Since there’s been a lot of talk lately about how women are drawn in superhero comics, anatomy, costume design, and the ongoing case of the disappearing spines, I thought I’d show you how Natasha used to be drawn, in panels dated 1970-73.
Note with wonder and amazement the fully functional all-the-way-up-thank-you zipper, the lack of gratuitous, lovingly detailed asscrack, and the sheer possibility of this anatomy. These panels aren’t perfect, or free from exaggeration or awkwardness (what illustrated story of adult human beings dressed in really tight pyjamas and swinging from rooftops is?) but they are typical.
One of the most bizzarre claims I hear about superhero comics is that objectification is an inherent part of the genre, like powers or capes or everyone in Gotham being too stupid to figure out that Bruce Wayne is Batman. While sexism has always been a part of the superhero stuff, it’s hardly been a constant. The Liefeldian nipple-guard aesthetic couldn’t have survived under the strictest days of the Comics Code, when Marvel editorial had Jim Steranko actually erase the cleavage lines from his pencils. I’m not dreaming of a return to a rigid house style, or a return to Bronze Age dialogue, but man, I’d love it if artists today all suddenly, collectively realized that the zipper on Natasha’s costume goes up all the way.
There’s nothing about the way she’s “always” been drawn that says that they couldn’t.
Panels by John Buscema, Don Heck, and Gene Colan.