Looper’s written about veteran artist George Pérez’s retirement because of his sad state of health, discussing how he changed comicdom “forever”, but along the way, they most unfortunately seem to have exploited this situation to inject stealth propaganda for the sake of political correctness:
Diversity of female body types
The comic book industry has a history of reducing female characters to a few body types that are typically overly sexualized; this was especially prominent in the 1980s and 1990s. However, Pérez showed women could be depicted in various ways to highlight beauty without reducing them to cheesecake.
As Pérez told Syfy Wire in 2017, Wonder Woman comes from “an island of Amazon, and they’re supposed to all be paragons of beauty, but they also look like different women. So you have to find different interpretations of what beauty is.”
Pérez went on to explain the importance of depicting Wonder Woman (and other female characters) as “a paragon of feminine beauty” without making her “a sexist paragon.” His approach wasn’t limited to Wonder Woman and other Amazons. Other characters he created, such as Starfire and Raven, were based on fairly different women. As Pérez shared in a 1987 interview, Starfire was modeled off Marilyn Monroe while Raven was based on “Persis Khambatta, [an Indian] actress who played in the first ‘Star Trek’ film.”
Overall, Pérez’s depictions of women reflect that it has always been possible to represent a variety of female forms that still fit within the expectations of superhero comics.
I’m afraid this reeks of a sad excuse to use dialect that sounds more like a hint at glorifying obesity, and certainly petty complaints about “oversexualization”. It ignores that in the first year or so of Wonder Woman vol.2, there was a scene with implied nudity, where Diana was praying to the Greek gods outdoors by the Kapatelis household. Or, how about the costume Perez gave the Scarlet Witch in Avengers circa 1998-2002? What isn’t clear from this is whether they think the characterization gave the ladies intelligence to admire. Isn’t that where credit is due?
They also bring up Crisis on Infinite Earths, saying:
Contributing so many characters to this series set an incredibly high visual standard. “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is a comics event that all future events have been compared to, and part of that is due to Pérez’s spectacular art.
Many shared universe-wide crossovers ever since have been increasingly worse, utterly pointless. For instance, Zero Hour was particularly hideous, what with the way it followed up on the premise of Emerald Twilight in Green Lantern to portray Hal Jordan in as loathsome a way as possible. How can any later crossover that excruciating be “compared” positively to Crisis on Infinite Earths (COIE) if it’s got none of the same morale and good writing? That’s something else they’re ambiguous about.
Even if COIE had entertainment value for its time, it’s no excuse for sugarcoating later examples and failing to stress how trashing merit led to poorer examples. Or how, while it may be fine to add as many shared universe cast members as possible to the main tale, that doesn’t mean the story had to be attached to only so many ongoing series as possible in the process, because in the long run, it drained whatever potential they had for self-contained storytelling, and along the way, even that much was devastated by bad writing that was less dedicated to what made the stories work in the first place, and didn’t feel like the DCU/MCU anymore. There’s only so much DC/Marvel have done in the years since that feel utterly contrived, and that’s why, crossovers or not, their modern output no longer delivers.
Perez was a talented artist and writer over the years. But sadly, he’s of a generation that many of today’s creators are unlikely to appreciate or want to emulate, and these press sources writing about his past resume aren’t doing him any favors either. If today’s quality of mainstream art from newer artists is so poor, how can one say Perez changed the landscape forever when most of them aren’t making any serious effort to emulate his examples?
Originally published here.