A few days ago a post about a comics colorist dealing with racist editorial mandates became popular. I'm sure most of you are well rounded, well socialized people so you don't read many comics or obsess over inconsistencies with stories that span 75 years of real time. So I'm going to tell you about the stupid shit fanboys argue about on the internet so you'll have some insight into the world that guy was working in. Or something. I can punch up my writing so I'll try to use that to make this interesting.
I'll start with that cover. It was a variant (an alternate version of a cover used for marketing and hyping) painted by a cheesecake artist. Tumblr girls went kinda apeshit over it for being sexist. Which isn't an unreasonable argument on its own even if they maybe didn't express that sentiment eloquently. Spider-Woman looks like she's wearing body paint and presenting her bottom half for some on all fours intercourse. Tumblr being about as subtle as a brick to the head caused a backlash among male comic fans and way too many words spent analyzing this image. Seemingly ignorant of the facts of female objectification in comics and, well, the world in general, too many people tried to justify this as appropriate for a character that slinks around and might get into that pose as part of her crime fighting action. The main arguments were "You don't have to buy that cover," and pointing at pictures of Peter Parker's crotch bulge and butt in similar poses. Irrespective of the fact that Spider-Man only gets into that pose to get fucked in slash fiction.
Then there's this cover. A little backstory: twenty years or so ago Joker shot that version of Batgirl and paralyzed her. Then he stripped her naked and took pictures of her writhing in pain, maybe even sexually assaulted her or had his midget clowns do it (I'm not joking). There's a major Joker story going through Batman right now and as a tie in they released a bunch of covers with him on them. A bunch of fans, probably on Tumblr again, raised a stink about this image to the point where the artist asked DC to pull it before it went to print. I don't think there's any other way for her to react in a situation where the man who tortured her has control of her again. It's maybe in poor taste to milk this one story and put an otherwise strong female in a position of terror and weakness. I don't have a lot of personal commentary on this, mostly because it's fucking stupid.
DC is pretty lily white and they reboot their universe more often than I restart my computer. After their latest reboot they eliminated Wally West who was the Flash for longer than the character he replaced, Barry Allen. In favor of Barry Allen who I think is boring but that's not the point. Wally always looked kinda like this:
He had a family and there was actually a degree of racial diversity within it, but that was all erased and now he's a poorly written black stereotype in order to bring the character in line with the TV show and to shore up DC's depressingly short list of characters who aren't white men. There are multiple layers of shit I don't like here, mostly erasing the history of a long standing character who's arguably better than the new/old Flash so I'm not going to give a detailed opinion on this move. This move was also not well received by people on the internet. There's a lot more subtlety to this argument because it involves more than just a provocative topic like race, the company essentially jettisoned a character and his history. I understand the move and the outrage but again, it's just not something to get worked up about if you are a reasonable human.
This one is a few years old and touches on sex roles again. This is getting longer than I anticipated so my time investment may not be worth the resulting response, but yeah, Mary Jane is looking through Peter's laundry. Which is something she'd totally do as his wife (at the time) but when you combine women and laundry you're going to upset some people. And also she's not really doing anything but looking sexy which goes back to the objectification issue but comics fans don't seem familiar with that.
Thanks for reading if you made it through. I'm not sure these things required anymore attention than they've already had but I'm curious to know what people who don't hang out in comics shops and make fun of filthy casuals think about issues that made some people seemingly very angry.
The tragedy of the situation is that the United States had an absolutely mammoth comics industry prior to the scares of the '50s and rather than say suck it, copper they toed the line and all joined the CCA. On the one hand, it gave us Mad Magazine; Bill Gaines (after testifying to Congress) determined there was no point in comics because they'd be so neutered for the foreseeable future that he might as well do "satire." On the other hand it permanently infantilized the American comics industry such that the only thing available was superheroes and Archie.
That, I believe, is why things are so fucking stupid with comics in the US. France has Metal Hurlant. Japan and Korea have a broad spectrum of comics from comics for girls to comics for creepy old men who like chicks with dicks. And while the comics artists I know dig Gimenez and Moebius and Sorayama, the comics fans I know have no idea who those people are.
Going bugshit over the sexualization of Mary Jane makes a lot of sense if your audience is 14-year-old boys. Going bugshit over the discussion of the sexualization of Mary Jane makes a lot of sense if your audience is 24-year-old boys that emotionally arrested at 14. I've seen comics that can hold the attention of adults and also involve superheroes, but those comics also generally involve the deconstruction of the superhero paradigm.
It's funny. I often show my wife some of the weirder, hinkier comics. She generally observes the crimes against anatomy necessary to make them work - and I don't mean tits'n'ass. I showed her that Spiderwoman shot above when it came out last year or the year before. Her comment was "How many vertebrae does that poor girl have in her neck and why are they all trapezoidal?" I actually had to point out the poor girl's butt; my wife had moved on to Spidergirl's lack of a left shoulder. I wonder if the US comics industry might get in less trouble if they drew their girls to be human from time to time.
(the only SFW Sorayama in 3 pages of Google Image results)