I’ve enjoyed Jimmy Palmiotti’s work for many years now – his stories, whether with Justin Gray or Amanda Conner – usually embrace the one element I really look for in comics: fun. Sure, he can do dark and serious as well, but in amongst all that, someone’s more often than not having a good time and not taking things too seriously.
Over the last few years, he and Conner have really hit the jackpot with the work they’ve done on the Harley Quinn series, pretty much taking her out of the mainstream DCU and just having a blast with her, barely paying any attention to what’s going on in the wider DC world – just witness the team up between her and Power Girl. Apart from a few cosmetic costume changes to PG, she was clearly the version Palmiotti was writing and Conner illustrating before Flashpoint and the New 52, even though she’d been replaced by the Earth 2 version.
While I don’t get the Harley series as a monthly, I have picked up the trades because of Palmiotti and Conner’s work, and I’ve really enjoyed them.
I’ve just read volume 5, The Joker’s Last Laugh and while it was a blast, there was a scene in there that made me groan not just at DC’s publishing policy but what I perceive to be an American issue.
Quick bit of setting the scene: Harley’s friends run burlesque show; she’s ticked off some powerful people who are about to storm the building and slaughter not just her but anyone else in the way. Just getting ready for the show are Queenie and a new girl:
Note the cat and dog on the right hand side.
Straight after this, two bad guys arrive and are about to shoot the girls before Goatboy – another of Harley’s friends – charges them, breaking the nose of one of them. Being bad guys, they plan to shoot Goatboy for standing up to them before the girls distract them:
And what are two burlesque performers going to use to distract the bad guys?
Yep, by flashing their boobs. This being an American comic aimed at teens, though, you’re not allowed to see those boobs, hence the cat and dog flying in front of them, obscuring them from the reader’s view.
With the bad guys distracted, the next panel is this:
The bad guys’ heads exploding as Big Tony arrives with a shotgun to save the day:
But thankfully the girls have now replaced their bras. Sure, we can still see the bloodied headless corpse of one bad guy, but at least we’re not seeing boobs.
This weird double standard is everywhere in American TV, films, video games and comic books – blood and guts are fine to view and (in the case of games) to allow the player to create, but the merest hint of nudity? Nope, we’re not having any of that, thank you very much.
I’ve no doubt there are scholarly papers written about this strange worldview and whether it stems from some anti-sex Puritan holdover mixed with some Second Amendment fuelled love of guns, but I just find it baffling that two consecutive comic books panels censor boobs in one then show heads being blown up in the next.
You sure are weird, America.