Robot 6

It’s Star … Ms. Sapphire if you’re nasty

"Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps" #1-3, by Ed Benes

"Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps" #1-3, by Ed Benes

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.”

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Comments

20 Comments

Yawn. Absolutely nothing new in any of this.

A complete rainbow of seven fruit-flavored power lanterns, though? Now that’s a real cause for despair.

…sigh.

Since I’m so used to it now (despite that I’m a newish reader), I just roll my eyes at the obvious “wardrobe malfunction” depicted here and in most comics nowadays, and really hope for something similar to happen to my favorite male superheroes someday. (Like near-nude Batman, please?)

The argument that the objectification of women in comics is alright simply because it’s “always been that way” should be null because superhero comic creators (editors and publishers, to be specific) are constantly bemoaning the fact that they can’t get a foothold in the “Dora the Explorer” “Hannah Montana” market. There are, what, seven other Corps being represented in this storyline, all with full body or near-full body uniforms.

I understand the Star Sapphires represent love, but why:
1) are they all humanoid?
2) are they all fully developed women?
3) can’t they have uniforms that even vaguely resemble the other Corps’ uniforms?

This issue is just another example of the extraordinary hypocrisy of super-hero comics creators in regards to reaching any kind of female audience.

Andrew Collins

April 6, 2009 at 7:53 am

It’s good to know that even in space you can still get a good bikini wax…

Though really, I find it a little hard to understand why we’re still debating these things and getting upset over them. Don’t get me wrong, I am not discounting why this would unsettle any female reader (in much the same way I’m always unsettled by the Atlas-like physique every male hero seems to sport) I just don’t think we should be surprised after seeing women ‘sexualized’ or put on a fantasy pedestal in the medium that’s been doing it longer than just about any other except classical painting…

Mysterious Stranger

April 6, 2009 at 8:07 am

They did this to draw your attention away from the fact that the Indigo Lantern is in the upper right hand corner. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I believe this is the first time we’ve seen the Indigo Lantern. THAT’S the item that should be in headlines, not some fuss over yet another female character drawn to look sexy (like that’s anything new). The Indigo Lantern is carrying a staff too. Very cool.

You hire Ed Benes to do a cover, you’re gonna get a female with both ass and tits in the same shot. This causes uproar? Simple solution: Don’t hire Ed Benes.

Eric speaks the truth.

Hello new desktop image!

Oh yeah, and OT: NEWS FLASH! WOMEN, MEN NOT DRAWN PROPORTIONALLY IN COMIC! NEWS AT 11!

You know it would be so bad if it were at least a decently designed sexy costume, but as it stands now that thing is just friggin’ terrible.

The problem is that Sapphire’s costume is the only one that shows any damage at all.

I don’t get why her costume is any worse than the painted on costume Hal Jordan wears. Just because she is colored partly with flesh tone and he is not? They’re both ridiculous costumes that only an exhibitionist would wear, but if you haven’t jumped that hurdle yet you probably are reading the wrong comics.

“The problem is that Sapphire’s costume is the only one that shows any damage at all.”

Except that the costume is not damaged, that’s the way it’s designed.

Here’s less recent cover.

I was surprised in all this discussion no one brought up “a body image most women can’t achieve”. It’s one of the classics!
I still like the artwork (which CBR ran as well). It is dynamic. No, it isn’t on my desktop.

When the TV series “Dark Angel” premiered, I tried to get a couple I knew interested in watching it. The wife got so hung up in the “way women are depicted” argument they never actually saw a single episode. I thought it was a great show, and to this day they have absolutely no clue HOW the women were depicted in it.

Yet it and other similar stories DO reflect a growing acceptance of women as strong and independent. OK, maybe not in the most ideal way, but we’re talking about breaking down walls that are as old as time. This is something guys are going to resist. As I said in the other column “…a spoon full of sugar…”

Mike

Holy exploitation, Batman!

Hey Mike, guess how we go about ‘breaking down walls as old as time’? We continue to call out exploitive bullshit like the above image.

It seems that what you’re saying is that , since we get strong and independent women, we ladyfolk should just shut up and be content with that. If so, is it because you really feel that it’s futile–or that you’re just sick of hearing it?

I get replies like yours very often from a lot of guys, usually within the 18-34 guy comics-reader demographic. Obviously I don’t know your age, nor do I care to–but if you do fall within this demographic, or did at one point in time–you have to realize that you are speaking from an extremely privileged position.

Think about it. This stuff is designed FOR YOU. It is marketed TO YOU. For your cash and enjoyment. If you truly wish to understand why some might find this offensive and/or unoriginal, try stepping outside of your own privilege for a bit. Listen to what those of us NOT in the demographic have to say. Don’t talk, just listen.

If you hear the same things over and over, THINK about it! There’s a reason for that–it might, just might, be a legitimate criticism! You don’t have to agree, but it won’t hurt you to consider it.

The comics industry has already undergone massive changes in its portrayal of both men and women. That said, there’s room for more growth. And yes, most of those who are currently being catered to will not enjoy sharing their space. This is hardly a newsflash for us comic-readin’ ladies, and it sure as hell hasn’t stopped us before.

I’ll gladly accept a spoonful of sugar! But accepting an unsatisfactory artistic status quo? Not gonna happen.

green lantern of sector 2814

April 22, 2009 at 5:38 am

well on several notes
1 star saphire and hal have been enimies since the begining so why are they teaming up here?
plus the 8th corp is missing

Chai Latte,

Well spoken. I am actually not in that demographic. I noted on the other site that one of my favorite comics is Echo, significant for its more than fair depiction of men and women. Yet while the lessons of Gloria Steinem are not lost on me, neither are the lessons of Hugh Hefner. Money talks.

I don’t personally have this image on my PC, but I have studied art and 2-D design, and I appreciate its composition and flow, and it doesn’t offend me anymore than Michelangelo’s David does (fine art, or medieval porn?).

I see the problem. While the number of women readers is growing, if things are really going to change they need to enlist some help. I guess one of my points is, no one’s asking for it. Instead people put on their militant armor and start cudgeling folks over the head. And in this case, the wrong folks. You want ’18 to 34′ year old guys on YOUR side. OK you can argue thats the only way to get through…

I DO hope that those readers (male and female) that were offended also write to DC. Make it unprofitable for them, and they will stop.

Best

I don’t condone the objectification / exploitation of women, but I do find it funny that no one seems to bat
an eye when special interest groups like PETA use it on a regular basis. Simply pissing and moaning about it isn’t going to make the problem go away. If it bothers you so, write a letter, start a petition, start a boycott, –
something to get the attention of those in control of the medium / product(s). Otherwise, they will continue to
cater to their demographic as they see fit.

sorry people this debate has been going on forever by better minds then ours and i gotta tell you i agree with mike money talks. listen this is something you women out there might not like but 18 to 34 year old men like hot girls, i know news at 11, but it is true. comics covers a vast array of titles. some have woman with normal bodies some with hideous monstrosities of the female form (rob liefeld anyone) bottom line they exist only because the demografic you belittle keeps the companies in business so these other titles can be printed( strangers in paradise etc.) without the scantily clad women running around in tight fitting clothes there probably are no comics as we know it today, and since when is it wrong for a strong female character to wear whatever she chooses. I seem to remember a certain feminist burning her bra and refusing to wear one and let me tell you that was and is hot. look botom line boys will be boys and girls will be girls. viva la difference!!!

by the way, it is still a very cool picture!!!!!!!

Those comments reek of useless and abusive feminism. You are really annoying. Some people love looking at sexy girls, and I see no reason why we wouldn’t be able to continue to do so. Did we asked and whined about girls orientated comics as being too girly? No, because we are not the audience, and if we don’t like it we don’t buy it. And just to be clear, there are females green lanterns, and they wear the same costume as their male counterparts. So please stop whining…

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