Sexy Titans Bad?

According to Laura Hudson, this Titans #5 cover (due in August) is causing controversy.

Titans #5 cover

I wish she’d linked to more examples, because I’m curious on what grounds anyone is annoyed about this. (And I don’t want to talk about the one she does link to, because she doesn’t like it when people are snarky about her comments. But then, who does?) Maybe it’s all being talked about on livejournal?

From what I’ve gathered, the main complaint is that you only see tongues in kissing if it’s porn. For one, that’s ridiculous: I have a shelf full of romance DVDs starring Pierce and the two Hughs (not together, although wouldn’t that be yummy?), and I know I’ve seen tongues in at least one of them. (Heck, in The Thomas Crown Affair, there’s a LOT more. I guess they would say that makes it porn, too.) For another, it’s drawn by Ian Churchill. The guy has a dodgy grasp of anatomy at best. We’re lucky that they only have one tongue each and that they’re in their mouths.

The cover is a ridiculous, cartoony example of sexuality, exaggerated to being laughable, but then, so are most superhero comic covers. Only usually, instead of a couple, they’re about violence or ogling women or ogling women in the midst of violence. This is kind of a pleasant change. I’m with Laura when she says

as a woman, I would much rather see a sexy picture of a male/female couple making it hot than a scantily-clad woman as the lone object of desire, and this particularly image is sexy in a much more inclusive way than most imagery in [superhero] comics.

Looks to me like Nightwing is concentrating on pleasing Starfire — although maybe I’m just reading into it — and I like that idea. Me, I’m more interested in a story called “Date Night” about superhero love lives than I am in yet another battle. I don’t think I’ll be picking up Titans just because of this, but that’s more due to little interest in the characters and less in the creative team.

Laura goes on to ask a very loaded question:

Which makes me wonder: what are people are really getting upset about in these semi-regular controversies about cheesecake: the sexual exploitation of women, or just… sex?

I think that goes a bit too far, without more specific statements from those complaining. It’s the kind of comment made by people who want to shut down discussion by women. (Edit: Not that I think Laura is doing that, but it’s uncomfortably similar.) If someone really objects to this cover (as opposed to wanting to rile people up for other reasons), then let them make their case. We can each evaluate it based on how plausible and sensible it seems. And this one, for me… not so much.

Update: Valerie has responded to Laura (link no longer available). Valerie calls it a matter of taste (ok) and says it doesn’t turn her on (fair enough). But then she goes on to condemn it in terms of its outreach outside the industry, which is making two mistakes: 1) it assumes that her tastes are more shared by “civilians” than Laura’s or mine, to take just two, and 2) it assumes that anyone who doesn’t read comics is even going to see or care about this.


14 Responses to “Sexy Titans Bad?”

  1. James Schee Says:

    I’m kind of curious to see where the controversy is as well. I checked ou the Comic Book Resources and ComicBloc boards. and saw a couple of complaints about the tongues.

    Most complaints seemed to be about people not liking Starfire or how this contradicts NIGHTWING writer Tomasi’s story that gave Grayson a new girlfriend.

    PS Who knew when I french kissed my then girlfriend on a video shot at a college party that I was making a porn video? Wow…

  2. Laura Hudson Says:

    I was referring to Valerie pretty exclusively, and the grounds on which she was annoyed with it. I guess I should have made that more specific, but I really wanted it to be about what she was saying, and not about her personally. As you’re not even willing to mention her name or take issue with her comments despite calling them “ridiculous,” perhaps you can relate.

  3. david brothers Says:

    Just out of curiosity– I know Hugh Grant. Who is the other Hugh?

  4. Laura Hudson Says:

    Also, if you’d read the other post of mine that I linked to in that entry — a much, much longer exploration of my differences with “those complaining” — you’d probably have a lot more context for my comments.

    Also, shut up. I don’t want to hear any discussion by women.

  5. Johanna Says:

    David: Hugh Jackman.

    Laura: Ok, I’ll read the longer piece. Thanks for clarifying — as you hint, it’s hard to respond to someone who seems to take everything personally. Sometimes I’d just rather not bother, especially when I like them as a person. Interesting that most of her commenters seem to disagree with her in this case.

  6. Laura Hudson Says:

    And I’m sorry if I was a little snappy in my last comment. Although she probably wouldn’t believe this, I do like Val as well as a person, and pick my battles with her carefully even though I disagree with her more often than call her out. But liking people and disagreeing with them are pretty separate to me — I’m way more likely to challenge people I’m close to, and whose opinion matters to me. I grew up in a family where charged debate was part of sharing who you were and what was important to you, and not a de facto personal attack.

    It’s soooo not gonna go down like that, though.

  7. Johanna Says:

    I know. Few people are comfortable with that approach. I learned it on Usenet, but back then, there were so many fewer options that you had to deal with it instead of running off to your own forum.

    I’ve edited the post to add Valerie’s response and some clarification of my own.

  8. Kirk Warren Says:

    I was under the impression the controversy, as you call it, was due to people upset that they are putting the two back together, despite there being absolutely no reason for it and they’ve been broken up longer than they were together.

    It makes no sense, especially in context of Nightwing’s current, and quite excellent with Tomasi at hte helm, series and all his other appearances over hte past few years.

    Of course, covers are typically sensationlized and they probably won’t even kiss or it will be due to some kind of villain’s influence or mind control or some garbage, but I think the point is still valid.

    Most people aren’t really upset about the actual cover or them kissing on it. It’s more the reasons for them kissing or getting back together that are infuriating people.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I hadn’t paid any attention to that at all. I still think of them as a couple (although I also think of Dick with Babs, too). And I suspect that that’s the audience DC is aiming at, people from that generation.

  10. Tiffany Z Says:

    I’ve been reading the reviews for the Titans books (1 and 2) and some are okay and some make it seem like this new book is the worst thing since child sex slavery. So, am I correct in saying that there is an agenda in the ‘bad reviews’? I’m seeing the negative press about the NW/SF pool kiss – for instance the ‘seems like porn’ statement is a common theme for not liking the cover.Tongues has made their appearance in the dialogue. Makes me wonder: when did the common comics fan become a prudish art critic.

    I, speaking only for myself, like the pairing, if for no other reason that (maybe) closure if nothing comes of the date night. And that’s becasue the pairing ended so – not even badly.It didn’t end at all. I remember the ‘break up’ was Dick and Kory were supposed to meet to talk about the situation and that she just didn’t show up. Huh? A great love affair ends by someone just not showing up? And then nothing is ever said again about it? And THEN the revisionist “Babs and Dick were so in love at the time” angle that came years later. I’m wondering if the Crisis was involved or if it was just that nobody cared. Anyway. My first impression of the cover was “OMG!” – in a good way. The fact that everyone seems to be tearing it apart has the same effect that hearing “The Time of My Life” played ad nausium -had on my seeing Dirty Dancing. It just made me so sick of the music I never did see the film. Poor me, missing the Swayze.

  11. James Schee Says:

    One thing about tongues in comics. Does that make Jeff Moy’s Legion run full of porn? Since there was someone sticking out their tongue in nearly every issue! It got to be a running joke in the old LSH AOL chats.:)

    (I miss those days, and talking with guys like Jeff, Tom McCraw, KC and the fans every week.)

  12. DC This Week: Titans #3, WW #21, Batman Confidential #18, Booster Gold #10 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] know it’s fashionable to bash this series, but I didn’t think it was all that bad. Someone’s using emotional warfare against the [...]

  13. Tiffany Zeisler Says:

    Well, no date night. Too bad.

  14. lisa Says:

    i am loving the cover!! isent anyone else happy that star and dick might get together again, they go great together!!

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