Mighty Marvel Monday: Queer Ladies, Aliens, and Zombies, Oh My!
It’s November, which means my countdown to Jessica Jones officially starts now. (18 days, and counting…)
Before I get started, I went to shout my appreciation for comics twitter, because the top two stories for Mighty Marvel Monday this week aren’t mentioned in my Google Alert notifications. And if there’s a Marvel story that you wonder why it wasn’t covered by WWAC–it may be that I just didn’t happen to see it. Please feel free to @ me if you think there is something that needs to be covered.
So the top stories!
The Axel-In-Charge this week left some people (myself included) with a bad taste in their mouths due to this particular exchange:
The issue also confirmed the romantic relationship between Angela and Sera, something that had been speculated about by fans. So is it accurate to say that Angela is the first gay or bisexual lead character in the All-New, All-Different Marvel era?
Alonso: That’s a question for readers to ponder and answer for themselves. We’re not looking to put labels on the character or the series. We’d prefer that the story Marguerite, Kim and Stephanie are telling — all aspects of it — speak for itself.
Now, the problem I have with this answer may be different than most of the responses that I’ve read, but both stem from the fact that this answer is a 180-degree turnaround from three months ago and the infamous Axel-In-Charge that led to many angry posts about Hercules’ bisexuality and the subsequent erasure of that.
This coincided with the resurgence of discussion of why more characters can’t come out of the closet vs. why queer characters always have to be named explicitly queer for them to “count.” Some good examples of this discussion can be found in response to this tweet by Gail Simone:
I don't get why it's so ****ing hard just to say, "Oh yeah, that character is gay," or "that character is trans."
What are we afraid of?
— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) October 31, 2015
The problem, as alluded to by several people, including Simone herself, is heteronormativity–the baseline assumption, perpetuated by patriarchy and society more generally speaking, that all characters are straight until otherwise stated. Right now, queer sexualities are in a catch-22 of only existing when being named, or because they’ve participated in certain sex acts (although the latter is another hornet’s nest of representation issues that is far outside the scope of this column).
The way I see it, there are two ways to read this statement, and neither of them are particularly good for Marvel.
If what Marvel meant by this statement on non-statements of sexuality is that they had learned from their mistakes with Hercules and were going to go forward with a policy of nondisclosure when it comes to the sexualities of all of their characters, I would caution that erasing all queer sexualities is not promoting queer sexualities as equal by default and still constitutes erasure, but I would appreciate that they recognized their mistake with Hercules and are trying to correct it, even if they were overcorrecting.
However, it comes across as Marvel erasing canon sexuality, and a dismissal of Angela’s importance as Marvel’s only (ONLY!) queer character with their own solo ongoing. It comes across as a double standard, and hypocritical, especially in light of the Hercules debacle. In the past few years, Marvel has begun heavily promoting their titles to women. There are Women In Marvel panels, and podcasts, but more than that, they’ve been promoting themselves as caring about women. Yes, it comes across as disingenuous because in this day and age, consumers know when they’re being targeted as a demographic. But we also know when we’re being ignored.
The other top story that comics twitter told me about was the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 casting call. The Mary Sue and comics twitter took Marvel to task pretty hard this week for this casting call for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which starts filming in February. TMS definitely has a point. Representations of all types of people, and all types of bodies, starts with the extras. Geena Davis did the numbers back in 2013 that proved that women make up only 17% in the group and crowd scenes and urged screenwriters, when writing:
When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise.
But, Director of GOTG2, James Gunn, also replied to some of the more direct questions on twitter, trying (I think) to assure people that there would be many different kinds of women in GOTG2.
There are DOZENS of cultures in GotGVol2. These are the 1st two we’re shooting (the Ravagers are all male). https://t.co/ZdNCCxIa2d
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 28, 2015
Again, two groups of many. There are plenty of funny looking female aliens. These are just a small % of extras. https://t.co/3LBstMb1ES
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) October 28, 2015
Which, I hope he knows that I am holding him to this tweet as if it were a promise. There had better be many, many women characters as extras in this movie, in a range of body types and hair lengths.
Other stories from Marvel this week:
In the world of Marvel non-comic books, Marvel 100% took my advice about their new book series and added more titles, including a story about Tony Stark written by Eoin Colfer (Irish Laureate of Children’s Books and author of the Artemis Fowl series), and this kind of adorable looking middle-grade story about Rocket Raccoon and Groot:
There is a new interview and preview pages for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur on io9. I just want to say that we here at WWAC would also love the chance to chat about the series and see some preview art. In the meantime, check out this page:
Finally, this new title involving The Vision moving to suburbia was announced, which is less intriguing than the fact that Tom King (of DC’s Grayson) is going to be writing it. I’m also super confused about who Vision’s suburbia family is.
Yes, Halloween is over, but zombies are for every reason, right? RIGHT? And I have to share this gorgeous fanmade Marvel Zombies trailer.
Yeah. That’s awesome.