies would be objectified in the same manner … and no one would care. If this truly was only about escapism, then likewise we would not mind if male heroes flopped about like Dr. Manhattan.
“But we all know there would be riots in the streets if next week’s comics arrived with barely contained bulges shown from angles emphasizing unrealistic endowments, completely out of context with whatever is going on in the comic. Although men are already drawn unrealistically fit, they are usually clothed and not contorted in a manner to show off their man bits. Therein is the difference in how men and women are sexualized in mainstream comics.”
The conversation spills over to The Weekly Crisis, where Kirk Warren asks “why is [Star Sapphire’s] uniform, and I use the term lightly, worse than your average stripper?”
But in the comments, Steven will hear none of it. Skimpy costumes are a comic-book tradition, after all: “The costume complaint is old and worn out. Scantily clad female characters are a staple in super-hero comics. Why it’s been almost 30 years since my mom expressed displeasure in my reading that awful New Teen Titans with those covers. Damn that George Perez and his nearly nude Starfire covers.”