Friday, January 8, 2010

Part Five: Slightly Revealing, or Sinfully Raunchy?

Doug: Happy 2010, fashion-lovers. We're back for the first time this year with another critique of superhero togs -- or in this case, lack thereof!! Today's subject will be that lovely Golden Age object of Dr. Wertham's disgust, Phantom Lady!

Doug: Well, where to start? One of the complaints of Frederic Wertham was that Phantom Lady comics consisted of bondage and images of "headlights" -- see the cover to the right and you be the judge! Blogger Siskoid devoted a post to this subject shortly before the Bronze Age Babies came online; you can check out his musings here.

Doug: But aside from luring young boys into a lascivious existence, let's discuss the practicality of her clothes! Good lord, how does she keep all of that in the right place?? And at the hands of a particularly perverse artist, well...

Karen: Yikes, Doug, who drew that Maxim version to the right? Now that one is waaay over the top!

Karen: It seems strange to me, but I actually like Phantom Lady! I know she's pure sexploitation, and part of me says I should be offended. But maybe it's because sh
e's so blatantly sexual - it just seems more honest somehow. Don't get me wrong though, I'd be pretty uncomfortable with a ten year old kid looking at that extreme bodaciousness.

Karen: Looking at her costumes above, one does wonder how the heck she isn't flopping out of those tiny strips of yellow fabric all the time. My guess would be tape. Seriously. They do it in Hollywood all the time; I know I've read how most of the female guest stars on the original Star Trek were either taped or sewn into their skimpy costumes. Of course, they weren't running around fighting super-villains. But maybe that's part of Phantom Lady's strategy - the guys would be so shell-shocked that she'd be able to blast 'em, no problem!

Karen: Surprisingly, her more recent appearances, circa the Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters series of 2007, gave us a costume that was actually more modest. Take a look: while she retains the plunging neckline, the sides are covered, and she's actually wearing what looks like shorts or hot pants. I like that, especially in this age of gals like Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel, whose suit bottoms are so high cut that they'd have to get an extreme bikini wax to go out like that!

Karen: She's still quite sexy but she doesn't look absolutely ridiculous. Although I have to say, artist Daniel Acuna's work always makes me think of Heavy Metal, which makes me think "comics porn". But Phantom Lady has always been a sexy character - it's part of her (all of her?) shtick, and I think it works for her. I vote dressed for success!

Doug: I would concur -- racy, no doubt. But it works (even with tape...)!


cerebus660 said...

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Karen said...

Many thanks for the nomination, and thanks to all of you out there who read and support our blog. It's a labor of love, but it's much more fun knowing that people actually enjoy our babbling!

Sphinx Magoo said...

This post captured everything I felt about the Phantom Lady. On one hand, she's wearing a totally ridiculous outfit for fighting crime, but on the other hand I see potential there for something cool. I much preferred the Dark Horse take on her with their Ghost character.

MaGnUs said...

Wow, Karen, Heavy Metal = Comics Porn? You really need to read a bit more of Heavy Metal and other European comics. :)

That's exactly the same train of thought that leads fans of European comics or Japanese comics to demean US superhero comics with "Superheros = Idiots In Tights".

MaGnUs said...

(Now, I hope my above comment didn't sound too harsh.)

Karen said...

The painted style that Acuna uses reminds me of the style I saw in Heavy Metal many, many years ago. That was also the first place I saw nudity and sex in comics form. Maybe HM is soft porn compared to other books; I don't know, it's not my thing. You know, one man's meat is another man's poison and all that. I was just saying what the connections were in my head.

MaGnUs said...

Karen, I'm not talking about personal tastes. Heavy Metal might have nudity in some stories, but it's not even softcore porn; calling it porn is completely wrong, and you should really revise your connections to avoid saying stuff like that. Just a suggestion.

Karen said...

Magnus, respectfully, I made an innocuous comment on a comics blog. I don’t have an issue with Heavy Metal OR pornography – I really couldn’t care less about either. I’m not sure what axe you have to grind, but telling me I need to “revise my connections” –aka change the way I think –seems like an over the top, and somewhat offensive, response. I don’t have anything more to say about this.

MaGnUs said...

I'm not trying to offend you; sorry if I did. But automatically equating Heavy Metal to porn... well; that's offensive too.

Doug said...

If I may --

I'd like to first state that the post was titled by me, not Karen.

Karen's comment did not equate Heavy Metal to pornography. A re-read of her original comment said that when she thinks of Heavy Metal, she thinks of "comics porn". I don't know that any stimulus/response of any kind automatically creates an equating of two things.

That being said, a quick look-up of definitions of pornography yields the following:

1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
3 : the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction

I think we can safely say that the use of the term "pornography" in this instance is appropriate and does not necessarily lend itself toward the more dedicated uses of the term in today's language. Nudity or even revealing dress for the purpose of the stimulation of the viewer/reader falls under this.

I'd like to consider the topic closed at this point. I really don't want to have to delete the post altogether.


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