Friday, November 09, 2007

Is This Gratutious? Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Annual #1

After a short break from my regular feature highlighting possible "gratuitous" candidates, I am back this week with a cover that may be interpreted several ways, one of them being that this portrayal of Iron Man, surrounded by several women in skimpy bikinis crosses the line.

What led me to single this cover out is the fact that said women are in beach wear when it appears that normally they would be in a more formal attire, including a lab coat or a business suit. It is a well known fact that Tony Stark is a playboy, so I am torn between wondering if this is a James Bond nod or just another opportunity to show hot chicks with guns.

That being said, I am happy that the women are wearing bottoms, which is a definite improvement over some of the other covers I have highlighted. I am also pleased that Jim Cheung can restrain himself from drawing huge ta-tas. That is a plus! In fact, Cheung normally does a very natural job on his portrayal of characters of both sexes, which is probably why he nailed the job on Young Avengers. His female characters there showed a strength of character rather then a strength of underwire.

This was a tough cover to select, as it isn't overtly gratuitous in the way some of the other covers we have discussed have been. What put it over the top is that it can also be perceived as another chance to put women in a subservient pose while the dude looks cool.

Okay, now that I have said my peace, I really want to know:

Is this gratuitous?

13 comments:

Foolio_Displasius said...

I'd say it's a yes and no. This style of cover and/or promotional image has been done for decades, and in that sense it could be interpreted as a reference or homage. As you say, it's not really over-the-top compared to other such images.

But yeah, the source material is probably gratuitous.

Vaklam said...

I say no on this one. It's a whimsical homage to spy stuff and since he's leading a spy organization it works for me.

You have an excellent point about the artist, though. In the hands of certain other artists it would have crossed the line. This is why Cheung remains in my top ten artist list. See also: Mahmud A. Asrar.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

nah. the bond style pastiche has been done so many times that this is one of the most pedestrian version of it that I think I've ever seen. Seriously, Iron man's armor is far more a fetish item (each surface gleaming with just the right amount of polish... ooohh la la) that any of the boobs on the ladies.

Eaglewing said...

I'd probably leans toward no on this one. It's gotta be a Bond nod - there's the tux, the guns, the fighter jets, the car, and the girls. If it wasn't for the big metal armor dude, I'd figure it was a Bond comic or something...

LurkerWithout said...

I'd say the original source is somewhat gratutious, but that was probably the point. And the cover definately evokes old James Bond posters or other pulp spy thrillers...

David said...

An homage to a gratuitous source is gratuitous; playful nods to a source with characters like Honey Ryder, Pussy Galore, Kissy Suzuki, Plenty O'Toole, Holly Goodhead, Dr. Molly Warmflash etc. (thanks, Wikipedia), must be complicit within that system.

A parody, I would welcome. But to be honest, I liked it better when Tony Stark pretended to be a playboy industrialist, rather than actually slept with She-Hulk, etc.

Swinebread said...

bond... no...

Rob Monroe said...

I agree with the No Camp. The point of the cover is to make a nod to over-the-top spy pulps, not to titillate.

zhinxy said...

Tongue-in-cheek and whimsical.

Not gratuituous!

Mark Engblom said...

Not that gratuitous, unless you count the, ahem, "full presentation" of the bimbo clinging to Tony's left leg.

Hel-lo!

Rocketlex said...

Gratuitous? No. Ridiculous? Yes.

Needs more guns.

Lea said...

I'm with David on this one. When you do a homage, you have to choose what you're doing an homage to; if the source material is sexist (which Bond always was and always will be) then so is the result, barring parody.

A lesbian pulp comic cover with bikini-clad girls clinging to Secret Agent Woman is a parody. A cover of, oh, She-Hulk, with half-naked men clinging to Shulkie is a parody. This, however, is saying, "Bond-style is sexy!"

I love Cheung's art (as long as he doesn't draw children). He has a gift for taking absurd costumes and still making the women wearing them look dignified. But Bond? I say nay to thee. Nay!

Heidi Meeley said...

Thank you so much for the fantastic input! I really enjoyed reading all your comments. I am still torn about the whimsy of homage versus the fact that the chick at the bottom has her legs spread wide in a skimpy bikini bottom. Cheung pulls it off, and it is certainly better then Britney can do, but I have got to call it "a bit gratuitous". :-)

Not damaging to the eyes, but a bit over the top...