With Great Power, Comes Risqué Costumes


Chelsea Shettler, Prevish Marketing


SPIDERWOMAN001Manara-a3461-ad504A year ago, Marvel released a Spider-Woman comic cover that still bothers me to this day. This particular drawing (left), done by Italian artist Milo Manara sparked so much controversy that Marvel had to cancel it and issue an apology. People lashed at the cover for being “sexist”, “provocative” and “disturbing”. The image depicts Spider-Woman in traditional red and yellow garb scaling a building in a rather revealing pose. Many compared it to Nicky Minaj from her equally provocative music video “Anaconda”. Others mocked it through many social media avenues as having “poor taste”.

The comic cover was condemned for the use of sex in the portrayal of a character that is otherwise pretty feminist. As expected, there were arguments from both sides, one calling for an end to sexual exploitation in comics, and the other, saying that to be feminist was in fact to be portrayed in any manner that expressed sexual freedom. Needless to say, I was not impressed with the cover, but not for the reason most would expect. I found that the pose was awkward, the colors drab and the overall aesthetic values of the piece to be uncharacteristic of comic-style drawing. The sexiness is not what bothers me the most, it is the fact that the artist chose sex to convey Spider-Woman.

I always found Spider-Woman to be an assertive, athletic, commanding type of female character. Certainly none of these characteristics can be found in that offensive cover. People are so easily angered with female superhero costumes because they sexually exploit women, but honestly, I am waiting to see a female hero rocking yoga pants, especially with the exponential growth of yoga over the last few years! I can’t imagine anything else being more practical to fight bad guys in all day than clothes you wear to the gym. Critics call for “equal representation,” and I would agree with that. Comic characters, not just the women, should be portrayed in a manner that represents their power, presence and personality. Power houses like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are fighters, they wear militaristic outfits because they endure tough battles. Heroes who take to the skies like Super-Girl and Storm need snug outfits to help them fly faster. See where I am going with this . . .

Feminism and equal representation in comics means that female characters will dress, act, and behave differently and this is okay. We love comics because we connect on a real level with the characters. There are female superheroes who use their sexuality to exploit others. There are also female superheroes who seek to cover up because that is how they feel most comfortable. Ms. Marvel covers up because she is religiously devout to Islam. The point is that there should be a balance of how men and women are portrayed in comics. A strong, sexy woman, when portrayed in a tactful manner, is not offensive. What is offensive are heroes who are portrayed in any way that is not characteristic of who they are in the comics.




Leave a Reply