No Exit Astonishing X-Men v1 #2

I could write something about the art in virtually any comic, but for some reason nothing from Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira's Astonishing X-Men was leaping out at me. So I asked my wife to pick a random page and she came up with this...

Of course - in some perverse, twisted way it makes sense.Astonishing X-Men v1 #2 (April 1995) page 12 (detail)
Art by Joe Madureira.

That's some janky anatomy, to put it mildly.

Apocalypse is always one of those characters with weird anatomy. Some of it is excused with "well, he has total control over his body like an Eternal" or "it's not really his anatomy, it's a battlesuit." But really, it just boils down to the fact that his original Walt Simonson design was crafted for maximum graphic impact, anatomy be damned. The problem comes when you take the character out of the hands of someone like Simonson and have him rendered by someone who is trying to be realistic.

Yes, I just called Joe Madureira's art realistic. But let's catalogue the problems here:1

  • Apocalypse's neck is absurdly long because it pokes out of the top of his metal collar. For some reason his trapezius isn't developed the way you think it would be for someone with those super-developed pecs and shoulders three times wider than his waist.
  • I can't decide whether Apocalypse has two sets of pecs or if that's supposed to be battle armor on top of his pecs. I have a feeling Joe Mad and the colorist don't know either. If it's the former, he's developed extra muscle groups. If it's the latter, his pecs are enormous and his body armor shaped very weirdly.
  • Given the position of his forearms, his hands are twisted at some really weird angles.
  • Beneath the pecs he doesn't have a six-pack, he has a jet pack. One with uneven abs, and thanks to the coloring job, disturbingly pointy ones.
  • His thighs are as thick as his waist. He also seems to have a few extra muscle groups in his legs, and one thigh is longer than the other. Additionally, the left leg is thrust forward but the right leg is thrust back, but somehow his right foot is in front of his left foot.
  • Apocalypse's spine must be a slinky, because his head is thrown back, his chest is thrust forward, his waist is curved back and the bottom of his pelvis thrust forward.
  • I have no idea where the light source is coming from here. My guess is that Apocalypse is always surrounded by a lighting rig so he can turn on baby spots and gels as needed.

Snark aside, I can forgive a lot of these. This is hardly Rob Liefeld drawing Captain America - none of these flaws really jump out at you until you look at the image and try to pick it apart. What's more important to me is this: does this image have a graphic impact that justifies the distortion?

And the answer is no. Frankly, this is just a mediocre space-filling panel that doesn't have any real impact. Sorry, Joe Mad!

  1. For brevity's sake we'll ignore the ones that are common in superhero comics, like having male characters who are smoother than Ken dolls.

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