Friday, March 20, 2009

Heroes For Hire # 13

Writers: Zeb Wells, Fred Van Lente
Artists: Clay Mann, John Bosco
Cover Artist: Sana Takeda
Publisher: Marvel
Published: October 2007

I'm guilty of buying comics based on what the cover looks like, but what I find interesting is the extent publishers will use suggestive covers to draw readers into buying. A comic cover is just an image, and without a story it has no context. If people were to just look at the cover, they would have to accept it at face value, and find sense and meaning based on image alone.

So, my question is: should a comic cover be intended to draw in readers, using whatever means it can to be 'eye catching,' less any type of scrutiny? Or, should a comic cover have a responsibility to further/support the story within its pages before it goes to print?

I would argue that since a cover is snapshot of the story within, cover illustrators have a responsibility to ensure the image is true to the inside contents. Otherwise, the cover has no meaning in regards to the story. At the same time though, if comic creators want to use images for covers that stand alone from the story, then the image has to be seen as just that: an image. The cover image would be no different from a painting or photograph, and just like a painting or photograph, the image would have to be judged at it's face value. So if a comic cover portrays potential, or suggestive violence and sex appeal, and those elements are not supported and contextualized by the story within, then that comic has no complete meaning beyond its cover, and as such, should be judged by cover alone.

In the instance of Heroes for Hire # 13, the only scenes involving the heroes being tied up are at the beginning, and the only scenes involving tentacles are between the Brood Queen and Humbug (who isn't even on the cover - see posted images). Since there were no scenes of tentacles anywhere near the heroines, the cover does not support the story, and thus should have been judged (ie. rated by Marvel's self-imposed code of standards) based on cover alone. However, because of a lack of distinction between cover and story contents, Marvel ignored the cover and judged the story and graded it T+ (13 and up).

Now, I'm not one for ratings, but I figure if Marvel is going to print a comic that has a suggestive cover, that is nowhere duplicated or supported or contextualized by the story, than they have a responsibility to realize the image will have more impact than the story ever will, and give it an appropriate rating.

That being said, I am fully aware that almost all comics, magazines, movies, (basically anything with a face cover), almost never duplicate/support what is depicted in its contents, and so why should this cover be fussed over?

My only answer is because this cover has many qualities that can be interpreted negatively very easily, and it's this potential for misinterpretation that, us as a responsible free thinking society are forced to ensure this cover be scrutinized to the tiniest of details.

Otherwise, publishers will just start printing crap comics with provocative covers.

Now, to all you consumers, get a little more discriminating with your purchases; and if you do want to buy shitty comics with non-shitty covers, fine by me, but realize that your pretty much paying for a cover image.

Or just buy Swamp Thing comics written by Alan Moore. That'll balance out all your shitty purchases.

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