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Sam reviews…

by on Mar.23, 2009, under comics

Astonishing X-Men.

I am, as has been said many, many, many times before, a sad Marvel fan girl (which reminds me to get my comics box out so I can check which series featured that Glaswegian whale mutant). I can forgive Marvel many, many, many things. I own Ghostrider on DVD, FFS. I am that sad.

However, I still find the preponderance of the Most Common Superpower somewhat vexing. It’s not because I’m a feminist (as I said a couple of posts ago). It’s because I’m a realist. I will happily suspend disbelief when it comes to Cyclops shooting optical lasers from his eyes or (just about) Logan staying alive trapped in a glacier by eating bits of his own leg because his healing factor made them grow back.

Well… OK. Yes, I have issues with that latter example. Mostly revolving around amino acids. Like I said: I’m a realist. What this means is that I will accept a particular twist on reality. I will accept that Emma Frost can turn to diamond, or Kitty Pryde can phase through walls. I will accept that Logan has adamantium bonded to his skeleton and Jean Gray is pretty much the definition of will not fucking die, but there are some things I can’t accept.

You cannot be an action superhero with 36FF breasts in that outfit.

Every time I read something by, say, Liefield I want to send the artist a link to Boobydoo. That’s beyond fanservice. That’s just… It’s just stupid.

Here’s for why this makes me want to throw a book at the wall and weep.

I’m 170cm and 63kg (that’s 5’7 and ~140lbs for you imperialists). My chest size is 32DD. I compete in triathlon and participate in long-distance cycling. Half my annual sports budget goes on bras. I would not be able to jog twenty metres without the sort of support offered by the Sportjock Super Sportbra. It would be agony. How Emma Frost, who seems to have a chest size of around 40GG, manages to walk without falling over, never mind fight in outfits that are apparently no more than a couple of pieces of foil wrapped around a ribbon, is utterly beyond me.

Also: figures. I hate to break this to you boys, but while Seven of Nine’s assets are formidable, and all her own work, they are somewhat enhanced by very careful costuming involving seamless internal corsetry. You can’t have strength without muscle. You can’t have muscle and still look like a stick with a couple of peas (or, even worse, watermelons) glued on the front. One of the most unconvincing action heroes of all time was Leeloo from The Fifth Element, but she got away with it by the Power of Cool.

Trust me on this one. If you had a genuine action superhero girl, she would look more like Tessa Sanderson than Sarah Michelle Geller. I’m probably about 10kg (20lbs) heavier than the stated of weight of most women taller than me in movies (anyone remember Vicki Vale claiming to be 108?) but I’m no lard-ass.

The sort of ridiculously low body fat that makes muscles stand out to be counted also results in no boobs. A passing glance at the ranks of female bodybuilders would tell you that. Look at Brigitte Nielson in Red Sonja, back when she looked like she might be able to fight, even though Sandahl Bergman should still have kicked her scrawny ass clear to the other side of Valhalla. Ultra endurance athletes, those skinny whippets who can run for miles and miles and miles: they’re all bone and sinew.

Basically, while I can cope with the leap of faith it takes to accept The Human Torch can fly and Jubilee can generate bursts of fireworks, I can’t cope with the inherent unrealism of the way people are depicted.

Which is why I would like to place Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men up on the pedestal next to Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. I’m not a massive fan of Whedon. I think that he has suffered from the common affliction of successful writers: he has become self-indulgent. However, I’ll give him this: his particular penchant for strong women means that the girls of this series are relatively realistic. Even Emma Frost looks like she might be wearing a push-up bra under there and if she took it off she’d be able to see her own toes. An important ability in an action hero, I’d have thought. John Cassaday, the artist, obviously also deserves a great deal of credit. His semi-realistic style is remarkably effective and sets off Whedon’s realistic dialogue.

Hisako: “Can I help”
Logan: “Are you a beer?”

There are still one or two frames where my inner bra-expert cringed a little, but overall this series is a rare thing: a comic book I can read without having my suspension of disbelief come crashing around my ears in a tangle of missing underwiring and absent corsetry.

Oh yeah. The plot’s not all that bad, either.

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