Sexy, Not Sexist
In reference to my previous post about the cover to Justice League #10, I'm presenting an example of a cover that features a superheroine with a big rack that I think works.
Here we have a Wonder Woman cover by Adam Hughes. Note the big rack on Wonder Woman. Chances are, however, her big rack was not the very first thing you noticed about the cover. This is because cheesecake is not the very first quality Hughes chooses to play up in this art. The real focus is on the fun, magic, and power of the icon Wonder Woman. Make no mistake, sexiness is a part of it. But it isn't all of it. However with the Justice League cover, PG's boobs are the star of the show. I mean, they are virtual guest-stars in the comic the way Don Rickles used to be in those Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsens. Now, if you have a issue of Justice league written by New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer, surely there is something of more substance to feature on this cover.
Next, note how relatively realistic Wondy's boobs are in contrast to Power Girl's. They hang more naturally. There is even a hint of a tear-drop shape. It's the real thing vs. silicone.
But lets move beyond the merely physical and look at the aesthetics. Hughes obviously put a lot of time into composing his cover. The motifs of the golden lasso, the birds. The different "sides" of Wonder Woman: 1) The standing figure: Strong; 2) The flying figure: Fun, Graceful; 3) The close-up: Sexy, Pretty. There is a lot going on in this cover. In contrast, the Power Girl cover is boring, static, and uninspired. This is not a knock on Turner's work in general. I'm just saying on this particular cover, it looks kinda like a panel or something. It's just...there.
Lastly, look at the faces of Wonder Woman & Power Girl. Wondy's face has LIFE. Her eyes are alive. This isn't even the best example of the personality Hughes can put into his Wonder Woman faces. But there is a glimmer of personality. Power Girl's eyes are expressionless. In addition, she looks not that much different from Black Canary, though Canary at least has this weird sorta pissed-off thing going on (maybe because she's jealous of PG's endowments, who knows?).
I find Adam Hughes's covers to be, for the most part, sexy but not sexist. Sexy but not sexist means that your subject has some glimmer of humanity in her and is not just a blow-up doll. Sexy but not sexist means that you can see that the artist has a genuine love and understanding for the subject. Sexy but not sexist encompasses, at least for me, not only Hughes but the work of Rags Morales, Frank Cho, Darwyn Cooke, Alex Toth, Will Eisner, and many more.
And to be fair here is an example of a Michael Turner cover I did like, for the Teen Titans. It's nicely composed & fun.