Friday, November 23, 2007

Is This Gratuitous? Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighter #3

First off, I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday, holiday or not, and that your Friday was filled with joy and peace. Here at Casa Fairplay we had a lovely, relaxing day in which we held control of the remote. Nice, huh?

Today brings another candidate for "gratuitous" consideration. Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3 from DC Comics features a depiction of Dollman that caught my eye. In what I am pretty sure is supposed to be irony, Dollman is holding a doll in one hand and a gun in the other. The doll in question looks like a cross between a blow up doll and a puppet, so I am trying to figure out what that means. The fact that a male is holding a woman puppet is what gives it the edge that takes it right to the line.

As a note, Dave Johnson is a cover artist whose work I usually appreciate. His 100 Bullets covers are amazing and have given the series a flavor that I appreciate. I would go so far as to say that the Johnson/Azarello/Risso trifecta is the best since Ennis/Dillon/Fabry on Preacher. That being said, it takes a great deal for me to call Johnson out, but this cover did it.

While extremely artistic and clever, the portrayal of the doll makes this a murky one. Help me out here and tell me what you think.

Is this gratuitous?


Ben said...

Well, it's a fine and subjective line. And I'll stipulate that being male, and my perceptions may be a little different. But to me it would be gratuitous if I thought that Johnson thought he had created a sexy image. Instead, it looks like he's consciously going for "nightmare fuel." Dollman doesn't look like he's about to use "her" as a blowup doll. More like he's hiding behind her.

Whether "Uncle Sam" lives up to the miniseries is a whole nother topic.

Swinebread said...

No, it’s a parody of gratuitous covers.

The fantasy woman isn’t real. As if she ever was...

Verge said...

Well, I can understand your concerns as to whether this is a gratuitous cover or not. But most fashion dolls in your standard generic child's playroom would look rather vacuous; dumb grin, dull wide eyes. Which may be a whole separate commentary on those dolls in general and their appropriateness as rolemodels for young girls.

Maybe Dollman should have grabbed Chatty Cathy instead?

Unknown said...

Gratuitous in what fashion would be my first question?

What dollman is actually holding is not a puppet or blow up doll. It's an action figure, remember he is doll sized. Here Doll Man is using a doll shield, a clever pun on using a human shield.

I think the problem here is actually what Berkley Breathed coined as "offense-sensitivity". Much like Opus in Bloom Count "I'm offended that you are offended!" What's truly gratuitous is the need to examine each cover to see if it's offensive or doesn't meet some imaginary societal standard.

I usually love what I read here but not this time.

Heidi Meeley said...

Wow. I am a bit flummoxed here. Maybe I didn't understand the nature of the cover as a parody so I apologise. I didn't mean to offend or upset. I appreciate your points here and after reading what you have to say, I am just going to put it in the "not gratuitous" column and move along.


David Beard said...

Just a brief comment inspired by the "Red Sonja" comment above. In fact, i usually make a game each month of trying to find the one-in-four Red Sonja covers that arc away from the gratuitous. This usually means the one in which the pose is aggressive, rather than passive, and typically at an angle showing no cleavage.

I call these "the covers I don't need to hide from my wife."


Lea said...

Heidi, you don't need to apologize for asking questions. Personally, I find this cover too lackluster to qualify as either "sexy" or "scary" but I don't think it's ever warranted to get POed at people for "being offended too easily."

David Beard said...

Just a quick note: I was reading this feature of Comics Fairplay for months before chiming in.

It's an engaging intellectual exercise, a good way to pass the time, and one of the things I check for weekly.

Heidi Meeley said...

David and Lea, thank you so much for helping me to feel a bit better. This is one of those comment threads that I actually was starting to feel despair about. It has been surreal to say the least. Your kind words mean a great deal to me.

david brothers said...

It's also worth noting that the cover is (yet another) Steranko homage. The spirals in the background are a dead giveaway. The spirals put me in mind of those mobiles that you give kids, as well, tying in nicely to the doll theme.

RedheadFangirl said...

I still think that the doll/woman is a prop in one hand and the gun is a prop in the other. So while it's not overt T&A, you can still read a bit of objectivity into it.