Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Blood Diamonds?"

Does this cover to the 5th printing of the "Marvel Zombies" hardcover deserve the term "Blood Diamond" -- as Chris Butcher refers to it in his blog:

"Did you ever see the movie about the blood diamonds? This is what you’re really paying for when you buy any Marvel comic."

Things heated up on the Newsarama blog comments section about Butcher's commentary:

"Ah, the always reliable “I’ve got nothing worthwhile to bitch about” rant of the week."
-- Drew Clements

"So, seriously, what is going on with Marvel fans? Is it really that an extreme attachment to the status quo? Is it a fear of girl cooties from women in the comic book store if you didn’t put up signals to deter them from entering? Is it a combination of things? Did a redheaded supermodel run over someone’s puppy? Do you guys have stock in the company?"
--Lisa Fortuner

"It never fails to amuse when people complain Mary Jane is not being portrayed wholesome enough... It’s not like this is the same character who had to claim the lingerie photoshoot she did professionally were actually private photos by Peter to keep Aunt May from having a coronary seeing them. Oh wait, it is."
--Niels van Eekelen

"That cover is fun like no one's business."
--Sean McKeever

"Graeme- I do appreciate the hits, but man did you send a lot of fucktards my way this morning. I… I kind of want to start a meme to explain feminism to people, sort of like the LOLCATS thing. I’ll just get pictures of women who’ve been beat up, or killed, really violent and terrible photos, and put “MARVEL COMICS: THIS IS TEH SEXX0RZ” on them or something, see if they get it then."
--Chris Butcher

"I think the whole Marvel Zombie thing has been done with some wit and an eye towards black humor and this seems in keeping with that. I get why people are offended, however, and can understand their displeasure (I hated that ridiculous HFH cover myself to no end). But I do have a hard time finding any outrage for a cover that is clearly meant to be in bad taste, and is also quite well executed."
--Gail (Simone?)

As for what I think...

I see where Butcher was coming from, but throwing in the "blood diamonds" analogy really hurts his argument because it is exaggerated and inappropriate to the subject matter at hand. Equating this cover to a real-world situation of forced labor, death, and extreme human suffering borders on hysteria. Calling people who disagree with you "fucktards" probably isn't so great in terms of maintaining a dialogue either.

Linking the cover to the specific teen book "Mary Jane" is kind of awkward, but I don't find the cover particularly sexualized or promoting sexual violence towards women. Okay, her boobies are a little bigger. But Hank Pym eating Black Panther's leg or The Hulk eating his own intestines seem to be more hardcore than size C+ boobies.

On another note, "Marvel Zombies" is a fucking awesome book. 'Cause I like zombies. "Brainssss!"


  1. I too love zombies.

    Seriously, who couldn't love zombies?

    Zombies and zombie movies kick serious ass.

    I first saw this picture and thought "Zombie MJ? cool!"

    My second reaction was "Hold on, how come her non-rotting eye is actually set behind the eye socket? That doesn't make any sense... its like she's wearing her own skull as a mask. Shame, cause otherwise this is a really well painted piece"

    I didn't find this image derogatory and I didn't feel the image was sexy because of the zombification, rather it was sexy despite it. Plus there have, as OS herself has pointed out, been far worse images of zombified marvel characters.

    However My third reaction came after seeing the school age MJ image its based upon, and it went something like: "ICK!"
    Sorry, but i do feel that's pretty Inappropriate. A zombie version of 'face it tiger' I would have no issue with, but a sexed up zombified version of MJ as a child kinda feels wrong...

  2. Putting aside how his tirade is crippled before it gets out of the gate by the over the top comparison to Blood Diamonds, I'm genuinely curious as to why Butcher has a problem with this cover depicting a zombified girl, but is apparently okay with the others covers in the series. The cover riffing on the cover to Fantastic Four #1 had Susan Storm just as (un)dead and gross looking; did he complain then? Or the one with popular children's characters the Green Goblin and Spider-Man, showing GG dragging Peter's zombified corpse through the skies of Manhattan - how is that any better or acceptable than what's seen here?

    And that's not even getting around to the insides of the book, which feature from memory:

    1. The zombified Marvel heroes constantly getting a rise out of Spider-Man by asking how his wife and aunt tasted.

    2. Colonel America getting the top half of head sliced off and his brains regularly falling out.

    3. Janet Pym's severed head becoming Black Panther's comedy sidekick.

    And yet, all this passes without comment. What is it about this particularly forty-year-old character being subjected to the same black humor as Marvel's other forty-year-old characters that brings out the ire? Is it because she's a woman, or that the cover being riffed on portrays her as a teenager, or because it's Mary Jane? Or all three, maybe?

  3. And just for the record, I absolutely adore Marvel Zombies, particularly the examples I highlighted above as being worse than a zombified highschooler with a rabidly defensive fan base.

  4. I for one, applaud when females are depicted with enough space in their torsos for internal organs. Sure, in this case that space is kind of empty, but at least it's there.

  5. Betahuman, FTW.

    I liked this cover.

    It was certainly the most creative and interesting of the MZ covers.

    That, and as I said in the original post's comments: The source material is a couple of years old already. Its target audience are now a little bit older themselves. The difference between 12 and 14 is staggering.

  6. It seems like the "complaints" from the vocal minority has reached a point where anything that even smells of sexy is considered wrong and condemned. Ironically, I am betting that those that complain are also the same one making the purchases that continue to insure that "sex sells" remains a maxim of selling any product.