Ass, Tits, “Civil War”: The Women of Marvel Comics, 2006 vs. 2016

marvel civil war

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I’m an expert on DC Comics: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern.

I know that Marvel Comics – Spider-Man, X-Men, The Avengers, Fantastic Four – usually uses MUCH better artists. Most of the time, Marvel books are sleeker, more stylish and attractive.

For a long time, though, I did not enjoy the Marvel tone: too much self-hate and bickering among the heroes, too many rather desperate pop culture and TV references that made the comics seem very dated too fast, not a lot of grown-up characters/relationships/conflicts.

Since 2012, I have read about 40 Marvel Comics collections, and I’m happy with many, many of their female-driven and/or quirky younger titles: “Ms. Marvel”, “Silk”, “She-Hulk”, “Hawkeye”. Other titles like “FF”, “Storm”, “Young Avengers” and “Squirrel Girl” have some (writing) problems – but I enjoyed them nonetheless.

In 2013, I translated Alan Cowsill’s “The Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide” into German, for DK Publishing:

Here’s the first German edition, 2014 – a collaboration with translator and friend Lino Wirag:

And here’s the updated edition, from 2015:

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I spent more than 3 months researching all these characters – but I still have not read that many actual “Avengers” books: I dislike big, blockbuster-like team books because they tend to be less character-focused. Also, there are lots of Marvel movies that I haven’t seen yet – but since I enjoy the writing of Mark Millar (I liked “Jupiter’s Legacy”, “Superman: Red Son” and “Starlight”), I thought it was time to read his 2006 Marvel Comics “The Avengers” crossover blockbuster “Civil War”.

There’ll be a movie version (May 5th, 2016): “Captain America: Civil War”.

The seven-part “Civil War” comic books (2006) had a LOT of problems – most of them outlined here (Link: TV Tropes), and all in all, it seemed like a less cerebral and complex version of DC’s solid 2012 Batman-vs.-Superman dystopia “Injustice: Gods among us” (recommended!).

Writing and characterization of “Civil War” were hit-and-miss.

And some of the female characters threw me off: I know She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman etc. from their 2013, 2014, 2015 comic books. Lots of these books have GREAT, quriky art. Here’s Charles Soule’s and Javier Pulido’s “She-Hulk”, for example:

She-Hulk (USA)

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Ten years ago, in 2006, mainstream comics often focused on “Tits & Ass”-style cheesecake. It’s not a Marvel problem: Many DC books were just as oversexed and cheesy. Ed Benes might be best-known worst offender at DC (Link, 2005).

All in all, I really can’t recommend “Civil War”. Inconsistent writing, inconsistent characters, a conflict that often borders on nonsensical. I don’t think the art style is the problem of this series, and I don’t think “Civil War” is a particularly bad or sexist super-hero comic: “Civil War” artist Steve McNiven is quite skilled – and likes detailed, often well-framed, atmospheric tableaus of super-heroes in dramatic poses. I also like the way he designs rooms, government facilities etc.

Still: It’s encouraging to see how far we’ve come.

In 2015, there are MUCH more appealing, often female-driven Marvel comic books.

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If I think of characters like She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel or Maria Hill, I’m glad that THESE cheesy, stripperific poses are not the first or only thing that come to mind, anymore:

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Sue Storm in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Sue Storm in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

She-Hulk and Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel, in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Maria Hill in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Maria Hill in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Maria Hill in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Maria Hill in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Dagger in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Ms. Mavel vs. Spider-Woman in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Captain America, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

She-Hulk in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

She-Hulk in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

She-Hulk in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Sue Storm in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Sue Storm and Namor in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

 

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Sue Storm in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Tigra in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Namorita in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Emma Frost in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Ms. Marvel in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Maria Hill and She-Hulk in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

Tigra, ???, She-Hulk in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

She-Hulk in “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

??? (Sersi?) “Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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a human bystander/clubgoer:

a human bystander/clubgoer in "Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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Spider-Man (Peter Parker, in a short-lived alternative costume):

"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

“Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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and She-Hulk, defeated and maybe unconscious, on a battlefield:

"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

“Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

 

"Civil War", Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

“Civil War”, Marvel Comics 2006. Art by Steve McNiven.

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Here’s me at the 2015 Leipzig Book Fair with a She-Hulk cosplayer:

She-Hulk, Stefan Mesch

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