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Why Mainstream Comics Suck, Part 467

Click the cut tag for the picture worth 1000 words, though it's not quite safe for work if you work somewhere conservative.

This is the cover to Heroes For Hire #13.

Marvel claims the rating of the book is appropriate for 12-year-olds.

I call bullshit.

Now, as we all know, I publish pornographic comics. Not just tease comics or pinup comics or sexy comics- hardcore pornography. Poles & holes, money shots, manga-style spurting penii, cartoon boobies bouncing, etc. I am not ashamed of the adult comics my company publishes. This is because I try to be a responsible editor and I believe there should be adult comics out there with consensual sex, women enjoying themselves and not being treated as mere objects, couples in love who can't keep their hands off each other, and the radical idea that sex, in all its forms, should be fun and pleasant and positive. This means it's often difficult to find artists who understand these concepts, and we often have to reject stuff with very nice art that contains things like rape, snuff, extreme violence, and the like.

I looked at this cover for Heroes For Hire and realized that 1) it looks like it belongs on the cover of a porn comic, like Milk and 2) it's a cover I wouldn't even run on Milk, because the women are all obviously in an abused position. That was my initial reaction.

My second reaction was something along the lines of "holy shit, is that Misty Knight?!"

And then I got really mad. Misty Knight was one of those characters that you just sort of encountered in comics when you grew up in the 1970's. She was a butt-kicking powerful black woman, like Pam Grier in Coffy, and she was really cool. Her friend, Colleen Wing, was also a butt-kicking strong woman, though not as cool as Misty, of course. As I recall, Misty and Colleen don't really even have any kind of superpowers, they just kick ass.

So, now even the women without superpowers have to be made powerless and weak? Is that how it is, Marvel? I'm still pissed off that they made Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, a rape survivor. (Because you know, women can't be actualized into doing anything unless they're raped first- hell, before I have to undertake any major task, I have to wander down to the local pool hall in a micro-mini-skirt, in the hopes I'll get raped-into-actualization. Getting the taxes done this year was a nightmare...) I'm still mad they made Storm into some kind of Stepford wife for Black Panther. (Hello, she was worshiped as a goddess in Africa, lead the X-Men and the Morlocks and generally kicked ass, and now she's just a background character for Black Panther?) This is a trend I've been sick of for years, and this cover is just the newest showcase for this kind of crap.

And yeah, that appears to be jizz on the Black Cat's boobs on that cover. The cover aimed at twelve-year-olds. Nicely done, Marvel. We're not allowed to show jizz or genitals on the covers of our porn comics according to Diamond, but Marvel can put a money shot on the cover of a superhero book? Excuse me?!

This is the thing that really bugs me- I saw it at Image, I saw it with the Bad Girl books, now I'm seeing it at Marvel. If they want to do porn comics, they should come right out and do them. This softcore stuff is bullshit, and to my eyes, somehow worse than actually coming right out and doing a full-on adults only title.

Anyway, I have honest porn comics to work on to turn in to the printers, so that's enough ranting outta me.

Oh and PS, I have not spent money on a Marvel comic for years now. I refuse to give them money for anything, since I don't believe in supporting their content or their business decisions. I might only be one person refusing to give them money anymore, but I just can't bring myself to pay for comics I won't enjoy.


( 47 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
"Getting the taxes done this year was a nightmare..."

omg lololol

And jizz on the boobs? Ewww, you're right...! @_@
May. 22nd, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
Marvel's been falling apart for years. They're out of good ideas and resorting to, like you pointed out, rather old-fashioned misogynistic tendencies. I'm frankly not surprised they got away with that cover...they have the money to pay off Diamond, probably in the hopes that this ultra-spicy cover will increase sales through apparent spooge or controversy. I know for a fact most moms won't buy this for their kids...the kiddies will have to sneak this like those old E.C. comics back in the day.
May. 22nd, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
I honestly had somthing meaniful to say, but I am distrsacted by the smut.......

May. 22nd, 2007 05:33 pm (UTC)
Ugh, what the hell, Marvel. This cover and that stupid Mary Jane statue- ugh, what are they thinking? No wonder "women don't buy comics". No, they just don't buy MARVEL comics. Bleah.
May. 22nd, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
Exactly what I thought: Marvel does not want women readers.
May. 22nd, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
Further to that, what kind of men readers do they want.
May. 22nd, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
I think I'm going to fucking puke.
May. 22nd, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
Oh awesome, Marvel is doing a tentacle porn series! XD

Now I have ideas for a porn series with a female superhero who's really a space alien with tentacles, who forceably anally rapes male characters (because we know they really like it ^o^).
May. 22nd, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
I'd buy it.
May. 23rd, 2007 02:36 am (UTC)
I will pay cash money for that comic. Srsly.
May. 22nd, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC)
I'm amazed at how their boobs are basicly falling out of their tops. I'm not really surprised that they made a cover like this, though. There is a reason I stopped buying mainstream comics a long time ago.
May. 22nd, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC)
... that is incredibly blatant. Wow.
May. 22nd, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC)
CB Potts saw this and brought it up at her LJ - is this acceptable for her child? The age rating says so... 0_O.
WTF. I was like whoa, they're saying this series if for kids? Ok...
May. 22nd, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
if=is. Not my day on the keyboard. ^_-
May. 22nd, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
I guess in Europe this sort of cover would be considered tame and child-friendly? Dunno.
May. 22nd, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
I wonder...of course they'll just say we're overreacting and being all Bush-ey about it. Though I wonder, will they even cop to reading Marvel comics in Europe?
May. 22nd, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)

I honestly don't know.
I don't think they would stock this.
I don't think the European version would even have that cover.
If this "Heroes For Hire" title is a standard 32-page comicbook, then it would not even be sold. The market is totally different in Europe. The Marvel stuff gets compiled into tradepaperbacks and most of the covers are discarded.

Mind you, It's been a while since I've been to France.
I could be wrong.

May. 24th, 2007 01:47 pm (UTC)
I know French gay comics are still saddle-stitch. ((^_-)) and the most popular ones do still seem to be the huge schlong variety. I agree though, I think Europe is mostly a TPB market, at least that's all that appears to be sold in conventions.
May. 22nd, 2007 10:50 pm (UTC)
Assuming you're being sarcastic, no.

This would probably show up as an import in comic shops with this cover, or with a different cover for general distrib.
May. 22nd, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
Tentacle monsters in Marvel.

Good. Grief.

I'm sure they'll call it 'slime', but...


This is a shame, because it was cool that Marvel had a team of female characters that could hold their own... and now, this. *sigh*

Maybe it's a good thing that the only English language mainstream books I read are Invincible and Usagi Yojimbo.

(on a geek note, Colleen is a martial arts master, and Misty has a bionic arm ^^)
May. 22nd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
I honestly have not encountered comics with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing since about 1978-1981, so I am a little forgetful of their actual abilities... I just remember a lot of ass-kicking going on!

May. 22nd, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
Heh. And in the end, all that matters is that they were very capable of handling themselves.

When I heard that they were bringing them back, I was thrilled.

Now, I'm... disgusted isn't quite right. Disappointed, maybe?

May. 22nd, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
"(Because you know, women can't be actualized into doing anything unless they're raped first- hell, before I have to undertake any major task, I have to wander down to the local pool hall in a micro-mini-skirt, in the hopes I'll get raped-into-actualization. Getting the taxes done this year was a nightmare...)"

That was why it took so long to get the house finished, and why it took five years to get my daughter an education plan. I just didn't have the time to get actualized.

I wrote something about this at my LJ, too.
When I showed the cover to King, I chased Summer from the room.
May. 22nd, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
We need to get on the stick and get actualized! How will we get anything accomplished if we don't?!
May. 22nd, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
I'm very surprised to see that cover actually...
nope you're not alone, I haven't spent any money on a marvel book since... I don't know if I ever have really - but then again, capes and cod-pieces just aren't my way. In all defense I don't think that that's cum on the young lady's improbably proportioned bosom, I think it's the "slime" or "drool" of the tentacles, but I agree that the target impression is the same (bad Marvel,bad! No biscuit for you)... however, given America's rather, puritanical, if not downright, obsessive dislike towards public sexuality - doesn't this strike you as odd? It does me... I'm used to seeing "softer" images in yankee marketing, and oddly enough I'm also used to the "women as objects" images in the same... but this seems a whee bit out of character, or then again, maybe I just don't pay attention enough in the first place because I'd rather not waste my time arguing with a society that seems to think that the consensual practice of a very natural, important, and frankly, fucking-fun act, is derisive, degrading, or destructive... especially to our youth (I shall step down from ye olde soap box now, sorry T.T)
May. 22nd, 2007 08:47 pm (UTC)
This is a little off-topic, but I'm thinking about it, and I'm thinking the actualization-through-rape meme is a secondary effect, of the idea that nobody can do anything in America (or at least in American comics) unless they're dissed or crossed or otherwise beaten down first. You know, like Popeye. Accomplishment must always be the result of a Darwinian struggle, not of inspiration or self-motivation. Anyway, from that major meme, the idea of female actualization through rape is spun off, because what is the most stereotypical way in which a woman can be violated? What solution are you likely to come up with when you're an adolescent male who still thinks superhero comics are really awesome?

So I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm saying it's a subset of the whole 'I'm gonna get those guys for what they did to me! Grrr!' concept which seems to inform comics and mainstream culture generally.
May. 22nd, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
I think you might have a point there....
May. 22nd, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
Admittedly, having a character whose reason for being a superhero is "I thought it would be a neat thing to be" isn't very dramatic, and there's this Wagnerian or Nietzschean ethic to superhero comics where it has to be an epic conflict undertaken for (duh) heroic reasons. This ethic all but insures that you're going to have only a narrow subset of settings, like war, or personal combat between powerful individuals... you'd figure there would be more comics about business rivals screwing each other over (and you kind of see that with characters like Lex Luthor), but I guess that isn't sufficiently escapist enough. And the superhero genre just wants to be epic and escapist. I think there have been a few titles where you see what the hero does when they're farting around on their day off, but it's an exception, isn't it? There are people who have written about this extensively, I'm sure, so I probably shouldn't go on about it with my lack of qualification.
May. 22nd, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
sorta' "I spit on your grave" / "Last House on the Left" sort of thing? I could see that, but remember this country is a country of underdogs, our independence, isn't even recognized as something we won, I've too often heard it referred to as an interesting experiment (and July 4th, as Happy Experiment Day). But come to think of it, finding, or thinking of a character that was a likeable protagonist in this culture who is not part of your arguement is hard - seems to go to the whole American Dream, rising from the gutters to greatness ideal... but I could be wrong, and back to the main topic, even with these cultural tendencies, is it something that we should be promoting in this way, especially to what is commonly understood as a fairly young (at least psychologically), and gender-centric market? The message being sent isn't so harmful, if it were just a story... because bad stories abound more often than good ones, I think the concern has more to do with the overall trend that this is evidence of...
May. 22nd, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)
The popular lore is that we're underdogs, anyway... not really backed up by our history, but yes, that's the popular myth of America.

It's quite easy to have a protagonist who isn't out to 'get' someone based on revenge or trauma or ideological differences, but it would be very difficult to write that person as a superhero, because of what superhero comics are expected to be. They are expected to be epic and escapist and have this Wagnerian thing going on where mighty forces are in conflict. Writing superheroes outside of that box is very challenging, and I think most writers who want to do something other than that kind of operatic story eventually ask themselves why they're bothering with superheroes at all. This is aside from the fact that it's an incredibly overused genre in America.

I'm not sure the underlying message of superhero comics is one that's especially great for America, because it reinforces the belligerence which is endemic to our society. I use the word 'escapist,' but really such material serves a similar balancing function as religion. It's a way to understand the world. One may think they're getting away from the world when they read a comic book or see an action film, but they're taking what they learn there back to the real world with them, and in part, they view the world through that prism. I'm not advocating censorship, just because of how dangerous that would be, but it would be nice if aggression wasn't constantly reinforced by the mainstream arts.
May. 22nd, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)

Oh wow, like, groddy!!
Gag me with a spade!
Marvel is just in full WTF Mode these days.

I don't know these characters.
There is a bell around the girl on the left's neck.
Is that part of her costume or is this for bonus demeaning points?

May. 22nd, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
I would hope it's not part of her costume, because as willworks pointed out, Black Cat is a thief, so a big fat jingly bell on her costume would be a retarded idea.

I think the artist (who is Japanese) may have taken a liberty with Black Cat's costume, since all cat-girls in Japan end up with bells on them somewhere...
May. 22nd, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
I figured it was an American artist trying to look Japanese... the bell could be a grenade. :)
May. 22nd, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
See, that bell could be a neat twist on it's own. "Belling the cat" would be the perfect way to count coup on a thief. A fairly decent way to start off a story with her being one-upped. Presumibly the rest of the stroy could be about resolving the challege. But in the context of that cover.. it's just lost in the... well, fanboy bait.
May. 24th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
Aw, but it's so kawaii, and think of the SFX that'll jingle out as she's raped; or, as she struggles to keep the tentacles from touching her pendulous breasts!

I'm not as offended as a woman, I think I've become immune to the bullshit now, but I'm certainly annoyed as a parent. This is a Marvel T+? Not in my dimension.

May. 22nd, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)

What the hell, man. Do they have the burning desire to marginalise their audience FURTHER?


What. The. Fuck?
May. 22nd, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
"Marvel Comics, where we'll try anything to keep from going out of business."
First thought I had was the image of Marvel's planners standing around a Hentai book, each of them thinking they discovered something completely new that will save their bottom line.
Sorry Marvel, it's been done to death, and probably a lot of your fan base has plenty of their own work just like this stuffed away in closets.

Other than that, what you said.
May. 22nd, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
Looks like something that I'd see in "Grindhouse". It's designed to appeal to the 12 year-old boy who can't get porn on his own and might break down and buy the comic for the heaving bosoms... either that of the 40 year-old virgin, but we don't need to go there.

'cause none of these "strong" girls would get out of their clothes willingly (except for maybe the Black Cat), so of course the only way is to have them ripped off.

But, of course, this probably isn't what's going to happen in the book, kind of like those fake-out covers that DC used to do for all their 50's comics. But I'm sure they want a few people to dream.

Besides... this is going to only be on a comic book store's shelves. No grocery store or bookstore has sold anything but the kiddie stuff for years. It's easier to find a Shonen Jump USA.
May. 23rd, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
Mostly I'm just dissapointed by the tentacles. Why must tentacles ALWAYS be represented as mindless, lust-crazed savages that rape good, god fearing superhero's women? There is much MUCH more to tentacles than brutish violence, rape and sodomy. That is a stereotype that has been perpetuated for years and has been ingrainded into impressionable minds the world over.

Well, it just isn't RIGHT I tells ya!

Why can't they ever portray tentacles in a more POSITIVE role? Why not focus on some of the ACCOMPLISHMENTS hard working, intelligent tentacles the world over have contributed to everyone!

It's SHAMEFUL, I say! Marvel should be ASHAMED of this blatant and outright DISRESPECT for how tentacles are percieved in comics! Well, I for one refuse to spend any more hard earned money on Marvel comics until they do something about this disgraceful display.

Mind you, this will not affect my downloading of Nextwave issues from off the internet... because Monica Rambeau is awesome.

Purple Tentacle
Maniac Mansion
May. 23rd, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
to quote a certain comic writer:

May. 23rd, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
Jesus wept. And to think that's a woman who drew that cover. A year ago, Joe Quesada said he'd love to see more women in comics - obviously, I misinterpreted him.

Really - why don't they just come out with a Superhero stroke book and be done with the pretenses?
May. 23rd, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
And I thought mid-90s Image was trashy.

"This softcore stuff is bullshit, and to my eyes, somehow worse than actually coming right out and doing a full-on adults only title."

I hear you. At least porn is honest. This whole American "Here's some big unnatural boobies on exploited girl characters just barely covered because if we show a nipple than the world will end because sex and body parts are BAD but look, boobs!" thing is just so fucking juvenile.
May. 23rd, 2007 05:41 am (UTC)
bububu..but the children?!
May. 24th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC)
The children must be alternately titillated and horrified.
May. 23rd, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
I'm not shocked.
May. 24th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC)
Surprisingly enough, I didn't notice the so-called "money shot" until you mentioned it. Maybe my mind isn't filthy enough. I did, however, shake my head in dismay at the giant breasts (how the hell can they get anything DONE with those things in the way?!) and the attempted pseudo-manga eyes and faces.
(Deleted comment)
( 47 comments — Leave a comment )

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