Comic Fodder

What’s Up with Marvel’s Sex Change?

Okay, back in the day when you could write a plot about anything at all, Captain America was being turned into a woman. No, really: Captain America #389-391, check it out, including the threat of a “sterilization bomb.” And you thought Skrulls were a problem! But aside from the assorted sex-change that villains would try to do to you, this used to be a relatively rare condition.

The empowerment of women is not a bad thing. There was a time in the Avengers when it seemed like it was only women: Wasp, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk, (the female) Captain Marvel… and Cap. Hey, maybe they WERE trying for an all-female team then, hence the plot over in Cap’s mag. More recently, She-Hulk has been putting together her Lady Liberators team, in her title and in the Hulk. But Marvel is up to more than this, folks. Let’s start with the heroes.

The major head-turner is limited to the Black Panther, with Marvel pulling out several full-page ads that have various different known female characters from Marvel dressed in T’Challa’s suit. This will be a different person, at least, which means Storm won’t have to get used to a major change in her husband. Still, of all things to try to shake up interest in your title, you abruptly get rid of the main character and give us an unknown? I guess sales were so low that it didn’t matter what they did?

That hero is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Marvel has been changing the sex of several of their villains for months now. Mr. Sinister got into some trouble with his original body, and ended up re-appearing in a cloned body, which just happened to be female. Kraven’s daughter recently turned up, and thanks to the new X-Men and Spider-Man mini-series, we now know that Mr. Sinister himself had something to do with making some genetic progeny from the Kraven’s… ahem, materials. Is there a clue to be had that Sinister chose to clone a female Kraven and a female version of himself, too? Is this all part of a genius master plan?

Not to be outdone, Loki transformed himself in to a woman, all the better to try to scam the Asgardians again. That rapscallion! It has now been revealed that he is “borrowing” Sif’s body, and doesn’t like being in a woman’s body, really. Meanwhile, Bullseye managed to recreate himself in female form just by showing up and killing people years ago. He was so impressive, a random chick decided to become a Lady Bullseye, and just to make the imitation complete, she ALSO wants to kill Daredevil! Man, he can’t catch a break with the ladies, can he?

Maybe this is new trend, and can DC be far behind? Regardless, I can hardly wait for Magneto and Doctor Doom to start wearing metal dresses, or Galactus to change into (more of) a skirt! And can you imagine what they’ll do to the Celestials? Oboy, when Marvel announces big changes to their universe, they aren’t just whistling Dixie, are they?
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop. He has become decidedly more tongue-in-cheek with the new year.

I would chalk this up to a 2-fold factor.

1) Female characters are reaching a tipping point in comics where the damsel in distress role isn't part of the fantasy, but action heroines such as Sarah Connor, Trinity, et al might be. We've got a generation of writers coming in who are more or less post-women's-lib and who see no reason they can't tell stories about women as superheroes or supervillains.

2) This doesn't mean that these creators don't default to cheesecake art, or that such art does not sell. Artists like Paul Cho and the Dodsons have made a career out of action/ pin-up art.

As longa sthe story can carry the gender swapping in the figurative sense (such as Renee Montoya as The Question), or in the literal (whatever is going on with Loki), I'm okay with it. Sometimes it feels a little... mishandled. But adding solid female characters of the villain, hero or bystander stripe seems like something the industry can certainly use.

-- Posted by: Ryan at January 13, 2009 12:21 PM

Can DC be far behind?

As a kid I had a Superboy comic where Superboy offended some female aliens in space, who turned him into "Claire Kent". I'm 55 and it must've been about 1965 or so. Claire Kent then lived with the Kents still in smallville andtold everyone she was Clarks cousin. He was baking cookies and whereing skirts, and had a nice pair of breasts, but gee willikers!, he sure wanted to be out playing baseball instead, so the alien women changed him back.

I recall this because i am a woman who was born male, and at a gender meeting back in the 80's, someone had a copy of that very comic. Nuff said!

-- Posted by: Lana at January 26, 2009 10:31 PM