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Friday, May 29, 2015 

Are Marvel's heroines really finding success now?

NY's Vulture wrote about Marvel's alleged new success with the books they're publishing starring some of the superheroines they have. They say it heralds a "more inclusive" era, even though their closed shop mentality could refute that:
Promoting women-led series might seem like a novel move for Marvel, but it’s not. What’s novel is that they’re succeeding. Over the years, Marvel writers and editors have tried their hands at a number of series with female leads, but they rarely panned out, and in each case, the books were quietly canceled. One starring Peter Parker’s daughter, May, Tom DeFalco’s Spider-Girl launched in October of 1998 and, despite the protests of its fanbase, was canceled in 2010. X-23, which starred a mutant named Laura Kinney, ran for only about a year and a half — from September 2010 to March 2012. Although there have been other woman-led superhero series in Marvel’s past, they’ve been few and far between.

But now the women of Marvel are taking off in their own right. With female readership hovering at about 47 percent and women as the fastest-growing comics-reading demographic, Marvel is finally succeeding with a more diverse lineup of superheroes.
Alas, this is another article where they're way behind. Just a few months ago, it was announced that Captain Marvel and Storm's ongoing series would be among 33 books cancelled. Even earlier, the most recent She-Hulk series was dropped as well after just a year in publication. And here goes another mainstream site, once again sugarcoating sales already well below 100,000 copies and not giving a clear picture.

Even more laughable is how Spider-Girl's run for twelve years seems to elude them. It may not have sold sky high, but in terms of longevity, isn't that something they'd want to admire? And again, what we have here is another failure to note how female readership isn't rushing to buy Marvel and DC's products as much as what independent publishers are offering.
Spider-Gwen — a story set in a universe where Gwen Stacy, not Peter Parker, is bitten by a radioactive spider — is one of Marvel’s top sellers, with more than 250,000 copies of its first issue sold. Ms. Marvel, which launched just last year, is already one of the most successful books in Marvel’s lineup as well. Captain Marvel has one of the most dedicated fanbases in comics history. The new Thor features a woman in place of the hunky Hemsworthian Thunder God, and she's outselling dude Thor by 30 percent. Silk, Black Widow, Gamora, Angela, and Spider-Woman are all female-led titles that Marvel’s launched in the past few years, and A-Force is another big step forward.
Wow, this is already turning into a comedy for anybody in-the-know. It's become common for a new series to drop significantly after its premiere issue, so any success Spider-Gwen may be experiencing now is bound to be short-lived. The Muslim Ms. Marvel series has sold pretty low of late around 30,000 copies, no different from most other Marvel/DC titles that have sold around the same amount. And Jane Foster as Thor outsells her male counterpart? How does a title selling well below 100,000 count as a celebration? Hardly that. As for a Carol Danvers fanbase, I hate to say it, but while I'm a fan of the character too, its clear from the low numbers it sold (19,199 copies in the past month) that any fanbase for Carol was unable to sell it, and the modern cover prices can explain why.
So what changed? Why are these new Marvel series succeeding where other series from the company failed? There are a few factors at work: the rise of digital comics, the growing power of female-dominated online fandom, and an increase in women creating comics.
Again, that fandom's numbers and influence is uncertain, even for digital offerings, whose pricings could be just as steep. They do a bit better with the following:
To trace the history of women in comics, you have to go back to the 1930s, when popular women’s magazines like Calling All Girls featured a hefty offering of comics. Even the initials for “Marvel Comics” first appeared in June 1961 on the cover of Patsy Walker, a lighthearted comic written by Ruth Atkinson that targeted women readers. “It is a myth that women are new to comics,” said Kelly Sue DeConnick, who writes Captain Marvel. “It is an out-and-out lie.”
In that case, how come some press sources act like it's something new? Yet they fail to bring up how mainstream superhero comics publishing staffs are becoming less welcoming to women, save for selective instances. If there's anyplace where women are faring well today, it's more at smaller publishers than bigger ones.

They also bring up the more recent problem with female casts turned into plot devices:
Even if women kept reading comics, the female characters to whom they might relate were largely one-dimensional love interests used to further a male hero’s story line. One particularly irritating trope became ubiquitous: female characters being maimed, raped, and mangled in service of a male character’s plot. In the 1990s, comics writer Gail Simone gave this phenomenon the term “women in refrigerators,” referencing a 1994 Green Lantern story in which Green Lantern comes home to find his girlfriend’s mutilated remains stuffed inside his fridge.
And unfortunately, things haven't changed much. Not only that, Simone herself had already abandoned any faith she had in her arguments by the end of the past decade, something they haven't mentioned.
If they weren’t being stuffed into kitchen appliances, female characters were obsessed with shallow beauty and romance. Take the lead story in 1961’s Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane No. 27, which focused on beauty over brains — “The evolution ray that made me super-intelligent has turned me into a freak!” she moans, clutching her newly cone-shaped head. Even Carol Danvers — these days a tough feminist icon — was introduced in 1968 as a lovesick blonde swooning over a handsome alien superhero.
Uh, wasn't Carol introduced as a USAF and security official? Or, what's wrong with her being in love with the unnamed Mar-Vell of the Kree? I can understand how they might feel about those Silver Age Lois Lane stories; they were a very mixed bag at the time. But their comments on Carol's early appearances are at least a little bit off. In the following paragraph, they're oblivious to what they construed earlier:
In the ’70s, Marvel gave Danvers — as well as She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, and Dazzler — their own series, but none lasted more than four years (compare that to, say, Uncanny X-Men, which has run uninterrupted since 1963). And they were the lucky ones: Characters like Black Widow, Rogue, Jubilee and Kitty Pride remained appendages of male-dominated teams. DeFalco’s Spider-Girl was a landmark for women in comics — it launched in 1998 and was the longest-running female-led series when it folded in 2006. Thanks in large part to a super-supportive fanbase, May Parker returned at the helm of Amazing Spider-Girl in October 2006, but that series folded in March 2009. DeFalco made a last-ditch attempt to keep May alive with Spectacular Spider-Girl, but that series only ran from July to February 2010, with Marvel pressuring DeFalco to wrap up May’s story in a single issue.
Wait a minute, didn't they just imply before that Spider-Girl wasn't a success? Now they admit the opposite? Such a lot of confusion alright. Their comments on She-Hulk, Carol Danvers, Spider-Woman and Dazzler are way off too: the real Ms. Marvel ran two years, as did an early series starring Black Panther, and so did She-Hulk's initial series. But both Jessica Drew and Dazzler's series lasted about five years, even if the latter was cut back to bi-monthly in mid-run.
There was similar outcry when X-23 was canceled in 2011, particularly because it was Marvel’s only female-led series at the time. The series starred Laura Kinney, who turned out to be a Wolverine clone, and was written by a woman, Marjorie Liu. When X-23 was canceled, it was far from Marvel’s worst-performing book, which sparked outrage and speculation online about bias among Marvel’s editorial staff. Fans were pushing back, and they weren’t pleased.
I notice they failed to provide sales figures, so how do we know if it sold significantly? They don't do any better when talking about a DC with no women on hand:
The role female fans have played in this resurgence goes back to a key event at a DC panel during the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. The panel boasted such heavy-hitters as Dan DiDio (co-publisher of DC Entertainment), Jim Lee (the other co-publisher of DC Entertainment), and Grant Morrison (superstar writer of series like Batman and The Invisibles), all there to promote their work. During the Q&A session, however, a woman dressed as Batgirl stood up and asked the creators point-blank why there weren’t any women on the panel. (Although DC is also making efforts to diversify with new series like Black Canary, Marvel is undoubtedly blazing the trail.) As news of the incident spread, blogs and fansites ignited, causing DC to issue a press release about fans’ call for “more women writers, artists and creators.”
Naturally, they have no interest in bringing up any of the bad things DiDio's done as editor. They don't even mention that the reason why there may not have been women on that particular panel was because of DC's very own closed shop mentality that's been marginalizing lady contributors, or making it unwelcome for any women who'd like to write DC tales faithful to a coherent continuity. How can any self-respecting woman possibly be expected to work on Superman if Lois Lane is under a mandate that forbids relationships with Clark Kent? They've also failed in the above to note that Black Canary was the star of Birds of Prey for many years, a title that was later destroyed by DC's modern mandates.
“Batgirl was one of the first to bring attention to this in an extremely public forum, and both DC and Marvel had to take a step back and say, ‘Okay, what are we doing to foster this community?’” said G. Willow Wilson, who writes the wildly successful Ms. Marvel.
Once again, they make me laugh with their unverified claim of "wild" success. Then, they go into propaganda mode with the following:
Rios and her co-worker Kayla Justiniano, another lifelong comics reader, agree the industry is slow and prone to missteps, but is changing. “You see it happening with [indie] books like Lumberjanes and Rat Queens,” Justiniano said. “Ms. Marvel is a perfect example; that book has something that’s the epitome of change.”

It's striking how much Ms. Marvel's protagonist, Kamala Khan, is unmistakably a 16-year-old girl. She’s grappling with newfound powers, but she’s also sneaking out to parties, fighting with her parents, writing fanfiction online, and getting grounded. And when she does discover her powers, she thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. “She’s not stoic,” Wilson said about the character, whom she co-created. “She’s not, ‘Yes, now I am part of this world and I carry this great burden,’ or whatever. She’s much closer to a fan.”
Interesting how this is an article with no comment on the Religion of Peace components in the series. It's an epitome of change alright, but not for the better if it otherwise serves as propaganda.
As Ms. Marvel grew in popularity, Wilson said fans began fending off online hate before it even touched her — like a private Kamala Khan army. Diverse characters such as Kamala and Carol Danvers (not to mention Miles Morales, Marvel’s half-black, half-Latino lead in Ultimate Spider-Man) seem to be tapping into an existing demand for diversity.

“Being diverse isn’t pandering,” Maggs explained. “Why is it that when you make a bunch of comics about white dudes, it’s not pandering to white dudes, it’s just normal, but when you make a comic about women, suddenly it’s pandering to women? It’s just making a comic about a woman the same way we’ve made comics about dudes for all this time.”
Who is this lemming? There's been so many comics starring women that men have read in sizable crowds and liked them plenty, with Wonder Woman being a prime example. Ultimately though, it all comes down to judging by story merit, and sales receipts. And the Big Two have often proven they know little about marketing on honest terms. As for Wilson, interesting how they remain ambiguous and even inciteful about any of the details involved. They certainly don't have the courage to look deeper into anything.
The huge success of Marvel's superhero movies has also helped to prove the existence of a female comics audience. After the success of Iron Man in 2008, comic-book characters began to dominate the big screen in a big way. Disney bought Marvel in 2009, and its billions, combined with Marvel’s complex characters, made each subsequent movie a top-selling action flick. The films catapulted characters like Captain America, Thor, and Black Widow into the common pop-cultural lexicon in a way no comic book had before. Because slightly more women attend movies than men, Marvel’s films made superheroes even more widely accessible to female audiences.
A female audience for superhero movies, I'm sure, but what about a female audience for comics? The sales are still as mimimal as ever, ditto the story quality, so what are they trying to say?
Marvel’s films popularized female characters just as digital comics became commonplace, removing a huge barrier to entry: the male-dominated comic-book shop. Now sites like Comixology allow users to choose from more than 200 million available downloads. Many publisher websites offer complete downloads of their own, with prices equivalent to those in stores.
And just how many downloads did they get? No comment? Again, the female cast may be popular in movies, but are not selling well in comics.
Over in a different part of the internet, Tumblr and Twitter have made it much easier for women artists and writers to share their work. “Now artists can put their comics up on Tumblr and get a huge following, and mainstream publishers will hire them,” said Sam Maggs, associate editor of progressive fan site The Mary Sue. “There are so many talented women out there that companies would be crazy not to go after them, and the more women we get behind the scenes, the more representation and diversity we’re going to see on the page.”
Not with the DC/Marvel club becoming limited to a select few, I'm afraid. I've got a hunch women like Joyce Chin won't be getting jobs with the Big Two so easily either, because their views aren't PC.
Blogs like The Mary Sue, Women Write About Comics, Comic Book Resource, and Comics Beat have also had a hand in welcoming women back to comics. Online, women can talk about characters they love and discuss what’s happening in the industry at large. The Hawkeye Initiative replaces women on covers with male characters, just to highlight the ridiculous butt-and-boob poses to which the former are subjected. The Valkyries sprouted up to unite women working in comics shops across the country. The Carol Corps assembled on Tumblr. Once online communities began to rally female fans together, it was only a matter of time before publishers realized they existed in numbers large enough to sway the entire market.

“Now if someone makes a really sexist variant cover for Spider-Woman, everyone who knows what sexism is can say that directly to Marvel, directly to the creators, and directly to the publishers,” Maggs said. “And that’s hugely powerful.”
As a matter of fact, the Manara cover was published, albeit with a large logo over Jessica Drew's rear end. But contrary to the inexplicable spin they're putting on, it did go to press. It's unclear for now though, if any more art like that will. Yet even if it hadn't, I've got a strong suspicion a lot of the people who allegedly complained never bought the finished product. All that ruckus took away attention from the more important issue, that the story inside wasn't worth the paper it's printed on.
Like DeConnick, Wilson was less than confident when she started writing Ms. Marvel, the first-ever mainstream superhero series to star a teenage Muslim woman. “It used to be that a character like Kamala was the trifecta of death,” she said. “She’s a new character, new characters don’t sell; she’s a minority character, minority characters don’t sell; and she’s a female character, female characters don’t sell. So by the old industry math, Ms. Marvel should’ve shut its doors by issue seven.”
Wow, look who's talking now! What about Birds of Prey? That never sold? She's also oblivious to Power Man and Iron Fist, popular in the Bronze Age, where 3 of 4 cast members were minorities.
But that’s not the way things went for Wilson’s book. When Ms. Marvel was released in February 2014, it immediately topped Marvel’s sales charts, and the first issue even went into a sixth printing — a rare feat that only the likes of classics such as Batman and Spider-Man have ever accomplished.
Only the first issue? What about the rest? Comedy reigns supreme again.
Although Marvel is making strides, it still has a long way to go to achieve true parity. Of the 78 titles Marvel will release this month (one being A-Force), only six have a woman writer or illustrator working on them, and only two titles — Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #6 and Night Nurse #1, a one-off revival — have women writers and illustrators.
If they ever hire more, it's bound to be limited only to women who share their PC visions, and who won't get to restore the Spider-marriage. At the end, when they bring up changing Jane Foster into a female Thor:
“She’s grown and changed and evolved a lot over the years,” he said. “So this to me is not just the next step for her character, but really the next evolution of the core promise that has always been at the heart of Thor’s mythology.”

In other words, Aaron didn’t deliberately aim to please the female demographic by making Jane Thor. Instead, he chose a character who’s living her own struggle — an ongoing battle with breast cancer — because her story demonstrates the determination and fortitude that makes superheroes, men or women, super.
Oddly enough, there's a bit of truth to that. Otherwise, he would've put Sif and Valkyrie in the spotlight, and if Jane needed to be given superpowers, he would've formed a role and codename specially for her, and not acted like the audience hates the male counterpart so much they'd literally want to supplant Thor all at his expense. And the forced feminist rhetoric that turned up only proved he was trying to please a feminist crowd's agenda in the most absurd way possible. Now, here's a reader comment about the Manara Spider-Woman cover:
Adding to what the previous poster said, this article was poorly researched.

The Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover was NOT canceled.

It saw print. I own a copy of it

The article the author linked to was an erroneous blog entry by the A.V. Club.

And it wasn't even an article about the Manara Spider-Woman cover being canceled.

It was an erroneous article about future Manara covers being "canceled".

If the author of this article had done their research, they would see that even those covers were not canceled. It was a misconception that a lot of blogs (including The Mary Sue) leapt to when some of Manara's covers were pulled from solicitations. It was later revealed that it wasn't Marvel that pulled them, but rather Manara did not complete them in time because he was busy working on his graphic novel. The covers were actually rescheduled for later.

Everyone leapt to the conclusion because there was internet backlash against the Spider-Woman cover and then the covers were removed from the solicits. People assumed the cause and effect.

I think this is article is a powerful piece and it makes some very good points. But it puts passion and suppositions before actual facts. And that helps no one.
Yes, the variant saw print. But did this article make any good points? Nope. Their comment about "dude Thor" was borrowed from some other press sources too, so they were just parroting.

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Yet again, they don't focus on the past, only the here and now.

On a side-note, are the new Spider-Gwen and Ms. Marvel comics any good plotwise or is it just a lot of hot-air layered between pretty works and pictures?

I love the Marvel Marketing lies, selling well..LOL
Spider-woman #6 32,041
Captain Marvel #14 30,560
Ms. Marvel #14 32,058

Sure that is great sales numbers....
Thor is also sliding down, compare it to the past Thor sales and it is not looking as good either.

Spider-Gwen may have a chance though.

Marvel loves to brag about sales to generate hype for a failing book.

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