So there's this image of Marvel's Spider-Woman you may have heard about that's causing a stir. Don't let your kids see it. You may want to scratch out your own eyes after looking at it, as well. You've been warned.
If you're not familiar, it goes like this. In November, Marvel is launching an ongoing "Spider-Woman" series for the first time in decades, which is a good thing. Spider-Woman is an underrated character with an interesting history who's deserving of her own monthly title — particularly from a publisher striving to increase its "solo female character" titles.
As comics publishers are wont to do, Marvel is kicking things off with a variant cover for collectors. In this case, Marvel hired Italian artist Milo Manara to create the extra cover. What he came up with is offending people everywhere because 1) Spider-Woman's position is anatomically impossible, and 2) it sets back the positive representation of women in comics by at least thirty years.
At this point it's probably worth pointing out that Milo Manara is a fairly prolific artist who's collaborated with a number of major writers and publishers over the years, including Neil Gaiman and the publication "Heavy Metal." Manara is probably best known for a particular style of art which, since he's a respected artist, is accepted as erotic art. (If Manara were poor and anonymous, it'd be porn.)
So, yeah, the first step to a positive, feminist depiction of Spider-Woman is *not ask Milo Manara to draw her.*
— Jim Crocker (@Crockerjb) August 21, 2014
The image Manara created features Spider-Woman in a rather odd pose. Actually, "odd" is a generous descriptor. Better ones would be "ridiculous," "degrading" and "utterly impossible for the human body to achieve." Miley Cyrus couldn't twerk this hard. (Though it would appear that Nicki Minaj can. NSFW link.) Stylized art and representation of the female form can be a fine thing, but this is not that. It's the cover art to a comic book that's going to be read by teenagers — both young boys and young girls.
Of course, Manara's image is hardly alone. Female superheroes are almost always depicted with basketball-sized breasts, three-inch waistlines and backsides that take the term curves to an extreme.
Manara's cover — which Marvel was flat-out crazy to have signed off on — reaches entirely new heights of absurdity. Look at it, and you'll walk away with nothing but questions.
Take a moment to examine that butt, for example. Really look at it. Go ahead, we can wait.
Okay, maybe she's crawling up over the edge of the roof, having made her way up the side of the building. Or maybe the artist just likes to draw women in subservient positions. It's not like this is the first time Manara has drawn women this way, and not even in this exact pose.
The one thing you can give Manara is that he never tries to pass his art off as anything but what it is. He makes no false claims about the "erotic" nature of his work. At least he's up-front about it.
If anyone should be judged here, it's Marvel. In hiring Milo Manara to create the cover for a female-centric comic book, Marvel had to have known what it was paying for. So why, for a comic book that's expected to exemplify female empowerment, did the editors in charge hire an artist to draw her like a porn star?
Come on, Marvel. We're not stupid. We know what that pose is really for.