Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Burden of the Well-Dressed Hero

I remember when I used to play the Overpower card game with my friends, I could never wield "Alien Physique" without comment. "Gah-- get that thing out of my face! Not the Martian Package! Can't he shapeshift that banana hammock into something decent?"

Apparently, this has crossed the minds of others, such as the critics at Quarter Bin, a (Heaven help them) Fortune City fan site. As best as I can tell, the page hasn't been updated in nearly a decade, so I should probably link to the article Opinion 44: The Burden of the Well-Dressed Hero before the Mayan apocalypse. The piece discusses all sorts of super-fashion faux pas, but I'll just quote the section relevant to J'Onn J'Onzz, in case some of you remain holdouts to the new Era of Pants heralded by Brightest Day, which for me totally makes up for all that other unpleasantness...

Speedos and Thongs

[The Martian Manhunter came closest to earning DC's Conspicuous Exhibitionism award of the fifties.] For some heroes, less serves as more in the costume department. The Speedo-style trunk, while useful and stylish for Olympic swimmers, unfortunately lacks the kind of protective aspect one might associate with something like a fireman's ensemble. A superhero so minimally outfitted might discover that one extended reach could leave a hero departing from his rated-G format comic to an R- or X-rated piece.

Female superheroes have a similar garment in the form of the thong, a garment much easier to draw than, say, a hoop skirt (in fact, a single brush stroke can depict it completely, from the right angles). I have previously derided the thong as a piece of costuming that imposes an unnecessary burden of exhibitionism on superheroines who, theoretically, exist to protect the balance of mankind from grave menaces to their well-being. Barring such prudish criticisms, however, let us consider the prospect of fighting crime while thusly attired.

To bring home the utter stupidity of fighting evil in such a garment, let us employ a simple household analogy. Imagine, if you will, going to whatever merchant most inspires you to purchase the skimpiest of undergarments. Now, clad in your purchases, enter your kitchen and perform a task that goes on in millions of households without incident. Fry some chicken. How long would you endure the spattering of hot grease on tender pieces of exposed skin left, by a faithless garment, unprotected? To put this in a superheroic context, think of fighting the Incredible Sparking Flame Monster while attired in the four-color equivalent of this skimpy lingerie. Though not stylish, a humble barbecue apron starts looking much better as the garment of choice.

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LissBirds said...

Actually, I find the arm hair even more unsettling.

That Quarter Bin article had me trying very hard not to lol at work, especially the bit about "secure mooring" for "mammalian protuberences."

It never dawned on me that J'onn's boy shorts could be that disturbing. The only reason I liked seeing him run around in shorts was because I think there needs to be a male running around with hardly any clothing to balance out the scale of Gratuitious Superhero Semi-Nakedness. The argument that shorts don't provide protection doesn't wash for superstrong heroes, though, and it just comes down to a matter of style. I guess he's old enough to graduate to real pants, but I think the dark color drabs up his look a bit and make him look too similar to a Green Lantern.

But I guess what I really mean to say is that I'll accept a Martian in pants a lot easier when I see Huntress fighting crime with her midriff covered.

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, I believe in justice, and it's up to the J'Onn J'onzzs, the Namors, and the Vartoxs to bring crotch justice to the super-hero world. I also find arm hair (and pupils!) far more disturbing on J'Onn than any particular shorts cut. However, the rare instances of actual Martian Manhunter anatomically correct nudity/internet porn leave me dazed and confused. Why would anyone want to see that?

Probably losing the pants entirely would be the most aesthetically graceful solution, and so long as he kept himself to himself, running around in only boots and a cape would be novel. There's enough pseudo-nude heroines running around with no masculine balance to speak of, why not?

Finally, I HATE Huntress' moronic Jim Lee redesign. In the '70s, even sexualized as she was, Helena Wayne only really exposed parts of her chest, arms and thighs (still largely covered.) My favorite Huntress design was from the late '90s, when she was covered neck to toe, like a vigilante nun. Running around with an exposed mid-drift, especially while taking orders from a belly-shot paraplegic, seems especially poorly considered.

LissBirds said...

"However, the rare instances of actual Martian Manhunter anatomically correct nudity/internet porn leave me dazed and confused." What....?! I guess Rule 34 really is true.

No pants....well, that's one way to get people's attention. As long as artists keep Martian anatomy different from human anatomy, I'm happy. Which is why Ca'yan bugged me a little. I didn't think Martians were mammals. And who knows how they mate and what is or isn't there. That's something I want to remain somewhat of a mystery.

"when she was covered neck to toe, like a vigilante nun." AMEN. Exactly how I see her, too. I miss the crucifix, as well.

Diabolu Frank said...

Well, I like Bertinelli as naughty nun, like in a Joe D'Amato flick. Gail Simone and Devin Grayson really did a nice job of giving Helena a damaged sexuality, as I rambled a bit about here.

Jeez, how did this post turn my green man blog so blue?

LissBirds said...

Actually I was thinking more just nun with an attitude, but okay. I just googled Joe D'Amato and the the less I think about that the better...!

I'll have to check out your new blog. Granted, I don't like Wonder Woman all that much...I'll try to keep an open mind, though.

Diabolu Frank said...

Sucker! Bwa-hah-ha-ha!