Judging comics by their covers because a masked man has a gun to my head.
A Quick Complaint
While I was looking through this month’s solicitations, a realization struck that left me feeling sick. Damn, Batgirl is presented as a victim way too often! With female heroines one has to be careful when presenting them in peril, keeping a solid balance of strength. In terms of awareness, I would say that Batgirl is DC’s best known heroine besides Wonder Woman, yet look at some of these covers:
Bloody and knocked to the ground, drowning and panicked, electrocuted, openly weeping, and stabbed. Yay!
This is not saying I am against showing our heroine in danger, hell that is what we are here for. My problem is making her appear as a victim, especially on the covers. For contrast look at these Wonder Woman covers for comparison:
These three covers all show Wonder Woman in peril, however only one shows her not in a position of strength. The second cover could be particularly squicky with her in bondage about to be hanged, but her strong posture tells us that she is not worried, she is not a victim, she is in danger. Hell the only one where she looks freaked out is by a swarm of flies, which is fine, its a nonhuman threat, there isn’t a man standing over her bleeding body holding a knife like in the Batgirl cover. Anyway I can understand that I may be reading too much into this, but it is happening enough that its becoming a trend and it should be stopped now before it goes too damn far.
Five Worst Covers
TIE: Talon/Vibe – Okay these two are tied for both having really bad female proportions. Strix on the Talon cover is getting to Power Girl-tit status where I swear they balloon every issue she is drawn in, which is super bizarre for a Japanese Zombie. However its her face that is incomprehensible, looking at where her mouth is while screaming and where her nose and eyes are supposed to be… That coupled with the fact that it looks like neck is just far too long.. yeah horrible female anatomy. Then there is the Vibe cover which unfortunately features Slut-Harley… Guess what? SPINES DON’T WORK LIKE THAT!
Superboy – First Impression: Oh they decided to bring in Wolf from Young Justice? Cool. Second Impression: The artist had no idea what kind of animal they were drawing at all.
Legion of Super-Heroes- While I am not a fan of this artwork in general, the main problem of this piece is the distance. The villain is so far away that we can barely make out any details in our hero, not giving them a chance to look heroic or even clearly defined. It also takes away and drama that could be had because with the villain lunging at them and this far away in mid-air it seems like they have plenty of time to either blast him or you know.. move out of the way? The cover is busy and while not incomprehensible, it needed a better layout. Put the main characters closer with their back turned? Conveys threatening menace. Right now our foreground villain looks like a mook who is one Wilhelm Scream away from being forgotten by our readers.
Batman, Incorporated- What the hell? Okay this is the Batman, Inc. Damian just died so obviously Bruce is spiraling here, depressed, angry, sad… I get that. That is not conveyed here, with that face and stance it looks like he just got hit with joker venom. Seriously just imagine if the cover had some green HA HA HA on it and it would be perfect. Oh and then there are the bats… seriously their faces are ridiculous.
Ten Best Covers
Action Comics- I really dislike Action Comics but this is a really solid cover. The colors and the lighting are great and if this was a good issue it could even become something Iconic… however I feel like we have seen this particular fight too many times, to be too high on my list.
Teen Titans- This is the first appearance of these Titans that I have ever liked. I read this comic for awhile because I love Tim and the Titans and really wanted to like it but couldn’t help but hate it. This is great however, everyone has their own identity, its clear and not too busy which is so rare for this series. The only problem with it? SUPERBOY AND WONDER GIRL HAVE THE SAME FACE!
Green Arrow- Holy Hell, Green Arrow has gotten good. I would say that I am shocked but I guess that is what happens when you butcher one of your best series and put the team on a failing one. Still this is great, it oozes menace and ever since the new team came on they have had a lot of fun playing green against other colors, very smart, very slick.
The Movement- I am still surprised how much I like this cover. I know nothing about this team, I do not recognize a single person but I already like them more than the Titans. Why? Well, everyone looks different, they all are wearing different styles of costumes and everyone has their own color scheme. The linework is clear and the colors are great and my favorite detail is the moevement, everyone is headed in the same but looking back. Just that little thing tells you so much about the team already. Also the fact that they had such strong movement on a title called the Movement? Clever. I hope they continue that in the future.
Green Lantern Corps- This is a simple concept done well. The colors they chose work great and it is impressive enough to attract someone new to picking it up whilst informing fans what is going on.
Batman/Superman- I am looking forward to this series so damn much and the artwork is a huge factor in that. I love this artist and the cover here is beautiful. Showing the difference in Clark’s hopefule pose and Bruce’s intimidating demeanor but both showing strength. A great contrast while showing them both united.
Swamp Thing- Okay I guess we are going to have to get used to Swamp Thing showing up on these lists. This is amazing, the way Swamp Thing is shown here as almost a collage of various leaves and greenery is awesome and the praying woman in negative space is mysterious and makes me want to read to find out what is happening.
Batgirl- I almost didn’t pick this one as I was worried about mixed signals with my complaint at the top. However this is a great cover, the artist here is to be commended. It is creepy, it is menacing, and you get the feeling Barbara is in danger but you don’t feel like she can’t act, more like she just doesn’t want to touch the creepy ass dolls. Which I totally understand.
Batwing- So is Batwing turning into Black Panther? Becuase I am totally down with that! Look I have no idea what is going on in this cover, but it is so damn cool. Batwing’s armor is kick ass and he is fighting a giant lightning lion! This is why I read comics! Seriously, this cover is so cool that it made me start reading Batwing again just so I can read this issue, now THAT is a good cover.
Wonder Woman- So long as Cliff Chiang is drawing Wonder Woman covers, they will be in my top ten. The color, the movement, the expressions… seriously. Chiang is my favorite artist working at DC and I discovered him via this series, and he is, in my opinion, the best artist Diana has ever had. Another great cover for a great series.