Separated at birth: Spider-Man and Spider-Woman?

Separated at birth: Spider-Man and Spider-Woman?

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In commenting on his FB page on how drawing a sexy cover got attention at, artist J. Scott Campbell posted this classic Spider-Man cover, strongly reminiscent of the Milo Manara cover that everyone is STILL talking about.

It is true that the butt-in-the-air arachnid is a classic pose…

…but it is equally untrue that the covers are equivalent. Unless J. Scott Campbell has a forty year career drawing sexy men and is well known for his gay erotica…

Reading the EW comments, the false equivalency of the objectification of men and women in comics is brought up once again. As it is every five minutes. Obviously Spidey has always had a nice butt. But the men in comics are drawn HEROICALLY not sexually.

Can you see the difference?

Has this canard—which is brought up any time the over sexualization of women in comics is discussed—been given a name yet? The False Sexualization Fallacy? The Peter Parker Paradox? Wilma?

Any ideas?

[Thanks to Beat Spy Desert Storm for the link.]


  1. James Moffet says

    The major issue isn’t that we’re scandalized by seeing women (or men) in sexualized poses, it’s the tragic void of women in poses that serve any other primary purpose.

    It’s a problem of primacy. In the representation of men, sexuality is not primary, for women, it is.

    Call it the Primacy Paradox.

  2. ComicsBeatFan says

    Although that Spidey cover looks like some gay erotica to me, that’s not heroic.
    That’s not webbing he’s got those guys wrapped up in, that his spider-spunk.

  3. says

    Actually there is a big difference. His sternum is on the ground and so is the front of his pelvis. Her sternum is on the ground but her pelvis is way up at a much higher altitude. Her pelvis is so high she’s kneeling. His pelvis is so low he has to do a split and the insides of his thighs, not his knees, are touching the ground.

    I wish people would stop presenting these poses as if they are the same.

  4. says

    One thing the two poses have in common us that they are incredibly impractical. Peter’s legs are so far apart they couldn’t possibly propel him forward. Jessica’s legs are positioned to throw her into the ground.

    Peter doesn’t look quite as much like he’s presenting, though, so you’re definitely right about that.

  5. says

    Yeah. When women complain about the ypersualization of women in comics there’s always one guy who pipes up, “But all the superheroes with all their muscles and perfect bodies in tight spandex — they’re fantasies for the girls.” Of course they are not women’s fantasies — they are fantasies for the little boy and for the 30 year old guy who’s really still a little boy. And those women you draw guys, I would not call them perfect, but rather insulting and sometimes painful. What I find sexy in men: intelligence, a sense of humor, and a guy who is not morbidly obese and who bathes regularly.

  6. Mariah Huehner says

    Spidey’s pose is also: more active, actually spider like, and is on a ball of what I am assuming of trapped criminals. It conveys some sense of story, tone, and character. Even Spidey’s face, which is covered in a mask, has personality. It conveys, at the very least, a sense of menace.

    The Spiderwoman cover…doesn’t. The pose she’s in is generic “look at my butt!” The cityscape, also generic. Her face has no expression. Unless the ledge she’s on has some deep story meaning we’re all missing, all that cover convey is “LOOK AT MAH BUTT”. Which, you know, if that’s what the comic is about…ok. But otherwise, it’s just not engaging other than the obvious.

  7. Tim says

    Marvel mad Manara have absolutely done their jobs. Sales of Spider-woman have easily increased compared to sales with only the Greg Land cover.

    Outrage/controversy = $$$

  8. JoeP says

    I’d argue that there’s nothing terribly wrong with Manara’s picture as such (though being familiar with his work I’d say it’s a pretty weak effort as well as anatomically improbable). But why in the name of dog did Marvel hire an artist of erotic comics to do the cover for Spider Woman? This kind of imagery just doesn’t belong in what is ostensibly a non pornographic superheroine comic. I don’t blame Manara for this, not one bit. It’s a sign of editorial sexism and boneheadedness.

  9. abc says

    you see what you want to see when it comes to art. it is in the eye of the beholder. if you’re looking for sexual images on a comic book cover, you’ll find it. i saw the spidey woman cover and did not see anything overlty sexual about it. if i saw the comic in a comic book store i probably would not look twice at it. funny how you didn’t show a pic of namor from one of the marvel swimsuit mags from a few years back in which namor is wearing nothing but a seashell covering his minnow.not a cover , true,but still just one example of a sexual image of a male super hero character. the exaggerated poses and proportions used on male and female characters in comics (so far removed from real life) dressed in outlandish outfits are fantasy , done for fantasy’s sake, all fantasies ,power, morality, inspirational , and yes, even sexual. it comes with the territory.

  10. george says

    The long-winded, “intellectual” debates about that Spider-Woman drawing are incredible, and could only come from people who are so immersed in superhero culture they don’t realize how grotesque and offensive such images appear to most people.

    That drawing was done for one purpose: to excite the horny high-school and college boys that Marvel covets. Anyone who says otherwise is just blowing smoke.

    Unfortunately, fanboys continue to demonstrate their sexist attitudes on a regular basis, especially when a female movie critic does not rave about a new comic-book movie:

  11. george says

    Trina Robbins said: “What I find sexy in men: intelligence, a sense of humor, and a guy who is not morbidly obese and who bathes regularly.”

    That leaves out a lot of male comics fans!

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