Black Widow goes on a dangerous mission in Secret Avengers #1, out tomorrow!
ZIP HER SUIT UP, FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!
I actually— gasp shock dramatic music— try not to be such a broken record on this topic, but I am feeling saucy today and so I will tell you a (true!) story about this comic book page and a Dude On the Internet.
This is a dude who is real offended that women a) read comics and b) sometimes discuss what they do not like about these comics, as he sees this as a threat to Art or his perfectly natural should-not-be-shamed heterosexual desires, the two being very much linked in his mind. Anyway, he saw this panel and then decided to go into defensive-defense mode.
His first argument was that Natasha is a trained ballerina-gymnast hyperflexible person ergo anyone who calls this pose unrealistic is wrong!! And honestly, I kind of agree with him here, in that it’s fine with me if Natasha doesn’t move like a normal person. I love it actually when artists try to convey the idea of her dance background in the way she fights. But I also think one of Luke Ross’s weaknesses as a penciler is movement— he struggles with kineticism so often his action sequences seem stiff. This is a great example of that. Natasha seems sort of suspended, still, in midair, instead of in the middle of an epic backflip or something. And that stillness makes the pose itself a lot more awkward feeling than it needs to be.
Then when it came to her boobs falling out, our enlightened internet dude was willing to admit this might be a bit much, but pointed out that well, they probably wouldn’t be falling out so much if she weren’t hanging upside down with her zipper undone like that. Physics, man. It’s just realistic.
And I loved him for actually saying this, I guess, for constructing a two-part defense of an awkward looking panel on character flippy tendencies and the logical physics of boobs without considering that maybe a professional acrobat superspy woudln’t wear something that wouldn’t stay all the way on when she’s doing professional acrobat superspy things. Maybe she would know how a zipper works. Maybe she’d know about sportsbras.
I’ve mentioned before that Luke Ross pencilled Natasha extensively in Captain America, and while I sometimes found his anatomy and action scenes awkward and stiff there, too, he didn’t have this zipper issue. That’s new. And I think I can probably blame it on the movies, like so many stuffy comic book fans do when things don’t go their way. The other stuff Ross has changed about Natasha between Captain America and Marvel NOW! definitely take cue from the films. The fingerless gloves, the pouchy utility belt with attached leg-holster things, the boots, the weird Iron Man 2 hairstyle. Yeah. And in the filmic continuity Natasha habitually unzips her suit a little.
A little. Like, you actually have to squint real hard if you want to see cleavage. But never fear, comics can take care of that problem! Scarlett Johansson might have a nice body and not small breasts but this is not enough. The translation from screen to print gives us these twin orbs of realism, lovingly outlined, shaded, emphasized. The artist doesn’t try to make her more muscular, more physically imposing, or more heroic, somehow— he just makes her more booby.
The difference between Scarlett Johansson wearing a for real catsuit and how superhero comics imagine Scarlett Johansson wearing a catsuit should pretty much tell you what is wrong with superhero comics!! And my favorite thing about Internet Dude’s impassioned defense of this panel was that he did it before any “hypocrite females” started critiquing. His defense wasn’t a response to me, it was a response to this panel. Which means he recognized that there are girls out there who’d find it alienating. He knows that this kind of costume malfunction is over the top and unnecessary and silly, however much he wants to keep it in his comics. Deep down, he knows.
I think Marvel knows they can do better than this, too.