Sunday, April 12, 2009

Didn't we just do this, Marvel?

For all the times I appear to address DC and Marvel directly (as if they read this and care), I do know that the big two don't even know if I exist, and even if they did know of my pathetic, scrambling existence, they would most certainly not go out of their way to antagonize me. And yet when I see something like this (scroll down to Marvel Divas), I can't help but think they are taunting me.

So. Marvel Divas. Christ. I know I'm the one who brought this up so I should talk about it. Okay, right. Deep breaths. Deep, calming, non-strangly breaths.

Oh, sweet zombie Jesus, look at this art. You know, I always thought that women looked differently from one another. You know, had different body types and facial features, so I'm glad that Marvel is here to correct me. All women have the same exact figure with ridiculously long torsos, big breasts and anatomically impossibly arched feet. Oh, and the half-lidded bedroom eyes that says this is all sexy, sexy danger just for you.

The worse part is that this art is pretty damn normal for comics, especially the big two. I am, however, sick of the rationalization that since this is a long tradition of objectifying women in comics I should just accept it because sex sells. Funny, though, how the sex sells argument only means women and not men. Hilarious.

Let's get to the description of the series:

This also seems like the perfect time to announce our Marvel Divas limited series, beginning in July, from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Tonci Zonjic, featuring some of the Marvel Universe’s greatest female heroes in a way you haven’t seem them before.

I’ll let Roberto explain:“The idea behind the series was to have some sudsy fun and lift the curtain a bit and take a peep at some of our most fabulous super heroines. In the series, they're an unlikely foursome of friends--Black Cat, Hell Cat, Firestar, and Photon--with TWO things in common: They're all leading double-lives and they're all having romantic trouble. The pitch started as "Sex and the City" in the Marvel Universe, and there's definitely that "naughty" element to it, but I also think the series is doing to a deeper place, asking question about what it means...truly be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry.) But mostly it's just a lot of hot fun.”

This actually makes me long for "female product." It's like someone at Marvel said, "Hey, Birds of Prey was pretty popular and had a long run. I know, I know. That's really surprising since it's all women, but maybe we should get in on that. See if we can't trick more women into reading comics. What else do women like? Well, shoes. And Sex and the City. Chicks eat that up. We stick some girl characters into a Sex and the City role and girls will just eat this up."

Although judging by that picture up there, I am obviously not the intended demographic for this, because, obviously, I am a female and we all know females don't read comics. In fact, females only like Sex and the City and the crap Lifetime puts out.

Just look at the language they use in this: "peep at." There's a voyeuristic element to it, the titillating thought you might find these four in their underwear having a pillow fight. You will never see them using the word "peep" to describe any male characters, because they are men doing manly things.

My absolute favorite part has to be this: "I also think the series is doing to a deeper place, asking question about what it means...truly be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry.) But mostly it's just a lot of hot fun.”

These two sentences together is deeply, deeply amazing. And by "amazing" I obviously mean "infuriating" in that Aguirre-Sacasa cannot see how deeply insulting and unintentionally ironic these two sentences are.

He's trying to earn credit by saying that this isn't just soft-core porn for male comic nerds, but the series will also be exploring the sexism that exists within the world of comics and comic publishing. And by doing so they are going to develop character arcs for the four women and explore their friendship while having them be heroes. You know, that's a comic I would be interested in reading.

And then the second sentence is a big fat "JUST KIDDING" and my uncontrollable strangly hands start itching. "But mostly it's just a lot of hot fun" translates to "These four female characters will be in their underwear a lot in titillating, pseudo-lesbian positions so you male readers can get your rocks off." Because, hey, why else would you have women in comics? Certainly not for them to be kicking ass right alongside their male counterparts.

For the record, I am not opposed to Marvel having a more light hearted, fun title. Hell, Cable & Deadpool fulfilled just that role before it was cruelly canceled. And even in a fun title you can have some dark parts and really go deep with characterization.

What I am opposed to is what I fear Marvel Divas (and that name along makes me want to brick someone) will turn into more objectification that panders to the believed base of shut-in comic nerds who can't get a date if their life depended it. What's even worse is that Marvel is going to try to present it in terms of feminism in exploring women in male dominated fields when it's really, really not going to be that all.

Comics have a really bad track record when trying to incorprate feminism in their titles, which is a post for another time. And in this case, Marvel seems to be under the assumption that Sex and the City, while very successful, is the default state of entertainment that women like and that it is feminism. Ah, yes, listening to Carrie Bradshaw prattle on about shoes and romance and sex for an hour certainly counts as feminist!

How about we have Marvel Divas for men? You can get Spiderman and Wolverine and Cap sitting around and drinking and talking about their love life. What's that you say? That would never happen because it's boring and readers would much rather see well-written heroics in their superhero comics? Exactly.

If you keep shoving this down my throat, Marvel, I'm going to need a special O MARVEL NO tag.

Now to wash this bad taste out of my throat, this looks like it has the potential to be pretty amazing.

If anyone of you are in Boston and happen to catch a show, let me know how it is, since I'll be stuck in Chicago and won't be able to go. There's an article here that goes into more detail.

And since it's still technically Easter, I wish all of you a very Happy Zombie Jesus Day.

I don't actually have a zombie Jesus scan, but I think Jesus Christ, Vampire Slayer is just as
good for some old fashioned blasphemy on the most important day in Christianity. Enjoy!


Darcy said...

I too look forward to the days where normal girls get just as much attention as the jiggly ones. Marvel Divas in NO WAY appeals to me. Gimmie a Tall-Dark&Handsome with a sword any day!
Woman-kind is making strides in cinema with the last two Bond films and any movie with Hugh Jackman in it (for example) featuring gratuitous shower scenes and tight pants! I for one will be on the front lines of the revolution!

Danicus said...

There already was a superhero Sex & The City type comic, it was called Ultra, and was actually really good. Yes, I read it. No, I'm not 100% sure WHY it appealed to me, i can't stand Sex & The City.

That said, once again Marvel manages to offend me. It's not like theyre even marketing to me (as a man) with covers like that... Lord knows I don't read comic books for the sex.
That'd be like watching a Stallone movie for the witty dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that cover is horrible. There's one comic that's not going on my pull list. Poor Monica. I need to read some Nextwave to wash that out of my brain.

Also, why don't I live in Boston?

Ian said...

I think the reason for the anatomically-impossible superheroine is quite simple: they're more fun to draw ;)

Danicus said...

nah, Melaka Fray was drawn in an anatomically possible fashion originally, and doing my own renditions of her character is awesome. I can make a 'real human' type of drawing and she looks fine, not 'off' the way most comic book heroines look when drawn in a realistic style.

Kristina said...

"What's even worse is that Marvel is going to try to present it in terms of feminism in exploring women in male dominated fields when it's really, really not going to be that all."

Yeah, exactly. I'll check it out, because I have a deep, abiding love for giving myself things to have a stroke over, and I hope it's not the masturbation material it feels like, but I'm not laying any bets here. A woman-team would've been great to see on this, for just the way they could've sold it alone and, obviously, women writing women is always really great to see.

Your comment about bricking made me laugh, btw.

I have to agree to disagree regarding disliking the connection to Sex and the City, which is a show I very much enjoyed. From fashion porn to the deeper connection and love between strong women, I feel like it's a show that supports the strength of individual women and the strength they gain from their equal-but-SO-different-friends. SATC was popular for a big reason, and I don't feel it was the Manolo's. I love big explosions AND shoes. :)

Good post!

Jayne said...

Kristina, I am also going to buy Marvel Divas, because I apparently hate myself. Curse my sense of morbid curiosity.

SatC is, well, I'm always conflicted about it. Yes, it did present a show primarily about women and their strong friendships, and yet at the same time, it was also very materialistic and pushed that materialism throughout the show.

I also realize that I was not the target for the show and that my interests were simply not going to line up with SatC. The thing is, because of its popularity, it's become synomyous with the sole entertainment women want and feminism, which is damaging in general for feminism and what men think women want to see. Like Marvel Divas prove.

If nothing else, Marvel Divas will give me something to mock the hell out of. And mocking is my bitter, spiteful happy place.