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Friday, April 08, 2016 

SJW made petty complaint about Neal Adams cover drawing on WW's series

About a month ago, a writer for the Daily Dot, a fairly SJW-friendly site, wrote an attack on Neal Adams for a cover he drew on Wonder Woman as an homage to one he drew for Superman in 1971, accusing him of exploiting Diana on her own series cover. Having taken the time to check this, it was as tedious as as I thought. What she says about the cover:
...What is surprising is it’s a Wonder Woman cover, but we don’t see her face. For all intents and purposes, she’s a faceless butt with legs. Wonder Woman is taking a figurative backseat to someone else in her own story.
Oh for heaven's sake. As if there haven't ever been any covers where the heroine or the hero are seen from the rear? While it's not like Adams hasn't done anything I'd find galling, this is nothing to be making a fuss over, and it's decidedly something Adams drew that I can defend. Let's also ponder that this is merely the cover illustration the site's writer, Beth Elderkin, is talking about, not the story inside. Suppose there were a cover drawn where Diana was standing on a hilltop staring into a beautiful sunset with her back to the audience? Would that be bad? Of course not. Point: humans and humanoids have butts, and to act like they don't, or, as though it were wrong to draw a heroine from the rear in all instances, is ridiculous. Besides, it's not like these drawings are inherently sexualized, and even if they were, that in itself is not a bad thing, despite the attempts by borefests like Elderkin to claim otherwise.

But since we're talking about "backseats", one has to wonder what Elderkin thinks of the way DC editorial mandated the coupling of Supes and WW, which resulted pretty much in the latter becoming second fiddle to the former, and not her own agency. She doesn't seem to have said anything about that, so I'm not sure why a coverscan matters far more. That's peanuts compared to some of the most atrocious storylines DC ever published with WW, including that repellent story from 2005 where WW broke Max Lord's neck, and was promptly turned into a scapegoat. How come no comment about that, eh?
This recent cover is one in a series of comic book covers where normally powerful female characters are exploited for the purpose of enticing readers. Marvel was criticized for a variant cover of Spider-Woman that showed her seductively bent over. DC Comics cancelled a Batgirl variant cover for prominently featuring The Joker during the time he tortured, and possibly sexually assaulted, her. Wonder Woman has, for the most part, not been subject to this, but there have been times she’s been exploited. For example, the unaired 2011 Wonder Woman TV pilot had Wonder Woman using her sexuality to get her way, often breaking the law in the process.
Assuming she was seen using her sexuality as part of crimefighting in the unbroadcast pilot, I'm not sure how seduction for fooling enemies is wrong. If she wasn't using her sexuality for committing crimes per se, then this is yet more sound and fury signifying nothing. As for the Batgirl variant cover, the artists themselves apparently asked to cancel it because they felt it didn't work well with the direction they were supposedly going with at the time. But if they had cancelled it out of censorship, then I'll have to admit, it would be extremely stupid, since nobody had to buy it if they didn't like it, and they could've waited for the trades too. Of course, I stopped buying their products long ago because of DiDio's continued reign, and I'd think most people who had similar problems would do the same.
It’s especially disheartening as we’ve seen better representation of women and sexuality in comic books over the past couple of years. For example, Saga’s first comic featured Alana breastfeeding Hazel—even if The Big Bang Theory misunderstood it to mean “sexy boobs.”
Wait a minute. Surely in another instance, people like Elderkin would be lambasting a depiction of breastfeeding, on the covers or inside? If that's not a big deal, then I don't see why something as tame as WW kissing Superman while facing rear is bad. What matters is that story-wise, it's little more than an obvious fanfic pairing of two flagship characters, instead of pairing them with civilian paramours instead. If they had to pair WW up with another superhero, why not make it a guy like Booster Gold, which would've been less obvious a choice? Or, what if Steve Trevor, who may have been drawn taller than WW in the past, were the guy kissing her in the same scene? Would that be such a big deal? Elderkin even tries to defend her position via the following:
Wonder Woman’s variant cover is based on Superman #243 from August 1971, in which Superman is entangled with “The Starry-Eyed Siren of Space,” a hyper-intelligent being who mentally compelled Superman for make-outs and disappears after the final pages. But that’s only something you know if you read the book. On the cover, she’s literally a nameless mystery woman who’s designed to tempt readers with her curves.

That’s not a problem in itself. After all, it was Superman’s story and it was over 40 years ago. But this is 2016 and Wonder Woman is not a nameless mystery woman, so why is she being treated like one? She’s been reduced from an equal partner in their relationship, and the center of her own comic book, to another faceless romantic entanglement who could very well disappear after one issue. There’s no twist here, no unique angle that separates this romantic embrace from the one with the Mystery Woman. Adams himself acknowledged that there’s no difference between the original cover image and the new one. Well, apart from one thing.

“I swung her hips the other way,” Adams told 13th Dimension. “There’s nothing else in here that’s really any different except I swung her hips.”
Let me get this straight. Because that was, more specifically, forty-five years ago, and because it was Superman's story, that makes it okay to tempt readers with curves and such? How odd, because that's practically something William Marston and H.G Peter had in mind when they created WW back in 1941! Marston wrote in the American Scholar in 1943 that when marketing his creation to men, they should "give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves." In that case, shouldn't she be condemning the twosome for daring create WW to start with? What a sick joke Elderkin's becoming. And it doesn't get any better with this:
It’s not like Adams is adverse to changing dimensions on his characters. He swapped out Superman for Starfire on one variant cover and changed a dour shadowy Batman into a menacing larger-than-life Joker. This even includes Wonder Woman herself. In the variant cover for Superman/Wonder Woman #26, Adams said in an interview that he had to unnaturally change Wonder Woman’s physical dimensions to make the situation on the cover, an homage to World’s Finest #180, more plausible.

“I had to draw a Wonder Woman who looked like she could hold Superman. So I did,” Adams told 13th Dimension.

If he’s willing to change Wonder Woman’s dimensions to serve a cover where she’s about to kill Superman, why not change the one where she’s romantically linked to him? Reverse their positions so Wonder Woman is holding Superman in the same passionate embrace. She could stand on a box, or she could fly. You could even make her bigger than Superman. It’s a variant cover, so it doesn’t fully matter if it’s realistically sized or not.
Actually, here's where Adams slipped into puzzlement, or made a joke of himself. This is a babe who's the product of science-fantasy and on those grounds can lift tanks, smash holes in metal, and it's somehow crucial she look muscular? Not by a long shot. But wait'll you see this howler:
Another option would be to simply use the cover for a Superman story instead of Wonder Woman’s. After all, Superman is the character with agency. He’s bigger, he’s dominating the embrace and you can see his face. Adams has a decades-long legacy of comic book covers he could’ve drawn from instead for an alternate Wonder Woman cover. Heck, Adams could’ve swapped the cover inspiration he used for Superman #49’s variant cover with Wonder Woman’s, putting Wonder Woman in the shoes of Batman instead.
Good grief, am I seeing correctly? She says it's okay to exploit WW even on Superman's covers? Now I'm getting the picture. Everywhere else, "exploiting" WW is okay. Just not on her own series. Umm, I don't see logic here. Either "exploitation" is bad in all instances or it's not. This is where the whole whine turns into pure comedy gold. And whether or not the alien in the older Superman tale was a crook, does that make it okay to tempt with curves? Not really. Personally, I'd rather the good girls be the ones to entertain readers with curves.

Print Magazine wrote a response, and spoke with an artist and historian named Arlen Schumer, who, while he had some complaints about some of Adams' recent work like Batman Odyssey, he did defend the WW cover illustration, and says:
And as for the charge of exploitation, Schumer says, “The irony of Elderkin’s problems with this cover — the submissively-positioned Wonder Woman reduced to a ‘faceless sexual object,’ merely a ‘mystery woman for Superman to embrace’ — is that they could’ve easily applied to the original cover Adams based the new one on, published in 1971, at the dawn of the women’s rights movement — Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem I Am Woman came out a couple of months prior to this issue — which Elderkin excuses too easily with the blanket ‘it was over 40 years ago’ forgiveness, atypical for authors with a feminist bent like Elderkin.
Yes, I was wondering about that. If the modern cover for WW's series is bad, wouldn't the Superman cover from 1971 be the same? Let's be clear: if it's "wrong" to draw covers like that today, then it was wrong even in the past, and those too must be subject to criticism. Saying an older example is allegedly excusable is ridiculous. It's like saying that a badly acted movie bears no importance on this front just because it was filmed years before. Nonsense. The past matters as much as the present, because then, how do you learn from mistakes? But in Adams' defense here, he did not err with either past or present example. And I find it hilarious that Elderkin fully overlooked any and all of Marston/Peter's visions when they first created Diana in the Golden Age, which weren't wrong either. Sure, there were some ideas they had in questionable taste, but overall, they succeeded in their quest to create a superheroine who could be admired by both men and women alike. I only came away from the Daily Dot op-ed with the feeling Elderkin only cared about the coverscan, and not the story inside, or she would've seen that the stories Geoff Johns and company put together aren't even worth the paper it was printed on. How those don't matter to these "progressives" is beyond me.

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