How a Spider-Woman Cover Changed My LGBT Outlook

By now, this Spider-Woman cover has been seen all across the lands of nerdom. The cover has been discussed in length regarding Milo Manara’s rendition of the female body. How should we feel about the cover? Empowered? Offended? Disgusted? Do we mumble “Meh!” and flip the page without a second thought? There are a lot of opinions floating around there on the internet, and I’m not about to add another one to the masses. So review them as you see fit:

Amusing

The Oatmeal’s Spiderman

Against:

Gizmodo – Anatomically Impossible

io9 – Rob Bricken

Vox

Kind of Neutral – The Mary Sue’s Adam Sorice

In Defense

Claire Lim for Metro.co.uk

However, upon watching Maddox’s video (posted above), I quickly forgot the controversy and began to focus on something else entirely. He states:

“First of all, when you assume covers like this are made strictly for the benefit of teenage boys, you’re being heterosexist. You’re assuming there are only straight comic book readers, and that they are all either strictly male and heterosexual or female and heterosexual. For someone who is supposedly taking the moral high ground on criticizing and industry for forgetting women, you seem to have conveniently forgotten that lesbian and bisexual women exist and that some of them may actually appreciate covers like this as well… Not that you have to have a particular sexual orientation to appreciate art, even if it is evocative.”

 

Wow. I felt incredibly naive and blind. As an advocate for sex positivity and a huge supporter of the LGBT community, I never stopped to think about how receptive the cover may or may not be in the LGBT community. I suddenly went down a inquisitive bunny hole. How many gay and lesbian characters have been featured in the biggest comic universes? How long have they been around? Did fans accept the characters as they were or was there outrage and anger? I had too many questions and not enough answers. So, my dear nerds, a post regarding LGBT representation among the panels will appear sometime in the near future.

 

In the meantime, I leave you with a character created for the U.S. television show Queer as Folk. As a devout comic book connoisseur, Michael Novotny (the show’s main character) drums up a concept of an out and proud gay superhero. With artistic help from Justin Taylor, the two creates a hero that quickly becomes a smash hit among the LGBT comic book audience. Rage, the hero based from Michael’s best friend Brian, has several powers (including superhuman strength and resilience, unmatched sexual stamina, martial arts training, psychically enhanced charisma and persuasiveness, and a mind-distortion ability that causes homophobic attackers to perceive each other as gay and prompts them to attack one another) and has the ability to heal others’ injuries through sex. While I recognize Rage is a superhero created to exist in a television show’s universe, I can’t shake the importance of the hero and the episodes. Michael Novotny created the character due to the distinct lack of LGBT role models appearing in comic book universes. For kids or young adults coming to terms with their sexuality, where is the alternative to the heterosexual superhero or the sensuous, straight femme fatale?

 

So! Bring it on! Let me know if you’ve encountered an excellent LGBT role model in one of your favorite comics!

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