Wednesday, October 18, 2006

DC's Topless Super-Heroine

Back in the bad old 90's of mega-hypersexualization and exploitation of the female form in comics there was one ensemble series that routinely portrayed a super-heroine in revealing poses, skimpy costumes and even showed her as topless in several issues.

This book was not not from an adult comic or magazine publisher. Rather, it was part of a regular line-up of what would later be called a 'legacy' book, and was intimately tied to the history of the Zero Hour DC Universe.

That book was L.E.G.I.O.N., which would later change to R.E.B.E.L.S. as the theme of the story changed.

L.E.G.I.O.N. starred several powerful females, a proto-type Emerald Empress (who was morbidly obese and made svelte by the Emerald Eye), an amnesiac and time-displaced LSH-era native of the phantom dimension of Bgztl and the mysterious Stealth, a fighter of indeterminate powers who used the awesome power of Gymkata against her foes.

Under the hand of Giffen, Stealth was an unusual character. Much of what she was remained undocumented. She was basically the skilled ass-kicking hot chick every series seems to require. Stealth had some sort of sonic ability, making her the outer-space equivalent of the Black Canary. She also had a strange physiology. She healed fast and to become pregnant she had a biological compulsion to assault, rape and kill males (it wasn't clear how she mated and conceived, but the damage to the male was always traumatic and fatal. I suspect teeth were involved, somehow). She was also featured in an alarmingly nasty issue written and drawn by Giffen, who went all out in his meaty, graphic rendering of an alien gestation and birth.

But it isn't Stealth this entry is about. Stealth was pretty, but she always wore the usual 90's martial art attire of the average fantasy stripper. Stealth was usually depicted as clothed, if however in skimpy fashion. Rather, I'm referring to the powerhouse of the L.E.G.I.O.N., the sensitive character who was often the conscience and tender soul of the group: Strata.

Strata could often be seen in tortured poses that showed her buttocks and breasts at the same time. She often bent forwards, giving the reader a peek at the goods at the front and rear. Strata was used as pure cheesecake by the artists and was often held as a captive in chains or under some form of mind control by a sadistic man. Strata was constantly in danger and in spite of her great physical and emotional strength was usually rescued by a male with much weaker powers.

In fact, it was over several issues of R.E.B.E.L.S. that the exploitation of Strata hit high gear, in which she was gratuitously topless in nearly every scene she appeared in. The issues had the surprising bonus of her nudity not being being creatively hidden by placing her in what is called Editorial Swimwear, where a clearly nude character is "dressed" by the use of strategically placed smoke, shadows or random objects such as furniture or plants.

Behold, DC's hard-core nudie book featuring Strata, in all her glory!

From R.E.B.E.L.S. #4 (February 1995)

Is she hot or what?

The egregious use of a female form for the titillation of fanboys/girls was so extreme that this scene even had one alien copping a grope, and Strata didn't take offense. She must have been asking for it, having dressed like that. A girl can't expect to walk around topless and not have some guy go for her goodies.

Issue after issue of gratuitous frontal nudity and not one negative letter was generated. This one went right under the radar, or everyone liked her rack enough not to complain that DC shoved it in our faces every issue. If this book was published today the internet forums would be overwhelmed with posts made by finger-wagging amateur comic book critics demanding Didio's resignation.


  1. To be fair, if DC were to publish Calvin and Hobbes today the internet forums would be overwhelmed with posts made by finger-wagging amateur comic book critics demanding Dido's resignation.

  2. I am outraged at this, and yet I feel kind of tingly inside, too.


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