Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
I love Halloween. It’s easily my favorite holiday. Christmas is a close second thanks to all the nostalgia (my parents do an epic warm Christmas). But there’s so much pressure on Christmas (just like New Years) that it can start to feel like obligation more than celebration and even I grow weary of the music and everything that comes with it which seems to creep into our lives earlier and earlier each year.
But Halloween never gets aggressive or greedy. It just hangs back being awesome. Go out and have the night of your life, or just hang back and eat chocolate and watch scary movies. Both are completely acceptable.
So it bums me out every year, especially the last five or so when superheroes have become so popular and mainstream to see so many lazy superhero costumes and since this is a column about women in comics we’ll focus on the superheroine costumes especially. The “super sexy” versions of costumes (that were already reasonably high on the sexy to begin with) get pretty tedious too, but my beef is not with costumes that are “too sexy” my beef is with costumes that are lazy as all get out or worse, don’t make a lick of goddamn sense (and not in the good way that things sometimes don’t make sense). Here are a few that really ticked me off in my hunt this year…
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?
Just an hour before my column about the ladies of the Marvel Studio movies went up, a column that in part lamented our lack of announcements on female-led films, we got an announcement about a female-led superhero film being developed.
But that announcement came not from Marvel Studios but Sony.
MUCH MORE RESTRAINED JOY.
It’s not rocket science. While Marvel Studios have been killing it with their films – and they seem to be getting better and better – The Avengers (2012), Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) are their three best films (except perhaps Iron Man (2008) which set us off on this incredible superhero resurgence in the first place) – Sony has been kind of the opposite of killing it.
Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Alex Maleev, and the issue is Spider-Woman #7, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated May 2010. Enjoy!
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In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!
Today we take a look at Chris Claremont’s resolution of the still-bizarre Ms. Marvel storyline from Avengers #200, where we see Claremont tear that story apart.
When we were driving out of town I said, “I hate the corpses of empires, they stink as nothing else. They stink so badly that I cannot believe that even in life they were healthy.” “I do not think you can convince mankind,” said my husband, “that there is not a certain magnificence about a great empire in being.” “Of course there is,” I admitted, “but the hideousness outweighs the beauty. You are not, I hope, going to tell me that they impose law on lawless people. Empires live by the violation of law.” (Rebecca West, from Black Lamb and Grey Falcon)
“Beware of faking: people will believe you. People believe those who sell lotions that make lost hair grow back. They sense instinctively that the salesman is putting together truths that don’t go together, that he’s not being logical, that he’s not speaking in good faith. But they’ve been told that God is mysterious, unfathomable, so to them incoherence is the closest thing to God. The farfetched is the closest thing to a miracle.” (Umberto Eco, from Foucault’s Pendulum)
“They get a thrill here – that’s why they come. They take stupendous joy in the indignation and compassion they feel on account of these mangled stiffs; it’s their roller coaster. I know this,” he said, making a tragic incision across the abdomen of an adolescent girl, “and I’ll tell you why. Since I’m here all the time and take apart fifty of these things a day, I can’t feel for each and every one of them. I’m not God. I don’t have that much in me. The ladies’ aides and the social critics sense immediately that I couldn’t give a goddamn about all this inedible meat, and that’s just what they want. They know they’re better than the miserable bastards they try to help, but they really enjoy thinking that they’re better than the rest of us, who aren’t as ‘compassionate’ as they are.” He turned to Peter Lake again, and said, “You notice how often that very word escapes their lips. They use it like a cudgel. Beware.” (Mark Helprin, from Winter’s Tale)
Ah, villains, hath that Mortimer escap’d?
With him is Edmund gone associate?
And will Sir John of Hainault lead the round?
Welcome, o’ God’s name, madam, and your son!
England shall welcome you and all your rout.
Gallop apace, bright Phoebus, through the sky;
And, dusky Night, in rusty iron car,
Between you both shorten the time, I pray,
That I may see that most desired day,
When we may meet these traitors in the field!
Ah, nothing grieves me, but my little boy
Is thus misled to countenance their ills!
Come, friends, to Bristow, there to make us strong:
And, winds, as equal be to bring them in,
As you injurious were to bear them forth!
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
And could of men distinguish her election,
Sh’ hath seal’d thee for herself, for thou hast been
As one in suff’ring all that suffers nothing,
A man that Fortune’s buffets and rewards
Hast ta’en with equal thanks; and blest are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well co-meddled,
That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger
To sound what stop she please.
Man, was I sick last week.
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Hey, a theme! I’m not letting that get away! Especially since I have never before bought (and may never again buy) three superhero comics starring two women, a woman who calls herself a girl, and a faceless zen Latina in the same week. Have to take advantage of that sort of thing. Continue Reading »
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