Bryan (raoulraoul) wrote,

Mutant Misadventures in Anatomy (Part I)

I know I’m probably not the first to point this out, and I probably won’t be the last, but no human’s body is built to bend like Psylocke’s does on this cover:

Psylocke and Archangel: Crimson Dawn #2 cover

Or maybe I will be the last person to comment on it. It’s the cover to Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #2, an almost 20-year-old comic that wasn’t very good and is about two second-tier X-Men characters with confusing backstories. This issue covers part of Psylocke’s backstory, but it’s not like it does so in an entertaining or clear way.

What I’m more interested in is how this cover came to be published. Obviously Psylocke is being drawn in a way so that her face is directed toward the reader, but the reader also gets a butt-shot. An innovation, I suppose, since the only character I can remember being posed anything like this is Spider-Man, a loose-limbed hero who gets contorted into unbelievable shapes all the time. (I’d be curious if any of the Spider-Women had covers like this, but I doubt it — they most likely weren’t popular enough to have many covers in the ‘90s, which was the heyday of awkward, “sexy” poses like this.)

Besides the horrific butt / thigh / leg abomination, I don’t think Psylocke’s head could fit on her body as contorted, either, and I’m not sure about her arms. She’s a ninja, though, so I’ll let the arms go. The head and butt and leg … This isn’t even considering Archangel; I defy you to keep your lower back flat like he has it and be able to have his pectorals at an almost 90-degree angle to his abs.

Anyway. So the editor is looking at this, probably approving of the “sexiness” and probably also approving of the ninjas, despite the ninjas being poor at ninja-ing; one of them is being humiliated by non-metal winged Archangel and another is failing to stab him in the back. How does he not see the anatomical improbability of Psylocke on this cover? I see three possibilities:
  • The editor, Matt Idelson, didn’t care. This is a miniseries written by Ben Raab, never a star, and drawn by Salvador Larroca, who I remember being big-ish at the time. Idelson might have been concerned with making sure Raab didn’t do anything stupid, and he’s just glancing at the cover to make sure the cover artist, Liquid! (a studio rather than a person), didn’t draw inappropriate crotch bulges or nipples. Maybe he was more worried about ethnic slurs in the text and inappropriate body parts in the art.

  • The time pressure was too great. Everybody saw the problem, but there was no time to correct it. I doubt if pushing back an issue of Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn would cause major repercussions, but what do I know? Maybe it was the lynch pin of the entire Marvel publishing plan. Or maybe it was pushed ahead because Marvel was in bankruptcy protection, and needing the cash flow, it couldn't justify the delay.

  • It’s an optical illusion. Like when “the” is placed on two consecutive different lines (as in “Paris in the the springtime,” the editors’ minds fixed on Psylocke’s ass, which looks normal, and to the thigh, which also looks normal, without ever noticing that they don’t look right together.
I’m not holding this up as the worst comic art ever, or even really an astonishingly bad one. This is just one example of a bad comic art, one that was lucky to come out before the Web was something everyone used. But I am honestly fixated on the process of how this came to published. If it was Liefeld or McFarlane or another artist whose name sold comics, I can see an editor shrugging and telling him- or herself, “That’s what the readers want.” But this is Liquid!, a studio best known for its coloring. Why wouldn’t you tell them, “This isn’t good enough”?

Maybe it was good enough. Huh. I hadn't considered that. Maybe it was just part of the accepted aesthetic that torturing the human anatomy was fine, as long as it put more a. on the cover. (Maybe Idelman disapproved of the relatively small amount of t. shown but let it pass anyway.)

I can’t help poking at this cover, like someone with a sore tooth. I must keep testing. How could this have happened?
Tags: archangel, crimson dawn, liquid!, matt idelson, mutant anatomy, psylocke, x-men

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