Who says updates on past stories can’t come fast? Less than twenty-four hours after it was reported that two Milo Manara variant covers previously scheduled to appear in two upcoming Marvel Comics titles had been quickly scrapped, Marvel’s editor-in-chief has issued official word. According to a statement obtained by Comic Book Resources, editor-in-chief Axel Alonso denied the rumors that the banishment of Manara’s covers was due to the backlash against his cover for “Spider-Woman #1” being too suggestive. Rather, Alonso says, “Clearly, unequivocally, I want to state that this is only a scheduling problem. The Manara covers were recast due to his schedule. He will be doing more covers for us, in fact, he’s working on one right now that will be announced sometime soon. This is purely an issue of his schedule not permitting him to do the two covers, ‘AXIS’ #1 and ‘Thor’ #2. We overbooked him, and the timing didn’t work out.”
Regardless, the timing is curious, especially since covers are usually commissioned before the scripts for some comics are even completed. In fairness to Milo Manara, he does have a day job drawing erotica for European magazines, so a scheduling issue is possible. Considering how much of a public relations fiasco Manara’s “Spider-Woman” cover gave to Marvel Comics so soon after their pledge to cater to women, it may not have been wise to hint at more covers to come. The fact remains that various editors and assistant editors approved of the previous cover as being appropriate for a comic book aimed at ladies in the audience, which perhaps displays how little they actually know that audience. One can hope that Manara’s future covers won’t be as suggestive or applied to so inappropriate a comic.
It is said that no publicity is bad publicity, and it could be possible that this entire social media tempest could draw extra attention – and thus, sales – to the relaunch of a long time heroine who has struggled to thrive in her own series. Previous “controversial” covers in recent memory had no no such effect. In 2007, a cover for “Heroes for Hire #13” featured the book’s (mostly lady) cast being manacled and menaced by tentacles in a scene many considered too close to “hentai” (Japanese animated pornography) for comfort. For the time it sparked a lot of anger online, but sales for the comic itself were no better or worse than usual (and it was canned not long after). Considering the current state of the direct market, a new “Spider-Woman” comic would struggle to survive past a dozen issues even under the best of promotions.