At least one authority figure has spoken out, and the message is “Subtext? What subtext?”:
On the MJ: Statue:

JQ: Not really. When fans saw the statue was exactly the same time I was made aware of it, I have no involvement in that stuff and haven’t kept up with the brouhaha. It kind of floors me in a way because Adam Hughes is brilliant and is known for his amazingly sexy portrayal of strong women, so I’m not quite sure what people are up in arms about? Seriously, fill me in because I’ve literally been out of town and out of the loop.

On Heroes for Hire:

How about the Heroes for Hire #13? This has caused some controversy of its own, with some people likening it to a very unsavory recurring element in some more adult-themed manga?

JQ: This one I can answer to. First, I think people are reading way too much into that cover than was ever intended. I heard terms such as “tentacle rape” being thrown around when that in no way is what’s happening, nor does it happen in the book. Those tentacles are the arms of the Brood who appears in the issue and is a major story point, the Brood have tentacles, sorry about that.

Secondly, the concept for that cover, soup to nuts came from a female artist. Thirdly, not being a deep follower of manga, I have no idea what recurring theme people are referring to or concerned with. While I appreciate the sentiment and the feelings that some may have about this, I honestly feel that there is way too much being read into this cover.

Also, HFH is a book that features two strong, lead female protagonist who kick major ass; somehow folks have forgotten to focus on that.

NRAMA: Well, you correctly identified the “unsavory” element we were referring to…just one of those absurd phrases (though it exists).

Frankly, we’re most baffled by Newsarama’s followup question/comment (quoted above.)


  1. Oh man. Joe Q is… very *very* condescending in those answers. How COULD we miss their existence as strong women as they are chained up in a dungeon covered with slime and all look like they’re having orgasms? What the hell is the brood anyway?

  2. I still wonder, if this whole statue thing, wasn’t something that was dreamed up by the marketing dept. After all, without the controversary, they probably wouldn’t have sold 100 of those thing. Now with nationwide free publicity, they, no doubt, can’t crank them out fast enough. I alway think the same thing when I see people protesting some z-movie, that will then get a box office bump that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

  3. What was it Nye Bevan said about Anthony Eden over Suez? Something like, “If he doesn’t believe what he is saying, he is too wicked to be prime minister, and if he does believe it, he is too stupid to be prime minister”.

  4. The Brood are an old X-Men villain that’s been around since the ’80s. They more or less appear to be a direct rip-off of “Alien,” but with more tentacles (and yes, like the Alien, must implant eggs into a human host to reproduce).

  5. “not being a deep follower of manga, I have no idea what recurring theme people are referring to or concerned with.”

    Right, because “tentacle rape” is SUCH an obscure concept that the head of one of the top two comics companies hasn’t been paying enough attention to a globally successful comics format to have ever heard of it.

  6. This is a book about strong women, with a cover by a female artist, and certainly doesn’t feature any ACTUAL tentacle rape. So no matter what the exposed, busty, bondaged and submissive female victims to drippy and menacing phalluses cover imagery may seem to be, you fanboys are just really reading into this thing.

    Remember, YOU are the problem, not Marvel. Now go give them more of your money and shut up.

    *rolls eyes*

  7. OK, I’m rusty on my types of fallacies. Which type is it that this whole “the cover was drawn by a woman” argument line falling under?
    I mean, male artists can draw demeaning things happening to men, with hints of bondage. That doesn’t make it something that should be on a mainstream comic book cover.

  8. I believe there is something exceedingly wrong with the current situation… I get the debate, I get the hype, but what’s become more and more apparent to me as the arguements roll out, is how little accountability anyone in the comic’s industry is willing to take for any of their material.
    We constantly reference how comic books have grown from being just a “kids” medium, but when charges of sexual explicitness rise we’re quick to point to the inherent “innocence” of the medium… let’s face it, the majority of mainstream comic books are akin to softcore porn. And by trying to hide behind the “innocence” of superheroes, the time honored belief that they are an all-ages, family friendly genre, we’re justifing pornography as a part of our day to day lives.

    The new Supergirl is read by mostly middleaged men… I’m the head buyer of a rather large and prestigious comic book shop, I feel I’m someone what justified in my observations. The new Supergirl dresses in a way my Mom would be embarrassed of, and she’s read primarily by older men who would be arrested if they show the kind of attention they show to Supergirl, to a real girl. The Teen Titans are a similar phenomena, DC is going through leaps and bounds to make it relevent to teens, when teens are the smallest part of that readership. So at the same time they up the sexy qualities of Miss Martian’s short skirt, and Wonder Girl’s badgirl ripped jeans to appeal to it’s real readers… making the whole experience pedohiphilic in it’s appeal (sorry, I can’t spell).

    The level of exploitation in today’s artwork, doesn’t require a degree in art history to see how it’s changed. Sex is the meaning and the message, sex overwhelms it all, and though I have no dislike of the sex in my comics personally, it’s astounding that readers, creators, publishers, ect are incapable of taking responsibility for how much sex has taken over. Historically sexy comics have always been around, but there used to be a sense of subtlty, a sense of beauty over straight up T&A… Modesty Blaise was once the sexiest woman in comics, but she’s a plain jane in comparison to any mainstream comicbook female of today. And we justify it, because that’s the medium, that’s just how it is, that’s how it’s always been. So that makes it acceptible, and anyone who wishes to argue it is being overly sensitive, a femi-nazi, or just plain out crazy…

    Wonder Woman’s early history of bondage and what not, is actually rooted in a real study of psychology – it may not justify it, but at least there is some creditability to why it’s there. Today, it’s all about making them sell to what must look to a marketing body as a group of lonely, deprived individuals desperate for sexually explicit things, but too scared of social stigmas to buy actual porn. Wonder Woman’s recent revival is a good example… always a paragon of contradictions – comic’s strongest and sexiest female. For years writer’s tried to tone down the sexuality while building up what made her the leader of superheroic women. Then with one revamp it’s decided the serious side of WW is detracting from sales, so this time we’ll dumb her down, play up the T&A and give her the supermodel spin. Of course the average reader justifies the spin as a throw back to the glory days of WW and Linda Carter, but at it’s root is the arguement “Wonder Woman doesn’t have enough excuses to throw her hips around at us readers… hey, add the spin and we get a semi-burlesque thing going, there’s the ticket.”

    The fact that fandom cried outrage over Citizen Steel’s non-existant erection, shines a huge spotlight on the hypocrsy that permeats the entire industry. Power Girl was my favorite character, still is I guess, but she’s had her personality ripped out by the roots. As much as we like to talk about how Wally Wood made her breasts grow, month to month, nothing Wally put on her chest comes close to the size they are given now. And where once Power Girl’s body was a part of her character, a part of who she was, how she saw the world, and how other’s saw her… she’s now a parody of her former self, showing not even a sliver of the character she once had, yet today hundreds will come and scream to her defence, outlining the marvelous character she is beyond her charms… but all I see in the arguements is “hey, her tits have gotten HUGE… so of course, her character must be amazing”.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to focus on DC here… and I was hoping this would sound more intelligent… but I’m really upset about everything here.

    Let’s be clear… I bought the Daughters of the Dragon mini-series, specifically because it was sexy and fun. A perfect blend of blaxploitation and ’70s Kung Fu, with all the right sexiness… I love the sexuality of comics, but I’m rarity as someone willing to admit to it’s presence in comics. And it’s everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Dominating everything. I steer parents away from each and every one of the new titles that come out, when they’re looking for something for their kids – it’s the all ages rack or nothing… because Spider-Man isn’t for kids anymore… no matter what the powers that be would like to say. The Marvel universe is PG13 at it’s best, though it mostly sits at an R rated level.

    Strong female characters not known for their sexuality are being destroyed – Batgirl, earlier-Supergirl incarnations… Scarlet in GI Joe was once as fearsome a fighter as Snake-Eyes, ninja trained and all the rest, but she’s spent a better part of the latest GI Joe revamp tortured and imprisoned, as the only regular female presence on the team at all. Storm was once the most independent female character ever, but has been turned into a bad sitcom parody of a high maintainence diva in the pages of Black Panther, a representation so at odds with her other incarnations that the current Black Panther versus current Fantastic Four doesn’t even seem like the same character. Jean Grey was a strong, independent woman, which led to writer’s suggesting she had intimacy issues, and was desperate for a “real” man to come and savage her.

    Let’s face it… no one will ever admit to it, but all of us vocal detractors from the sexuality gone wild in comics are a HUGE minority, and we’re loosing big time. We either have to just accept that in the mainstream women have no other place than to be objects, or we have to give up and find something else to excite us. And this isn’t the same as TV or Movies, where even though the actors are beautiful and perfect looking, they still have to work in the concepts of reality, and what a human body can really look like. Where visions of women being beaten on, or even doing the beating come with a realistic set of ratings that label the content for what it is. In comics fantasy is the rule, sex sells and social responsibility – you know the idea, where adults are supposed to lead by example in teaching the next generation ideas of respect for everyone – is a joke.

  9. A few quick points.

    1. IIRC, the Brood do not have tentacles.

    2. Marvel can make the covers of HEROES FOR HIRE as pornographic as they like and it still won’t stop this book from loosing sales/readers. I predict this book won’t be around much longer.

    3. There are a number of people working at both Marvel and DC (editors, creators,and publishers) who are only interested in aiming their books at 2 groups of people, the already existing and shrinking long time (and mostly male) adult readers and the mythical NEW adult reader.

  10. Me Myself and I:
    Don’t hold back, man! Tell us what you really think! lol

    Kidding. Your response was passionate and well said. And I am already voting on the current state of superhero comics by no longer buying them. There’s a whole other world of genres out there in comics and I’m having fun discovering them now that the superhero market is eating itself.

    Good point! The Brood do NOT have tentacles but rather double stingers on the end of their insect-like tails/lower bodies. I also remember that they use them to, um, impregnate their victims with their genetic “seed” which eventually consumes them, turning them into more Brood.

    Nope, nothing disturbing about that!

  11. >> Right, because “tentacle rape” is SUCH an obscure concept that the head of one of the top two comics companies hasn’t been paying enough attention to a globally successful comics format to have ever heard of it.

  12. You actually think the term “tentacle rape” is one everyone should know? Personally I wouldn’t waste a second of my life “paying attention” to something in that genre if I could avoid it.

  13. I can’t say I’m surprised that Quesada didn’t just surrender and disavow his company’s product, but I was a bit surprised that he didn’t at least say something like, “I can see how someone might interpret this cover in a manner which we did not intend, and I’m sorry they’re upset.”

    That’s what’s weird to me about his response and that of this cover’s defenders; the absolute, total denial that there is any sexual, exploitive, or demeaning about this image. In fact, there’s this type of rhetorical ju-jitsu attempting to blame the people who don’t like it for being pervy.

    Apparently, this cover is completely innocuous, and if you read demeaning sexual violence into this innocent image of phallic tentacles dripping goo onto the half-naked breasts of chained submissive women, well then you just have a dirty mind! And if you note that it looks similar in style and substence to a common trope in Japanese adult comics, well, then you’re double-dirty for even KNOWING that that even exists!

  14. Wraith said:
    “2. Marvel can make the covers of HEROES FOR HIRE as pornographic as they like and it still won’t stop this book from loosing sales/readers. I predict this book won’t be around much longer.”

    And just like what G-Regal said about the MJ statue, I’ll say for HfH, I think it WILL be around longer now, thanks to this. Intentional or not, the book just got a huge publicity boost, and even if it’s just for one issue, I anticipate a HUGE sales boost as people pick it up to see what this whole “tentacle” thing is about…

  15. CBrown:

    It’s exactly that- the lack of respect, not the actual content, that drives readers away.

    and the more frustraiting part of this, is that they can get away with dismissing any concerns because their core (DYING) audience is going to back them up. the industry will never get past middle aged men if they disrespect every other view point.

    dear joe,

    1. you are lying. that is disrespectful.
    2. don’t dare say it’s ok because a woman (who happens to come from a manga traditiona and sure as shit knew aaaallllllllll about tenticle rape) did the deed. you are responsible because you are in charge.

  16. Mr. Quesada sounds a lot like a Republican called to a Senate subcommittee. I can’t remember, I wasn’t there, it was someone else’s responsibility, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I know nothing about trends in comics, I know nothing about manga, I forget, I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.

  17. This really is a slow news week. The fact that some people seem to think that tentacle porn is common knowledge shows more about the internet than it does Joe

  18. Well, it’s not the PR tack I’d have taken – not least because the “Brood have tentacles” line is just plain false. They’re insects.

    I wonder, actually, whether this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Marvel is predominantly a character merchandising and licensing operation these days, and they’ve been very cautious about the depiction of major characters like Spider-Man and the Hulk (hence the canning of a completed Peter Bagge story). Obscure characters like these tend not to attract so much attention from management, but I really do find it hard to believe that the guys in marketing, from outside the comics bubble, who are trying to position the company as a family-friendly source of all-round fun, would look at that cover and do anything other than scream “What the hell are you thinking?! That’s precisely the image of comics we’re trying to get away from!”

  19. hmmm..interesting how joe basically sidesteps the 2 questions that have some of us angry, and of the 2, it’s the Heroes for Hire cover that he’s heard of????!??

    that slippery joe!

  20. So Mr. Quesada knows nothing about the manga his company publishes?
    Shouldn’t the Editor-in-chief of the largest comics publisher in the United States be knowledgeable about ALL aspects of comicbooks and comicstrips?
    otherwise you won’t remain the biggest for long…

  21. You know where else you can find overt sexuality that can be seen as denigrating and demeaning and border-line pornographic? TV shows. Oh, and movies. Music videos. In the clubs. On the street. Advertising.

    But yeah, Marvel comics is broken.

  22. “So Mr. Quesada knows nothing about the manga his company publishes?”

    Marvel don’t publish any manga. (But in a broader sense, when manga has been one of the dominant rising trends in North America for years, you really would expect Marvel’s editor-in-chief to have at least a passing familiarity with it.)

  23. Mike said:
    “You know where else you can find overt sexuality that can be seen as denigrating and demeaning and border-line pornographic? TV shows. Oh, and movies. Music videos. In the clubs. On the street. Advertising.”

    Your point? Just because people are unhappy with the H4H cover doesn’t mean that they’re not also fighting against sexism in other media.

    And before anyone brings up the ‘but there are WORSE forms of sexism out there than silly comic covers!’: I know. But that doesn’t make sexism in silly comic covers okay.

    Henrik J said,
    “This really is a slow news week. The fact that some people seem to think that tentacle porn is common knowledge shows more about the internet than it does Joe”

    If the editor-in-chief of an extremely large, successful, long-running comics company is COMPLETELY UNAWARE of manga culture and Japan’s penchant for tentacle rape porn, then… That’s just dumb. No-one can be that naive, least of all a businessman whose job involves knowing all about comics.

  24. So the best way to communicate that the female protagonists “kick major ass” is to tie them up, display that their breasts have no nipples, and then put some writhing slimy tentacles around them?

    … gee, I sure thought that was a prototypical damsel in distress, not a kickass role model superheroine.

    Thanks for reminding me why I gave up on comics.

  25. On the subject of the H4H cover, I did a remix where I changed the expressions, got the girl’s clothes back on (did anyone else notice that Misty’s pants had been entirly ripped away on her right side from hip to public bone?), took out the bleeding cuts, and for fun, fixed Misty’s race reassigment, her hair, and got the dumb nekomimi bell off Black Cat’s neck.

    Here you go:

    It is, as I’ve said elsewhere, still questionable, would still be inappropriate for a book for ages 9 and up, but would be in keeping with the camp T&A of H4H so far.
    The exercize was to see what the cover conveyed by changed the most obviously objectionable elements: the expressions, the torn-off or opened clothes, the tentacle touching and sliding up (or down) Felicia’s breast, the bleeding wounds, and the money shot on Felicia’s cleavage.

    The only true fix for this cover is to junk it entirely. (And maybe have Joe get a reprimand from whoever his boss is, because this cover is just plain nasty.)

  26. The Brood do have tentacles. Few artist tend to not draw them for whatever reason, but it’s always been a part of their character design. For proof, the Wikipedia entry on the Brood features a cover of Uncanny X-Men #166 whcih is a 1983 comic, and it shows a Brood grabbing Colossus arms with its tentacles, so its clear that it isn’t a recent development.

  27. Yep, they do have tentacles. Looks like I was wrong.

    It still does’nt change the fact that the HFH cover is still perverted.

  28. I’d say the difference of comic books to TV, Movies, ect… is that comic actively use kids as their defense… it’s not sexually explicit, it’s a kid’s book.

  29. “Bigots always have the same modus operandi. First, they declare you inferior; then they systematically make it illegal for you to prove you’re not. In their hearts, they know you’re not inferior- they just want a huge slice of the pie.”

    -Mavis Leno

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