(I can't quite believe I actually read this, but...) Marvel Divas

Seldes Katne

Site mom
So....

After much internal debate and reading of opinions around the Internet, I picked up Marvel Divas Issue #1 yesterday. Without giving too much away, the mini-series revolves around four of Marvel's super heroines: Patsy Walker (Hellcat), Felicia Hardy (Black Cat), Monica Rambeau (Captain Marvel) and Angelica Jones (Firestar). The issue outlines how they first met, the problems they're having in their personal lives, and ends with a fairly heavy-duty announcement about Firestar's health.

There have been a lot of bloggers talking about the sexist angle they see in a series like this. Since I really can't pass judgment on something I haven't read, I finally decided to buy the first issue. (Because I like the people at both my LCS's, and refuse to rip them off by reading the issue in the shop. Besides, I didn't have time to stand around in the store yesterday, and I do have a job, so $4 isn't a huge piece of my disposable income this one time.)

On the one hand, the cover art was an embarrassment. Honestly, I took a brown paper bag into the comic store with me so I could hide this issue for fear someone would see what I was buying. It was like picking up a copy of, I don't know, Hustler or something. Besides being misleading about the issue's content (sadly, a frequent problem with Marvel, I think), the cover represents many of the problems I have with the portrayal of super heroines in Marvel titles.

On the other hand, I have to say the interior art was a pleasant surprise. No super-tight clothing that looks as though it was spray-painted onto the characters. (In fact, Patsy Walker's clothing was all downright sedate.) No one looking as though they're about to spill out of their costumes or civilian wear. Women drawn in modest proportions. Only one shot of a woman's rear end, and that was relatively understated.

I think there was an actual attempt at a plot in this issue, although some of the ideas made little sense to me. (A super heroine speed dating evening? Really? Does the phrase "secret identity" mean anything to anyone? And didn't Firestar "retire" during the Civil War event? Why would she even be at something like this?) I've seen at least one reviewer draw some rather pointed comparisons between these characters and those in Sex in the City, but since I've never seen the latter, none of it makes an impression on me.

My biggest problem with this is that I don't have any emotional investment in any of these characters. I know Patsy Walker mostly from the Kathleen Immonen mini-series of last year, which I enjoyed. However, she doesn't act the same way here that she did in that mini. I don't know any of the other characters at all: Rambeau I remember from a brief guest appearance in Dr. Strange during a vampire arc in the 1970s, Firestar appeared in Frontline: Civil War for a few pages, and I'm aware that Felicity appears in the Spider-Man series but haven't paid much attention to her (other than to note that, like Emma Frost, she seems to have to glue herself into her costume).

I'm also not really sure who the audience is for this. The guys who are buying this for the so-called "hot girls" on the cover are, I think, going to be disappointed by the interior art and the plotline. I'm not sure there's going to be enough content in only four issues to pull in women who don't normally read superhero comics, and as someone who's not a big romance fan, I think I'm going to be disappointed by the lack of super heroics.

I was surprised to see that two or three other people here at UC included Marvel Divas on their pull list for the week. What did everyone else think of this issue?
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
So....

After much internal debate and reading of opinions around the Internet, I picked up Marvel Divas Issue #1 yesterday. Without giving too much away, the mini-series revolves around four of Marvel's super heroines: Patsy Walker (Hellcat), Felicia Hardy (Black Cat), Monica Rambeau (Captain Marvel) and Angelica Jones (Firestar). The issue outlines how they first met, the problems they're having in their personal lives, and ends with a fairly heavy-duty announcement about Firestar's health.

There have been a lot of bloggers talking about the sexist angle they see in a series like this. Since I really can't pass judgment on something I haven't read, I finally decided to buy the first issue. (Because I like the people at both my LCS's, and refuse to rip them off by reading the issue in the shop. Besides, I didn't have time to stand around in the store yesterday, and I do have a job, so $4 isn't a huge piece of my disposable income this one time.)

On the one hand, the cover art was an embarrassment. Honestly, I took a brown paper bag into the comic store with me so I could hide this issue for fear someone would see what I was buying. It was like picking up a copy of, I don't know, Hustler or something. Besides being misleading about the issue's content (sadly, a frequent problem with Marvel, I think), the cover represents many of the problems I have with the portrayal of super heroines in Marvel titles.

On the other hand, I have to say the interior art was a pleasant surprise. No super-tight clothing that looks as though it was spray-painted onto the characters. (In fact, Patsy Walker's clothing was all downright sedate.) No one looking as though they're about to spill out of their costumes or civilian wear. Women drawn in modest proportions. Only one shot of a woman's rear end, and that was relatively understated.

I think there was an actual attempt at a plot in this issue, although some of the ideas made little sense to me. (A super heroine speed dating evening? Really? Does the phrase "secret identity" mean anything to anyone? And didn't Firestar "retire" during the Civil War event? Why would she even be at something like this?) I've seen at least one reviewer draw some rather pointed comparisons between these characters and those in Sex in the City, but since I've never seen the latter, none of it makes an impression on me.

My biggest problem with this is that I don't have any emotional investment in any of these characters. I know Patsy Walker mostly from the Kathleen Immonen mini-series of last year, which I enjoyed. However, she doesn't act the same way here that she did in that mini. I don't know any of the other characters at all: Rambeau I remember from a brief guest appearance in Dr. Strange during a vampire arc in the 1970s, Firestar appeared in Frontline: Civil War for a few pages, and I'm aware that Felicity appears in the Spider-Man series but haven't paid much attention to her (other than to note that, like Emma Frost, she seems to have to glue herself into her costume).

I'm also not really sure who the audience is for this. The guys who are buying this for the so-called "hot girls" on the cover are, I think, going to be disappointed by the interior art and the plotline. I'm not sure there's going to be enough content in only four issues to pull in women who don't normally read superhero comics, and as someone who's not a big romance fan, I think I'm going to be disappointed by the lack of super heroics.

I was surprised to see that two or three other people here at UC included Marvel Divas on their pull list for the week. What did everyone else think of this issue?

I actually read this.

Yeah. Yeah I did. I didn't buy it, but I read it.

I'm definitely not the target audience and, surprise-surprise, I didn't like it. You're right about the characterization. None of the character acted like their usual selves. For that matter, none of the characters acted like any women I know.... But hey, maybe none of my female friends are glamorous enough. In fact, it felt like each character was just chosen at random and then replaced with a Sex and the City character.
 

Jaggyd

The member formerly known as skotti-chan
Yeah, I bought it, and I'm one of the ones disappointed by it. Not just the bait and switch of the cover, but the characters' personalities were, kinda blah. I can pretty much say that I'm not going to follow this unless they decide to at least sprinkle in some of their "on duty" time. Granted, I freely admit, I was spoiled by Kat's rendition of Patsy and Ellis' Monica. I really wanted to love this book, but I think it's not right for me. I'll go back to my shôjo manga and superhero comics. At least I still have my Patsy Walker and NextWave comes for great Patsy and Monica.

I have to agree with the undead panda, the women acted... well, like bad made for TV characters (like Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives).
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
I have to agree with the undead panda, the women acted... well, like bad made for TV characters (like Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives).

I'm not going to admit to be an expert on women but...

Seriously. They don't act like anyone I know. It just had that "Look at what great characters we are because we're so sly and pop culturally relevant" kind of thing you get from Whedon. "Oh Em Gee! We Iz So Im-Powered!"

Am I right, or am I sexist?
 

Jaggyd

The member formerly known as skotti-chan
I'm not going to admit to be an expert on women but...

Seriously. They don't act like anyone I know. It just had that "Look at what great characters we are because we're so sly and pop culturally relevant" kind of thing you get from Whedon. "Oh Em Gee! We Iz So Im-Powered!"

Am I right, or am I sexist?

Could not agree with you more. Instead of being written as strong, intelligent, and powerful women, they're written like they should be on Buffy, or were doing an uncanny Paris Hilton impersonation.
 

Void.M

Well-Known Member
None of the character acted like their usual selves.


Hard to tell with Monica.


She wasn't written as her sual self in Nextwave either. There she was just a sassy black woman.


That probably was the point since it was Nextwave, They turned Machine Man into Bender 2.0(Not saying that's a bad thing of course).
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
Here's a positive review from Newsarama.

Marvel Divas #1 of 4
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by Tonci Zonjic
Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Brian Andersen

I gotta say, I really, really, really enjoyed this book. I know from the second this comic was announced, right out of the gate, there were rumblings online. And like most things online, once one person trashes on something everyone else has to jump on the bandwagon. Posters complained about the semi-sexed-up cover (this cover is considered too sexy? Have they not seen the rest of the 99% of covers featuring a super-lady? This comic is tame in comparison) and quickly made the assumption that this book would be just a modern day spin on those horrible, sexist “bad girl” comics of the 90’s - a four color misogynistic mess if you will.

I have to say that just because the cover of Marvel Divas features a very va-va-voom Blackcat I don’t see the other women looking anything other than strong, confident, powerful. It’s not as if the ladies are striking the typical ***-first fetish pose that seems to be all the rage today. The problem, as I see it, is that once a book kicks the men to the curb and begins to focuse solely on the women it’s labeled misogynistic. After all, women read fashion magazines with sexy models busting out some crazy outfits, wearing next to nothing, and these magazines are perfectly fine, no one seems to find fault with Vogue. But when a comic book dares to break the mold by giving the women the starring role and triumphantly features them in your fairly typical heroic pose all hell breaks loose. It’s the typical ‘Madonna whore/Madonna virgin” complex. Only in comic books it seems a women can be sexy as long as she takes a backseat to the men (in a superhero team book) but once she gets her own title she’s supposed to be “Saint Superheroine of the Spandex Cross.” And if she doesn’t fit that box the book is exploitive.

Well, rest those fears complainers, because Marvel Divas is anything but exploitive. In fact, this comic is a witty, fun, divinely crafted look at the modern woman, with all the complications women face today - only these modern women can fly (well two of them anyways), wear skin-tight outfits, and can stand toe to toe with Captain America. From the very first page this comic steps far, far, far away from the trappings of showcasing a female superhero character as a sex-symbol. Instead of cheesecake we have depth, instead of misogyny we have celebration, and best of all, instead of stale caricatures we have well-rounded characters.

The basis of the story focuses on the friendship of four sort of C-List superheroines as they go about their lives, balancing fame, work, love, and their own feeling of inaccuracies in the face of the more A-List “Glamazons” – Emma Frost, She-Hulk, Storm and the Invisible Woman, natch. Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa instantly gives each of the ladies their own unique voice, their specific role in the friendship and in their niche in the story. It’s easy to see that Marvel Divas pulls ever so slightly from Sex and the City, but you know what, who cares? What could have been just a comic book rip off of Sex and the City instead is a book that stands on its own by exploring a side of the Marvel U never really looked at: the romantic life of the female superhero.

As for the stars of the comic, there’s smart and confident Pasty Walker, aka Hellcat, who just finished her latest novel – one in which dares wonder if Tony Stark “sexiled” her to Alaska. (haha, what an excellent and way too perfect way to sum up her recent limited series and her brief intimate moment with Mr. Stark). We have tough, strong, Monica Rambeau, Captain Marvel/Photon (depending on what she’s going by this week, although here she’s called Captain Marvel), sassy, man-eater Felicia Hardy, aka the Black Cat, and the sweet, lovelorn Angelica Jones, the one and only Firestar. The cliffhanger at the end of the books shows where this great series is heading - instead of fisticuffs and monologuing villain, we’ll get plenty of interpersonal soapy, sudsy fun. Yay!

Now certainly this book might not appeal to most of the male comic readers out there, because heaven forbid a straight male comic fan be caught dead supporting a book starring a female(s). It’s such a shame too, because what Marvel is doing here is branching out from the normal male dominated comics and giving their readers a fantastic book about smart, articulate, funny, enjoyable women. Surely any man can, and should, enjoy such a woman. What is odd to me is when internet posters say that they don’t buy a female centric book because “the books sucks.” Without giving a reason as to why it sucks. Well, guys, this book doesn’t suck, so put your money where you keyboard is and pick this comic up!

The book DOES suck!
 
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TyphoiDCAT

Well-Known Member
All I want to know is when did Black Cat get Lady Deathstrike's claws? I was very disappointed by the first issue and I hope that the next issue is better.
 

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