Marvel Unleashes New Ironheart Art to Combat Controversy

Riri Williams, aka Ironheart, is already the most hotly discussed character in Marvel comics, despite not having her own book yet. She’ll take over the Iron Man-shaped hole in the Marvel universe this fall in her first solo series, Invincible Iron Man, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art from Mike Deodato and other artists.

Marvel released a variant cover for Riri’s first issue via Twitter on Wednesday, and fans immediately responded with disgust. The artist, J. Scott Campbell, defended drawing Riri’s body using sensual shapes and clothing her in extremely low-slung pants by comparing his cover art to the original image shared. Saying Campbell’s version of Riri looks about the same as Mike Deodato’s is, well, pretty stupid.

Marvel’s follow-up art, released today, should assure fans who want Riri, depicted as a 15-year-old, to appear technically and physically capable, quirky, and unique, rather than sexualized or uncanny. Seriously, though, what is the deal with the shape of Campbell’s Riri’s torso? How are her upper thighs the same width as her tiny waist?

Marvel’s new Riri art came in a wave of differently sized images, which are below:

It’s an important distinction to make, in analyzing fan reactions to Riri’s art, that most fans are fine with female characters being framed as sexual. For instance, DC’s Starfire has always involved sexuality, and Marvel’s Black Widow often uses her appearance to seduce international criminals. The problem with introducing explicit sexuality into Riri’s appearance, however, is the fact that she’s a decade younger, at least, than many of Marvel’s other heroes.

The controversy seems to have subsided in the last 24 hours, but it’s also worth noting that Marvel’s art has been in the works for weeks. It’s probably a good idea for comics fans to take a breath and read Riri’s first issue before judging whether she’s a skillfully rendered heroine.

Invincible Iron Man, starring Riri Williams as Ironheart, hits comic book stands this fall.

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