Marvel Pulls Controversial Variant Cover that Sexualized the 15-Year-Old Ironheart

Friday, 21 October 2016 - 2:32PM
Marvel
Iron Man
Friday, 21 October 2016 - 2:32PM
Marvel Pulls Controversial Variant Cover that Sexualized the 15-Year-Old Ironheart
We were ecstatic when Marvel announced that a young black girl, Riri Williams, would be taking over for Tony Stark as Iron Man (and would be the smartest character in the Marvel Universe, nbd). We just assumed (or at least hoped) that she would be safe from the hyper-sexualized, anatomically incorrect fate suffered by so many female superheroes. But alas, we were wrong.


Marvel has been under fire for several days after releasing a variant cover for the next issue of Ironheart, drawn by artist J. Scott Campbell. While the visual depiction of Riri has been refreshingly realistic so far, the variant gives her a much more sexualized, adult figure. Now, we're not only forced to say "come on, no woman looks like that," but also "seriously, NO fifteen-year-old looks like that!"

Some have argued that the cover is acceptable because Campbell is known for his pinup-style art, but that's all the more reason Marvel shouldn't have hired him to draw a young teenager. Plus, no particular visual style would help explain why her skin is noticeably lightened:



There are so many things wrong with this. Women are sexualized far too often in comics as it is, which clearly results from the outdated assumption that only straight men are reading comics (in actuality, women represented 47% of comics readers as of 2014). Sexualizing an underage girl is obviously inappropriate on a whole nother level, but even if Riri weren't underage, the cover represents a pervasive problem in comics. And lightening her skin for a pinup cover is just plain indefensible, as it reinforces the stereotype that lighter skin is more conventionally attractive.

Luckily, Marvel quickly pulled the cover after a social media uproar (which wasn't assuaged by Campbell's insensitive reaction, to say the least). Invincible Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis said he was "very glad they were not moving forward with the cover" on his Tumblr:

Opening quote
Specialty covers are not in my purview and it was being produced separately from the work of the people involved in making the comic. Not to pass the buck but that's the fact. If I had seen a sketch or something I would have voiced similar concerns.

I am certain the next version will be amazing.
Closing quote

He then shared a few pages from the actual comic, which look much more encouraging:

Ironheart

Ironheart

Ironheart

See, Marvel? THAT'S what a 15-year-old girl looks like.
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