Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lex Luthor's Cheesecake Pillar

"Lex Luthor's Cheesecake Pillar" from Justice League of America vol.2 #14 (DC, 2007) by Dwayne McDuffie, Ed Benes and Sandra Hope
There was no way I was going to pick up Master of Decompression Brad Meltzer's JLofA, the one that started with the Big 3 playing the Versus CCG for issues on end. I'm afraid McDuffie's takeover wasn't entirely successful, so long as an artist like Ed Benes was on the case. No Black Canary crotch shot in the above image, but it's still pretty smarmy. And footless. Is that why Red Tornado's legs have been removed? One of his feet would have been in frame? I bet that's it.


  1. Ah...I remember this one well. I wrote a blog that said this was just a tad on the sleezy side, and had to fend off a troll who was utterly convinced that it was perfectly fine, and I was just too fussy. And a girl.

    Benes gives me a pain in my lower back.

  2. That'll teach you to have ova.

    I think all the females in Benes' artwork have lower back pain too.

  3. I seem to recall that "troll" agreeing in his very first sentence that said panel was extreme, but it was 1) Lex Luthor trying to piss Superman off by treating the captured teammates disrespectfully (it worked), 2) not half as sleazy as it could be if MacDuffie/Benes were genuinely aiming for sleaze, and 3) a commentary on that hentai-inspired "Heroes for Hire" #13 cover that had just caused an uproar for pretty unquestionably catering to misogynistic tastes. Based on those points, I didn't think the intention of this one panel was to be misogynistic, any more than the beating Geo-Force sustained was an endorsement of torture.

    And yes, Benes is incapable of drawing a woman except as a collection of mismatched parts. That didn't help either, I also conceded.

    (By the way, I was happy to leave this matter be and leave your blog alone after all that, but when you misrepresent what I said here, or elsewhere I happen to visit, I'm going to try to set the record straight. I don't have a reputation to uphold -- being anonymous and all -- but I do have a problem with people misrepresenting other people's points of view, I suspect a little deliberately.)

  4. I don't think they aimed for sleaze, but that's what they hit. It's what Benes falls into, I suspect, unless someone expressly asks him not to (at least, that's how I explain his recent Batgirl work), and it's rarely VERY sleazy, just mildly sleazy, and always always distracting. If he were a good artist, I might believe your defense that "it was done on purpose", but making bad art on purpose is not an excuse for bad art.

    Sometimes it's not about intent, it's about execution. Intent is irrelevant when you fail at that intent. The reason I dislike Benes and Land etc. is that they distract attention away from the writer's efforts to tell a story. If the point ISN'T at the very least LUTHOR'S misogyny (and it shouldn't be), then that art is a needless distraction and yes it IS sleazy. It's not tongue-in-cheek enough to be a parody of the infamous hentai cover, it is merely a subdued example of the same thing. What it looks like is Benes wanting to draw girls (he often accentuates them at the detriment of story telling, so you might look at Black Canary's ass while a male character is talking) so he put them in the middle of the shot, all together, bigger than life. I'm not proposing it's wrong for the entire JLA to be hooked up to beams like that, I'm only criticizing the staging of that scene. It doesn't seem like Luthor's choice, or even McDuffie's. This is all on Benes, as evidences by just about every comic he's ever drawn regardless of writer or character motivations.

    I don't know where you had your original discussion with SallyP, so I can't speak to whether or not you were misrepresented, but neither am I supposed to be an arbiter.

  5. Not asking you to be an arbiter, nor do I want to turn it into a big fight here. But I feel there was another side to the matter, and even if I prefer to remain anonymous, I don't like being (what I consider) grossly misrepresented. Nor did I disparage anyone for being a girl.

    And you make good points about intent vs. execution. As the flip side of this, consider that "Wonder Woman" cover where she was standing on top of Poseidon, who was grabbing her with his tentacles. That could have come across as all kinds of sleazy, but the artist was talented and restrained enough to avoid making it suggestive. I wish Benes had that kind of skill.

  6. If we MUST have Benes art, then yeah, let's wish him some skill. My only wish is that he not work on comics I want to read.

  7. Full agreement!