Thursday, September 01, 2005

X-MEN: PHOENIX - LEGACY OF FIRE Marvel Comics, 2003

Boob War Week continues with X-Men: Phoenix – Legacy of Fire, a book that is Boob War in its purest form.

A caveat: in order to do this comic justice, I’ve included some typical panels of art in this post. The art may not be work safe, although technically there is no nudity. Technically. Believe me, with this comic it was difficult to find panels that didn’t have crotch/ass/breast shots. So anyway, be warned! Your boss may wonder why you’re looking at pictures of half-naked cartoon ladies.

X-Men: Phoenix – Legacy of Fire was published under Marvel’s MAX imprint, and was connected to the regular X-Men universe by the thinnest of plot threads. The book references the Shadow King, the Phoenix, and there’s a character called Madelyne, but that’s about it. Were I a cynical person, I would say that they slapped the X-Men title on this book in an effort to raise sales, even though the interior content is only tangentially related to the X-Men books proper. But I’m not cynical – I like to think that the creators and editors had a pure artistic vision of an alternate reality based on the X-Men mythos where chicks run around in thongs. It’s art, man. Art.

Written and illustrated by Ryan Kinnaird with a liberal dose of computer generated effects, X-Men: Phoenix is a pseudo-manga fantasy that is such a pure expression of the Boob War principles that it has an “explicit advisory” notice on the cover.

There is no sex per se in the comic, but everything is highly sexualized. The two female protagonists, Jena and Madelyne, run around in scant outfits that leave little to the imagination, and the art is downright lascivious. Seriously, if there is even the slightest chance for a crotch/ass/breast shot, Kinnaird takes it.

Here, look:

See what I mean? The “camera” placement in this book isn’t accidental – there are more crotch shots in this book than in an up-skirt fetish mag.

I don’t want to get into the story too much because… you know, I don’t know if I actually even read this comic. I mean, I must have… Let’s just say that the art distracts one’s attention from the narrative, which isn’t terribly gripping.

One thing I do know about the story is that there are two hot, half-naked sisters who live in Limbo, there’s a scary skull guy named The Shadow King, that the sisters go on a quest, and that bikini waxing is clearly a priority in their lives. There – you’re now up to speed.

This comic came out during Bill Jemas’ tenure as Marvel president. I would have paid money to listen in on the editorial meeting where they discussed this book. In an oft-repeated convention here at Dave’s Long Box, allow me to speculate what the behind-the-scenes dialogue would have sounded like:

Marvel Big-Shot: “So what’s it about?”

Editor: “Umm, I’m not 100% sure. But it’s got tits. And crotch shots.”

Marvel Big-Shot: “Yeah, but what’s the story?”

Editor: “Well, there are these two chicks. Girls, really. And they don’t wear a lot of clothes. And, um, they have tits.”

Marvel Big-Shot: “That’s it?”

Editor: “They wear little thongs, too.”

Marvel Big-Shot: “I don’t know…”

Editor: “How about we change the names of the girls and call it an X-Men book?”

Marvel Big-Shot: “I LOVE it!”

One of the issues that I have with this book, and with some manga comics in general, is that the sexy female characters look so damn young. Throughout this mini-series we get flashbacks of Jena as a young girl, learning the ways of the Phoenix or something, and she’s wearing outfits that would make strippers blush. I guess I can understand the school girl fetish of Japanese comics – it’s a different culture and all that – but when that same aesthetic gets transplanted into American comics, it seems a little creepy.

Jena has a friend, a perky elf-girl named Nid, who looks like an eleven-year old girl who has had breast augmentation. Here’s a panel at the end of the book where Nid affectionately places her hands on her friend’s naked hips as they walk and talk:

“I think that legacy is over, and a new one is just beginning. Now let’s go take a bath!”

You have to give X-Men: Phoenix some credit for being so unabashedly naughty and titillating, but I question the wisdom/ethics of marketing this particular Boob War comic to X-Men fans instead of just being honest and calling it Thong Quest.


Anonymous said...

I had been under the impression (admittedly having bought said comic) that is was part of the Marvel Mangaverse experiment.

Neez said...

Whats up with the big pubic bone on these girls? Do we need to get that detailed in the crotch area? Not that I was looking.

Cant wait to see what you have for us for tomorrow!

Oh, and since Boob War week really didnt get started til like tuesday, I say we extend it a few more days.


Matt Shepherd said...


Shakespeare, man. Pure Shakespeare.

If King Lear had more crotch shots, I would have found high school a lot more interesting.

Anonymous said...

It was a Marvel Mangaverse book, but IIRC the first issue was released w/o the advistory, and retailers freaked at the content, so Marvel slapped a MAX title on the next two issues.

Ryan Kinnaird mainly does illos for PSM magazine. His illustration of Ashley from Resident Evil 4 in the recent swimsuit issue was just... disturbing. I'm not sure he knows what a natural female breast looks like.

Matt Shepherd said...

Sorry... that should have read



It's the question-mark-exclamation-mark ensemble that gives that panel its awesome power.

Keith Pille said...

I bought Phoenix #1 towards the very end of my "buy everything with an X on it" phase, and Jesus Christ. That's one of the only comics that I've ever felt compelled to hide out of embarassment. That, and maybe the covers of those early Emma Frost books, which were more like Skank War than Boob War.

Marionette said...

Is it just me or do these girls have no waist? they seem to go from rib cage to hip without any space inbetween.

Batiduende said...

What actually amazed me about that miniseries was that the artist actually managed to find a way to make the girls even more naked as the story progressed. In the final issue, only Jean Grey's parts that can only appear in NC-17 movies and porn are covered. And when I mean only those parts, it's only those parts and not one centimeter more. Also, for some reasons that cannot be explained without cynisism, there is a make out session between Jean Grey and Illyiana Rasputin in one of the books.

David Campbell said...

That's right! There's a full-on tongue kiss scene with a character called "Ilyana."

Sleestak said...

This book looks nasty as those Brat Pack covers

Mark W. Hale said...

... but when that same aesthetic gets transplanted into American comics, it seems a little creepy.

No, Dave, I'm pretty sure it's creepy in Japan, too.

Bigseek said...

I think the artist needs to learn how to draw boobs proper like.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't seem to be quite a thong -- it's more like a single square of Glad Wrap.

Kevin Church said...

This book looks nasty as those Brat Pack covers.

Except, you know, Brat Pack is a freakin' great novel and this is Bondage Fairies 2.0: The Re-Tittening.

Winterteeth said...

Can I declare Beaucoupkevin the winner?

Marionette said...

See the thing is it doesn't actually look like exposed skin. there is no definition and no detail. It looks more like they are wearing some kind of tight all-over bodysuit.

Brian Cronin said...

The main concern that I had with this series was that I believe that Ryan Kinnaird is actually a talented artist.

So to seem him, well, basically waste that talent drawing titty books...well, it was annoying.

Anonymous said...

See, this comic was much more fun when Adam Warren was writing/artisting and it was called The Dirty Pair. I bet he took one look at this, ranted for five days about how Marvel was ripping him off, then decided to do Livewires just to show 'em how it's done.

And I gotta agree about the manga/anime fascination with pre-teen girls. Now I can understand it when the story is about, for instance, a seventh-grader and her wacky adventures with a talking mackerel. But when characters in their 30s are looking like Dakota Fanning.... Yeah, Americans have their own weird sexy comic-babe fascination, but at least it makes a kind of sense. You don't see anyone drawing Tyra Banks and saying it's Amanda Waller.

No wonder Grant Morrison wanted to kill Phoenix so badly.

joncormier said...

So this is what I was missing all those years I wasn't following comics? My loss. I guess?

thekelvingreen said...

Yeah, I think this turned up in the last wave of Mangaverse titles, well after the main event ended. I imagine quite a few people expected this to follow on from the Mangaverse X-Men one-shot only to find something quite different and hideous.

I'd imagine Marvel's excuse would be that the fleshy bits are in fact just some kind of pink leotard; I'll accept that answer from Miyazaki over Nausicaa), but I wouldn't believe it for a minute from Marvel.

Jon Silpayamanant said...

See the thing is it doesn't actually look like exposed skin. there is no definition and no detail. It looks more like they are wearing some kind of tight all-over bodysuit.

That's what I was thinking.

Anonymous said...

You know what's the first thing I notice? "Wow, they've got great hair!"

How straight am I? (I'm a girl, by the way)

Great site you've got here!

Anonymous said...

i don't see what all the fuss is about

it's just mediocre 3d renderings of nubile women, i mean objectifications of asymetrical nubile women who've subjected themselves to a little plastic surgery

they looked like working girls and not the kind that would inspire penile turgidity or marital infidelity or anything that would coax paper bills from my tightly clapsed leather bound wallet

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