People — specifically John Jakala — continue to wonder why this doesn’t bother me. While I can see the “line muddying” issue that some people have with it, quite frankly, I don’t think “zombie horror” and “YA” are completely mutually exclusive. Teens like horror. Everyone likes zombies. Or as I put it in Jakala’s comments,
I guess given all the other controversy, this is a questionable approach, but the covers are BASED on shock value and the upending of iconic images. By that token it’s actually a COMPLIMENT to Mary Jane to elevate her to iconic status.
This is also part of what I call the “Rumble in the Bronx effect.” Bear with me.
When RUMBLE IN THE BRONX came to America it was the first one of Jackie Chan’s HK films to get a wide American release. There was a scene in the original where the late, GREAT Anita Mui got beat up by a (male) gang that was cut out of the American version, I guess on the basis of it wasn’t right to beat up a girl. What the censors didn’t get was that in a later scene, Mui came back and BEAT UP HER TORMENTORS. The scene in the original was okay because the filmmakers knew that Mui’s character was JUST AS DANGEROUS as her opponents – – she had just had a bad outing. You knew she would make her big comeback — she’s a HERO goddamit, not a wimpy girl. (HK movies are filled with heroic women the likes of which American movies have never even come close to.) It’s why in SUPERCOP Michelle Yeoh’s character does all kinds of dumb shit — just like Jackie does. We all KNOW she’s the greatest – like Jackie — and a little humor at her expense doesn’t detract from that. It just makes her human.
The Marvel Zombie book is based, I understand — I haven’t read it — on the shock value of seeing the entire Marvel U turned into FLESH EATING ZOMBIES. Why should MJ, as an iconic character, be spared that? Does it dilute Spider-man’s brand to see him turned into a flesh eating zombie? Maybe a little. But it’s a deliberate satire, based on the power of the original characters. People say the cover is “sexy”…maybe a little, but I don’t get the feeling that it’s the intent of the cover — it’s more of a by-product. It’s the very reversal of expected order that is the hook here.
How does this differ from the MJ statue? Well, as I said above, flesh eating zombies are fun for everyone of all ages. The Sideshow statue appealed to a VERY specific, VERY exclusive demographic. There was no concurrent Peter Parker statue of him in his underwear being given a cavity search by a motorcycle cop.
Now this is not to say that there might not be some kind of political agenda behind that Zombie MJ cover. Jakala even has a very interesting theory:
(If I were conspiracy-minded, I might suggest that Marvel decided to zombify that image because Heidi featured it in her post. But I don’t think Marvel is that organized. Then again, I’m really at a loss for why they picked that cover, since it features a version of the character different from the one in the Zombie-verse and it’s not at all a classic cover, so maybe Marvel did crank this out because they thought it would be funny.)
While I wouldn’t day this is out of the question, I should wish Marvel honchos read this blog that closely! In fact, I know some people there do, but come on. In fact, couldn’t we give Marvel a teensy tinesy bit of CREDIT once in a while? In a now-vanished comment, editor Nicole Boose said she had hired artist Clio Chiang based on seeing her work here on The Beat. Now I give Marvel shit when I think they deserve it, but I wish a few more people had picked up on this. CLIO CHIANG AT MARVEL. And not on a “Wedding” or “Romance” or girl book either…just in a “fun” one shot. I know everyone hates “fun” but…that’s still cool!
Marvel does some incredibly boneheaded things, like the MJ statue and the Heroes for Hentai cover. But as I believe I said in a previous post, they are actually doing and trying a lot of things that don’t get nearly as much attention. I mean, I like controversy as much as the next person, and I like Chris Butcher, but this is just internet outrage at its least productive, in my humble opinion. (Not even Lea was that outraged by the cover, and she’s got a hair trigger outrage!) Pick a stronger battle and stick with it, my sisters. Don’t dilute the attack.