Grotesque Anatomy
Monday, June 21, 2004
  All Naked Rob Liefeld Captain America, All The Time
Courtesy of Elena Berges, those of us unable to read Spanish can finally enjoy ADLO's analysis (warning: progressively work-unsafe) of Rob Liefeld's unique take on Captain America:

(Page 1)
(Image: Rob Liefeld's Captain America)

Greetings, true believers! Before you, *ADLO*! sets itself to distill the true essence of *genius*, the *peak* to which few artists (*Leonardo da Vinci* and *Mr Bean*, to quote two examples) have achieved thanks to the tip of their... *fingers*, and in which our spiritual leader *ROB!* moves like rice paper on the light table.

We all know this *great work* in which the artist par excellence presents the American symbol par excellence, *Coca Cola*.. erm, sorry, *Captain America!* in a version that not only took the best from the creations of *Joe Simon*, *Jack Kirby* and *Ana Rosa Quintana*[1], but raised it to the altar of geniality.

But *Genius* does not only come from innate *talent*. True *genius* digs below the mere drawing to reach the *essence* of the character. Just like *Picasso* rejected 50 sketches of the *Demoiselles d'Avignon*, to tell something about some chicks I haven't really understood, the great artist *ROB!*, who doesn't need so much sketching, dived into the character of *Captain America* to show us a deep portrait of American society.

Before all of us, *ROB!* shows the ideal American, multiracial, who speaks with an universal language to mankind; the shield, ready to protect, the chin mighty, firm chest, offering it to the enemy like a brave man, and a stance that makes us think not only of two pectorals, but of four.

[1] Ana Rosa Quintana is the Spanish Oprah, and famous for a case of plagiarism. This is why she's the muse of ADLO!

(Page 2)
(Image: Same drawing, but without the shield)

However, behind that apparent invulnerability, the great artist reflects a more complex reality, and a hidden message only for intelligent eyes. But, *Alas!*, the genius of the artist's mind is far above ours, mere talentless mortals.

Be grateful that I, after a *revelation*, in which I saw Babylon burn, a goat with twelve horns and in each horn a name, and in each name a city, and in each city a... ehem, sorry, I mean, we've accessed the *Hidden Files* of *ROB!* to show us, readers, what hides *ROB!'s Captain America*.

Analyzing with spectrographies, chromatographies and X rays generously handed over by a *Kryptonian* we observe that divesting Captain America of his shield, the likeness, the strength of the character remain plain to see, but it's also made patent by the shape of his buttocks, his pressed abdominals (maybe a *girdle*?) and his swollen mammaries, that we are not only in front of a watchful *fatherly* figure, but also a *motherly* one, who waits lovingly for her children.

With this simple picture, we are offered a likeness of *America* as father - mother of her inhabitants. But, in the manner of *Chinese boxes*, where one revelation leads to another, lie in this work more *hidden messages*, that only with a risky communion of hi-tech and mystical expectation can we guess.

(Page 3)
(Image: Captain America has been stripped off his clothes below the neckline and has a tiny tiny penis)

The *Father - Mother* duality of the symbolism inherent in the character, true believers, is strengthened in a deeper inspection.

Stripping *Captain America* of his clothes the *hermaphroditism* fades away. Despite the Captain's testicular ostentation, his *member* does not correlate to his mammary capacity.

What do we have here, then? He's no longer a *perfect* hermaphrodite, no longer the ideal *father - mother*. Now he is a father that tries to be a mother, because his authority, his *virile potency*, is reduced.

In a few lines, the *supreme artist* gives us an acute and critical reflection about the North-American society *Captain America* represents. From a father watchful for his children (the Army) to a loving mother (the Motherland) to a being of mere appearance. The sociologic criticism in a work of such symbolism, hidden to the majority, could only be made by a peerless genius.

(Page 4)
(Image: Same as above, but the tiny tiny penis is erect)

But the surprises and the *message* that this *genius* has offered the world don't end in a mere criticism. If we *investigate* even further, if we *observe* more with the heart than the eyes, we will be witnesses of a *revelation*.

YES! Although we all could think that the *member* of the character was dead weight, *ROB!* shows us that it's *operational*. Ready to *penetrate*, to *conquer*, to face the adversities.

This is what makes a *hero*, rising above his *defects* to achieve what others do effortlessly and yet, surpassing them. *ROB!* hasn't made a mere portrait of a *superhero*, or a mere critic of a *nation*; no, true believers. *ROB!* has portrayed the whole of *mankind*. A portrait full of tenderness and love for humankind, which sees us as *heroes* fighting against ourselves.

We must be aware of the *messages* hidden in the work of the artist. And neither can we dwell on mere superficial analysis. The simple act of brushing the *work* of this author, of this *genius*, draws us to inspect ourselves, to peel off our layers of knowledge like the peels of an onion. We must *unlearn* our patterns of thinking. Only this way will we be able, if anything, to take a peek at what happens in the mind of a *genius*.

Truly thought-provoking stuff, but I'm still trying to work out how it all fits in with the ongoing "Are superheroes fascistic?" debate.  (So Cap's tiny penis means he's not a fascist?  Or does it make him [and, by analogy, the U.S.] more fascistic as he tries to overcompensate for his, ahem, shortcomings?)  In the meantime, be sure to browse the rest of ADLO's site for further critical commentary, such as a page-by-page analysis of Liefeld's "Heroes Reborn" version of Captain America; an appreciation of the perfect Liefeldian female form; an examination of the symbolism behind Cap's size-changing shield; a comparative study of the many cases of plagiarism supposedly committed by Liefeld; and much, much more.
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Iron Fist

by John Jakala

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