Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds by Gail Simone, art by Ed Benes

Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl but now paralyzed from the waist, down continues to fight crime as Oracle, along with Black Canary.  Black Canary falls in to a trap set by Savant, a mentally unstable villain with a grudge against Batman.  Oracle finds she has to call on someone she doesn't fully trust - Huntress - if she wants Black Canary back alive.

I really liked it.  A lot.  I picked this one up because it was written by Gail Simone, and I've been curious to read her superhero stuff.  It was great.  The women are strong and capable and sassy.  They have exciting adventures.  They have each other's backs.  They take care of themselves and look out for each other.  They're smart and funny.  Awesome.  What's not to love?

The art.  Sometimes.  Sometimes it was totally fine.  Look, it's not a problem if the characters want to dress in fishnets or short-shorts, or if she has prominent breasts.  It's really not.  A character can choose to dress in a revealing way and still be a strong woman.  I don't want people to think I go in for slut shaming.  I totally don't.  It's how a character can be portrayed can be a problem sometimes.

For example, Dinah, who is Black Canary, has quite a few panels where her head has been completely cut out of the picture.  There she is, sans head, so that the focus of the picture is her breasts and ass.  And it's not subtle about it, at all.  Here we have four panels, only one of which we can actually see her face.

And here we have another two where the focus of the picture is her ass.

Huntress comes in to save the day!  There she is, all tough and strong.  Yes, her costume is pretty revealing.  Fine. As she says, she's done a lot of sit-ups and wants to show off her abs.  Great.  But!  Again, there's that picture with her head cut out so that the focus on the image is of her ass in her short-shorts.

Damn it illustrators!  Why do you have to go and ruin a perfectly kick-ass comic with your stupid, hypersexulaized illustrations?  Stop drawing awesome superwomen in impossibly awkward poses and cutting their fracking heads off!  HEADS ARE IMPORTANT!  IT'S WHERE THE BRAIN IS!  WHICH ALL THESE CHARACTERS MAKE A HABIT OF USING!  Grrrr.

So I am torn.  Should I add this to out Great Graphic Novels for Girls list?  On the one hand, it's totally awesome with great characters and a fun story.  On the other hand, the illustrations go out of their way to highlight women's sexual characteristics, and that's not cool at all.

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