Why I feel let down by Marvel.

With the influx of super hero films, the awesomeness of Scott Pilgrim and the televised version of The Walking Dead, it hasn’t taken long for a bookworm like myself to start dabbling in the world of comics. I’m still fairly new to the genre and despite having titles and series that I want to read, I don’t really know where to start (other than the beginning, I’ve got that.) So, searching around and trying to avoid spending a lot of money on the Iron Man series, I’ve come across the super heroine ‘She Hulk.’ Fair play, I thought – I appreciate that women haven’t been excluded from the world of the graphic novel; I appreciate that feisty, kick ass women are celebrated in amongst men who save the world. As a female reader, particularly one that has a background of being forced to read literature where women aren’t allowed to be promiscuous, are inferior to men and are pretty much forced into marriage by the end of the novel, graphic novels and their super heroines are a breathe of a fresh air. In fact, graphic novels celebrating kick ass women is encouragement enough to start exploring the genre.

Today I read that Marvel are trying to widen their target audience and fan base – there is an urge to generate interest from female readers. Their solution to this, of course, is the moronic step backward of making ‘She-Hulk’  a long-form fiction. That’s right, we’re heading straight back inImageto the world of novels. Even worse, it’s already being defined as chick-lit which is inevitable when the cover is a tube of green lipstick. It’s also going to be imaginatively called ‘The She-Hulk Diaries.’ You know, just like The Vampire Diaries? Now, I understand that women probably do take more time out to read novels and I understand that Marvel will be able to communicate their super heroines across a new medium and more readers will become familiar with her; but this for me, undermines their whole aim to encourage females to read graphic novels.

The novel is set for release in June and the narrative will explore how She Hulk (Jennifer Walters) can balance her career as a lawyer with turning green and angry. That’s not all though, lucky females who this novel is aimed at will get to read about how the super heroine tries to balance her life with, wait for it, relationships. Who could have possibly have guessed that?

I personally feel really let down. Not only are female readers being encouraged back into their secluded realm of long-prose, but we’re back to reading about the dependent woman. Now, the graphic novel series for all I know might be exactly the same. If that’s the case, Marvel really need to update their thinking about how they approach the problem of female characters and targeting the audience for them. Maybe I want my super heroine scantily clad, maybe I want to see actual graphics of her getting all green and angry. Maybe, just maybe I want the super heroines I’m reading about to be independent women that don’t need a man.

What I certainly don’t want is to be led back into the long prose genre, particularly when the representation of someone who is “super” comes down to a ridiculous shade of lipstick. Marvel are taking a step that makes a clear gendered distinction in the world of graphic novels and prose literature. Some of us girls want to read comics and personally, putting more creativity into the heroine’s name would be far more encouraging, She-Hulk seems a less than half arsed effort. Once Marvel start to take pride in their own heroines as actual graphic novel characters, maybe female readers would be more willing to take time out for graphic novels.

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About Shannon Greaney

Editorial Assistant at Tomorrow People | Content Editor at Riot Magazine | Passionate about writing, music and eating. View all posts by Shannon Greaney

88 responses to “Why I feel let down by Marvel.

  • Alex Jones.

    You’re judging a Marvel product before it’s even released.
    For all you know, the story could end with her deciding that saving the world is more important than a man.
    On top of which, this insistence that for a novel/book/media form to be feminist a woman can’t want a man in it is bullshit.
    The bigger question is the one of prejudice based on sexuality – why must all stories end with a man and a woman getting together?
    Also, they;re not encouraging women “back into their secluded realm of long prose”, they’re making a product that’s more likely to sell. Women generally prefer long-prose to comics.
    Why wouldn’t a business make a product that a section of the audience would probably quite like to read?
    The She-Hulk series was one of the longest running female led comic series in monthly format and only ended due to falling readership. A company’s not going to keep putting a product out on a loss.
    You’re also picking on a name created 30 years ago to complain about today’s products. She-Hulk first appeared in 1980.

    • artboy68

      I have issue #1 of She-Hulk; refreshingly, made back in the day when a comic contained an entire short story, start to finish. However, even the very first issue is not devoid of relationship and female complexity. I don’t think these things make a woman weak though. It’s part of every female’s super power if they know how to wield it. I know- I’m coming up to my 23rd anniversary, and my wife definitely has some of that super-heroine badassness.

  • mathewwaterhouse

    I kinda agree, but there is a flipside which can be seen in the DC comics 52 series where they basically say, fuck having independent women, lets just have neurotic, dependent “sluts” who are basically naked 90% of the time for the gratification of the teenage end of the readership. Think the problem at both ends is the gender (and possibly social) breakdown of the writers, who clearly dont get it.

    • allthoughtswork

      Mathew has a point: the major target audience of graphic novels (read: who is actually slapping money down for the product) is not a group of strong, independent, adventurous women. No, that’s who the target audience is AFRAID of. Marvel is doing quite well feeding off the secret fears, sexual frustration, and tightly wound insecurities of young males, why would they tinker with a perfect business model? You don’t fix what ain’t broken. If they’re “broadening” their fan base at all, it’s only to run a potentially profitable experiment on the side to see if any fish bite. Pick your battles: skip over Marvel and land in a space where women already have the vote…and the drawing pens.

    • Kevin Peterson!

      This is actually a very bad example.. I don’t even think it’s from Marvel Proper, it might be a separate Disney Publishing licensing thing. It’s unfair to generalize an entire publishing line based on one book..

      Personally I feel Marvel Proper is doing a great job between female centric books like Kelly Sue’s Captain Marvel or Colleen Bunn’s Fearless Defenders to Brian Wood’s upcoming all female X-Men book. Brian Wood, in both is Indy work and mainstream work, is big with strong female characters who act like real people first.

      Across the street DC just found itself in hot water over the firing of Gail Simone (the most prominent and ‘name’ female writer) off of Bargirl (their top selling female lead book) and was forced to about face and rehired her within days.

    • Lady Gwendolynn

      I can completely agree with that statement.

  • Public art, mysogyny, and imbecility | Standing Ovation, Seated

    [...] I found the role-model for the Biz Lady statue, thanks to this post. I didn’t know a She-Hulk existed. Someone inside Marvel has a dark, really dark fantasy. [...]

  • The General

    Personally I’d change the title to “Fifty Shades of Green.” I was a huge nerd in the 80’s and 90’s in regards to comic books (and not getting laid), and I took an ongoing sabbatical from the genre, not for any social stand but because they got to god damned expensive, it seems to me that someone OTHER than Marvel should have tapped into the strong lesbianic heroines of today. Have you tried independant labels? Has nobody brought back “Omaha, the Cat Dancer?” (Look it up, lol)

  • rami ungar the writer

    This is why I try for variety in my female characters when I write. Indeed, some of them could care less about relationships; they’re more concerned with getting out of trouble and staying alive to do it. And green lipstick? Really? Besides being green and a woman, how does that figure into She-Hulk? I think they should take more of an example from the female leads of Law & Order: SVU or Castle; less love problems, more doing the job and doing it right.

  • Margaret Grant

    They can only imagine us in terms of themselves. 1- her name is a spin-off of a male character’s name; 2- she would of course focus primarily on relationships w/ men in her life, because there is no her without him; 3- do you really think the giant boobs are for you? The anger thing has to go because she could only be angry at a man, and that’s not what nice girls do. Don’t kid yourself, this is porn.

  • nomein01

    I also agree. Marvel and DC to me are like coke and pepsi, they swear there’s a difference and i swear its insignificant. The push out “strong female characters” most of the time you get strong females with no character. It’s still a male dominated industry, that panders to grown men with nostalgic memories of their nerdy teenage life. We still got Dark Horse (buffy comics), and the independent scene.

  • nomein01

    Reblogged this on biopolymerx and commented:
    What can i say, this girl has a point.

  • lovetimesinfinity

    They’re trying to make money, is what it comes down to. Marvel wants women’s money, they’re going to go where the women readers are: the long-form prose section of the store. It’s unfortunate, I agree, and I am as saddened as you to see it, but the cost of convincing more women to read comics outweighs the cost of meeting women in the chick-lit aisle.

  • Candienziia

    I think the most effective way for them to attract female readers would be by maintaining the same exact format they have, but remember that women are people, too and stop treating all of their female characters as sex objects. It’s not their format, it’s the material. Of course, there is the fact that comics are hard-gendered as “for boys,” the same way that a Barbie is most definitely gendered for girls. I’m infuriated by the tactics they’re using because trying to get women to begin reading comics is an opportunity for further advancement of gender equality and the abolition of gender differentiation, and instead, they’re just making it worse and appealing to the same women who epitomize the values of ambivalent sexism.

  • Christian

    Excellent post! I definitely agree with some of your points. If you ever read any of the spiderman runs before peter parker dies, you’ll probably see that the majority of drama in his life is due to relationships, and if the roles were reversed you could argue that he wouldn’t have had a progressive image. (And I agree, I found it boring myself.)

    I think that our ability to relate to superheroes by relationships is one of the only ways we can relate. I think being complete independent of anyone’s influence like family, significant other, etc is I think for most is unusual and difficult to relate.

    I think the reason they are trying a new medium of reaching women is because they can’t get away from drawing caricatures of women in their comic books. I feel the reason for this is probably because you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between men and women without a hyper sexualized image. Having a fan base that is so used to exaggerated proportions, I think it’s unrealistic that they can change the look of anyone, men or women in a short time.

    I view this as a positive step forward, because it shows that marvel considers a female audience much more valuable than it did before. Because of this, new story lines and concepts will be developed that will change they way they write the stories. I totally agree that a lot of it is empty, with many gender stereotypes. But I feel as they do target a female audience that is consuming more complex and interesting material, they will evolve. The last two years of marvel have been pretty disappointing, but hopefully that will change!

    Thanks for you post!

  • urbannight

    Wait, a novel and not a comic? But, WHY????? Comic book publishers and stores often don’t know what to do with female readers. They think they have to ‘market’ to us. That isn’t what they need to do. They just need to admit that girls like them as well and train the people into the shops not to assume we are in the wrong place or that we are looking for things for the males in our lives.

    • shannongreaney

      Yeah! There are a few comic book stores where I live and in the years I’ve checked them out, I’ve never seen a female member of staff. It would just be nice for it to be acceptable for us to like comics

  • pickledwings

    The very existence of female characters like She-Hulk should be a let down in it’s own way.

    Seriously, the best they would do for a heroine was to make her a simple offshoot of an established male hero? Way to make her “independent”.

    There’s not and never has been enough wholly original heroines or villainesses in the comic world. It’s mostly just been female rip-offs of the male characters.

  • Carmen Miro

    Yeah – if so, if she were introspective writer why would she have to have such a fake body type? Would she have the insight to write – would this be her pre-hulk diary or her hulk diary- and would her diary be interesting? It should be a journal or notebook, like most male writers had too.

    Does everything ‘improve’ or does she just get a green lipsticky thing? I mean, Hulk became ugly cute when he was angry, and I get this ‘Hulkette’ will still have some coquettish sex appeal, even though we know our local men don’t like anyone over 150 pounds. In fact, when everything congeals into pure muscle, I would be interested to see what happens to her sex appeal. I sure as hell will not relate to a highly sexy character. I never have.

    Diaries? Sure, if I am in Sex in the City and want to be cute. Diaries imply self-indulgence and whimsy. Not the mark of a hero. Perhaps she is a programmer? That would be better. I think she would be writing a book, or writing to someone or inventing a formula – perhaps being a journalist – but diaries? Maybe she is a writer.

    They would not have given he-hulk a diary to work on. This is selling to the ladies yes? My clients mostly have to fight through life, and would scorn that implication. They are not kids anymore – even in the last few years, women have become fierce.

    Hulk would have been a hacker or something more up to date. She-hulk would be a security professional. Now let me go and find my green lipstick.

  • hcfbutton

    It’s funny because I don’t necessarily see her as a dependent woman but that she’s dependable and that’s her struggle, which is probably more interesting than romance or action. Especially if they can dive into a topic like what happens when it’s a dr. Jekyll and Mrs Hyde situation? Instead of devil wears prada with superheroes.

  • Animockery

    I have not read many books with strong female roles as the main character but I have read some good ones with amazing supporting female roles. King Killer Trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss is one. In that world he has an entire race that is female dominate.

  • Kevin Peterson!

    This is actually a very bad example.. I don’t even think it’s from Marvel Proper, it might be a separate Disney Publishing licensing thing. It’s unfair to generalize an entire publishing line based on one book..

    Personally I feel Marvel Proper is doing a great job between female centric books like Kelly Sue’s Captain Marvel or Colleen Bunn’s Fearless Defenders to Brian Wood’s upcoming all female X-Men book. Brian Wood, in both is Indy work and mainstream work, is big with strong female characters who act like real people first.

    Across the street DC just found itself in hot water over the firing of Gail Simone (the most prominent and ‘name’ female writer) off of Bargirl (their top selling female lead book) and was forced to about face and rehired her within days.

  • alexwilgus

    The Marvel Universe is absolutely brimming with independent, “empowered” and very scantily clad female superheroes. There is Jessica Jones a.k.a. Spider-Woman, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Maria Hill, the new Captain Marvel, The Black Widow, Silver Sable, The Black Cat, Storm, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde. Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel are writing a new X-Men series starring only women that will release in the next few months. Are we really going to blame them for branching out into the (relatively) more chaste realms of teen fiction?

    The larger problem with female superheroines is that graphic depictions of female sexuality are always being paradoxically interpreted. A scantily-clad, busty female superheroine is at once, a symbol of male fantasy fetish and/or a strong point for female empowerment. Which is it? Blurring the line even further, the very image of the independent, empowered, amazonian female is usually most widely appreciated and in many cases even produced by the very male appetite for pornography it pretends to scorn. In today’s media-saturated culture “objectifying” and “empowering” images of women are more closely intertwined than anyone cares to admit and few can very well tell the difference with any coherence. In this climate of confusion over what is feminist and what is fetish, Marvel will never really win.

  • Nick

    I agree completely. It’s sad that Marvel, who has some of the most iconic female (and male) characters just can’t squeeze decent stories out for them. Maybe they’ve just been overwhelmed by their weight of history and apparent belief that people are only interesting when scantily-clad.

  • lipstickcommando

    So, since the Hulk is left wearing the shreds of whatever outfit he is wearing when he hulks out, we should be able to assume the same of She-Hulk, right? So, from this graphic, we must assume this attorney was wearing a skin-tight two-tone purple body suit, leggings, boots, and work gloves, but with no bra. I gather she was not in court at that time? I can’t imagine any situation I would be in dressed like that, so I’m having a hard time with this. Shouldn’t she be in a tailored suit and conservative pumps, with her hair back? Or perhaps she knows that purple accentuates and complements green, and has dressed accordingly in her everyday life so that, human or mutant, she will always be styling…

  • peerygirl

    OMG!!! That’s a major step back. I have grown up int he world of comics. I lived on x-men and spider man oh and superman growing up. Wonder women was my fave heroine. I always wanted her to do more though. I think Marvel can do so much better. And yes Mattewwaterhouse, You could possible be right.

  • Al Kline

    You know, the same could be said about the beauty pagents of the world. Is it really out there to ‘show case’ women as the intellectuals that they really are or just another sex object? I guess if Marvel enhances the character as something more, than we shall see.

  • kicoworker

    I LOVE THIS BLOG!!! Thumbs up

  • segmation

    My favorite Marvel Character is Ultimate Spider-Man! Here today and hopefully for a long time as a super hero, don’t you agree?

  • Elliott Thomas

    I really enjoyed this post. I think that this is a pretty complex topic. What they’re doing with She Hulk, specifically, is trying to market her much like the main character from Janet Evanovich’s “One for the Money.” Simply put, she is a tough, spunky woman trying to juggle life and its complications (in this case, being the She Hulk). The idea of a woman having or trying to find a relationship, however, doesn’t suddenly make her a “dependent woman.” Quite simply – it’s what sells and is something that a lot of girls (and men) can relate to.

    As a comic company, Marvel, by far, has the most diverse cast of humans and super humans – male and female, alike. If you want a more independent woman character, try reading the about many of the female members of the X-Men (Good examples of strong, independent females in the X-Men would be Emma Frost and Storm).

    The thing with taking a step back to long-form prose is something that Marvel has also expressed interest in for the last few years. It is unsurprising from a business standpoint that their long form novels would be more oriented around their female characters, since their male demographics don’t read many novels outside of very popular fiction. I don’t think that they are specifically pushing female comic readers towards these books, but rather they are inviting female novel readers to become interested in their characters and become interested enough to buy the comics.

  • Cynenway

    Working at a comic shop, I hear a lot about such topics even when I’m not as involved in reading as many. Marvel is a let down for a lot of people. They’ve mastered the process of getting quantity out (be it movies or comics, etc.) without the quality behind it that the company used to have. They publish multiple comics a month about the same character, usually multiple times a month. For the most part, if you like the characters and want to read it (such as myself with X-treme X-men for my favorite character Dazzler), the only thing to really do is recognize that it’s just product to them, and try to enjoy it from that standpoint.

  • leowfactor

    If you want scantily-clad, violent, independent heroines in graphic novel form, best start reading Wonder Woman!

  • AniToddSmith

    I think there would be a better appreciation from female fans if some of these stories were written by female writers. I think you end up with something a little bit richer.

  • Drew

    You should try a Japanese comic series called Appleseed, by Masamune Shirow. I’m not much of a manga fan because I do like my Marvel and DC comics, but I remember reading this one and liking it a lot. The central heroine character is exactly just that… a protagonist who is female. She isn’t overly neurotic, she isn’t preoccupied with relationships, and she definitely isn’t sexualized much. In fact, she wears the same bulky armor that her male counterparts in the ESWAT unit wears. That’s right, no form-fitting spandex that somehow manages to reveal nipples but not camel-toes… just power armor that completely hides one’s gender.

    She’s basically just a regular protagonist, except she’s female. I think Dark Horse reprints English-language graphic novels of these.

  • Canadian Performer's Money

    Not sure I understand your complaint. When a company is making any product, they do research to see what their target audience wants.

    Just turn on day time TV, or look at the top magazines and websites visited by women. The ones that deal with relationships sell the most. Why would Marvel look at that research and do the opposite?

  • Chadwick Gendron

    I hadn’t heard of this new novelization plan and it sounds ridiculous. They’ve tried that in the past and it has never worked. The appeal of superheroes really is about the visual of their super-ness. This is one of the reasons the films never have the characters’ flashy outfits. In art, they can be flashy, on film they need to be within reality but in literature, it’s not as fun to simply “imagine” their flashiness.
    As far as the issue of women, Marvel has really been trying to de-white-guy their universe and has made some efforts introducing some diversity in ethnicity but they have done a pretty great job building up their female characters, due in part to many women now working in the medium. Black Widow has become a great central figure in the Marvel Universe and Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel, one of the most powerful characters in the entire universe, is often the brains and the muscle they call in. There is also Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D, Red She-Hulk, as well as some great female villains. Maybe She-Hulk is a little trapped in her Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

  • rapidpinkfox

    Being an avid comic reader and wannabe artist, author and publisher I want to agree with you. Though, I do not.
    There are plenty of female comic characters that don’t directly deal with with romantic relationships and tend to focus on the badass aspects.
    Still, I’m referring to more independent labels such as vertigo and dark horse.
    Mainstream comic publishers such as DC and Marvel (the two most well known) in my opinion, will not drift too far from what they’re known to do.
    I recommend the graphic novel Watchmen.
    Watchmen is as prolific as it is violent and story/character driven within a “realistic” sense.

    Read it or not,
    Ethan S.

  • Lara Jane

    And maybe just maybe Marvel could take a step back and look at what women’s actual bodies look like? I can’t even read Marvel anymore without cringing.

  • Eyagee

    Sometimes I feel that people complain about something when it doesn’t target them then expect that company to change their products because they have a personal beef with it.

  • willisan

    I like your perspective on this and think you raise some great points. Hopefully Marvel hears you!

  • Mike

    I believe that your issues, worthy though they they are, are not a consideration in terms of commercial viability. It may not seem right but Marvel is a corporate entity with an obligation to generate profits for its owners. It makes sense for them to market to women – why exclude half the population? Long-form fiction et al are devices to generate maximum revenue. On the issue of revealing clothing have you ever looked closely at Batman’s crotch? Even as a hetero male I did a double-take – heaven knows how it affects our poor gay brethren to see their childhood hero at the cinema these days!

    Yours is a well-written essay with excellent points worthy of delivery to any debate or congress on the issues you address, but of scant interest to those who are in it for the money. But life is much better than it used to be in the bad old days and the time will eventually come when this sort of demographic targeting for profit maximization will be considered as tacky as it truly is.

  • orchalk

    The role model the world is scared to write about.

  • Kevin Peterson!

    I posted this wrong before, but:

    This is actually a very bad example.. I don’t even think it’s from Marvel Proper, it might be a separate Disney Publishing licensing thing. It’s unfair to generalize an entire publishing line based on one book..

    Personally I feel Marvel Proper is doing a great job between female centric books like Kelly Sue’s Captain Marvel or Colleen Bunn’s Fearless Defenders to Brian Wood’s upcoming all female X-Men book. Brian Wood, in both is Indy work and mainstream work, is big with strong female characters who act like real people first.

    Across the street DC just found itself in hot water over the firing of Gail Simone (the most prominent and ‘name’ female writer) off of Bargirl (their top selling female lead book) and was forced to about face and rehired her within days.

  • mpwilson

    I read about this the other day as well. They’re actually going to be doing more than one novel.. think the other one will center around Rogue from X-Men.

    She-Hulk has always been my favorite Marvel heroine.. and I’m disappointed they haven’t done more with her.. like her own kick-ass action movie perhaps?

    I know there was talk of one many many years ago, but nothing happened. Maybe with the current influx of new Marvel movies coming out it’ll happen.. instead of the just the usual ‘male’ superhero movies they’re churning out.

  • nukapai

    Just a fly-by comment to say that if you’re coming into graphic novels from being a bookwork, you might enjoy a graphic novel series called “Unwritten” as much as I have. :)

  • Chanodom

    ็Hero will be normal human but them heart is super hero !!

  • amelie88

    The world of comics is so overwhelming! I’m fairly new at it too–mostly because of my new job. I read mostly Franco-Belgian comics growing up (which honestly is a whole other genre and so vastly different from American comics, they go are called bandes-dessinees) and I’ve seen superhero movies but that’s about it! My job mostly has to do with French language comics, but I’m slowly learning about all the American stuff and that’s how I got introduced to the Walking Dead. I surprisingly found myself liking the comics (couldn’t get into the tv show) since I was reading them for free at work. Novels will always be my first love though.

  • thegeekanthropologist

    I’m really tired to see companies create what they think women want as a product and get it so totally wrong.

    I don’t necessarily need more female writers in the comic book industry to enjoy comic books, although it would be great if more women could enjoy that profession in a safe environment. But the fact that a man writes a comic book doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.

    I don’t even need more female superheroes: I just want to see women that aren’t portrayed like dependent, sexual objects that simply hide in the shadow of men or are second to them in the chain of command.

    My favorite comic book character is Batman. It’s not a female character. And I don’t like Batman because of his relationships or his outfits. it’s his complex character and identity that make for great stories.

    If I had to change one thing about Batman comic books, or any other for that matter, it would be the way women are portrayed. Not the format, not the stories, not the art.

  • rubyfrumblefoot

    Reblogged this on thelifejunkie45 and commented:
    i completely agree with this. Women are degraded and seen as lesser beings. It is time media stopped refering to independence as a manly characteristic.

  • Jessica

    I feel let down just looking at that picture. Could her boobs be any bigger?

  • RubySoHo

    My name is Ruby. I am here and I am listening.

    http://rubyisalive.wordpress.com/

  • rolandtrotter

    You should consider heading over to DC, since The New 52 versions came out a couple of years ago, which restarted its all of its titles back to 1 so its easier for new readers to get into the series. DC is trying to avoid many of sexist criticisms that have plagued comics for years. By the end of this year all of DC’s New 52 comics will be available in hardback volumes. Try Batgirl, I think that New 52 Batgirl is better than some of the New 52 Batman titles

  • Robert

    Great post. It appears that you have sustained a Freshly Pressed status for days. Having found you on what is now 2/20/13 in the evening on the west coast. You must be doing something right. I have been disappointed with Marvel since Avi Arad took over the place way back when. I do not even know who runs it now. That does not stop me from being a fan of the characters and a fan of the artwork.

  • theflameswithin

    When it comes down to it, everyone needs someone in the life. Even superheroes. Clark has Lois, Peter has MJ and Captain America has Peggy. All the great superheroes fall in love because despite their abilities, they still have human emotions: empathy, loneliness, longing, etc. I think it’s absolutely necessary for a superhero to battle with relationships along with supervillians, because honestly? They need a little normal in their life.
    Whilst comics give you the incredible visual of the story – just like movies – novels capture the emotion and back story of the characters in far more detail. I think Marvel are trying to get creative with superheroes, while also getting ‘nitty and gritty’ with this female heroine: the She-Hulk.
    I totally understand your post and frankly, if this She-Hulk is as much of a pussy as Bella Swan despite her super-strength? I’m gonna kick some ass myself :)

  • GrassDitch

    I think Marvel could have probably put a bit more effort in here – especially when it comes to lipstick on the cover. But the thing is, even male protagonists have long-form comics, and story arcs about balancing their super-life with their love-life. I’m also not sure how a woman being in a relationship makes her totally dependent. Especially the strong, intelligent She-Hulk who has a (I assume) successful career as a lawyer.

    It may turn out that Marvel have been boring and 2D with this She-Hulk run, but you never know. They’ve also published some great comics with dynamic female AND male characters.

    Just out of curiosity, what novels did you have to read that made you so cynical of “women’s” fiction?

    • lythya

      I think the point is that when Marvel say they’ll reach a broader female audience by making it a chick lit, then adding that a big part of it will be about She-Hulk balancing her love life with turning green, it feels like they’re making her character all about her man, and that’s what women have been so many times in the past.

  • jkinzle

    Great post and excellent points. I’ve found the comic book genre to speak mainly to the young male set, hence the green lipstick. Then again, this type of audience will be more open minded than mainstream-i.e. The Walking Dead to TV. I think when the female lead can carry the entire story line and you don’t notice she’s a compromising, cooperative female, that’s when you’ve got the new Hero lead.

  • Feliza

    This actually isn’t a new tactic for Marvel — in 2003, they published the young adult novel Mary Jane (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/738610.Mary_Jane) while the Spider-Man movies were big. Marvel’s doing an excellent job reaching out to female fans and creating or revamping strong female characters, especially Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Captain Marvel (formerly Ms. Marvel).

    And comics haven’t exactly shied away from the superhero-love life balance, either. (Want a look at probably the least feminist relationship ever? Check out Ant Man.) The She-Hulk novel will likely pull in new teenage readers who might be interested in continuing her story after the book is finished — which will lead them straight to comic books.

  • lythya

    So now the chick lits are creeping into the small liberty we have left? When Wonder Woman’s biggest issue is what to wear, do tell me. Jesus. I feel so discriminated whenever people assume this is what we want. As if we don’t have taste.
    I made a response to this post at my blog: http://storycheck.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/chick-lit-action-movie/

  • IM Sirius

    Try Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia. Graphic novel. Really great stuff.

  • Kenneth Mark Hoover

    I agree. This really does seem like a step backward for a good character and not one I would approve.

  • tomsnare1025

    I enjoyed the read. I think you are entitled to your opinion and you argued it well. Good Job.
    I wrote a little something bitching about math, but while I did it, I got my nerd on and compared my self to a superhero…..sorta. Maybe you will enjoy it.

    http://tomsnareandsuch.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/heroic-struggles-with-math/

  • coiledrose

    Unfortunately this is nothing new– the gender roles in major media– and personally i’m not threatened by this. The more girls play games, become computer literate, read comics, the more likely they are to pursue careers and hobbies in those fields. Sexism is just a lack of education, and we’re getting smarter and leaving cliches behind (not even that slowly).

    I’m posting something like this on Lara Croft today if you’d like to read it. I actually like your point of view and I understand it, but don’t feel so affronted. It’s still a male dominated industry and eventually that’s going to change and stories and character arcs WILL become more balanced. :)

  • gentlemenextraordinaire

    haha i can see this has caused quite the storm and quite the arousal of defence from males; its exactly why marvel will never really change unless females like you fight for it. I also feel women have been secluded in their roles as crimefighters and superheroin. I quite enjoyed your article haha..keep it up and keep fighting.

  • Maine Siren

    It’s time for the entertainment industry to have a film with a female superhero playing the lead role. Ladies need to have a role model and who better than a hero on the silver screen. My girls love comic books and always ask how come Wonder Woman(who by the way, is the most powerful hero female or male. A demi-god with instruments from the Gods; bracelets, lasso, headband etc.) why doesn’t she have a movie made?? When will we see Ms. Marvel? (originally Captain Marvel 1st female hero) And all I can say is soon, very soon. Will it be? Here is a link to my Pinterest board of Marvel & DC Comics leading ladies, you’ll be amazed by the artwork as well as how many characters exist in comics. Please like/vote/share your favorites, I send a link monthly to Marvel & DC to remind them we need the ladies 2014.Thanks for your post and enjoy She-Hulk’s former glory with over 100 others. I have to warn you, it will be hard to chose a favorite female after viewing this:) links are included to original sites or to the artists who contributed their own works to pay tribute to their favorite female super hero. Enjoy!

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