As you can tell from the title, this is not my usual shtick. I have been thinking a lot about how women are represented in comics, how they are marketed, why they are not flagship/focal characters.
Now, i will be upfront. I am not in the comic industry. I work in games, I haven't written anything groundbreaking, i have not really gotten to handle any female characters (except Jill Valentine in the mobile version of Resident Evil, and there, i was only adapting the GameCube version of the script).
But i am a fan. I have been a fan since i was very small. i watched the 70s Spider-Woman, in the 80s when i was little. I also watched She-Ra, He-Man, GI Joe, Transformers, 90s X-Men, X-Men: Evolution all that good stuff. And Voltron. I loved Voltron.
I have been reading comics for the past 3-4 years, mainly focusing on New/Mighty Avengers, Ms Marvel, Thunderbolts, the Inhumans, whatever, you can read it on my sidebar.
My degree is in Communication and Psychology, anyway, that is me.
So here we go.
Women in Comics: Marvel Divas. Have I bitten off more than i can chew? Maybe.
I get what Marvel is trying to do with Marvel Divas. I read it, it was alright. It wasn't as bad as i thought it was going to be. I think there are better ways to handle the "problem of the female audience", however. First, i am going to look at the cover and title.
The Title. Looking specifically at the title of the book, the title does not express what the book IS.
"Diva" is not a complementary term. When one thinks of a diva, they think of the Mariah Carey and Beyonces of the world, who have lavish demands, an entourage of people telling them how great they are, who have the potential to make oodles of money just on their appearance. If someone were to call me a "diva" i would be upset.
The term isn't even accurate for the book itself. The women freely admit that they are not A-List heroes. They are not of the caliber of Sue Storm, for example. Hell, Angelica Jones' publicist had to essentially hire A-Listers for her book release party.
Were i looking at just the title of this book, combined with the first issue's cover:
I would think this book was about a bunch of bitchy, whiny, trolling-for-sex c-list superheroes. And that is not what the book is about - let's be clear.
As i mentioned before, i watched a lot of 80s cartoons, and OF COURSE i watched Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. And OF COURSE i LOVED Firestar. All that "let's throw a female character in to this story"-stuff totally worked on me. I loved She-Ra, i loved Arcee, i bought in to it all. Not that Firestar was tacked on, but she hadn't existed in the comics, and was there to pull in female viewers, and let's face it, it worked. Taking that in to account, I would not want to read a book in which my beloved Firestar is a DIVA.
I am not sure what the target audience is for this book. If the point was to draw in new, female readers, the title and the cover have missed the boat.
If the point was to get males who thought that the cover was "hot" to buy the book, they may be disappointed with the interior NOT being all pillow fights and sleepovers. This ends up being confusing.
If the point was to sell to current-comic-reading women, then again, the combo of the title, plus cover is a miss. Although, let's be honest, as female comic readers, we put up with a lot, a LOT of crap. I mean, Joe Q even told us not to read this book if we thought that Marvel was in any way sexist. Did i mention we put up with a lot of crap?
So after the kerfluffle with the first cover, the second cover was released:
Basically, this looks like someone saying "the J. Scott Campbell version of the first cover was not the way to go. Let's do it again, and un-J.Scott-ify it". Note: And get a woman to do it. The cover artist is Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic, perhaps someone was listening to the criticism, "make them look tough, make them look serious, make them look like they can kick-ass" -- all those things are a check with this cover... but it would have been alright for a first issue, to show who was in the book (and that they are awesome).
But for a second cover... it is kind of... boring? Isnt it? Why are the women looking at me? If this was a reveal, i would get why they are in their costumes - in case you werent positive who they were. But... we KNOW who they are from the first issue... and in the first issue they spend what... a page in their costumes? Confusing. I would have hoped for something more dynamic, something to show more what the book is about, because the previews sure dont help:
For 1: “…have some sudsy fun and lift the curtain a bit and take a peep at some of our most fabulous super heroines…The pitch started as “Sex and the City” in the Marvel Universe, and there’s definitely that “naughty” element to it, but I also think the series is doing to a deeper place, asking question about what it means…truly means…to be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry.) But mostly it’s just a lot of hot fun.”
Again... who is this book for??
For 2: After last issue's shocking revelation, Angelica "Firestar" Jones seeks out medical advice...from none other than Dr. Stephen Strange. (Paving the way for yet another diva to enter the fray: The nocturnal Night Nurse!) Meanwhile, Monica "Photon" Rambeau and Patsy "Hellcat" Walker are drawn back into the lives of their ex-boyfriends of the damned: Brother Voodoo and Daimon Hellstrom, respectively. And Felicia "Black Cat" Hardy contemplates a return to her life of crime...the claws are out as this mini-series continues!
ANOTHER DIVA?? Again, failure with the term, Marvel. I actually have been really interested in knowing more about the Night Nurse. I would love to read about her. Again with the calling her a diva? I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT DIVAS. Please, please. let's stop using this term.
PS - i forgot to add before, the solicit for #1 included "let your inner divas out, fellas".
I am going to let you connect the dots on that one, while looking at the cover art for #1 and asking yourself "who is this book REALLY for?"
I have decided to call this PART 1 - Title, and come back to the rest, to give my brain some time to digest, and continue later. My intent for this section was to look only at the cover / solicit / name. More in depth next time :)
Next up: Part 2 - Relationships: Srsly, women love them, apparently.