Comic book fans on social media led an important discussion about the depiction of young girls in comics last week, after a new Ironman cover was rightfully called out.
Over the summer, it was announced that Riri Williams, a black teenage girl, would be the new Ironman and the news was met with much fanfare. Not a lot was known about the character, other than her being a 15-year-old genius who attends MIT. The comic’s co-creator also revealed that Disney star Skai Jackson inspired the early illustrations of Riri Williams.
Despite the fact that an actual teenage girl served as inspiration for Williams, a recent variant cover for the new Ironman, depicted her in a pretty adult manner.
Twitter user @Steph_I_Will first brought attention to the image, which then spread like wildfire.
Is this how people see 15 year old black girls? I keep seeing these cover variants for Riri Williams and maybe 2 or 3 she has looked 15. pic.twitter.com/zlCGJ1maFt
— MistyKnightsTwistOut (@Steph_I_Will) October 19, 2016
As many pointed out, hyper-sexual images of young girls and teens is an ongoing problem in comic books.
— Laura Sterritt (@LauraSterritt) October 19, 2016
Users also took the opportunity to share more positive depictions of teens in comic books using the hashtag #TeensWhoLookLikeTeens, which was started by @MizCaramelVixen.
— Student Loans (@neekaneeks) October 19, 2016
Alice from my YA fantasy, drawn by the amazing @what_eats_owls
— SkELLEton McKinney (@ElleOnWords) October 20, 2016
— Jessica Trevino (@StirvinoLady) October 19, 2016
While Marvel did not respond directly to the backlash over the images, the company did reveal that the super sexual cover had been pulled. Marvel also unveiled new variant images of Riri Williams.
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) October 20, 2016
J. Scott Campbell, on the other hand, continued to defend his original illustrations.
The decision today is unfortunate. Simply attempted to draw a young, sassy coming of age young woman. But I don't blame Midtown or Marvel.
— J. Scott Campbell (@JScottCampbell) October 20, 2016