Hypersexualized or empowering? The scantily-clad comic characters debate continues with new female, teenage Iron Man

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15-year-old Riri is the new Iron Man.

The battle between what some say is a necessary evolution and what others see as political correctness run amok has hit another flashpoint.

A now-pulled variant cover for a relaunch of "Invincible Iron Man," starring black, 15-year-old, female Riri Williams has caused contoversy.

The cover, by legendary comic artist J. Scott Campbell, shows Williams' midriff exposed and some are saying the art hypersexualizes the teenager. Others, including Campbell, say he was simply showing Williams being "sassy"-and dressed as many teens are these days.

You be the judge:

"Well, J. Scott Campbell is known for his pinup style for female characters. When I saw the cover initially, I just thought it looked like a J. Scott Campbell cover," said Ariell R. Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse on Frankford Avenue. "I did think Riri looked hypersexualized, but I don't think that was because he is a white guy drawing a black female character-that's just how he draws."

I feel for artists like Campbell. In the past few years, there has been a "covering up" of iconic female characters like Captain Marvel, Red Sonja, Vampirella and Spider-Woman.

Which is absurd. The classic, sexy versions of these characters are the most cosplayed by actual women at conventions. These women obviously feel being sexy is being empowering as well.

Instead, we have a militant minority of feminists doing what the Religious Right tried to do back in the 1990s-make sexy, revealing comic characters something the industry should be ashamed of.

Filmmaker Sylvia Soska-a lifetime comic book fan-feels there is room for characters with diverse appearances.

I am actually quite familiar with this debate," Soska said. "I am personally a Third Wave Feminist who looks to break the appearance obsession with women. if a woman wants to be covered from head to toe and embody more of a masculine style-power to her! If a lady wants to wear a string bikini and nothing else-you go, girl!

"What does disturb me the most in superhero films is when you see a female character that is normally very strong and empowered-regardless of how she is dressed-and you see her powerless-like literally her backstory is gone . . . she's someone to save," Soska continued.

"We have to stop only looking at the drawings and start reading the stories," Soska said. "A great place for people to start right now if they want a strong female heroine are characters like SpiderGwen and Captain Marvel. There are reasons why these people are heroes and it doesn't have anything to do with how they look. It's their actions that matter!"


@philly.com

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