LESSONS IN CONTROVERSY: LESSON 1 – VARIANT COVERS AND TREATMENT

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Last week we were graced with yet another controversial piece of art in the form of a variant cover of BATGIRL #41, by now everyone’s probably seen it and made their fair judgement of it.

In recent months two of the most talked about comic book related “atrocities” have been Spider-Woman #1 and Batgirl #41, both of which earned high disregard for being a poor display of women and how women are treated. Now I’m an advocate for equality, really, I am, but when subjects like this arise they need to be challenged. That’s exactly my intention in this mini-series of articles based around the theme of equality and to boldly stand out against societies bulls**t.

So lets go on an adventure! Series one here we go!

Picture provided by Comicbookresources.com

Picture provided by Comicbookresources.com

Equality seems to be society’s biggest weapon in any argument, and in very rare circumstances is it actually a reasonable one at that. When the infamous Spider-Woman #1 variant was designed by obvious porn enthusiast Milo Manara almost everyone claiming to be a mother and a feminist came to arms to demand it’s banishment from existence for its “blatant sexualisation,” did it work? Of course it did! Manara’s variant covers were cancelled by Marvel after the uproar and in the aftermath of this, people who did manage to snag copies of the variant are using mediums like eBay and Amazon to sell them for anything between £50 – £200, and if that doesn’t make you as a campaigner feel like Spider-Woman’s well rounded butt is being pressed forcibly against your face, I don’t know what will. I mean seriously the cover isn’t even that good, not for any reason in particular, it’s just basic.

Milo Manara spider-woman

You could argue that if you just let time take it’s course and allow artists to do their jobs without fear of constant ridicule you won’t be immortalising their “worst” work. I understand that we all see things differently, but when was the last time you saw any controversy for Spider-Mans junk being grossly revealed in your face? Because believe you me, it’s happened, are you honestly thinking there isn’t much difference between the above image and the one below, other than obvious gender difference?

JRjr Spider-Man

As can be seen both images are virtually the same in terms of the heroes position, so why did people complain more when it was Spider-Woman? We badger on about equality in media nowadays but it always seems to be when the female leads are drawn in revealing ways audiences feel it’s their moral obligation to intervene like it’s the worst thing since the Third Reich.

If the art is good and the characters are drawn in an appealing way, where is the issue? (NOT A PUN; No “On a shelf” Jokes please.) It’s art, it’s fiction, leave the artists alone. A big debate here is that the drawings aren’t an accurate representation of the human body, okay, that makes sense, but what IS an accurate representation of the human body? Can you explain what the accurate representation is to me? Feel free to try.

To all you mothers out there saying “Oh that’s just inappropriate, my child will not be looking at that!” Get a grip on your parenting tactics, no child would honestly look at either of these covers and feel disturbed. You all forget children are innocent when you start to point out the flaws that are “wrong” they start to recognise it as wrong, you’re raising your children to identify woman as helpless when they aren’t.

To the “feminists” saying “She’s positioned in a sexualised way, we aren’t sex objects!” That’s very true, you aren’t sex objects, particularly to me, but you’re also not superheroes, you can’t crawl up buildings. I’m a feminist and I’ve consulted both sexes about all the covers and my final judgement is that you can’t complain purely on the basis that it’s a woman drawn in a particular way.

STOP VICTIMIZING YOURSELVES!

Are you honestly trying to tell me that Mamara’s variant is worse than this? (To be honest I’m upset Spidey doesn’t have a more appealing back end!)

Web pants

The human body is a natural thing, we should appreciate it regardless of how it’s drawn and regardless of gender. Sure if an artist draws a cover that conveys serious physical violence against a child or against a woman and you can see it, I can understand the uproar, I’d probably even back it, but there have been much worse released, stuff I just wouldn’t post here on the website, remember that It can always be worse. For example, the batgirl cover is horrifying, more so because I’ve read “The Killing Joke” and I know what it’s about, however the variant comes across as more sinister than violent, I mean personally I think this cover is worse. I still like it, but it implies so much more.

Batgirl Death of the Family

Comic books, much like TV shows, movies, novels and drawing are jobs to some, but provide escapism for the rest of us, so if you don’t like something don’t ruin it for everyone else. We know right from wrong, if something was THAT bad everyone would be in arms against it!

Do you want to live in a world like “V for Vendetta?” where art is destroyed, where art is deemed as harmful? Where the very idea of being creative is a death sentence? Of course you don’t, and if you do, you can call me “V.”

I'll not be V, but P, P for Pwning!

I’ll not be V, but P, P for Pwning!

Enjoy what we have, sometimes all you have to do is look past a cover, there’s a reason these are variants, they aren’t the standard, available to everyone covers that just anyone can buy.

Remember violence against woman is terrible, but it’s no different to violence against men, we’re all in the same boat at the end of the day. Look back at the Batgirl Issue 41 Variant above and compare it to the below panel taken from Batman: A Death in the Family, this is just to show everyone that no one is safe from writers and artists, and especially The Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker.Hitting the bar!

 

Injustice J

I know many readers may not agree with this series of articles, please remember these aren’t done out of spite, and to create conversation. You all have an opinion and I’d love to hear it! Leave your

thoughts in the comments section and let me know what your thoughts were on the subject! Did you like the article or didn’t you and why. (I like learning!)

Next week I’ll be targeting a more heated topic of equality, Sexual Identity and Orientation in comic books! Tune in next week as I discuss such topics like Religion, Homosexuality, Mothering and Marriage! The fun has only just begun!

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