Comic Book Superheroes Get the Pin-Up Girl Treatment

Iron Man shows off his abs of steel.

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Captain America. Original art by Lou Harrison, mock cover by Brett White.
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Spider-Man. Original art by Christopher Hawkes, mock cover by Brett White.
Spider-Man.
Original art by Christopher Hawkes, mock cover by Brett White.
Wolverine. Original art by Steve Lightle and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Wolverine.
Original art by Steve Lightle and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Thor. Original art by Lou Harrison, mock cover by Brett White.
Thor.
Original art by Lou Harrison, mock cover by Brett White.
Captain America. Original art by Lou Harrison, mock cover by Brett White.
Captain America.
Original art by Lou Harrison, mock cover by Brett White.
Iron Man. Original art by Tom Morgan and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Iron Man.
Original art by Tom Morgan and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Punisher. Original art by Cindy Martin, Arthur Nichols, and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Punisher.
Original art by Cindy Martin, Arthur Nichols, and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Nova. Original art by Joe Phillips, John Dell, and Jung Choi, mock cover by Brett White.
Nova.
Original art by Joe Phillips, John Dell, and Jung Choi, mock cover by Brett White.
Namor. Original art by Joe Quesada, Tom Palmer, and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Namor.
Original art by Joe Quesada, Tom Palmer, and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Morbius. Original art by Gary Barker, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Morbius.
Original art by Gary Barker, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Drax. Original art by Bret Blevins, Tom Smith, moc cover by Brett White.
Drax.
Original art by Bret Blevins, Tom Smith, mock cover by Brett White.
Spider Woman
Milo Manera's cover for Spider-Woman #1.
Photo: courtesy Marvel Comics.

What would it look like if comic book superheroes were portrayed in the same hyper-sexualized manner as their female counterparts? A new project by Brett White of Comic Book Resources looks to answer that question in response to the unpopular, super-sexy cover art for Spider-Woman #1.

Marvel Comics, which has recently been praised for its introduction of a number of prominent female, gay, and minority characters (see the popular Tickld listicle “The Difference Between DC and Marvel. This Is Priceless“) made a perhaps-inevitable misstep last month when an alternate cover for the first issue of the new Spider-Woman comic book series featured the title character, Jessica Drew, scaling a building in an impossibly skin-tight outfit and ridiculously oversexed pose that left little to the imagination (and is actually an anatomical impossibility, as reported by the Telegraph).

The cover, which has received considerable online backlash, is the work of Italian comic book artist Milo Manera, who specializes in erotic artwork. Many consider Manera’s selection an odd choice for a series that hopes to draw female readers.

“She looks like she’s wearing body-paint, and that’s a big no-no for an industry still trying to remember that women exist and may perhaps read comics and also don’t want to feel completely gross when they do so,” wrote io9.

Quite a Bit More Skin Than We’re Used To

White’s mock-up covers, on the other hand, re-purpose drawings from the Marvel Swimsuit Specials of the 1990s. Though the poses don’t quite match the pornographic overtones of Drew’s (legs akimbo, butt unrealistically thrust in the air as she crawls atop a building), they are showing quite a bit more skin than we’re used to from our male superheroes, and they would definitely feel out of place at the local comic book shop.

“What if Marvel released sexy variant covers for every comic they released? Why couldn’t Magneto #1 feature the master of magnetism in a brokeback pose with a come hither look?” asks White. “Sexiness isn’t inherently a bad thing…it just needs to be an equal thing.”

Despite the relaunch of the Spider-Woman, She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel (as a Muslim, no less) characters, as well as the introduction of a new female Thor, the double standard for woman in comic books (Spider-Man boners aside) is still very real.


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