You might be asking yourself, "Damnit, what happened now? Did someone introduce a female character who is a total idiot, but is hot? Did a current female character act sexy when she should be the symbol of female empowerment? Did a male superhero put down a female superhero?" Well, the answer is: none of the above! This time, a potentially racy variant cover has created an uproar. Why? Well, let's take a closeup look at it.
Look! It's a heart…it's a couple hams pressed together…it's SPIDER-WOMAN! Specifically, it's the variant cover of the new Spider-Woman #1. Now, let's take a look at the full cover.
It doesn't take a genius to see why people have reacted negatively to this. At first glance, it does indeed appear suggestive. That is, until you look at it a bit longer (not for that reason) and realize that she's just in a wall-crawling pose. We've seen Spider-Man in similar poses, so why is it wrong for Spider-Woman? Well, Megan Friedman of Elle wrote a harsh review of the variant cover titled "This Is What Happens When Men Try to Draw a Female Superhero." The cover was drawn by renowned artist Milo Manara. In the article, Friedman said
"It's hard out there for a female superhero. When Wonder Woman finally ended up in a movie, the Hollywood powers that be made her look like Xena, cutting out all her campy fun. And when Spider-Woman gets a rare comic book series, she ends up looking like a porn star. […] Spider-Woman looks like she's simply covered in body paint, flashing the city she's ostensibly protecting. […] All in all, the image seems to toe the line of pornographic; imagine Spider-Man in that position instead, and the concept would have never gotten this far."Strong words, and with many assumptions thrown in there. I won't touch on her Wonder Woman comments, but let's get down to business:
- Megan Friedman refers to Spider-Woman getting a "rare" comic book series, when in reality, she's had a decent run. Volume 1 (50 issues) ran from April 1978 to June 1983, Volume 2 (4 issues) ran from November 1993 to February 1994, Volume 3 (18 issues) ran from July 1999 to December 2000, and Volume 4 (7 issues) ran from November 2009 to May 2010. Now, those numbers aren't stellar, and she definitely hasn't had the attention other major heroes have gotten, like Spider-Man or Iron Man, but she's gotten more than some more well-known heroes, such as Hawkeye. Now she's getting a brand new series, so I wouldn't exactly call her series "rare." Common? Probably not, but not rare.
- She looks like a porn star? Really? Look, anyone with common sense can see that her butt is sticking out, but it's not like she's biting her lip, bent over a table, and waiting for some man to grab her ass and start plowing. Let's relax for a second. Also, saying she looks like she's in body paint and flashing the city? Does she not know that nearly all superheroes, male or female, have hyper-unrealistically tight costumes? You can almost always see every muscle, every vein, and yes, even every bulge in those tight-ass suits. So is she trying to make the case that when a man does it, it's okay, but when a woman does it, it's pornography? Doesn't that violate the very argument she's trying to make?
- "...imagine Spider-Man in that position instead, and the concept would have never gotten this far." Yes, let's try our hardest to imagine Spider-Man in such a pose. It would probably look something like this:
So, if Spider-Woman is flashing the city and displaying herself like she's in a porno, does that mean Spider-Man is doing the same thing? No, it's the classic wall-crawling pose common among Marvel's Spider heroes. Also, this is a variant cover for Spider-Woman #1, so it's optional; if you don't want to buy it, you don't have to. For anyone interested, here's the official cover:
As elegantly stated by YouTube channel host Maddox, "If you don't want to sexualize her, then don't sexualize her." I feel the whole argument comes down to some people shaming the human body and making sex this ugly thing that should be looked down upon. Even though I don't find the cover to be that big of a deal, I can still understand why it's a topic for discussion. Sexualizing the female body has been a problem in comics for a long time, and only in the past few decades has there been a shift in perception. However, shaming the artists who created the cover and comparing Spider-Woman to a porn star is downright disrespectful. When people try to make the argument that men would never be found in this pose, even though they have been, and that it's a grab for male attention, you also end up telling women what they can or can't do. Fans of Milo's artwork, both men and women alike, have celebrated it as empowering the female form and something that makes the public realize that the female body is nothing to be ashamed of. Also, to suggest that this happened because a man drew it is flat out sexist.
What do YOU think of the Spider-Woman #1 variant cover? Is it overly sexualized and degrading to women? Is it empowering? Should people stop putting labels to things when there's no reason to? Let us know what you think in the comments section! Thanks for reading, everyone! My name is Sam Lascio, and I am a Fanboy!