Jessica Drew is the original Spider-Woman, a character invented by Stan Lee in 1978. She's strong, fast, immune to poisons and speaks several languages. She can climb walls with the help of a sticky fluid secreted from her palms. She's also a former HYDRA agent, which makes her way harder than Peter Parker. So we have to ask: Why is Marvel treating her like a sex toy?
According to the Mary Sue, Marvel's newest Spider-Woman series, which will appear in November 2014, has a variant cover that you can see above, and augh! My eyes! My eyes!!!
Jessica's bottom is raised in a "take me" manner, and she's crawling toward the viewer. This is a pose of submission. And unless we're discussing Super-Submissive from the Planet Bottom, "submissive" is not a word we should use to describe a superhero.
I've been reading comics for my entire adult life and much of my childhood. I've read some pretty sexist stuff. The worst writing, however, comes from what I consider the pre-1990s Dark Ages, from a time when being put in a refrigerator was an honest-to-gods threat.
Comics have, mercifully, evolved since then -- Mary-Jane provocatively hand-washing Peter Parker's costume aside -- and now we have superheroes like Batgirl, the unbound Wonder Woman, the Birds of Prey, the all-female X-Men. We're about to meet a female Thor.
But even though Marvel has made several steps forward in treating women as equals, obviously they've taken one huge step back in hiring well-known erotic artist Milo Manara. (You have but to google "Milo Manara" and look under "images" to see his work. Note that the few men who appear in his art are fully dressed, while the women are, um, not.)
Out of all the artists that they have at their disposal, why would Marvel commission one with a penchant for erotica? After hiring Manara, why would they accept that cover? It's straining credulity to suppose that this particular pose wasn't intentional. And that intention was to turn Spider-Woman into an object of sexual gratification.
Scantily clad female superheroes are sometimes matched by shirtless male superheroes, but it's the physicality that separates the two. Women are frequently posed, that is, given an attitude or posture in which to be drawn, rather than given a natural or even superheroic posture.
On that note, I'd like the world to see what it looks like to have a man in the same pose as variant Spider-Woman.
And that man is the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Axel Alonso.
Axel: Jessica deserves a better variant cover for her return to comics.
(Photoshop by Doree Bardes.)