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How artists draw super-heroes is intriguing.

Some (lesser) artists give all male super-bodies the same muscular frame and all super-women a standard toned yet curvy torso. But a quick look at real-life athletes reveals differences between, say, runners and wrestlers, or gymnasts and weight-lifters.

A small but evocative thing about artists such as Darwyn Cooke, Neal Adams and Carmine Infantino is how they give DC’s Flash slimmer arms and a narrower torso than Superman. A guy who manifests his power via running doesn’t need the same upper-body bulk as a man who lifts mountains.

(The beefy forearms and giant pectorals that Michael Turner sometimes gave The Flash always struck me as odd.)

Of course, these characters get their powers via miracles of pseudo-science rather than their own exertion, so their bodies don’t have to look like their abilities.

But distinguishing the characters from each other can make comics art more visually interesting than a parade of identical bodies. And body types that match super-powers help readers understand who’s who and what each one can do, especially in stories crowded with characters.

Since bodies don’t have to match powers, though, it’d be interesting to have a hero who’s small and skinny but super-strong, or one who’s fat but fast, or one who looks frail but is indestructible. As a guy with a less-than-perfect physique, I might find a lot of wish-fulfillment in such characters — and I don’t think I’m alone.

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