Super Heroes: Ideals, Weight and So On…

In the last few months, I’ve read more blogs regarding diversity and the presentations of women (and other minority groups) in comics. I’ve definitely found my attitudes changing over the years. A couple of years ago, i just did not care. Women in comics are drawn unrealistically? So? So are the men.

I doubt I am going to say anything new. But it’s become a bit embarrassing to read comics. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s always been a little embarrassing, I mean, the Bad Girl craze of the 90’s was horrid.

I don’t have a problem with heroes of either gender not being overweight. As a fat guy, I do not believe that it is realistic that a super hero who is active and fighting crime and super villains would really be overweight. Granted, I found it somewhat heartwarming when Blue Beetle struggled with his weight. But if your super power doesn’t require you to be large, you will likely be at least toned if not outright muscular.

And while that is applied to men in comics, it is most definitely not applied to women. Women are rarely shown as having any muscle tone. They usually have tone tummies, but nothing else seems to be effected by the workout crimefighting might give them.

Is it really asking that much of artist to maybe draw the women in costumes that don’t threaten to flash us? That their breasts not appear to be in danger of knocking over buildings? That they have muscles?

This doesn’t mean artists need to design their characters as body builders, with muscles buldging to ridiculous sizes. And frankly, I think this could be applied to the men as well…the guys do not need to look like monster steroid addicts to seem powerful.

I am not complaining about merely having an idealized form. I am talking about not just making them mere object of lust. I mean, recently (or maybe not so recently), Bendis described Spider-Woman as the super heroine you have a shot at sleeping with (As opposed to Wonder Woman, who we mere mortal geeks have no chance at bedding). And I like a lot of Bendis’ work. I really do…but does he realize how creepy that sounds? She’s a frickin’ fictional character rendered in pencil and ink! Besides, you should admire heroes, not merely want to sleep with them. Heroes represent, ideally, what we aspire to. And I like a flawed hero, but treat your female leads with at least as much dignity as you treat you male leads. Has anyone ever referred to Captain America as the kind of guy a woman could get to sleep with, as opposed to Superman?

The women heroes should be characters we admire. They should be what we men hope for our wives and daughters, sisters, mothers friends, girlfriends…strong, powerful, worthy of respect. Again, this doesn’t mean flawless and without fault. We have allowed our male heroes foibles, the women of comics deserve the same. To be as “real” and “human” as the boys get to be.

I did this rough Powergirl sketch over the course of a few minutes…I don’t know if this is actually any improvement or no change whatsoever…but can’t we at least try?


Am I asking to much?

Oh, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a big Adam Hughes fan…I don’t know if that makes my post totally invalid or not.

Posted in: Comic Books

8 thoughts on “Super Heroes: Ideals, Weight and So On… Leave a comment

  1. Hi, Thom

    a) Thanks for de-lurking and for the birthday wishes!

    b) Very nice post. And, I don’t think your liking Adam Hughes (who I love as well!) invalidates your post at all.

    Adding your RSS to my Google Reader now…



  2. Loren,
    Thanks for the kind words and you are welcome! 🙂

    Yeah, that’s along the line of what I was thinking. I am of a theory that most folks don’t care for overly musclebound women or men. Most women I know like a guy who is in shape and has some definition, but not like bodybuilders. I like the Wonder Woman Pic.

  3. Hi! 😀

    Rly liked your piece.. lots and lots! 😀

    I think the pic looks good too 🙂

    That’s exactly what I always say, that there’s a middle ground between pornstar and ugly. For some reason whenever we complain that women shouldn’t be drawn as pornstars we get the “oh you’d rather ugly fat heroes?” counter… as if there’s only 2 choices.

    I also agree with the muscle tone. :O It’s not like toned women are unattractive or nething!!

    Neways you get much

  4. Ami:
    Thanks! I really appreciate the kind words!

    There are some things I would nitpic about the way the face turned out, but in my defense I sketched that rather quickly, while sitting n my couch with the flu. 🙂

  5. Well said! I want to see athletes – who have a wide range of strong, fit body types – not porn stars. There are characters, of both genders, who would happily show a bit of skin as a distraction (Emma Frost or Gambit for example), but for most characters, it just doesn’t make sense. I like the “power” in your Powergirl!

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