Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The fact that Grant Morrison or whomever would look at a character like Mary Marvel and decide that making her a pink-haired fetish queen (with stilted dialog that would seem at home with the second "Star Wars" trilogy) would be hilarious and ironic...that this is the best you can do with the character...
It's not the fact that she's turned evil that's the problem for me. Or that she was really good & now she's really bad.
But I'd like to see this with a female character where she's not automatically hyper-sexual as part of the bargain.
Take the "Dark Willow" storyline in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, for instance.
I know some of you might have your fetishes about grim women in loose-fitting black shirts and no makeup, but Dark Willow was not an overtly sexualized villainess.
Can't a female character be bloodcurdingly evil but not sexy? Can she express her evil in a way that doesn't mean really big breasts in a leather outfit? Or the need to seduce men?
Evil Mary Marvel doesn't need to wear sexy outfits. She could simply punch somebody's skull in. This was the same Mary Marvel who was sexually harassed in a "Supergirl" special and was pissed and wanted revenge. Would her evil side necessarily manifest as being a hottie with bigger boobs? That's all I'm asking.
See, I think the sex is added in to water down the threatening quality of this super-powerful chick. It's like, she's evil -- but she looks like a sex worker. She's evil -- but she could totally "do" you. She could beat your ass -- but you could totally enjoy it.
Nothing against "sexy" or leather corsets. It's just an observation.
(Oh, and for those who want to defend the iconic integrity of Fetish Mary Marvel -- I'm totally with you. Defend away. Just please don't specifically request that I retract my statements because you're obviously right and Grant Morrison is a genius who never makes mistakes.)
Posted by Verge at 2:33 PM
Labels: Mary Marvel, women in comics
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Stop catering to the Kool-aid drinkers!!! LOL!ReplyDelete
Here's the thing.ReplyDelete
I'm not going to engage in ultra-feminist armchair psychology, here. Female characters in general in comics are sexualized far more frequently and to a greater degree than their male couterparts.
Take a look at Callisto: who began as a scarred, battle-hardened Morlock with a hook nose. After going through a bunch of metamorphoses, she's now a leather-clad hottie in a belly shirt and low-rise, hip-huggers. Rogue? She started as a frumpy girl in loose-fitting clothes. Then she suddenly morphed into this busty Southern belle in a skin-tight outfit. Hell, even Sue Storm took a turn as a scantily-clad femme fatale.
Take it as rote that a female comic book character (almost any character), at some point in her run, will appear as an almost naked, hyper-sexualized hottie.
Vampire Willow on the other hand...ReplyDelete
I don't know about most people's tastes, but despite the new window lightning bolt showing off her boobs, I do not find a girl with a shaved head and two pink ponytails 'sexy'. Seems he went with some weird punk rock/BDSM thing with her. I don't know.ReplyDelete
There really is no reason for it that I can see, especially considering what some male villains wear. Dr. Doom and (sometimes) Lex are in full body armor. And Dr. Doom even has a cloak on over that! There could've been a woman under that armor for years and no one would ever know (and that's actually a story I might like to see).ReplyDelete
"(Oh, and for those who want to defend the iconic integrity of Fetish Mary Marvel -- I'm totally with you. Defend away. Just please don't specifically request that I retract my statements because you're obviously right and Grant Morrison is a genius who never makes mistakes.)"ReplyDelete
Wow, still butthurt over that Dark Knight Joker debacle? Admitting that you're wrong once in a while doesn't make you look stupid.
Dark Willow was mad sexyReplyDelete
I actually thought the Mary Marvel here was more creepy than sexy - especially compared to that Godawful "tiny rubber skirt up the butt" thing she wore in Countdown and a few other places.ReplyDelete
There's something really alien and not-quite-right about the way she's drawn in FC. It seems to be a definite angle in FC as a whole - anyone hijacked by Darksied is leathered up and made a bit freaky (the final page of issue 3 is a good example - what I assume is Batwoman is fairly horrific despite the gimp suit, ditto for Wonder Woman.
What disturbs me is the suggestion that sex itself is "villainous." Anyone else get that impression from years of reading comics?ReplyDelete
I don't know if Morrison and J.G. Jones were going for Sex Worker Iconosity with Mary's new look, but, it does look like a continuation of the old Female Furies fashion sense. Still not a fan of the outfit, but it does seem to follow a precedent.ReplyDelete
I think you're looking at the wrong angle here. It's not that all evil women are sexy bondage queens, it's more that all sexy bondage queens are inherently evil.ReplyDelete
Wait, how are people defending it? Fetish punk rock Mary is so, so gross, such a failure in every regard. Oddly, the last good Mary Marvel storyline was the "Formerly Known as the Justice League" Giffen comic.ReplyDelete
Female sexuality is evil. That's the subtext.ReplyDelete
I also think that the over-use of fetish and sexual elements (and I'm not opposed to use them, if only in a more logical way, if the character really needs it) is a bad thing. It's like they always say in my country: "Esa es la mala de la película, la que está más buena" (spanish for "that's the bad girl of the movie, the one who's the hottest")ReplyDelete
And, yes, Morrison can make mistakes... it has to do with the use of LSD, I supposse...
Although I usually like his stories...
is she didn't wear that outfit, how could we simple comic readers figure out that she's become evil?ReplyDelete
From what I gather from interviews, Morrison was actually going for some metatext with making Mary Marvel like that. I think it was something about how female superheroes are usually portrayed. It's still too early to judge the subtext Morrison is going for here, and I think it would be best to wait till the whole thing is over before ranting.ReplyDelete
This is the interview: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=16005
And this is the relevant part: "Supergirl and Mary Marvel are in it. They have a big climatic battle to decide how femininity should be portrayed in superhero comics!"
And by Supergirl, he means this one: Morrison talked about how much he enjoyed writing Supergirl in Final Crisis, saying he took a cue from Jessica Abel and Dylan Horrocks’ version of the character in DC’s first Bizarro anthology. “It was the best Supergirl story I ever read,” Morrison said. “Greatest Supergirl ever. I kind of took my cue from that. she’s just really nice. A shining example of young women.”
As he says in this other interview: http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=154379
Now, if you want to say I am drinking the Kool Aid, and therefor put another nail in that tired genocidal joke's coffin, do it. But, it's my opinion, based on the interviews, that there is more to Final Crisis' Mary Marvel than what we have seen. It is entirely possible Morrison will drop the ball, but I'll wait until everything is said and done before ranting.
"Wow, still butthurt over that Dark Knight Joker debacle?"ReplyDelete
It must be nice to place so much worth on imaginary characters and the online discourse regarding them. There has to be a contentment there.
""Supergirl and Mary Marvel are in it. They have a big climatic battle to decide how femininity should be portrayed in superhero comics!""ReplyDelete
Sometimes I wish with all my heart that Morrison stopped writing mainstream comics years ago. Or at least limited things to one special project at a time. I realize this is blasphemy, but it's just that I don't think this Final Crisis material holds a candle to Animal Man and Doom Patrol.
Some have already mentioned that Mary's FC-look is Female Fury inspired, and with that I agree. Her previous "evil" outfit, however, fits the classic "evil ladies must be sexy" mode.ReplyDelete
Reminds me of the time Peter David tackled this in Young Justice. Arrowette had just nearly killed a man, and was going through a breakdown, crying about how she was going to have to turn evil, and wear a black leather outfit with cleavage, and she'll have to get cleavage, and so forth.
Zip to a few years later in the book, and an alternate U version of young justice where evil arrowette had a black leather outfit, and yes, cleavage.
Maybe it's one of those comic book universe laws?
There was a big row a few weeks back in which Patrick Zircher went off on the infantile scripts he's been forced to draw, and how he's an artist, not a camera. I respect that viewpoint, but the problem is that most comic artists, given their druthers, will draw a "hot babe" over a normal woman, and especially over the former Mary Marvel/Granny Goodness/etc. I doubt Chris Claremont asked Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee to give Rogue a makeover any more than he asked for Gambit to more resemble a male model than John Malkovich. They're artists, damn it, and they can only express themselves by giving super-women big hair and assless chaps!ReplyDelete
That said, Morrison has played to that aspect more than once, and I am not often convinced that his b.s. really carries a point. I mean, the old Mary Marvel versus the Michael Turner Supergirl is a contrast, not this.
I have to agree with Martha Thomases. In this country, it is assumed that there is something wrong with a sexually functional/fulfilled woman. You're expected to be a virgin unless a slut is called for. After, if you're lucky, you might get a few years as a cougar/milf before being rendered completely worthless. Anything else is perverse, so why not take it all the way to fetish?
dark willow not oversexual... vampire willow on the other hand.ReplyDelete
final crisis has been pretty ridiculous so far, so i'm guessing morisson is overplaying this cliche to point out how ridiculous it is. i mean at the end of the issue you have wonderwoman and co all decked out in bondage gear, and then catwoman... dressed as normal. i think they're trying to say something there!
and as ridiculous as mary marvel's outfit is... i kinda like her hair.
"Sometimes I wish with all my heart that Morrison stopped writing mainstream comics years ago. Or at least limited things to one special project at a time. I realize this is blasphemy, but it's just that I don't think this Final Crisis material holds a candle to Animal Man and Doom Patrol."ReplyDelete
I see where you're coming from, but those comics were so outside of mainstream. I don't see anyone being allowed to play in the DCU sandbox to that level. Do you see the Brotherhood of Dada showing up to battle against the Justice League?
I think the idea of a Mary Marvel being lured to the darkside before finding her way back to her core self, could have been really interesting. However that idea has failed pretty badly. And it's a shame because a redemption arc with her could have been interesting. It seems Morrison is re-writing the character Oubliette from that Marvel Boy series...the costume seems awfully similar.ReplyDelete
hey all, I accidentally deleted about 4 comments on this thread -- my apologies.ReplyDelete
Except for that snarky one, you took the innocent comments down with you.
Although I'm not reading FC, I can say there are plenty of "good girls" or at least those on the fence that wear tight black leather as well. Black Widow comes to mind. Batgirl & Catwoman are as about as fetish as MM and they come with gadgets.ReplyDelete
I believe that depicting a villain or villainess in sexually inappropriate attire is a visual shorthand for telling the reader that the person engages in a morality much different than what you see in Sunday School.ReplyDelete
The most alluring version of Mary Marvel (and isn't she underage?) was the "polyanna" version last seen in the "Superbuddies" storyline.
Or perhaps Mr. Morrison is engaged in more sigil magick?
If this storyline works, it will fit perfectly with Warner's new "grim and gritty" superhero movie strategy!
I personally abhor the sexualization of younger women in popular culture. Older ones, too, for that matter, but especially younger women.ReplyDelete
That said, superhero characterization usually involves caricatures and absurd exaggeration; sometimes even grotesquely so.
Case in point.
Somehow I keep expecting there to be some big pay-off in the last issue. I definitely get the impression there's some kind of irony there, I mean that hair is not sexy at all.ReplyDelete
mary marvel is possessed. the fact that she is in this get up is the point. she even looks at the reader and says she can't stand being wholesome for another second. GM is noting - at least to me pretty bluntly -what he thinks of the whole dark comic fanbase. you are supposed to feel grossed out, and think about how tragically ridiculous this "reboot" is. when she mentions what they can do at the "flesh farms" you are supposed to squirm - it made me feel like my daughter called me up to say she was quitting college for the porno industry. And I don't even have a daughter.
i don't think morrison can do no wrong, but i think he is clearly making a point here. whether he succeeds in doing so or not, at least its gratuity with a point which is more than i can say for Frank Cho's entire run on Might Avengers. Or that girl in Marville who was on a cover with pizza and video games covering her nipples and vagina. Or the Iron Man film condoning the male fantasy of sleeping with every hot blond but having the faithful pure girl (aka Pepper Pots) waiting to marry you.
i hate marvel, you dc, together we are a happy fam-i-ly!,
GM is noting - at least to me pretty bluntly -what he thinks of the whole dark comic fanbase.ReplyDelete
"It's sexist! No, wait, it's commentary!"
Very possible. Geoff Johns attempted something similar with Infinite Crisis. As I recall, people weren't sure what to make of that, either.
If it is commentary, maybe they are being too subtle. It's one thing to avoid hitting the reader over the head with your message, it's another to have several reasonably intelligent readers come to the opposite conclusion.
But there's something about this kind of commentary that seems to undermine itself. It's kind of like saying, "I think there's too much death in comics. So let's kill someone so we can send a 'there's too much death in comics' message."
I just wanted to say thanks for always putting dissenting opinions up, so long as they aren't at asshole level. It's nice to be able to disagree with someone without them censoring comments out of hand.
love 1st amendment like,
"It's one thing to avoid hitting the reader over the head with your message, it's another to have several reasonably intelligent readers come to the opposite conclusion."ReplyDelete
i don't blame GM. I blame the fact that comic fans are whiny bitches who will find a way to miss the point if it means a chance to rant. It's one thing to say the attempt at meta-text fails, it's another to accuse him of the very thing he is trying to take a stand against.
if he wanted to make her seductive he wouldn't have done that with her hair. in fact, it's quite a shock because you don't see the largely bald pate until you turn the page.
this isn't crap like virgin comics, there's actual depth here. fans are doing themselves a disservice by railing against GM's genuine creativity while bemoaning virgin's cliches or praising the tired non-story of Secret Invasion.
"I just wanted to say thanks for always putting dissenting opinions up, so long as they aren't at asshole level."ReplyDelete
the best part is when my co-moderator leaves me this big pile of asshole-level comments to sort through. It's like "This is *your* problem." And then I put on my boots and start wading through them.
"hey all, I accidentally deleted about 4 comments on this thread -- my apologies."ReplyDelete
Since my comment isn't up, I'll presume mine was lost with those and just repost my main point: I'n thinking Grant is trying to go in the direction of this story that evil isn't sexy, enticing, or in any way something desirable - evil's just hideous (although the point is kind of lost when one realizes that individuals have differing standards of beauty and sexy, but I digress).
Then again, Mary Marvel would make a helluva name for a stripper. Just sayin'.ReplyDelete
"i don't blame GM. I blame the fact that comic fans are whiny bitches who will find a way to miss the point if it means a chance to rant."ReplyDelete
I blame the fact that most of the audience for Superhero Blockbuster Earth-Shattering Event Comics don't read Superhero Blockbuster Earth-Shattering Event Comics with an eye to subtextual commentary. I also sorta blame Morrison for realizing this and not giving much of a damn.
(Also, it's a bit rich to take anything from Marville at face value and then lament others' misunderstanding of satiric content.)
(Also, it's a bit rich to take anything from Marville at face value and then lament others' misunderstanding of satiric content.)ReplyDelete
heh - that is SO true. i was bit worked up about the poor guy being slandered just for making a comic some people disliked.
caught with my hand in the cookie jar,
Geez... I wonder what the subtext is regarding Jessica Drew's breast implants from HYDRA?ReplyDelete
Or should I just stop thinking and just look at the pretty pictures?
I'm quite with you, Valerie.ReplyDelete
This has something that's bugged me since Chris Clairemont's days writing mutants: It seemed as if every time someone went Dark they immediately became oversexed and dressed like they were auditioning for a leather bar dance troupe.
Why don't evil people ever become highly repressed prudes repulsed by something as fun as sex? Lord knows, we have those in the real world.
I know this is an older post, but I've only just stumbled across this blog.ReplyDelete
As you said, so many evil women in comics come across as looking like "fetish queen[s]." Probably partly due to your stance, but there's also another unpleasant aspect to it... or at least for me. I don't know, maybe I'm just setting myself up here to be mocked.
As a member of the BDSM lifestyle, I really wish that "fetish" and "evil" didn't go hand-in-hand together. I get where it comes from - most people find those sorts of activities unpleasant and anyone that enjoys inflicting such things to be scary - but is it so much to ask that blatant fetish-related looks/concepts ever be portrayed as something other than evil or comical? Not to mention the concept of the Domme (Dominatrix if you will) being an evil, over-bearing, hyper-feminist type does no woman, kinky or otherwise, justice.
On the otherhand, there's a related trend that any woman submissive to a man is thought of as weak. I get the whole girl-power thing and I consider myself a feminist to... but I'm also submissive to my male parter. This doesn't make me weak. I'm no doormat, this is just one person I choose to show a certain amount of reverance toward. In addition, making every female character in comics into some sort of aggressive feminist role-model diminishes the message of it (in my mind at least). Not every woman has to be sassy and strong to be a good, free-thinking and empowered female.
... Getting ranty, and on my first post time commenting too. My bad.
PS- while I myself often have pink hair and find times to dress to the fetish-nines, I must say I never look like Mary Marvel does there.