Spider-Woman has been becoming more and more of a fan favorite in recent years. After appearing in many books like Kelly Sue DeConnick’s ‘Avengers Assemble’ and ‘Captain Marvel,’ Jonathan Hickman’s ‘Avengers,’ Matt Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye,‘ and many more, Jessica Drew will finally star in her own ongoing title once again thanks to the upcoming ‘Spider-Verse’ event and the creative team of Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land. And though it doesn’t hit shelves until November, it’s already making headlines thanks to the variant cover by notable Italian illustrator Milo Manara, who is known for a career of erotic art.
As soon as Comic Book Resources unveiled the cover, a number of mainstream outlets such as The Mary Sue, io9, and Entertainment Weekly spoke out against it due to the unnecessary sexualization of our heroine that sees her butt in the air and her costume painted on. It has also been labeled as a lewd, misogynistic piece that gives new female readers the wrong idea of what to expect from this book.With such hefty criticisms emerging about his work, Manara responded to the controversy in an interview with Italian publication Fumetto Logica. He starts by addressing the two main camps of criticism that he’s been receiving:
“Browsing on the internet, I have seen that criticisms have two different directions. One points out to the sexy and erotic side; the other to some anatomical mistakes. About the incompetence in the drawing … I don’t know what to say. I just try to do my best, since 40 years to date. Nobody is perfect, and I may be wrong; simply, I’m a professional, so I do my best.
On the erotic side, instead, I found it pretty surprising. That said, I should like to add a premise: it seems to me that both in the United States and around the world, there are things much more important and serious to worry about. What’s happened in Ferguson, or Ebola’s dramatic rise, for example. The fact that some people take this so seriously … Unless the point is that, in these days, a sort of hypersensitivity to erotic images is spreading, maybe due to the ongoing discussions we are facing related to Islam. We know that censorship on woman’s body should not be a Western trait. That too, is quite surprising to me.”
Though he started off like he was going towards something good, when he starts brushing off the issue of women’s representation, it goes a little downhill from there because he uses an argument that has nothing to do with the problem at hand. No one is denying that there are other problems in the world, but that doesn’t make this any less of a problem as well. Anyway, Manara gets back on track by addressing the anatomical problems and his intentions for putting Spider-Woman in this pose:
“What I wanted to do is a girl who, after climbing the wall of a skyscraper, is crawling on the roof. She finds herself on the edge, and his right leg still has it off the roof. So the anatomical criticism that were made, I think they’re wrong: she doesn’t have both knees on the roof. One leg is still down, and the other is pulling up. Precisely for this reason, also, then her back is arched. I’ve tried to do such.
That said, it’s not my fault if women are like that. I just draw them. It’s not me that I’ve done so: the author – let’s just say – is a much more ‘important’ one, for those who have faith … On the other hand, for evolutionists (including me), women’s bodies have taken this form over the millennia in order to avoid the extinction, in fact. If women were made exactly as men, with the same shape, I think we would have already been extinct for a long time.”
Since everyone in the industry knows what to expect from Manara’s work, I feel like the real issue here is that Marvel brought him onto this project. Strong, independent women can still be sexy. Just look at Nicki Minaj’s latest video, ‘Anaconda’, which features the rapper in literally the same pose as Spider-Woman on this cover. But considering the audience that they’re shooting for with this comic book, they might have done better to find an artist that would please that demographic rather than attaching one that would offend, even if it was just for a variant cover and not the main one.
If you’re bummed about this whole situation, ‘Spider-Woman’ writer Dennis Hopeless also weighed in on the controversy by assuring True Believers that the negative aspects surrounding this variant cover do not reflect the content of the story:
@EmmyHildy I can promise you we have no intention of blatantly sexualizing any of the characters in our story.
— Dennis Hopeless (@HopelessDent) August 20, 2014
@PositivelyB I don’t have any input at all on covers. You have my word that our story treats Jess with the utmost respect.
— Dennis Hopeless (@HopelessDent) August 20, 2014
Controversy aside, I’m still looking forward to ‘Spider-Woman.’ A variant cover doesn’t affect the content of a book. Some stores might not even carry it, so I still plan on supporting this series. After all, while I consider myself a fan of Jessica Drew, I’d say that I’m a bigger fan of Silk, the latest spider-hero spinning out from the pages of ‘Amazing Spider-Man,’ so I want this upcoming title to succeed so that she sticks around. What about you? Are you turned off by everything surrounding Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land’s upcoming comic? Or do you still plan on picking it up so as to not judge a book by it’s cover? Share your thoughts in the comments below.