New Marvel Title: Dat Ass

August 21, 2014 - 12:04 pm
Irradiated by LabRat

Cross-posted, because anything that inspires me to spit out six hundred words before I’ve finished my coffee probably shouldn’t be wasted at an away game, as Tam says.

“Female Comic Fans Upset Over Spider-Woman’s Ass”


Erotic comic art, cheesecake, and beefcake (please!) has a right to exist, joyously. I’ve got two not-cheap books of it myself by two of my favorites, Bruce Timm and Frank Cho. I do love a gorgeous drawing, and I’m a fan of a good appreciation of anatomy, clothed or unclothed, erotically inviting or not.

But this isn’t a cheesecake portfolio. It’s the front cover of a mass-market book. I wouldn’t feel entirely scornful if a religious group were protesting this as wholly inappropriate for a such a cover, which while much more aimed at adult audiences these days are still also marketed to children, and superhero books always appear front and center on the racks. (I know I’ve spent a lot of time in comic shops, and there’s always kids there.)

1) That’s not a pose of a powerful character with spider-powers stalking the city. That is, as Bricken pointed out, most reminiscent of an animal in heat “presenting”.

2) To those admiring the anatomy, um, stop. Frank Cho draws beautiful women with beautiful anatomy. This guy drew a back and butt and damn near photoshopped some arms and a head on there. True that he’s a hell of a lot better than Liefeld, but the anatomy isn’t there so much as it is randomly assembled to make that ass display possible while still showing her face. At least he didn’t go full cubist to get her tits in there too.

3) It’s not about her being “too beautiful” or even an unrealistic body. Most superhero bodies are in fact unrealistic, and frankly no one looks good in spandex except professional dancers. It’s about the bit where the last time I saw something displayed like that, it was one of the roasts I was contemplating on my last trip to the butcher counter. Even a bitch in heat has more dignity. “Here’s your monthly Spider-Woman title, her own book about her adventures and hero career with full focus on her character! This month it’s about DAT ASS. I MEAN DAAAAAMN. We won’t mind if you go get some tissue and hand lotion before you read the rest.”

4) Milo Manara’s main focus as an artist is pinup and erotic art. He’s not so much a regular artist for ordinary comics and animation the way Timm and Cho are. Yes, he does some gorgeous work. Yes, he deserves his own art books. Was it appropriate to hire him as the guest artist for the front cover of, again, a mainstream monthly book? UM. I’m not actually criticizing Manara here, except for his grasp of anatomically correct poses- I’m criticizing Marvel and whoever the fuck at Marvel decided this was a great idea. And if you don’t think this sends a message about what Marvel thinks about its fans and its characters, you’re either legally blind or fucking high.

Marvel does in fact have a right to do this. It’s their book and their house, and while it certainly sashays right up to pornography, it’s not quite. Likewise the fans who drive Marvel’s industry, male, female, feminist, and not, have an equal right to be alienated and to voice that alienation. Loudly as they want. They just don’t have the right to demand any other entity censor Marvel. Do they have a right to imply or outright say, loudly, that Marvel should self-censor? Of course they fucking do. Self-censorship is something every one of us does every day. It’s called “trying not to be an asshole”. They don’t have a right to tell an artist what to art, but they’re *not*. Manara was a guest artist, and no one has suggested he shouldn’t draw whatever the fuck he wants in the already healthy career he’s in. They’re criticizing Marvel’s decision to have him do this in particular, and the comic industry in general’s attitude to their female fans. (Which in Marvel’s case is really, really schizophrenic- which actually beats hell out of “uniform contempt”.) Demanding enforcement of “political correctness” can be kind of assholish, but when they have several *really good points*- and are in fact consisting of a huge chunk of people who pay money for Marvel’s content- it’s really not.

< /rant>

19 Responses to “New Marvel Title: Dat Ass”

  1. Joe in PNG Says:

    Strong Female Characters, ASSemble!

  2. LabRat Says:

    I do love Beaton’s Strong Female Characters.

  3. Greg Says:

    Well, I can give a bog old +1 to any praise of Frank Cho.

  4. Greg Says:

    grrrr…or ‘big’ old.

  5. Old NFO Says:

    Good point, and yeah, NOT the best pose… especially for kids…

  6. UncommonMurre Says:

    My take is that the cover is basically low-quality porn and the reason they’re selling it to kids is that the kids can’t openly collect better porn. Couldn’t sell it to a fan of good porn, so they paint on a Spider-Woman costume and sell it to kids. Yuck.

  7. Robert Says:

    Well, putting aside the insane butt cleavage and the way the legs fail to attach properly, this image could be salvaged by a change in background. If she were starting to descend down the side of the building instead of failing to understand how floors work, the general pose would be far more plausible.

    On an unrelated aside, from my brief Google Image search (safe search was on, thankfully) , I notice Spider-man himself often finds himself in those ludicrous poses more generally associated with feminine characters. Wondering if it’s just a result of his slighter build and powers or if he’s more heavily marketed to female readers than is usual for comic books.

  8. LabRat Says:

    Probably some of both- Spider-Man is definitely more popular with women than a lot of male superheroes- though interestingly a lot of those poses are Liefeld (who just plain can’t draw), and he is the bro-iest bro to ever bro. Spider-Man usually doesn’t get the PACKAGE OF DOOM, though, which’d be the male equivalent to the tit poses.

    The image would still be softcore, and still be pretty inappropriate for a mainstream comic, but it would be… less blatant?

  9. Jennifer Says:

    Also, that makes my neck hurt.

  10. Glen Weaver Says:

    For Marvel, the big mistake is forgetting the rule “Don’t make things difficult for those who sell your product.”

    A one time mistake is not a big deal, but they should be more careful.

  11. LabRat Says:

    Eh, I’m hardly ready to boycott Marvel over this. It’s just a big ol’ “REALLY, Marvel? REALLY?”

  12. aebhel Says:

    Forget feminism, that image offends me on purely aesthetic grounds.

    …every once in a while I venture from MCU into comics canon and immediately remember why I don’t hang out there more often. I mean, the Black Widow might be a token female character, but at least she’s a well-written one.

  13. Silver the Evil Chao Says:

    I find the cover freaking grotesque simply on aesthetic standards, let alone feminist standards. Like…it seriously tickles an instinct in the lizard-part of my brain that screams “uncanny valley”. Like I’m looking at a monster from Amnesia or something.

    When you fuck up anatomy so badly that it legitimately creeps me out…

  14. Kevin Baker Says:

    Is it wrong of me to expect to see webbing shooting from dat ass? I mean, the wrist shooters are just anatomically wrong.

  15. UncommonMurre Says:

    Kevin, check out Spinnerette:

    I think it’s pretty good in general though the cheesecake level is high for my taste.

  16. Dan A Says:

    The first thing I see in the image is ass, but I didn’t get “bitch in heat” from the pose, I got “cat ready to pounce.” Only ever owned cats, not dogs, maybe that’s why. I was more perturbed by how boring her face and costume look. I’ve never actually read a Spider-Man comic but I thought the whole web motif was kinda iconic and this design as a whole seems lazy.

  17. Tam Says:

    Guess all your cats were fixed, then. Lordosis is similar in felines.

  18. Unix-Jedi Says:

    This may be relevant for your interests:

  19. Eggo Says:

    @Unix, that model is obviously wrong. The comments explain it pretty well.

    Really, the upsetting thing here is the sloppy perspective in the background. And the line art is pretty dull, like the inker didn’t know where the light source was supposed to be.

    Her mask is great, though. I’ve never been into super heroes, but it seems like a spider-based character should be at least a little creepy and slightly inhuman-feeling. The rest of her costume seems kinda uninspired from the back, though.

    And hey, if people don’t like it, they won’t buy it. But the carefully cultivated outrage makes me think the people who are upset know they don’t have that kind of market power.
    The rest of us are sitting here laughing at all the times they’ve protested “OMG IMPOSSIBLE POSES!”, only to have art students go “wait, seriously? Here’s that pose from figure drawing class last week. Here’s ME in that pose. How do you not get this?”

    By the way, can you please post if this guy gets to do a Wolverine cover? Ideally one involving a long, hard battle with a spandex-dissolving goo monster. Because THAT’S one I’d go out and buy.