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.


  1. I don’t know about the male readers, but most of the young female yaoi fans I know wouldn’t look twice at those super-beefed-up, hairy, older-looking guys. Now, that pic on the site of some guy called Quasar…

    Oh, wait, I mean: I don’t know anything at all about yaoi, and I most certainly don’t know the term for beefy, hairy yaoi. What is yaoi?

  2. It doesn’t need to be repeated ad nauseum, but I’ll do it anyway: the 90s were a weird, dark time for comics. Every publisher was putting out “swimsuit specials,” and they just kept getting more sexualized and fetishized. Compared to some of the indie “bad girl” ones, I’m sure the Marvel book was tame.

  3. I recently unloaded all my Marvel Swimsuit issues online (most on Amazon!) after discovering them secluded at the bottom of a box of other comics I hadn’t touched in years.

    And browsing through them (didn’t recall them at all), cringing at their cheesiness, I wonder what possessed me to buy it in the first place, much less to KEEP buying them! LOL

  4. I bought a couple of Marvel’s swimsuit specials, an Amazing Heroes swimsuit special — I bought them for the pix of the heroines in swimsuits. The pix of the guys meant nothing to me at the time, except when they were amusing, and still don’t. If someone pays no attention to a picture, he’s not reacting to it.


  5. The first thing I noticed was the weird shape of Tony Stark’s head, and the strange perspective and posing of the two heroes.

    Then I read the text block, and thought Nick Fury would be more inclined to wear trunk instead of a rather revealing (and embarrassing) bikini briefs.

    Now, a few hours later, I see the horrible computer coloring.

  6. Carol: “I most certainly don’t know the term for beefy, hairy yaoi.”

    You may be looking for the word “bara”. That’s manga made of men, by men, for men, which usually has 1000% the testosterone of yaoi.

  7. “Now, a few hours later, I see the horrible computer coloring.”

    I like that this kind of implies that you’ve been staring at the image for several hours straight.

  8. Nope, sorry tekende. I revisited the post to read the new comments, and noticed the coloring.

    Besides, he says, polishing his prescription eyeglasses, if you do that too often, you’ll go blind.

  9. I wonder how long until my friend who ships Batman/Superman gets into Cap/IronMan which seems to be popular on one comic image board I go to.

    Meanwhile… I don’t remember these pages from those issues back when I was in puberty. Though looking though some of the images from it and other comics that did… catch my eyes as a kid I’m surprised how easy it is to get a kid.. itnerested. I doubt gay boys or straight girls were too much different. Hell, just look at Twilight. Not that I should talk. I read Danger Girl.