Monday, May 28, 2007

The Many Moods of Heroes for Hire

Well, having come late to the Mary Jane wears pearls to do the laundry party, I may as well sound off on the other thing that's got everyone's attention. The comic itself won't be on sale until August 27, so I guess it's early yet.

Of course, I'm in real trouble here, because I don't know what the context of this image is. In fact, I'm not sure I can name everyone on it. There appears to be an extra breast and arm at extreme right. Maybe somebody just figured that if six breasts are good, seven is better.

Now, not having recently fallen off the comic-book delivery truck, I have seen the occasional "tentacle rape" scene. I suspect everyone reading these words knows what that phrase means. In fact, apparently, there is only one person in the English-speaking comics-reading world who does not know what it means. And as incredible as it may seem, that person is Joe Quesada, Editor-in-Chief of one of the largest English-language comics publishers in the world, and the man ultimately responsible for the solicitation (and, presumably, upcoming publication) of the image in question. Of this image, and the attention it has drawn, and most especially the attention it has drawn from female comics readers, Joe said:
First, I think people are reading way too much into that cover than was ever intended. I heard terms such as “tentacle rape” being thrown around when that in no way is what’s happening, nor does it happen in the book. Those tentacles are the arms of the Brood who appears in the issue and is a major story point, the Brood have tentacles, sorry about that.
True, but in the twenty-five years of the characters' presence in the Marvel Universe, every previous depiction has concentrated on their insect-like nature. Previously their tentacles were used as strangling weapons, not mammary palpators. One must also remember that what the Brood want humans for is reproduction (a process fatal to the human egg host), so "rape" is not an inappropriate word for the process.
Secondly, the concept for that cover, soup to nuts came from a female artist.
Whom you've just thrown under the bus, in the process of hiding behind her. What exactly do you do at Marvel, if cover approval isn't it?
Also, HFH is a book that features two strong, lead female protagonist who kick major ass; somehow folks have forgotten to focus on that.
Does anyone on this cover look like they've ever kicked anybody's ass? No. They look like fruit waiting to be plucked from the tree. Out here in the real world (or as real as it gets when middle-aged men read comic books), we call that out of character.

On the left is Sana Takeda's original art. On the right is a "remix" done by Lea Hernandez (a thoughtful and talented creator in her own right) for her own blog, Dangerous Beauty. At this scale, the alterations are trivial, but they support three basic changes:
  1. Misty Knight is supposed to be a black woman.
  2. Costumes now match how they're drawn inside the book.
  3. Misty, Colleen and Felicia are now directly looking at the threat they face.
The situation still isn't appealing, but it's the difference between a PG and R rating, and Heroes for Hire is supposed to be PG (or, as Marvel calls it, T+).

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