Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Who sexed up Spider-Woman and does it matter?

About a week or two ago Marvel announced a couple new titles, one of which was a new Spider-Woman book. No big deal, right? I mean there's a handful of really adamant Spider-Woman fans out there but Marvel has something like 6 different female driven comics right now and what feels like a dozen different Spider-Man books. A new Spider-Woman book should have just been a regular announcement, but it wasn't. The image above is why.

What you're looking at is the preview of an alternate cover by renowned European (ie erotic) artist Milo Manara. Now let me preface everything I say here by saying I'm a slight fan of Manara's work. I have I think all of two or three comics he's drawn and I have a couple Milo Manara pictures in my "unsorted reference picture" folder on my computer at home. I'm what you'd call a lowercase fan. Anyway, the point here is that holy cow this cover is receiving a lot of negative attention, mostly on comic/geeky blogs but in a couple buzzfeed like places too.

Obviously the cover by Manara is provocative, I can't imagine that it wasn't supposed to be. When you hire someone with the pedigree of Milo Manara you know you're going to get a sexy cover but I don't think there would be as big of an uproar if this was just a sexy cover. The reader's eye is immediately drawn to her ass or more specifically to the super-wedgie she's sporting. It pushes this from what many would consider sexy to near obscene. It doesn't feel very powerful either, the way she's on all fours with her butt in the air it comes across as pretty submissive. More sex doll than superhero.

Just for fun, let's contrast that cover to the way she's been drawn in some of her most recent and memorable appearances:

My point here is that Spider-Woman is not exactly the most demure character ever created. That's not to excuse the Manara cover, I don't really like the cover. Marvel as of late has made a big push to attract female readership, isn't a cover like this by an artists like Manara the exact kind of thing that pushes away female readers? Well, that's why I tried to include some context.

I'm not 100% sure Marvel was targeting female readers with a Spider-Woman series. I have a feeling that Spider-Woman was aimed directly at the stereotypical fanboy, the one with Cheetos stained fingers and impure thoughts about She Hulk. Those guys still exist, and they have money too. As much as I love the current She Hulk or Ms Marvel books I'm sure there are plenty of readers that wish Ms. Marvel (now Captain Marvel) was still fighting crime in thigh-high boots and a swimsuit. Should Marvel completely ignore those guys?

That was an honest question, I don't have an answer. Does Marvel have anything to gain making books for the stereotypical fanboy? Does a near vulgar alternate cover (lets remember it's the alternate cover not the one you will see on comixology) alienate a large untapped group of readers? The cynic in me says that a Spider-Woman solo title was dead in the water anyway and probably won't last more than 12 issues. This might not be the kind of attention Marvel thought they were going to get but I doubt they're that upset about it. Attention is the exact reason you hire Milo Manara to draw alternate covers in the first place.

To sum up, I have very little opinion on the matter. I'll leave you with a picture of Spider-Man in a similar pose (spandex wedgie included) and the question. If this cover was the exact same, with Spider-Woman swapped in for Spider-Man, same pose and everything, would it look like the Spider was about to mount her?

Does that illustrate a difference in what you can get away with drawing male vs female superheroes? Is that sexism? These questions and more answered probably never...


B said...

"Well, it's been two hours. How do you feel?"
"I dunno. I kinda want a cigarette."
"That's a good start. Let's get you a pack. What's your brand?"
" Anything slim!"

kevin n. on August 26, 2014 at 8:08 PM said...

dad why did you take me to a gay steel mill?



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