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I was going to post something last week about the “revolt” many are having over the Mary Jane Statue designed by Adam Hughes. Newsarama has a really good interview with Mr. Hughes, and since it’s been a week, the Internet has something else to pick on.

Today it’s the “scandal” over the Heroes for Hire cover that many are decrying as Tentacle Porn. Why is everyone picking on Marvel right now? How come there wasn’t the same “outrage” over the Witchblade Manga covers from months ago, when I first pointed it out?

Both Heroes for Hire and Witchblade Manga have Teenager+ ratings. Yet there wasn’t a blip out of anyone about Witchblade. No one can play the misogyny card on this one either as the artist for the Heroes cover is actually Sana Takeda – a woman. I think both of the covers are a bit weird for my taste, but I really don’t have a problem with either of them.  So my only conclusion is May is Pick on Marvel Month, and nobody told me.

Take the jump to see the two covers in question, and post your thoughts on the covers and the controversy. Just remember, keep it civil.

Oh, and for those of you who might get in trouble at work for viewing such things, you have been warned. If you are the sensitive type, you have also been warned (and you know who you are).

HFH13-.jpg

witchbladetentacle.jpg

There is certainly a highly sexual aspect to both of the covers that probably do nothing to advance the comics for girls campaign, and comparing the two, Witchblade is certainly more scandalous than Heroes for Hire.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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25 Comments

  1. May 23, 2007 at 4:57 pm — Reply

    I think the reason (and I’m just shooting from my perspective, no offense is meant) is the difference between Heroes for Hire, which is PERCEIVED as a standard Marvel superhero title, and Witchblade, which to some degree has a reputation as a “girly” or “pinup” comic.

    Granted, Misty, Colleen, Tarantula and Black Cat do a great deal of tight-catsuit girly poses, but Witchblade for the longest time seemed to feature a naked woman covered in rubber cement on every issue. Hardly fair, and both covers are sexist as hell, but whaddayagonnado?

  2. May 23, 2007 at 5:05 pm — Reply

    Matt: Well the best way to show dislike is to not buy the issues. And to a point I agree with you on Witchblade, but Witchblade Manga was WWWWaaaaaaayyyyyy overboard – especially when the girl pulled the witchblade from her private area.

    I’m not defending either cover, so I’m not offended by anything you say. I just want to know why some people will jump and complain about a cover, yet there aren’t as many complaints about Cho’s work in Mighty Avengers?

    Me, I like attractive women – tentacle porn on the other hand, I don’t care for in the least. Would I buy either issue? I bought Witchblade Manga 1 to see what made it so great that it was one of the biggest shows in Japan. I didn’t care for it in the end. Heroes for Hire? Never read it. I’m a Birds of Prey man myself.

  3. May 23, 2007 at 5:14 pm — Reply

    Yep, it’s all to dow ith Perception…people would expect a Marvel book to have more serious illustration and Manga to go to extremes so as to make its point.

    It’s sort of, that people would make a bigger outcry if a Hindu Priest personally sent a cow to the slaughterhouse than if it were a Vicar, because they expect followers of the Hindu faifth to respect Cow Rights more than those of the Christian faith.

  4. Brent F.
    May 23, 2007 at 5:36 pm — Reply

    I think this anime tentacle porn controversy was intentional to draw attention towards a boring series.

  5. Mark I.
    May 23, 2007 at 5:39 pm — Reply

    The main issue I have with tentacle porn is that most heroines drawn in anime style are indistinguishable from heroes drawn in anime style except for their ABSURDLY HUGE BOOBS. I don’t mind big boobs, of course, but only on real wimmens.

    Tentacle porn or the “get-off” of bondage and torture in Manga & Anime in general is just creepy, creepy, creepy. I hate sounding like a tool for quoting an obscure character from “Interview With the Vampire” (though it IS a modern classic despite the tailspin Anne Rice’s writing took from there) but “What can be imagined can be done.” Essentially, anyone who is getting off on this stuff would welcome the real deal in a second if it was realistically possible. Thanks to laws, free will, and common sense, it largely isn’t (except in those Hell countries like Darfour.)

    Anyone who can not only sexualize anime style drawings but get off on tentacle bondage porn…let’s just say I’d rather not stand next to these guys while they’re standing in the manga section breathing and sweating heavily.

  6. May 23, 2007 at 6:43 pm — Reply

    I have to go with answer #1 and take it just a step further in that I really believe Marvel deliberately exploited both their corporate and the book’s brands in the same cynical vein that Camel cigarettes and Bud beer pimp Joe Camel and Budman.

    Marvel is an extremely brand-conscious company (which makes some of the crap they pull in their books all the more incomprehensible, IMO), so when they take a book that’s most closely associated with Powerman and Iron Fist – and from the former’s costumed days at that – and turn it into imitation Hentai, it was no accident.

    Think I’m exaggerating? Who’s the first character you associate with Black Cat? I’ll give you hint – she’s rumored to be front-and-center in his fourth record-busting movie and Marvel hawks his plastic likeness in Kiddie Meals at Burger King.

    One last thing, and I promise I’ll climb down off my soapbox – if that’s not spooj in Felicia’s cleavage, what the hell is it?

  7. Stevo
    May 23, 2007 at 7:35 pm — Reply

    This kind of content makes it hard to sell the argument that comic books are just as legitimate a form of storytelling as other genres. A lot of noncomics readers would definitely be turned off by this kind of thing.

  8. May 23, 2007 at 7:49 pm — Reply

    Matt: Well the best way to show dislike is to not buy the issues. And to a point I agree with you on Witchblade, but Witchblade Manga was WWWWaaaaaaayyyyyy overboard – especially when the girl pulled the witchblade from her private area.

    Well, I have never bought an issue of Witchblade, and I DO have the unusual option of reading the books at work, and then NOT buying them (assuming they’re not on my hold list) but the main “thrust” (you should excuse the expression) of this all is: Some people like porn. Marvel sells what sells. The people who buy porn will buy pseudo-porn from Marvel.

    I can’t say that anyone is in the wrong, but I still have the creeps from both of these issues, the statue, Michael Turner’s Power Girl, the entire Star Sapphire arc of Green Lantern, et al…

    And I’m heartened to find that I’m not alone in thinking that cover is both gross and sexist.

  9. Brent F.
    May 23, 2007 at 8:11 pm — Reply

    It is indeed sexist since it is depicting female characters who are usually displayed as strong willed and independent looking helpless in chains with questionable fluids erotically placed on their bodies. I mean come on, the tentacles are one thing, but Black Cat has white semi-transparent fluid on her breasts.

  10. Hen
    May 23, 2007 at 8:47 pm — Reply

    So, wait, is it actually going to be depicting tentacle rape, or will it just be a series of tentacles just binding the women? There are differences in both actions. If it’s just bondage, then it’s sex appeal to the market. If it’s depicting rape, THEN we have a problem. But then there would be two variations: implied, light, censored, softcore tentacle rape, or the full out tentacle rape you see in hentai?

    So is it just a tentacle being shown on the cover, or is it actual tentacle rape going on?

  11. Brent F.
    May 23, 2007 at 9:03 pm — Reply

    I think hentai covers like that are intentionally left ambiguous as to what exactly is going on. One can easily read their facial expressions as pain, pleasure, or both.

  12. May 23, 2007 at 9:03 pm — Reply

    So is it just a tentacle being shown on the cover, or is it actual tentacle rape going on?

    More than likely, it’s just the cover trying to emulate the whole T.R. vibe. Marvel’s covers never have much to do with what’s inside the issues anymore…

  13. May 23, 2007 at 9:07 pm — Reply

    If you are the sensitive type, you have also been warned (and you know who you are).

    Heeeey… I think I’ve been given a shoutout!

  14. Stephen
    May 23, 2007 at 11:13 pm — Reply

    If you are the sensitive type, you have also been warned (and you know who you are).

    Heeeey… I think I’ve been given a shoutout!

    Nope, but it is someone we went to school with…I’m not mentioning any names though…

  15. Stephen
    May 23, 2007 at 11:14 pm — Reply

    Just remember, I’m just trying to get a discussion going – I don’t think anyone is right or wrong, just getting everyone’s input. (smiley face)

  16. Stephen
    May 23, 2007 at 11:15 pm — Reply

    Oh, and did anyone notice the guy tied up back there too? Too bad he is hidden. If the male in question had been moved to the front, would anyone’s views on the cover change?

  17. May 24, 2007 at 8:17 am — Reply

    Stephen goes: If you are the sensitive type, you have also been warned (and you know who you are).

    Then I go: Heeeey… I think I’ve been given a shoutout!

    Then Stephen goes: Nope, but it is someone we went to school with…I’m not mentioning any names though…

    Wow. But we went to school for like EIGHT YEARS, Steve… That could be anybody. :)

    Hmm… HMMMM. Hmmmm. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Is it Ed Jarmer?

  18. May 24, 2007 at 8:22 am — Reply

    Oh, and did anyone notice the guy tied up back there too? Too bad he is hidden. If the male in question had been moved to the front, would anyone’s views on the cover change?

    Actually, no, I didn’t. But would Shang being front and center change the things that bother me here? Not really. Especially if Misty, Felicia and Colleen are drawn extra-busty, dripping with unspecified bodily fluids, and about micromillimeter from exposing nipples (and even more for Colleen.) It would change the NATURE of the psychosexual tone, but it’d still be sexual, perverse, and offputting (to me.)

    Now, the question becomes, would putting Shang as the central figure cause MORE backlash?

  19. May 24, 2007 at 9:18 am — Reply

    Ed Jarmer? Can I get a Bwahaha moment? nope not it.

  20. May 24, 2007 at 11:16 am — Reply

    Nancy Selbe?

  21. May 24, 2007 at 12:05 pm — Reply

    I think its hilarious that you had to preface the article with a NSFW warning. The fact that a guy could get fired for viewing a *Marvel Comics* cover pretty-much proves they crossed-the-line with this one.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with tentacle-pr0n mind you, but it is odd for Marvel to be putting their all-ages trademarked characters in this kind of thing.

    But then DC published a bukkake cover by Simone Bianche with Robin, so maybe its just the way our culture is headed: more sexy/less prudishness. Works for me.

  22. May 24, 2007 at 12:39 pm — Reply

    But then DC published a bukkake cover by Simone Bianche with Robin, so maybe its just the way our culture is headed: more sexy/less prudishness. Works for me.

    Let it not be said that I don’t love sexy. But there is a fine line, to me, between the H4H women fighting in tight costumes (so tight you can see their nipples, which, I might add, seems worrisome and makes me wonder if Iron Man lowered the thermostat on the entire Marvel U) and the implication of forcible violation by an alien creature.

    Sexy is fine, in the right context, for the right audience. I’d say this cover is more a power fantasy than it is a sexual fantasy, though, and that’s why I call it sexist. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

  23. Stephen
    May 24, 2007 at 12:41 pm — Reply

    Ray: What cover was that? I’ll post it for comparison.

  24. May 24, 2007 at 12:52 pm — Reply

    I think he means this one:

  25. May 26, 2007 at 8:36 pm — Reply

    Yep. That’s the one.

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