The Marvel Divas Problem

Marvel Divas, the latest female-oriented comic series from Marvel, has had virtually all-negative press coverage since it was first announced. There's that unfortunate title, awkward advertising copy, and that embarrassing cheesecake cover which has been roundly, and IMO justifiably, criticized on the web.

 MARVEL DIVAS #1 COVER BY: J. Scott Campbell
But this is pretty much par for the course at Marvel Central. And it's what their male-dominated fan base expects. Unlike DC with its numerous imprints, Marvel makes comparatively fewer attempts to publish material outside of their super-hero universe. They're consistent that way. But I don't see how anyone with half a brain at Marvel could have seriously believed that the cover would work with the Sex in The City crowd. This looks more like a disingenuous move to get fanboys to pick-up a title they would normally avoid.

The interiors are a different story altogether. The art by Tonci Zonjic and company isn't striking, but it's perfectly matched to the content of the story. And It's far superior to the solicited cover art. The characters look real, down-to-earth, and clearly delineated from each other with distinct faces and body types. The dialogue centers on the lead characters bonding over their particular problems balancing their professional careers and personal love lives. Hardly groundbreaking material, but different from the usual Marvel fare.

 MARVEL DIVAS #1 PENCILS: Tonci Zonjic INKS: Tonci Zonjic COLORED BY: Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic WRITER: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
This raises the question of what is the point of setting this kind of series in a shared universe in the first place. The women here are mostly second stringers currently not involved with any super-hero teams. Their minor character status gives writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa more room to develop them in this particular direction. But they're still Marvel Universe super-heroes. It's only a matter of time before they're appropriated by another writer. Given how different in tone Marvel Divas is from the rest of Marvel, any newly acquired readers are unlikely to stick around. In the end the series seems less an attempt to attract more female readers than as a way to placate accusations of chauvinism among super-hero publishers. But this little experiment has no chance of appealing to most of Marvel's traditional fan base. So enjoy it while it lasts.