Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Two Views of Ms. Marvel

Most of what I know about Ms. Marvel I picked up from the blogs. I gather that she's a super-strong powerhouse and leader of one of Marvel's premier super teams with a confusing back story and, um, a generous endowment. Basically, she's Marvel's Power Girl. But nevertheless, I'd like to take a moment to consider how Marvel is presenting their blonde bombshell to the potential comics buyer (as taken from their July Solicitations):

First up is the cover of Ms. Marvel #17 by Greg Horn. I know Horn mostly as the cover artist on She-Hulk, where a reputation for bad cheesecake poses didn't stop him from producing some really awesome covers.

First off, I like that after photo-referencing the face, Horn went ahead and photo referenced the hair too, giving the finished image a more natural look (rather than looking like a real person wearing a yellow foam wig). I also like how the lighting and speed lines emphasize her smile and the flaming bits of debris suggest how powerfully she broke through. The head seems maybe too big for her body, but the rest of her seems reasonably well proportioned. Over all, this is a very good representation of a strong woman who really, really enjoys beating the crap out of doors.

And then we have Frank Cho's cover for Mighty Avengers #5:


I don't mind that Ms. Marvel is shown getting shot in the back; I assume that's a scene in the comic itself and seeing the leader and strongest member of the team taken out on the cover shows the seriousness of the threat. It's that she's shot off to the side, facing away from the viewer, while Ant-Man--Ant-Man?--gets to look badass front and center.

Okay, we get it. Frank Cho likes to draw women's butts. But this is getting ridiculous, especially after the ass-tastic covers for Mighty Avengers #3 AND Mighty Avengers #4. Why can't Ms. Marvel face the viewer, so we can see her reaction to the attack? Why can't we empathize with her, rather than gaze at her?

Is she a character, or is she an object?

Greg Horn has his answer, Mr. Cho. What's yours?


Anonymous said...

No offense meant, and I'm not trying to say there aren't problems with the ways in which women are depicted in, or on the covers of comics, or that Mighty Avengers isn't goofy with booty shots, but note who Cho put front and center on the cover of Mighty Avengers #1:

And while it's not quite as close to what you're looking for as the MA#1 cover, note his cover for Ms. Marvel #1:

Again, no offense meant, but I think Cho's already given you his answer.


Steven said...

Soooo.... your defense of Frank Cho's depiction of Ms. Marvel are two other images in which her butt is clearly visible, despite the fact that she's facing the reader?

Yup, Cho's given me his answer all right.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'd misread you and thought your main critique was that in the other Cho cover she a) was not depicted as a powerful woman (in comparison with the Horn cover), b) was not at the center of the cover but relegated to a more insignificant spot on the side (ceding center stage to Ant-Man), and c) had her face turned away from the viewer, which apparently precluded any sort of viewer empathy.

Didn't realize it was simply a matter of the amount of visible backside that was the issue. If that's all you're critiquing, fair enough.

Apologies, shouldn't have wasted your time. Keep fighting the good fight and all that.

(Last comment wasn't meant as a snark.)

Anonymous said...

Same poster, last post on the subject.

The first line in the second paragraph of the last post should probably read:
"Didn't realize it was simply a matter of the amount of visible backside that was the issue, or at least that the appearance of any backside necessarily trumped the other issues."

Again, no offense or snarkiness meant. The other issues you'd raised still seem to me to be much more significant, particularly in the case of the MA #1 cover, which seems in content and composition to be primarily devoted to showing Ms. Marvel taking leadership of Marvel's premiere team book, much more so than it's devoted to showing off her rear. (It's all about her prominent position at the head of the group, pointing forward and shouting out the classic "Avengers Assemble" charge. At least, that was my impression when I saw it.)

I guess if you disagree with that, I can see where you're coming from, and either way, it's an issue worth raising and discussing in today's comics environment.

Once again, cheers.

P.S. Not that it's a big deal or anything, but the larger head in the Horn cover seems to be Horn going for the kind of distortion you get from a wide angle lens.

Steven said...

No offense taken, er, anonymous. (Can you please sign in a with ever a pseudonym? I feel weird having a conversation with an internet ghost).

My point wasn't specifically a, b, or c, but the larger point that Cho too often emphasizes women's sexual attributes over everything else. So that even on a cover where, as you point out, Ms. Marvel a) does seem powerful, b) is the center of attention, and c) has a visible, even inspirational emotion on her face, her ass is still clearly presented, even though that would be a very difficult pose to hold. (Try it in the mirror. I dare you).

You're right, of course. Mighty Avengers #1 isn't that bad. In fact, I'd say, on its own, Mighty Avengers #5 isn't actively offensive (since we've all seen actively offensive by now).

But Ms. Marvel's butt has appeared on 3 out of 5 Mighty Avengers covers so far, (which is two more than her face), and the other two covers featured naked lady Ultron and sex kitten Tigra.

In that context, every time Cho draws Ms. Marvel butt first, face second, it just makes it worse.

Lyle said...

Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I think Cho has been Ms. Marvel's best artist. Yes, he portrays her sexually, but I also think that his rendering of her face, particularly the way her expressions are heightened in her lips, that has cemented in my mind what MM looks like. Compare this to other artists, who draw all women alike. Cho's MM looks like someone you'd know. Not that the fanservice isn't pleasing also.

Anonymous said...

I have to say only one thing, the person who only see a sexual object in this pictures is a total moron, just open the door, take around in the mall or disco, I don't know live a real live, is true that is a little bit hot watch that butt, however in the real world there most and real butts.