We’ve all seen the ALTERNATE cover of the upcoming Spider-Woman solo comic book by Marvel Comics. Jessica Drew – aka Spider-Woman –  is crawling up over the edge of a building in New York City in a classic Spider-Man pose – but with a more sexual edge than normal (or is it?). Her butt is rising into the air, the centerpiece of the illustration. Her costume is tight, clinging to her curves like her own skin, but in different colors. One can imagine the men on the street below, who happen to be glancing skyward, seeing her scandalous rump disappearing over the edge and how they then start to sweat. Mothers shield their children’s eyes. We, as the potential reader, are assaulted with this very graphic, sexual image.

However, before you grab your pitchfork and run to the Marvel offices – take some things into consideration, would you?

*Note – I’ve added a couple sections to make this more concrete. Sections 7 and 8 specifically. And I’ve also now added a video by Maddox which pretty much sums up most of what I was trying to say here – only with his own twist. And, I’ve tightened up some of my points as well as enlarging some of the photos to make it easier to see.

  1. THIS IS AN ALTERNATE/VARIANT COVER: In case you’re new to the comic book world (I’m being serious, not pedantic), variant covers exist mostly because of the 1990’s and what some people call “The Speculator Boom” – which was when collectors became more interested in the financial profits of collecting comic books versus their actual reading value and enjoyment. This has been a double-edged sword, with the market becoming saturated with multiple (often lackluster) comic book covers that often have nothing to do with what’s inside the book, reflecting none of its actual content…but also causing lots and lots of people to buy them, thus perpetuating the comic book industry. The concept of the variant cover was thought up mostly with completionists in mind – people who would buy every single issue featuring their favorite characters, even if it was merely a variant cover. Nobody knows exactly how many Manara covers will be floating around out there (EDIT: As of SEVEN MONTHS after writing this post, I still have yet to have seen an actual Manara Spider-Woman issue in a comic store anywhere near me), but I’m guessing it’s going to be a “Chase” cover – which is what they call a rare comic. The original cover is by another artist, Greg Land, and features Spider-Woman in a less-sexualized pose than Manara’s version (though people still have a problem with that cover just because it’s Greg Land). The Greg Land cover is going to be the most numerous and the most widely-seen in mainstream comic book stores, so little “Timmy” and “Amber” are going to be safe from seeing much of Spider-Woman’s red-clad-booty. (Though Spider-Woman is NOT a kid’s book and your kids should probably not be reading it anyway…I’ll get to that later, though). Here is the main cover by Greg Land next to the ALTERNATE cover by erotic artist Milo Manara:
    Spider-Woman #1 regular cover by Greg Land

    Spider-Woman #1 regular cover by Greg Land

    Milo Manara's controversial cover to Spider-Woman #1

    Milo Manara’s controversial cover to Spider-Woman #1

    As you can see, there’s a bit of a difference. The bottom one is a more suggestive than the first one, but if you have ever read Marvel Comics before in your entire life or if you are familiar at all with Spider-Woman – you know that even if she STANDS STILL AND STRAIGHT she still EXUDES sexiness. Unless she were wearing a grain sack over her body then that’s probably not going to go away (but I’ll get to that later, as well).

  2. MILO MANARA IS AN EROTIC ARTIST FROM EUROPE: In case you don’t know who Milo Manara is, this kind of artwork is pretty much what he does. He expresses himself through images of the female form and through sexuality. Being from Europe, this isn’t regarded as a “horrible” thing like it is in the United States – where we freak out less about wanton violence than we do about sexuality (thank you, Puritanical influence).
    Milo Manara - the Italian artist

    Milo Manara – the Italian artist

    He has a long body of work starting from around 1969 and is considered a master of his craft. He has won many awards, including an Eisner Award, and was even inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall Of Fame (check out a list of his awards HERE). Here are other examples of his work so that you can see he not only knows his stuff (especially anatomy) but that his art is beautiful (even if it may not appeal to your sensibilities):

    Page from The Adventures Of Giuseppe

    Page from The Adventures Of Giuseppe Bergman

    The cover to Butterscotch - one of Manara's notable works

    The cover to Butterscotch – one of Manara’s most notable works

    A sample page from Milo Manara's Click series.

    A sample page from Milo Manara’s Click series.

    Sample page from "Indian Summer"

    Sample page from Indian Summer

    Cover to Manara's "El Gaucho"

    Cover to Manara’s El Gaucho

    An example of Manara's Pin-Up style

    An example of Manara’s pin-up style

    These images are just a small sample of what he does and also show that his art runs the gamut from black and white to painted to pin-up work to cheesecake to serious and has been translated to many different languages. He has even taken part in animation, helping with a show for Fox in Argentina called City Hunters by providing character designs and artwork. The show would never air in the United States but it airs over there right alongside Family GuyFuturama and American Dad – because it’s that harmless to everyone else aside from we prudish and oversensitive Americans.

    Manara is no slouch behind the pen/pencil, either. He works from photographs a lot of the time and uses many photo references and while that may be looked down on by some, there are many many artists who do it and who also do it successfully. Greg Land is actually criticized most often for this, which sometimes I would have to agree on – because he seems to often recycle his own work. But it’s okay to do it if you want to invoke something within our own pop culture psyches.

    As you can see, the drawing is pretty much a duplicate of the bottom photo on the right.

    As you can see, the drawing is pretty much a duplicate of the bottom photo on the right.

    This is not to say, however, that he can’t do anything off the top of his head. He’s been doing this now for many years. Here is a live demonstration of his art and I challenge anyone to do any better on the spot in such a fast time frame.

    So – do you get it, now? Manara is an EROTIC ARTIST primarily. He can do other stuff but he prefers to draw women and appreciates the female form. Being a man, this is natural and a natural instinct in the same way that women sometimes choose to ogle men (which I will get to later). There is nothing wrong with this aside from our own moralities we choose to impart on his artwork. Even if his artwork is not to your tastes, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Racy? Yes. Bad? Not at all. I personally enjoy it and will defend his artistic merit.

  3. SPIDER-MAN IS CONSTANTLY IN THESE TYPES OF POSES, JUST WITH A MALE BODY: I have been reading Spider-Man since I was three years old. When my uncle first introduced me to him, I was hooked by his cool white eyes and his colorful costume. Back then, comics were mostly for kids. These days, not so much – and while it’s fine to have children’s lines of comics, we shouldn’t be treating the medium as just “for kids” anymore. Through all the years I’ve been reading Spider-Man books and seeing his image interpreted artistically by many, many different artists, his “spider” powers have reduced him to scrambling around a lot of the time like he’s a dog dragging his butt on the ground. His legs are often splayed, his butt in the air behind him or sometimes we are even exposed to his backside or groin directly. The argument here is that Spider-Man is a male power fantasy and thus is not being sexualized. Of course he’s not being sexualized as much – he’s Peter Parker, an awkward teen boy nerd who is granted super-powers. He’s not overtly sexual at all. The closest he’s come has been when Black Cat brought out that edgier sexual tension from him in the past when the two of them were dating. Not all women characters should always be given sex appeal, but Spider-Woman is one of those characters who just is sexy, all the time – at least in my opinion. She’s right up there with Black Cat or Silver Sable. She wears skin-tight costumes and just happens to be in Spider-Man types of poses sometimes, which would look “sexual” to anyone solely because she is a woman and has a woman’s body. Women’s bodies are obviously full of curves and the pose she’s doing is not impossible (as some critics of this cover illustration have suggested) for women to do because of the way that their hips and waist can bend. I’m very certain my girlfriend could do this pose if she wished to. Hell, I would do it just to prove I could probably do it, too. In any case, here are some crazy poses that Spidey has struck over the years which would be considered “sexual” if Spider-Woman did them, solely because she inhabits a woman’ s body.
    If Spider-Woman were doing this (though she doesn't swing from webs) her areas of prominence would be chest and groin and legs.

    If Spider-Woman were doing this (though she doesn’t swing from webs) her areas of prominence would be chest and groin and legs.

    Again - chest and groin. Of course there isn't a prominent bulge because the penis is genitalia. Butts are not.

    Again – chest and groin. Of course there isn’t a prominent bulge because the penis is genitalia. Butts are not. The two things are not equal.

    Another, with a more prominent bulge.Pretty much everything aside from his butt cheek muscles are showing.

    Another, with a more prominent bulge. Pretty much everything aside from his butt cheek muscles are showing. (This one is fan art)

    Another, with less prominent bulge but which would be considered sexual if it were Spider-Woman

    Another, with less prominent bulge but which would be considered sexual if it were Spider-Woman

    In the same exact pose, pretty much, of the controversial cover

    In the same exact pose, pretty much, of the controversial cover

    Another

    Another…

    ...And Another....

    …And Another….

    ....And look at his butt, here.

    ….And look at his butt, here. Who the hell cares?!

    Do you get my drift? These are just random images that came up when I searched for “Spider-Man artwork” in Google…and I didn’t even have to spend a lot of time finding these. He is in these positions all the time. Sure, he may not be as “sexualized” but as I mentioned above several time – this is mostly due to him being an awkward person. If Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman replaced Spidey in all of these images, even in the same context (like some parts being sort of “shaded in”) then it would still be seen as “sexual” because she IS a sexual character and she is a woman, who are often viewed as being more sexual than men by our society at large (including by other women). I’m not saying that women haven’t been given identity problems by the mainstream media or by men in power, but that’s something that is on the road to being fixed and that is something that Manara’s artwork didn’t contribute to, especially not over here in America.  What I would say is more to blame are music videos and fashion magazines for that, which I will get to later.

  4. SPIDER-WOMAN HAS BEEN PORTRAYED IN THIS MANNER MANY TIMES BEFORE: What nobody seems to remember is that Spider-Woman has been portrayed in more sexually-charged artwork before which nobody really batted an eye about. She is a very cool and slick character with a sexy costume, so of course people (men and women) would want to draw her. I don’t find a problem with any art aside from that which is not dynamic, not interesting, or art that is static. Bodies need to be in motion. There has to be something interesting going on, at all times. Here are other artistic interpretations of the character that are racy but nobody ever mentioned.
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    Spider_Woman_Jessica_Drew_4
    spider-woman
    Spider-Woman-Bishoujo-Kotobukiya-09
    Some of these examples were obviously cover images while some were interior panels. The final one was concept work by a Japanese artist who made a Kotobukiya collectible statue featuring Spider-Woman. There is nothing wrong with any of these images, as they are the artistic interpretations of a fictional character by working artists who are most often being employed by Marvel (or elsewhere) to produce the art. Some of these images I enjoy more than others, and I most often know what the artists are trying to express. If I don’t like the artwork, I tend to not buy the book (or figurine, etc).
  6. MANARA HAS DONE MARVEL COVERS BEFORE – THIS ISN’T A NEW THING: Everyone seems to be asking “Wow…why did they choose Manara, the erotic artist, to make an alternate cover to this thing?” Well, why not? It’s certainly not a kid’s comic book, and it’s not the regular cover. The ALTERNATIVE COVERS aren’t necessarily for mass consumption and people are free to choose the regular cover or other variant covers. Manara has done other work for Marvel in the past, and his work is nice, so I’m guessing that’s why they wanted him in on this. Spider-Woman is a very sexual character, very sleek, and Manara is a great choice for an edgier/racier artistic interpretation that people may enjoy. Here are other Marvel covers he’s done in the past (most, if not all, being VARIANT COVERS):
    Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy

    Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy

    Captain Marvel

    Captain Marvel

    Valkyrie in Fearless Defenders

    Valkyrie in Fearless Defenders

    Angela in Guardians of the Galaxy

    Angela in Guardians of the Galaxy

    Wasp in Avengers

    Wasp in Avengers

    Black Widow

    Black Widow

    Storm, in X-Men

    Storm, in X-Men

    Psylocke, from X-Force

    Psylocke, from X-Force

    X-Women

    X-Women

    Shanna from Savage Wolverine

    Shanna from Savage Wolverine

    Nightcrawler from X-Men

    Nightcrawler from X-Men

    Most of those images were done pretty recently and nobody made much of a fuss about it – because none of them were Spider-Woman who is often in Spider-Man types of poses. You can obviously tell that some of these images are cheesecake shots and are meant to be that way. IT’S WHAT HE DOES. And, again – these are mostly just variants although he did some art for a couple issues of certain books. Some of the images are racier than others, some have women displaying more of that “unnatural” posturing that you can normally only see with pop art or erotic art images of women. All are meant to be taken at face value. There isn’t anything he’s trying to say to marginalize women. That’s part of our own country’s narrative, not his. I like some of these images more than I do others, but I just take from it what I can and you should, too.

  7. PEOPLE ARE FREAKING OUT ABOUT THE POSE NOT BEING “REALISTIC” BUT WE SEE IT ALL THE TIME LATELY:  This is one of the “straw-man” arguments I’ve seen about the image. “She doesn’t look realistic” or “Nobody could do that pose”. They’ve had other artists who have broken down the image and created more “anatomically-possible” renderings like THIS ONE and THIS ONE. First of all – the first link, from the Mary Sue, misses the point. The artist who did the re-do was speaking as if Spider-Woman was originally going to be “springing” into action. To me, the image looks as if she’s climbing onto the roof, one leg still dangling off the edge. I don’t mind her re-design (and actually like the one she did for Greg Land better than his own) but it’s essentially the same thing. Aside from that, the second one was intentionally fudged with to make it look worse than it was. The rendering has her arm done the opposite way as Manara’s. Below, I have a more accurate 3D model image of what she’s doing (thanks to Reddit, of course):
    This clearly shows a better example of what Manara was trying to do. It looks feasible.

    This clearly shows a better example of what Manara was trying to do. It looks feasible.

    Aside from that, though – we must remember that Manara is an EROTIC ARTIST from ITALY. Even if a woman really COULDN’T bend that way – can a woman really stick to walls or fire energy blasts from her hands? No. This guy is putting his own erotic slant on the character, and it’s a tame one at that. The sites who used this image for click bait gain revenue from people sharing their articles. My first introduction to this image was from io9 in an article entitled “HERE’S SPIDER-WOMAN #1 Starring SPIDER-WOMAN’S ASS!” They cropped the image a certain way to gain interest from everyone who might get pissed off and come argue about the image on their forum. People who don’t even READ comics or who would never have read a Spider-Woman comic book were suddenly in on this “fight”, inciting arguments and saying things like “I don’t read comics, but…this is horrible.” The problem with this type of journalism is that it was all without context. Half the people didn’t even know it was done by Milo Manara. The other half didn’t know it was a VARIANT COVER. ALL of them were way too angry.

    The other thing is that while this Manara cover was pretty tame, especially by his standards – we have Nikki Minaj come out with her song and video entitled Anaconda. She takes basically the same pose as Manara’s Spider-Woman throughout the entire video, and is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more suggestive than this art could ever be. Twerking. Look no further for a real-life analogy to Spider-Woman’s pose.

    Did you catch it? If you didn’t watch the entire thing, here is one of the key images:

    Looks a little familiar, doesn't it? It also looks like she's actually DOING it - though we are at a different angle

    Looks a little familiar, doesn’t it? It also looks like she’s actually DOING it – though we are at a different angle than with the Manara Spider-Woman cover.

    One of the other criticisms about the Spider-Woman image was people saying that it was unrealistic because of her booty being sort of large but her waist being skinny. It may not be the norm for everyone and not for people you specifically know, but they exist and Nikki is proof of that. Itty bitty waist but the round thing’s in yo’ face. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS. I repeat – THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS. It’s a woman who has superpowers….so why can’t she also have a big booty if she wants to? Twerking, and by extension – booties, are super-popular right now. It’s no wonder that Manara chose this particular view. Our general public (and the world) is Twerk-Crazy at the moment – I mean, check it out for yourself.

    The argument here is that people aren’t freaked out about Nikki Minaj twerking or moving her body into those crazy angles because she’s a woman and she’s doing it willingly while Spider-Woman is drawn by a man in this particular pose and is thus being regulated to an object rather than a person. Well, this is problematic on several levels because at the very least people will condone the same thing if it’s done by a woman? The second is that it’s implying that different genders shouldn’t be interpreted by opposite gender because in doing so, you’re going to be offensive to someone in some way. What? That doesn’t make any sense. Art, for the sake of art, is about expression. Even if you don’t like someone’s artwork, they should be free to express themselves however they wish to. After all, there are plenty of images out there objectifying men in the same manner, or worse, than Manara’s images. Is there an uproar about that? No, because it’s seen as “revenge” or “fair play” or “punching up”. I present to you a collection of art on the covers of other books you may or may not read which often depicts men in objectifying roles (actually, that’s basically the entire point of this genre, for the most part). This isn’t a problem to me because it floats certain people’s boats. The only time I ever refer to things like this (or the hundreds of commercials on television which objectify men or portray them as idiots or terrible parents, etc) is when people begin to think this is being done to only one sex. It’s not.

    Romance novel covers. Oh, yeah....look at those pecs and muscles and "V" lines. Not objectifying at all

    Romance novel covers. Oh, yeah….look at those pecs and muscles and “V” lines. Not objectifying at all

    There is a real history of women being objectified in our society, and it used to be a major problem. Nowadays, it still exists, but to a much lesser extent (speaking about the United States, not the world – where in certain parts it’s still a huge problem). As of right now, there are many ways in which both sexes are objectified so it’s more fair in these times but some people can’t see how much better things have become than they were in the past, and that’s sad. We’ve moved forward, people. You’re sometimes fighting ghosts for the sake of fighting something at all – because you’re still angry. With that said, I bring you to the next part, which is….

  8. MALE CHARACTERS IN COMICS ARE SEXUALIZED, TOO: Before I get into this section, I just want to say this first; it doesn’t happen quite as often. The reason for this has to do with the limited number of women creators who are in the field that AREN’T indie artists as well as the conflicting appreciation of the male as a sex object by different women. Think about all the sexy men you know (if you’re into men). How many of your friends would agree that the man you’re thinking of is attractive? What makes you attracted to him? Is it solely looks? Men, unfortunately in some contexts, are a lot more simple. Pretty much the majority of us will agree that Megan Fox is hot. We don’t care if she has hammer thumbs. We don’t care if she’s an awful person. We still think she’s hot. However, there can be some conflict as to whether or not Hugh Jackman is hot or if Channing Tatum is hot, and it may have more to do with his personality or other things than his physicality or body image. This is not to say that some women don’t ogle like men do or that some men aren’t attracted to Megan Fox…I just mean majorities, here. In any case – there is a current movement and there have been patches of comic book history which exploit both genders. Right now, you can see many male characters being sexualized with fan art especially but also in mainstream comics. Here are some examples – mostly taken (ironically) from an i09 article you can read HERE:
    This is from back in the 90's, but this is Captain America from the Marvel Swimsuit Special series

    This is from back in the 90’s, but this is Captain America from the Marvel Swimsuit Special series

    Fan art sexualizing male comic book characters

    Fan art sexualizing male comic book characters

    Going back even farther we see Spider-Man/Peter Parker in a compromising outfit in a mainstream comic

    Going back even farther we see Spider-Man/Peter Parker in a compromising outfit in a mainstream comic

    Noh-Varr dancing in his underwear

    Noh-Varr dancing in his underwear

    A Sub-Mariner crotch-shot

    A Sub-Mariner crotch-shot

    Sub-Mariner's skimpy superhero outfit consists of only a banana hammock

    Sub-Mariner’s skimpy superhero outfit consists of only a banana hammock

    Colossus from the Marvel Swimsuit Special

    Colossus from the Marvel Swimsuit Special

    Namor in his S&M-looking outfit

    Namor in his S&M-looking outfit

    Nightwing's ass - by a woman artist - in a mainstream comic

    Nightwing’s ass – by a woman artist – in a mainstream comic

    Nightwing's ass again

    Nightwing’s ass again

    Namor's abs

    Namor’s abs

    Scarlet Spider in the Swimsuit Special

    Scarlet Spider in the Swimsuit Special

    The entire marketing strategy for the show ARROW rests on this man's abs

    The entire marketing strategy for the show Arrow rests on this man’s abs. Notice the “tasty” tagline.

    See? Happens to dudes in comics, too. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING. If some people enjoy it, it can only be good for the comics industry. These men are not “realistic” and do not showcase what a common “comic nerd” might look like (though it’s not out of the question). It’s okay to display men like this, but not okay if you’re freaking out about women being displayed in this manner as well. It can’t be both ways, not even for vengeance. If it is for vengeance, or for a “HA – How do YOU like it?!” type of mentality then the message is just alienating potential allies to the cause (like myself). This is why things like the Hawkeye Initiative isn’t super-effective aside from making people participating in it feel better. Half of the poses people pick to submit to the Hawkeye Initiative are from the 90’s and are irrelevant to today’s standards of comic book art. A lot of it is funny, but what is it really accomplishing? Seeing men pose in a feminine manner isn’t the same as men (or those who appreciate women) seeing women pose in a feminine manner. The gender translation is lost somewhere in there. I often look at the images because of their humor but aside from that it does little to sway my mind in any direction and I’m guessing that’s true for a lot of folks. Escher Girls is another site like this where it examines alternative ways to pose women characters on the covers of comic books or in other media images. Still, the same problems arise – people mostly grab things from in the past. Many do it for the hilarity, but many are super-serious about how offended it makes them….from all the way in the 1990’s. It’s almost the 2020’s, now, people.

  9. PEOPLE ACT LIKE SCANTILY-CLAD WOMEN CHARACTERS ARE AWFUL BUT THEY SURE PORTRAY THEM AN AWFUL LOT:  Seriously. Have you ever gone into a Halloween costume store lately? So many skimpy costumes. Of course, some of this could be due to the NEVERENDING EVILS OF PATRIARCHY ™….but I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that everyone wants to be sexy at some point. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Sometimes, I mean….look what one of the TOP TEN MOST SEARCHED FOR HALLOWEEN COSTUMES OF 2013 WAS:
    This is your doing, humans!

    This is your doing, humans!

    Hilarity aside, cosplayers (and I should know, because I am one and go to many conventions where I witness this) love to portray scantily-clad women characters. Even if it’s a male character who is NOT at all USUALLY scantily-clad, women find a way to do it. Some examples:

    IRON MAN

    Iron Man - though he really only needs some skimpy drawers and a seductive pose

    Iron Man – though he really only needs some skimpy drawers and a seductive pose

    If a dude drew a woman character like this, there'd be an uproar

    If a dude drew a woman character like this, there’d be an uproar. This is one of the “Ironette” backup dancers from the films. Sure, they are “characters” in the films – but really, the only reason to cosplay as an Ironette dancer would be for people to appreciate your form.


    Iron Man is a character who is literally ENCASED in metal. Hence the name “IRON MAN”. So, you would think that an appropriate cosplay version would require head-to-toe metal encasement. Wrong. No mask, no covering on vital organs or exposed limbs. If this “IRON WOMAN” ended up in a battle with Mandarin – she’d be in super-trouble. Of course, she’s not actually cosplaying as Iron-Man. She’s cosplaying as an “Ironette” backup dancer who appears in the movie for all of three seconds. Sure, anyone can cosplay as obscure characters but people are kidding themselves if they think the draw to the Ironette cosplay is for “accuracy” or to represent a woman character from the film. There were other, better women characters in the films…and the real draw to this cosplay are the curves.

    DR. DOOM

    Surely DOOM would not be reduced to a sexual object via a genderbend?

    Surely DOOM would not be reduced to a sexual object via a genderbend?

    Okay, so no space-flight, then?

    Okay, so no space-flight, then?

    Doom is also encased in armor and a lot of his power comes from it. He wouldn’t expose his bare legs to the vacuum of space or get into a fight with the Fantastic Four with armor that accentuated his boobs. But this cosplayer has decided she wants to go that route. That’s fine, but don’t complain when men and other interested parties want to see an art representation of something similar.

    SPIDER-WOMAN

    With all the controversy surrounding Manara's version of Spider-Woman, there can't possibly be any woman supporting this type of depiction?

    With all the controversy surrounding Manara’s version of Spider-Woman, there can’t possibly be any woman supporting this type of depiction?

    Wrong

    Wrong

    spider-woman-0002

    Even Mary Jane Watson (PeterParker's Wife/Girlfriend) gets in on the action

    Even Spider-Girl gets in on the action

    Mary Jane as well

    Mary Jane as well

    owS1vIX

    spider-woman-cosplay-3 (1)

    So, as you can see, this double-standard sort of has a knack for confusing us. You hate objectification of women yet you do it for yourselves and that’s okay? Tear down a drawing done by a man but seek out those same representations because they help you feel sexy? Really, how are those images above any different from this next image?

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    I’ll give you a hint – they’re not. If Spider-Girl above were drawn by a man, she would end up on Escher Girls or on the Hawkeye Initiative. If you want this type of image to go away, stop perpetuating it. Or – embrace it and have some fun and don’t freak out about one drawing by an erotic artist. Ogle us guys every once in a while – we like it!

  10. “THAT MATERIAL WOULD NEVER STICK TO ANYONE’S FORM THAT TIGHTLY. NOT REALISTIC!” WANNA’ BET?: First off, in case you couldn’t already tell by how many times I’ve said it – this is a comic book with a fictional woman who has superpowers. It’s already unrealistic right off the bat. BUT – just so I can soothe those frothing mouths a bit, I present to you some images of women in skin-tight material that is truly skin-tight and which I’ve been seeing a lot of lately – even in workplace environments.
    Yoga pants can definitely be skin-tight

    Yoga pants can definitely be skin-tight

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    l28saoe Girls-In-Yoga-Pants-13

    So – what we see here is a material in REAL LIFE that is as close to being skin-tight as possible. Even if the Spider-Woman image shows a material that may be just the slightest bit more skin-tight than yoga pants, it’s at least feasible that in a world of super-powered beings with high tech costumes, there could exist a material that is even more skin-tight than yoga pants by a small fraction. All that aside, if this were “realistic” – Spider-Woman, along with most of Earth’s other lower-powered heroes, would ALL be dressed like Tactical SWAT members – with ballistics vests and helmets and all that. How boring would THAT be? Oh, let me read this comic about super-powered SWAT. Fun. Snarkiness aside, I always read comics to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM REALITY – I don’t want to read MORE about regular things that can happen in the REGULAR WORLD.

  11. LISTEN TO MANARA’S OWN WORDS: With all of this rhetoric and posturing everyone is doing over this measly image, I’m guessing many critics of the work didn’t take the time to read any of his words on the subject of this controversy. You can find the whole thing HERE, but I will post the gist of what he said below:

    What I wanted to do is a girl who, after climbing the wall of a skyscraper, is crawling over the roof. She finds herself on the edge, and her right leg is still off the roof. So the criticism about anatomical issues that were made, I think they are wrong: she’s not to have both knees on the roof. One leg is still down, and the other is pulling up. Precisely for this reason, also, then this back arched. This is what I tried to do……Also, I do not consider it one of the covers most erotic I’ve done. I think I have chosen, out of all the poses imaginable – and the proof is there, if one goes on the Internet, where I documented myself, to see all the photos of Spider-Woman – the one that is , even framing, less problematic . If fact the view is a bit from above. You do not see hardly anything. We see only that she has an ass, drawn this way. And it’s a girl with a nice ass, indeed, at least from my point of view.That’s the way Superheroes are: they are naked, covered in whatever color of paint. Superman is naked painted blue, Spider-Man is naked painted red and blue, and Spider-Woman is painted red. But that’s part of the “trick”, so to speak, that publishers use to create these forms of superheroes nude – of which I do not find anything wrong – but without real nudity. When we see them later in the stories, going beyond the cover, these are characters whose bodies are “in view”….…It is actually a girl who is crawling, or rather, advancing at the pace of the jaguar. After climbing the wall of the building, she is pulling herself on the roof of this building. That’s how I see it. Sure, of course, since women are built in a certain way, any movement they make, if they are nude … and to some degree, more or less, all super heroines are naked. And this cover isn’t any different. And Spider-Woman is not gonna be sitting in a chair, right? But if one goes on the internet to see all the other images of the character, there are many far more erotic, and if they were naked, they would be more vulgar than what I did. Instead, as we know, this leotard, this – let’s say – ‘colored plastic wrap’ is what saves all appearances……I can understand, of course. As I also understand people who have felt offended. But I understand in the sense that it suddenly opens my eyes, and I have to acknowledge that what I think is a beautiful picture, nice, attractive, seductive – that is exactly my purpose, or what I want to achieve – for others it is disturbing. But this is something that I have to face every time I. And by the way it keeps surprising me more and more.If you go to the beaches now, you see girls whose scanty swimwear totally let see the shapes of their bodies. Of course, for someone that can be an image that is disturbing, but not for me. In fact, I’m sorry, but my aim – when I’m asked to draw – is trying to communicate serenity, more than seduction…

    …I tend to believe that maybe I was already in the crosshairs of some commentators or bloggers who have seized the opportunity, even though it wasn’t the most convincing one, to raise such a problem. I understand the controversy over the fact that the use of women bodies is a sensitive issue. And I couldn’t agree more on the fact that the female body should not be used in advertising, for example, to sell … silicone sealant. The thing that I do not agree is not so much the fact that these images are erotic, but the fact that they are banal. Everyone is capable of assign a beautiful image to any product: it is clear that you transfer to your product the beauty of that image. A trick so trivial that I find cloying. But when it comes to draw a character in red tights, whose line of work is skyscraper crawling, I see no scandal in the fact of drawing her in a seductive way. Because I imagine that’s how she is.

    I don’t know if this character will also become a movie, but if it does, I think they would have their sweet problems to make her do what Spider-Man does (frame her in the same vicissitudes and athletic performance and so on) without her becoming seductive. If she’s played by an actress endowed with an ass, it is clear that her ass will be seen. I’m reminded that her tights are “painted on” … I also noticed that some website says that more than a suit, what you see in my drawing, it’s body painting. It’s true. Sure it is. But because it is so in all the superhero comics: These tights are painted on them. You don’t see a crease, a wrinkle. You read the muscles perfectly.

    I’m not so convinced, though, by the last part of the controversy. That is, those who accuse Marvel that while trying to take a stab at capturing the female audience, by using a cover of that kind, they’re commissioning it to me, an artist who, you know, has a male audience. I totally reject this. My audience is at least 50% female. I know it for a fact because when I go to festivals, and I see the queue of those who put themselves in line to get signed books, there are more women than men. Therefore, I also reject the notion that the celebration of the female body interests only to males: I do not think so.

    Ah, there’s also those who insinuate the whole controversy is manufactured on purpose. I can only say I did not know anything until I was informed about it. If anything, from my point of view, I have to congratulate Marvel, who showed respect for a drawing that, as horrible as it might be, no one asked me to do any kind of change. I do not think it was worse than others, or more scandalous than others. And in front of an image of seduction I feel joy, not repulsion.

    So what we have here is a professional artist being wrongfully accused of not knowing how to do art, which is what he’s been paid to do since the early 1970’s – a guy who is made to feel a monster for expressing himself artistically through the erotic tendencies of the female form – a man who lives in a different country than ours and is astonished at our reaction to a little sexiness thrown our way by someone who was doing a tame version watered down especially for us…and we still couldn’t handle it. Excuse me while I wait for you all to self-flagellate.

    Even other comic book artists have defended him, like Amy Reeder (Artist for Rocket Girl by Image Comics). Even though she still has reservations about the image, she at least concedes that Manara is a good artist and that his work speaks for itself.

    Here are some of her words below, but you can find the whole thing HERE:

    If you want to know my opinion on Milo Manara’s Spider-woman cover, I’m going to have to disappoint you and say I feel super divided on it. I love Milo Manara!! It’s a variant cover…so it’s sort of an erotica variant! Of course, I’d also like to see Katie Cook do her own version…that’d make Marvel’s choice seem a little less like a systemic problem. And yes, it’s all a different story with context, but without context, it is a bit jarring and I don’t negate that because the Internet really changes our experience these days. And the image itself does remind me a lot of images by artists I DON’T respect…I wish it looked more characteristically Manara instead of a Greg Horn illustration (sorry, Greg Horn! (Not that you care!)). Again, all that said, it’s Milo Manara and if anybody should be able to do things how he wants, it should be him.

    Amy Reeder is not only a proponent of strong, female characters – she draws one. She is an artist and she also doesn’t even work for Marvel. She knows the industry and has a lot to say about it, and if she can appreciate this art within the context it was created, then we should at least take a second look at this mess of crazy we’ve created around this simple image. It’s OKAY to have reservations about the image, but to jump on the bandwagon and assume the worst and burn buildings down around you with your collective interwebz rage – that’s pretty overboard.

  12. Finally, just because Maddox happened to do a video about this subject and because his views line up with mine about this – I am going to post his rant about this issue. He may illustrate all this more succinctly than I did, so check it out. I will let the video speak for itself.

So, with all that said, what have we learned here today?

  • The Manara Cover for Spider-Woman #1 is a VARIANT COVER.
  • Milo Manara is a EUROPEAN ARTIST with an EROTIC ART tendency – this cover being tame
  • Because Spider-Woman sometimes poses like Spider-Man, she may look sexualized no matter what because she is a woman
  • Absolutely nothing is showing on Spider-Woman in the image aside from her back and part of her butt
  • Spider-Woman has always looked this way
  • Manara has done many other Marvel covers
  • The pose is feasible in real life and we see it all the time
  • Nothing is wrong with the anatomy of the drawing and Manara is a veteran pro artist
  • Women AND men are both sexualized all the time
  • Clothing exists that can hug your skin like Spider-Woman’s outfit
  • Men and women are counted among Manara’s fanbase

This may not change any minds, many people will just flat out ignore it or try to dispute things here. My view is just an alternate view, coming from a comic book fan of around 29 years and a Manara fan of about 15 years. My hope is that someone sane will see all this stuff I’ve compiled and take a second look.

Erotic art is not a crime. There are definitely issues within our society and within the comic book industry, but this is just a drawing and it doesn’t seek to address any of that. All it seeks to do is what the artist hoped for – inspiration, admiration, the stirring of the spirit and the excitement of allure. He’s not a villainous misogynist for appreciating the female form. People who enjoy it are not unfeeling, sex-crazed monsters. I have been a husband to a wife, a boyfriend to a girlfriend, a son to a mother, an uncle to nieces, a grandson to grandmothers, a nephew to aunts, a brother to a sister, a friend to women, a colleague of women, an all-out admirer of women…but I also love artistic freedom and the expression of self, and I think that this image doesn’t threaten any of those relationships I have with women in my life.

Take a step back, relax, and put the signs down. You’re missing some really cool stuff.

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Graduated from Saint Joseph's College Of Maine with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts - Creative Writing as well as Stonecoast, a low-residency MFA program through University of Southern Maine. Has several screenplays, a novel, graphic novel and a memoir all in development.

One Comment on “In Defense Of Manara (NSFW)

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