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 breath 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 into 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.