When I read an article yesterday morning from The Beat that several of Milo Manara’s upcoming variant covers had been canceled, I did a little happy dance in my chair. You’ll remember the Manara Spider-Woman cover that was heavily criticized a few weeks ago.
Many websites were quick to ridiculous this pose, io9 released images of a grotesque 3D model of the position, Kelly Sue DeConnick commented on it in an interview with TheMindHut, and The Mary Sue absolutely went to town on the image, photoshopping strange images onto Spider-Woman’s butt and featuring a video of women attempting – and failing – to reenact Spider-Woman’s position. And those were just the articles I personally read, a quick Google search will show you dozens more.
In a weekly interview with Comic Book Resources, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso apologized for the image, saying that they realized that the messages sent in the Milo Manara variant cover were not what was intended. At the same time, Alonso firmly mentioned that Marvel would be commissioning covers from Manara in the future, but that they were “aware of the growing sensitivity to covers like this.” It felt like Marvel was attempting to have its cake and eat it too.
Naturally, when news reached the internet that several of Milo Manara’s upcoming variant covers had been canceled, it appeared as if Marvel was changing their tune. No more grossly sexy covers! No more butts lifted grotesquely in the air! No more weird faces!
Not the case.
The reality, according to Comic Book Resources, is that the canceled covers were just part of bad scheduling, not any indication that Marvel is withdrawing support from Manara’s variant covers. Alonso says,
Clearly, unequivocally, I want to state that this is only a scheduling problem. The Manara covers were recast due to his schedule. He will be doing more covers for us, in fact, he’s working on one right now that will be announced sometime soon.
While many people (myself included, obviously) had their hopes up about this development, a seedier part of the web jumped on the chance to turn the canceled covers into a debate over censorship – attempting to create #ComicGate on the back of the recent #GamerGate movement.
Really? The Milo Manara covers got cancelled. Who's about silencing again? #ComicGate
— Every Fanboy Ever (@fanboy_txt) September 24, 2014
While I was initially sad that the Manara covers hadn’t been cancelled, at this point I’m just wearily thankful that the #ComicGate crowd has no legs to stand on. August and September were rough months for women in gaming, and I’d hate to see that vitriol spread to comics.
When news of the female Thor first broke out (via the View of all places) I was more than a bit hesitant. After all, I had just gotten my hopes up for the new Wonder Woman creative team and then had them blown to bits. Luckily, Jason Aaron just did an interview with NPR that might offer comfort to those wondering if the new female Thor is just a publicity stunt.
According to Aaron, he’s been planning the story about Thor becoming unworthy of Mjolnir for some time. When looking for Thor’s replacement, the idea of a woman taking up Thor’s mantle seemed like a natural step.
“It’s not like we sat around and threw a dart on the wall to change the gender of a character,” said Aaron. “This was my idea. This wasn’t Marvel coming to me. This isn’t me throwing away what I’ve been doing.”
Instead, this is a natural progression in the Thor narrative. Jason Aaron has been writing Thor since 2012, and has great plans for the future of our mysterious girl Thor. For those of us (myself included) that are worried that the hammer will simply pass back to it’s original owner after a time, Aaron has other plans. He’s been working with other writers and artists to plan female Thor’s future at Marvel, mentioning that he’d “…love to do a Thor, Spiderwoman series.”
If that wasn’t enough evidence that he understands what fans might want of a female Thor, Aaron is completely comfortable using the word “feminist”.
“I’m not one of those people that think feminist is a bad word. I don’t see why everyone shouldn’t be a feminist.”
My sentiments exactly.
The interview still doesn’t answer pressing questions like which female character is going to take up the mythic hammer (I would reeaally like to be able to stop referring to her as “female Thor”) or what kind of challenges the new heroine might deal with.
Still, Aaron (and all the amazing ladies cosplaying the new Thor) has set my mind at ease. Regardless of whether or not I end up liking the storyline, I’m at least confident the character is in good (and feminist!) hands.
Plus, even Chris Hemsworth is on board!