The internet has literally been ablaze these past few months with discussion over the ways Marvel and DC portray their female characters. Also, ablaze with people who hate misuse of the word literally. With DC’s Reboot gaining them a wave of young and new readers, the company were widely criticised for their decision to portray Starfire (from Teen Titans) as a raging sex-kitten, fairly obsessed with sex in a way which didn’t make her a sexy character, but instead into a hollow male fantasy. Catwoman and Voodoo also came in for criticism, although you may not agree with everyone who claims they were exploitative. Marvel have recently come under the spotlight as well, with characters like Psylocke getting full analysis from a range of writers, journalists, and fans. The decision to have several female characters go insane from their powers hasn’t helped, with Wasp and Scarlet Witch falling victim to themselves for no notable reason other than shock value.
With all this going on, writers have had to increasingly prepare themselves for the barrage of questions they’re now receiving about their use of female characters. Brian Wood has decided to use a creator-owned series to spotlight a new, progressive female character, while Brian Michael Bendis recently created both Takio and Scarlet for Marvel. Paul Cornell has announced that he won’t be attending any comic-con panel which has less than a 50-50 male/female gender split. And now Kieron Gillen, who previously wrote a rather thoughtful piece on the issue for Comics Alliance, has stepped into the fray with his new solution. We spoke to him at the London Super Comics Conventions about his great plan, which is as follows:
Have more male exploitation in Uncanny X-Men.
Two members of his current Uncanny X-Men team are already frequently topless – Namor and Colossus – and with only a few issues left before Avengers Vs X-Men begins, Gillen has announced that Cyclops will be given a new costume, which plans to remove his shirt and large portions of his trousers – essentially leaving the character with shorts and a facial mask. While Namor and Colossus both have shiny, naked chests, Gillen told us that Cyclops will be “hairy”. Elsewhere, Gillen will be bringing in other characters to the crossover just for the purpose of exploitation.
“We’re going to reinterpret Dr Nemesis as a sexy ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ type”, he told us, as we cornered him at the London Super Comics Convention this weekend. “And you can expect to see much more of Magneto’s oiled, greasy biceps as the event continues”. When we pressed him for story details, and what would happen during his three crossover issues, he instead showed us an unfinished double-page splash by Greg Land, which show Cyclops bending over and winking at the reader. “Who needs a story?” he asked, before noting down ‘needs more veins’ on the back of the paper.
With so many female characters being seemingly nothing more than an exploitative way to get money out of male readers, Gillen claims that using sexy men will “get the girls into stores” more often. It’s a bold claim, but one which may well hold out…
This article is totally endorsed by Kieron Gillen and isn't all lies, honest.