Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Hate Gallant Girl #1

Plot: Jim Valentino
Script: Kat Cahill
Art: Seth Damoose
Letters: Jason Hanley
Colours: Kanila Tripp
Editor: Kristen Simon

Every decade, the Fellowship of Freedom holds a pageant for female superheroes, with the winner joining the team and becoming the latest Gallant Girl. Renee Tempete wants to be the newest Gallant Girl, but she's not up to the exacting physical standards. Instead, she gets offered a job doing all the actual work for the winning useless bimbo...

That's the concept. And it's not a bad idea in theory, until you have to draw it.

Problem is, the story pulls artist Seth Damoose in two directions. On the one hand, Renee's got to be a plausible body double for the real Gallant Girl. So she can't look that different, at least from a moderate distance. But on the other hand, she's got to be (in some vague and unspecified way) physically unsuitable for the role. Effectively, the story requires her to be plain - and that's awfully hard for a cartoonist to get across.

The art doesn't manage it. Renee is signalled as "not suitable" by giving her black hair, but that doesn't really cut it. There's a half-hearted attempt near the end to suggest that she's a bit on the muscular side, but it just comes off as a dodgy piece of foreshortening. And like I say, if you exaggerate it to the point where it becomes clear, how are we supposed to believe that she could be plausible as a body double? (And for that matter, why does Renee even want to be Gallant Girl in the first place? We're told that she wanted to be a superhero, but why does she have to be that particular superhero?)

I assume the story is trying to satirise the way female superheroes are treated as eye candy first and as characters a distant second, and to use that as a general sexism metaphor - all fine in theory. But in doing so, they've come up with an idea that's virtually impossible to draw, and the book never manages to overcome that.

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