"Little in the middle but she got much back...does whatever a spider can!"
Is that how the Spider-Woman theme song goes? No? Are you sure? Because have you seen this photo from Spider-Woman Issue No. 1?
Marvel released this image of their new superhero character, who is actually an old superhero character: Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman. And they are pairing her up with another female superhero named Silk. Awesome! There is so much girl power happening over at Marvel and we love it.
And then we saw this illustration of Spider-Woman and well…we cringed a wee bit.
She is kind of doing the iconic Spider-Man pose, but she's not really crawling up a building or doing anything very athletic. Jessica is basically bending over in her painted-on costume, putting her ass in the air and spreading her legs.
How does that fight crime? Besides the distraction strategy, of course.
We are not saying that female superheroes can't have curves, be feminine or look sexual. We're just saying that our introduction to (reboot of?) this strong female character should be more of her in action and less of her in downward facing dog.
The art was done by Milo Manara, who is known for his erotica-dominant work, so a lot of people are throwing up their hands and yelling, "This is what you get when you ask an erotic artist to draw a female superhero! What did you expect would happen?!"
But then there is this comparison that we (and the rest of the Internet) couldn't help but make:
Marvel's senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort responded to the controversy surrounding the artwork via his Tumblr after a fan asked him about the backlash:
I think that the people who are upset about that cover have a point, at least in how the image relates to them. By that same token, Milo Manara has been working as a cartoonist since 1969, and what he does hasn't materially changed in all that time. So when we say "Manara cover", his body of work indicates what sort of thing he's going to do. It's also, for a Manara piece, one of the less sexualized ones, at least to my eye. Maybe others feel differently. But given that the character is covered head-to-toe, and is crouched in a spider-like pose, it seems far less exploitative to me than other Manara pieces we've run in previous months and years.
But all that said, it's the right of every reader not to like something. And fortunately, it's a variant cover, so people will likely need to seek it out if they want it, rather than it being the display piece for the book. I think a conversation about how women are depicted in comics is relevant at this point, and definitely seems to be bubbling up from the zeitgeist. That too is fine. Nothing gets better unless ideas are communicated.
The cover art (pictured below) is way less rump-centric and more superhero adjacent:
What do you guys think? Is the illustration blatantly and overtly sexual and cause for uproar, or do people need to calm down and unclench?