Marvel has made great strides in recent months to diversify their output. No place is this more apparent than in the increasing number of titles meant to appeal to women. Storm, Elektra, the all-female X-Men book, She-Hulk, the upcoming Thor relaunch, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, and Captain Marvel are all books headlined by women. This is a move to diversify and I fully support it. Joining the ranks of these titles is the upcoming Spiderwoman book by writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Greg Land (I’ll state for the record that I do NOT like Land’s art). The launch of this book comes at the beginning of a big Spider-Man related storyline called ‘Spiderverse’, which ought to help sales of Spiderwoman initially.
There’s a problem.
A big problem, in my opinion.
It’s a problem that continues to plague the comic book industry, and one that I thought was getting better.
Notice a difference?
Manara’s cover is blatantly sexist. The focus of the image is clearly on Spiderwoman’s ass. This is an issue of sexual objectification of women in comics, which, as I mentioned above, is an ongoing problem in the comic book industry. Men are never drawn like this. While male heroes in comics are male power fantasies with idealized bodies, they are not sexually objectified. The focus of artists is not on bulging crotches and plump asses of male characters. Yet this is a focus for female characters. Nowhere is this made more apparent than at the Hawkeye Initiative.
About The Hawkeye Initiative
Created on December 2nd 2012, The Hawkeye Initiative uses Hawkeye and other male comic characters to illustrate how deformed, hyper-sexualized, and impossibly contorted women are commonly illustrated in comics, books, and video games.
After seeing the origin posts on Tumblr, Skjaldmeyja started the The Hawkeye Initiative as a means to keep track of the artwork that was quickly being created, with the blog’s name taken from the tags on Hoursago’s post.
Here is an example from the Hawkeye Initiative:
These are only two examples in a multitude of images found in comics. Women are drawn in sexualized poses that you never find men in. The “camera angle” so often used to depict women focuses on T&A, while the same is not said for men.
This is problematic. Marvel is supposedly attempting to appeal to female comic book readers in an attempt to diversify, yet the alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1 is exactly the kind of thing that pisses women off (and a lot of men too, like myself). It doesn’t help. It’s two steps back when they claim to be moving forward.
The Mary Sue says Milo should be sent back to the drawing board.
i09 says it looks like she is covered in body paint.
Vox says this is not a good sign for women. I agree.
Even Slate has criticized Marvel (I don’t usually see Slate discussing comic books. In all fairness, the issue is about sexual objectification of women, which is a serious problem in society, and one that Slate does tackle.)
Seriously. If Picasso were solicited on a cover, would you be complaining the face he drew had 2 eyes on the same side of its head? C’mon.
I understand what Dan is getting at, but it’s no excuse. Manara’s cover is sexually objectifying. Women in society deal with issues of sexual objectification EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It is a problem caused by men who view women as sexual objects. It is a problem that needs to stop. It won’t stop by dismissing it as “this is how he draws”. It stops by saying “either redraw this, or we will find another artist for the alternate cover”. I’d go a step further and tell Milo Manara what the problem is and explain to him that in the future if he wants to work for Marvel, he will not draw women in sexually objectifying poses. It is entirely possible to draw beautiful women in ways that do not focus on their T&A. It happens. Just not enough. Come on Marvel. You can do better. If you want to acquire more women readers, you had better do better.