Saturday, June 3, 2017

SHANNA, THE SHE-CAT (The New Avengers #41, 2008)

From Tarzan and Jane to Ki-Gor and Helene, and from Zor and Dela to Kalar and Pamela, the several jungle couples from the pulp and comics traditions are clear iterations of the biblical Genesis story of Adam and Eve and the loss of earthly paradise. Or, more precisely, a record of the effort to regain such a paradise. To build it in some lost corner of the world and to protect it from all foreign threats that might bring about a new fall. Sure, it has more than a passing resemblance to the luddite worldview, but it seems somehow deeply enticing, as if touching something deep in the core of our humanity. It speaks to us about innocence. The irretrievable loss of primal innocence.

It is thus telling that such a loss is signified by the consciousness of one’s own nudity. The death of innocence comes with a certain biased perception of nakedness and the body as being somehow wrong. The fall from innocence brings with it the death of freedom, as one needs to be shackled to common mores, subject to the diktat of the several thought polices that segue one after the other throughout time. Oh, but deep in the jungle, the thought police is at a disadvantage. It needs the force of numbers of the mindless masses. There, under the shadows of the tallest canopies, amidst the carnivorous id-beasts and threatened by the purest instinctual sexuality, it succumbs. To regain paradise, one must regain freedom – freedom of being.

Innocence is free from convention, free from moral codes, free from political diktat. Shanna in the above panel is innocence personified. She exposes her buttocks to us, the readers, indifferent to our voyeuristic appetites. Brainless people would call it a fuck-me-pose. Well, fuck them, she seems to say. Shanna is undoubtedly gorgeous, the pose erotic, the compositional identification with saberteeth Zabu, savagely sexual. But everything about her speaks of innocence and freedom. She can’t avoid our eyes, I’m sure she knows that, but she is free from such considerations. Her beauty is her own. Her pose is that of a curious child, intent on a fairytale, filled with wonder-lust, as if yet unaware of the effect of her semi-nudity over any intruder, be it Spider-man or the reader. Shanna and Ka-Zar belong there, in paradise. Spider-man is the interloper, covered from head to toe as if to isolate himself from paradise. But his costume is torn here and there, as if bespeaking the fight against nature… or simply the first steps into embracing it, his body slowly emerging from the civilization’s chrysalis as a new being.

Friday, September 25, 2015

HUNTRESS (Superman/Batman#27, 2006)

How does she fight in that thing? Really, how can she fight, kick right and left, perform those dazzling summersaults over crooks and villains, without her breasts spilling out of that v-necked purple leotard? It doesn’t even have incorporated support to those magnificent, bouncing, firm, milky alabaster tits. I guess she must fight the same way Tarzan had to make do with a leather loincloth and a rusty knife. In the wonderland of comic book panels, movement is at the same time dynamic and perpetual. An eternal frame-by-frame slow motion, that explodes into action in the theater of the mind. It’s not real. Of course it’s not. And it is not meant to be, either. If a comic book relies on the continuous reading of adjacent panels to obtain a coherent story, each panel in said story is, nonetheless, a miniature painting that exists solely for aesthetic appreciation. When you admire Botticelli’s 'Birth of Venus', surely you’re not asking how in heavens did she ever fit inside the half-shell? Nor, more properly, why the fuck does she have a belly-button if she was not of woman born?

Likewise, in this gorgeous panel by Kevin Maguire, the last thing on your mind – at least if you’re a healthy heterosexual male – is ‘how does she fight in that thing?’ You just let your eyes slide softly over the colored surface, savoring that brief instant torn from the midst of Huntress and Power Girl’s fight with Grood. An instant where, after being hit by a plasma bolt from Grood’s gun, they forever float in total imponderability, utterly gorgeous, unsurpassably sexy, amid the debris of battle, frozen in the midst of the ongoing explosion, as if in a suspended moment from Antonioni’s Zabrieski Point (1970).

As soon as your eyes move to the next panel, it is over. Again, movement; movement unstoppable in its frozen panels. But that instant will be there, once and again, inviting you to come back to appreciate an instance of beauty, free of context. Beauty for beauty’s sake. Comics are also about that.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Slave Girls (Annihilation: Silver Surfer#2, 2006)

It is a lesson well-learned that you can’t be a cosmic power-broker of villainous persuasion if you don’t surround yourself with a bevy of sexy and scantly-clad female humanoid slaves. Ming the Merciless knew it, Jabba the Hut Knew it, and even pseudo-insectoid Annihilus knows it. It’s not that his predecessors ended well. They didn’t, but no one would remember Jabba the Hut today if it wasn’t for scantly-clad slave-Leia slavering at his feet (well, maybe not feet, but you get my meaning…) Or will you claim, dear reader, that you remembered Jabba from Episode IV? Anyway, it is a matter of intergalactic prestige and, along with Aldebaraan, Vulcan, Betazed, Psychon, Krypton, and some other corners of the Known Universe (and maybe the Negative Zone), that’s one thing our little backward planet Earth is filthy rich in (remember al those BEMs that used to come to Earth only to abduct our lovely females? Yeap, there’s a high demand for earthen slave girls by cosmic space villains and cosmic mad emperors).

Now, I mention all this, because Annihilus, being some kind of insect, surely has no ulterior erotic design over the two lovely girls that adorn his command chair/throne. They’re just there for titillating eye-candy – welcome eye-candy at that – and more so for looking strangely like Zen-Whoberis. Yet, we all know that the Zen-Whoberis were made extinct by the badass Badoon, leaving only the sexiest green-woman of the Universe alive. No, not She-Hulk. Gamora.

And, since by then Gamora was making a come-back in the pages of Annihilation:Ronan, these girls not only confound the reader, as much as they confound the senses. After all, in a full-page spread, full with a mad genocidal annihilator of universes, the Titan Thanos, and a view of space-dreadnoughts from the Annihilation Wave (besides the vast deepness of space), the reader’s eye is inevitably attracted to the shapely buttocks and hips of the slave girls. Hey! They have pointed ears – not Zen-Whoberis after all. Betcha you hadn’t noticed it!