I am sure that everyone at Marvel is weeping into handkerchiefs made of dollar bills, after facing criticism for a new Spider-Woman comic book cover.
True, it's a variant cover. But it's already been labeled "blatant sexualization," as well as other less flattering things.
The hard, crowd-pleasing heads at the comic book concern can't have imagined that anyone would have reached such a blasphemous conclusion.
Here is Spider-Woman, perched on top of a building. You'd expect Spider-Woman to be perched there. That's what spider-people do.
Still, those of twisted perspective insist that her buttocks seem dominantly curvy, bordering on bulgingly provocative. There's also a certain peculiar openness to her posture, as if she's either eaten some pernicious British curry or she's bracing herself for a very strong earthquake.
Some also wonder whether she's wearing body-paint, rather than clothing. Then there's the odd commissioning of artist Milo Manara, whose work Caligula might have loved, should he have survived the last couple of thousand years.
I contacted Marvel to ask whether there's a mass rending of garments at the unfair assault upon what was intended to be an evocative homage to womanhood. I will update, should I hear.
The Tumblr feed of Marvel's senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort, linked to from his Twitter feed, has enjoyed a lively discussion on this topic. Brevoort himself wrote: "Given that the character is covered head-to-toe, and is crouched in a spider-like pose, it seems far less exploitative to me than other Manara pieces we've run in previous months and years."
He added: "The larger issue here is about the depiction of female characters in comics, more than just that one SPIDER-WOMAN cover. And that is something that the readers can affect, by supporting those titles that they feel do a good job, and not following the books that do not."
Spider-Woman #1 was first teased at San Diego Comic-Con and will see the light in November. It's written by Dennis Hopeless and the art was created by Greg Land. (I have inserted the regular cover below for comparison.)
Now that Thor is to be a woman and Captain America is to be black, perhaps Marvel is pandering to those males who want the world to be as comical as it used to be. Perhaps, too, it's attempting to give pleasure to little boys for whom puberty was or is a difficult experience.
It could also just be a cheap stunt, of course.