Just how gay were the old Marvel Swimsuit Specials?
Very, very gay, Richard Cook writes, and JR JR demonstrates:
To put it bluntly, the swimsuit specials were spank material for nerdy teenage boys (I doubt this comes as a surprise to anyone). But Marvel has generally marketed its superhero material towards straight boys, so why all the beefcake?
Was the swimsuit special throwing a bone – forgive the pun – to gay readers and straight female fans? Or was the inclusion of half-naked men simply meant to counter the complaints that this book blatantly objectifies women (as if the rest of Marvel’s titles didn’t).
The ’90s were a body-conscious, Lycra-friendly era. It’s possible that Nick and Tony were just going with the fashions of the day. In the comments section, other readers suggest that the Marvel Swimsuit Specials were always tongue in cheek, a memory we share. Still, it’s hard to believe that within our lifetimes, Marvel Editorial was confident enough to challenge their readers with these yaoi-worthy tableaux.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.