You may or may not know what is currently going on in Marvel comics. All you really need to know is that Tony Stark isn’t Iron Man anymore. That role has been passed down to a 15-year-old black teenager named Riri Williams (although she goes by the name Ironheart instead). And that’s all well and good, until someone decided it was a good idea to make a variant cover of the new Invincible Iron Man that featured a highly sexualized, pinup version of Riri.
The cover, drawn by J. Scott Campbell for Midtown Comics in New York City, features the 15-year-old hero in a skin-baring crop top, looking decidedly older than she really is. After a day or two of media outrage, Marvel made the sensible decision to pull the cover.
Look, we understand that sex sells and that Riri is hardly the first female in comics to be drawn in a way that accentuates her physical features. But J. Scott Campbell is an artist most well know for his work drawing pin-up girls. And this particular female comic character is 15-years-old. So maybe putting the two together for this variant cover wasn’t the greatest idea.
Invincible Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis has also spoken about the controversy, saying that while he normally loves Campbell’s work, this cover should have been nixed. He also said that he doesn’t get to approve or disprove cover art for variants:
I had not seen it until it hit Twitter yesterday. I saw the face when he was WIP [work in progress] posting and I liked it but not the final version.
Specialty covers are not in my purview and it was being produced separately from the work of the people involved in making the comic. Not to pass the buck but that’s the fact. If I had seen a sketch or something I would have voiced similar concerns. I am certain the next version will be amazing.
Lesson (hopefully) learned, Marvel.