So, much to everyone’s shock (I’m guessing), I have very little problem with the Milo Manara Spider-Woman #1 variant cover. Surprising to nobody, I do have some issues with the information we have thus far for the forthcoming Spider-Woman book.
So let’s get into it.
Milo Manara is a well-known creator/writer/artist primarily of porn and erotica, perhaps mostly notably a series called Click! (which, full disclosure, I own). So, when you hire Milo Manara to draw a variant, you are hiring him to get a very specific thing: titillating erotic imagery that is at the very least reminiscent of porn and generally of women.
This is exactly what he delivered. It seems ridiculous to criticize Manara for delivering exactly what he does and what was surely expected of him. Though his response to the Spider-Woman cover controversy is depressing and predictable it’s not particularly surprising. Yes, it’s practically a bingo card of alarming statements we see all the time when people try justify portrayals of women in media: the “there’s other ‘real’ problems in the world to worry about” “all superheroes are basically naked with colors on them anyway” “women are just built this way, I draw what I see” “it’s not my fault this how women are/look” “women wear less than this/are more provocative than this in real life” etc. and of course the artist describing the character/his work as “beautiful, nice, attractive, seductive” all of which have to do only with how Spider-Woman looks to him/should look to him and nothing to do with who she is or what she does. Pretty depressing stuff.
But again, as sad as it is to hear these statements, this is a European (Manara is Italian) man that draws Erotica for a living and has for decades. None of this is terribly surprising and anyone surprised by it is not paying attention. The question shouldn’t be why does Manara draw a Spider-Woman that looks more like a porn star than a superhero, the question also shouldn’t be why didn’t Marvel send Manara back to the drawing board when he turned in his work. The question should be why is this what Marvel wanted in the first place?