All New Mary Jane Outrage!

At some point, the character of Marvel Comics fictional property Mary Jane Watson Parker became the most untouchable in the history of media. Not since the Islamic cartoon scandal have we seen a personage so sacred as to incite so much anger at impolitic depictions.

This time, we’ve got retailer and blogger, Christopher Butcher expressing his outrage at this image of MJ on the cover of the newest reprint of the Marvel Zombies hardcover.

I’m waiting for the Church of MJ to start up any time now.

This is a great image, and it’s utterly in keeping with the Marvel Zombies covers that came before it. No one is going to lose one sale because of this cover. They made Spider-Man into a zombie, and he’s far more important to Marvel’s financial health among young people. Not one of the people making squishy cute Hulk toys gives a rat’s ass what the comic book Hulk does, and this is turning into some weird Virgin Mary complex where these images from the sixties are untouchable relics never to be violated, and I find it maddening.

I got that some of the previous arguments were based on the perception of sexism, which we learned is different to everyone, and resulted in a great deal of mature, “let’s agree to disagree” conclusions, but is anyone really upset about this? For the life of me, I can’t understand how in the world this could upset any right minded person. But then, I’ve been wrong before.


  1. I’d like to know where all these kids and teens that are supposed to be buying comics are. I go to my LCS and see people my age (24) and older, with a few college kids. And if there are kids at this particular retailer then wouldn’t it be his job to keep things like that out of their hands? It seems to me like he looked at this, thought sex and violence, perfect way to get new people reading m blog, then threw it up.

  2. Honestly, who gives a crap? That dude on the other site seriously needs to switch to decaf. I’ll say this, though: the “Marvel Zombie” books, goofy as they are, creep me out. And am I the only one who noticed the original batch of Marvel Zombies pop up in the mainstream Marvel U. over in Black Panther or Fantastic Four? (I can’t remember which, since the two are basically the same book now.)

  3. Doesn’t bother me….

  4. And am I the only one who noticed the original batch of Marvel Zombies pop up in the mainstream Marvel U. – RaceMcCloud

    Black Panther. Only reason I’m buying it. I love me my zombies.

  5. Here’s a question…why does she have mice all over her?

  6. Because apparently mice love Mary Jane too.

    I have a question, what is his problem with World War Hulk? How does this image impact at all on whether WWH is a good book to recommend?

  7. Mice and MJ…it was pointed out that in one of the zombie covers spoofing the Spidey/MJ wedding, mice are in her dress…so keeps with that theme i guess.

    Hey! Who says zombies cant be sexy! I’d rather be eaten by her than Cap, Spidey or Wolverine any day! 🙂

  8. I have a question, what is his problem with World War Hulk? How does this image impact at all on whether WWH is a good book to recommend?

    It’s that this latest offense is the thing to turn people completely away from the entire line of Marvel books apparently.

    And it’s not that this guy’s opinion is all that remarkable, or worth mention, as much as the fact that in the comments beneath, there are many others echoing the sentiments, and I just can’t understand it.

  9. Oh! and i can’t wait for the zombie Capt. America to show up in the Civil War Marvel U….now wouldn’t that freak Tony Stark out…and then he eats him…

  10. Tony Stark eats zombie Cap?

  11. Wow. I’m astounded. Chris is actually the manager at my LCS. And his store is FULL of SMUT comics.

    Seems his main argument is that the image is based on the young teen manga style book “Mary Jane” Not a 60’s image, (He’s actually posted a link to the original.) ANd THEREFORE inappropriate.

    I just don’t buy the idea that the image is sexy, or using sex to sell.

    Still I’m very surprised to hear this from Chris, his store has the most extensive indie-book collection in the city. Hmmm, maybe that’s the answer there.

  12. This image is an example of deconstruction when you take a typical image that very playfully hints at sexuality, simply by the virtue that MJ is depicted as an attractive girl, and her shirt is flirtily up over her hip, and then you mix that with the zombie stuff and you get something new. The whole point of an image like this is to mess with your expectations of traditional images. But no, this isn’t using sex to sell, and if people are saying that, they’re out of their trees.

  13. Yeah, I just don’t see the problem, but hey, like you said, too much discussion will lead to agreeing to disagree right?

  14. It’s funny, on the internet, no one ever says, “You know what? You were right. I had it totally wrong. Have a good one!”

  15. That’s cause were all jerks. (Me especially).

  16. I’d like to meet the kid, 12 and under, who goes into a comic shop and plops down the cash for this hardcover. I would shake his or her hand for spending that kind of money on a book and not dvds, videogames, toys, etc… .

    Which Earth is this on? 53?


  17. Does anyone know the original image that this image was taken… and what the hell is Tentacle porn??

  18. Cam- I am personally in favour of smut, zombie smut, and zombie smut featuring Mary Jane Watson Parker-satires/parodies/clone-a-likes. I will happily throw that onto the appropriate shelf and sell it to any adult who wants to purchase it.

    This, however, is a book featuring Zombie Mary Jane Watson Parker giving a come-hither look that is not intended solely for adults, and actually is based on a children’s property, from Marvel Comics. It’s a bit like if Archie Comics started publishing “Cherry”. Funny in the abstract, but gross if you think about it for even a moment.

  19. By that logic though, is the image it’s based on that different?

    And, correct me if i’m wrong but isn’t the marvel zombies stuff NOT for kids? I don’t think it follows that just cause the first image is from a young adult book it’s now being marketed to a young adult audience.

    I don’t mean to argue, but, the image follows the theme of previous Marvel Zombie work.
    Plus, to be honest, I don’t see the come hither look, that’s just me though.

  20. Oh, and I’ve got no problems with the smut, perhaps it wasn’t really relevant to the discussion in the first place.

    My Bad.

    (see Josh, it happens sometimes)

  21. I’m not offended in the slightest. Unless you count the weird structure of the guy’s blog rant. Poorly crafted.

  22. Here’s the tentacle thing. And this blew up on the forums, so I’d rather not discuss it here.

    It’s a bit like if Archie Comics started publishing “Cherry”.

    This is excessive hyperbole. It’s only sexual in the vaguest of ways. I’m not very familiar with Cherry, but I can guess that doesn’t really hint at things. I don’t think this even hints.

    I will admit that I didn’t know that was an exact version of the cover shown. Still, of course it’s gross. It’s zombies. Horror movies have mixed violence and teenage sexuality for fucking decades. This is nothing new, and most people have gotten over it. Besides, Mary Jane isn’t even in Marvel Zombies. It’s a visual joke, and it harms no one. Was it a bad decision? Who knows? I can’t imagine having it in me to spend so much time being upset with Marvel Comics.

  23. Shouldn’t you be more upset with the original cover of this so-called “children’s book.” Come hither children?


  24. Wait wait wait…they use sex to sell things to teenagers?!

    I am…I’m just…I can’t believe it.

  25. I don’t really have much of a problem with the cover to this book. I mean, it’s Marvel Zombies for cripes sakes. I think the thing we should be wondering is this: would parents be more concerned at a come-hither stare or guts hanging out everywhere?

    It’s a crap shoot really.

    Different stuff offends different people, but I don’t see how a group of people (i.e. comic readers) who read books where most of the women’s tits are bigger than their faces can really complain all that much about a zombie giving a come-hither stare. It’s seems a bit hypocritical if you ask me.

    Like Josh said, it seems unthinkable that a right minded person would be offended by this, but I guess, in the end, it proves how wrong minded some of us can be.

  26. Ugh! UGH! UGH! That ruined my afternoon!

    God, I hate the f***ing Marvel Zombies. I have no words.

    Actually, truth be told, I hate zombies in general. They’re very effective on me, in the sense that they’re meant to be horror and the sight of them f***ing horrifies me and repulses me on a basic, primal level. The fact that Marvel has dumped the genre all over characters I care about just adds that extra bit of gut churning. I don’t have a grim enough sense of humor to appreciate this stuff in the spirit it’s intended.

    That doesn’t mean I object to its sale, mind you; different strokes, and all that. (Secretly, between you and me, I think these recent cover controversies can be attributed to nothing more insidious than a series of slow news days. That’s right! He said it!) But I did get into a little thing with Joe Quesada in “New Joe Fridays” on this very topic about three weeks ago. My problem is that they have basically strangled the MAX line in its toddler bed because “kids love these characters,” and then they have “these characters” ripping each other’s faces off in @%#$@^#*@ing, @^#*@%(@#&#ing zombie books right there on the shelf literally next to Franklin Richards like it ain’t no thang. Cheeses me off.

  27. I read Christopher Butcher’s blog and the respones to his comments and all I can say is what drugs are these people on and where can I get some.

  28. So, I guess this guy isn’t selling “Lost Girls” then. That would be a sexified image of characters intended for children, right?

    Personally, I think it’s funny. I don’t really agree with the choice of cover since they’e really strayed from “classic” covers.

    I also wouldn’t put the blame on Suydam either. I talked with him quite a bit at the Pittsburgh comiccon and he’s never read most of the comics that he’s paying homage to if they are not from the sixties and seventies. He didn’t mention this one specifically, but I read a lot of comics and I don’t remember this one.

    Side note, what’s the cover to MZ vs AOD #3 based on? the one with spider-man falling?

  29. Aren’t Super Hero in comics a bit sexy and violent. I mean even if it’s PG rated sex and violence hasn’t it always been there? I think so but…

  30. Nate- We sell lots of Lost Girls. I own it myself. The difference being that, for example, Disney isn’t putting competing, vastly different versions of Alice in Wonderland into the market and publishing them side-by-side.

    Josh: “This is excessive hyperbole. It’s only sexual in the vaguest of ways. I’m not very familiar with Cherry, but I can guess that doesn’t really hint at things. I don’t think this even hints.”

    Isn’t hyperbole by it’s definition excessive?

    But anyway, you’ve missed the point. Archie versus Cherry (Cherry is about an Archie-style girl having lots of fun sex) is fucked up because they look similar, and are for vastly different audiences. If they were being published by the same publisher, that’s just exceptionally bad business (but at least Cherry is never beaten up, raped, tied up and covered in body fluids, or lit on fire).

    The Mary Jane image features a sexy woman who has had incredible violence done to her, and is still clearly meant to be viewed as a sex object. So it doesn’t matter quite so much that there’s no fucking going on, because even the hint of sexual violence in a children’s character is just as, if not more, completely fucked up.

    I get that the reason it doesn’t immediately bother you is because similar images pervade the media, but dude? This is a woman who has had part of her face torn off and is missing a chunk of her torso who’s pouting sexily at you, and on top of that they’re using a popular children’s character to do it. If you don’t see how that’s really fucked up, well, Christ. I hope you never get a girlfriend.

  31. Popular children’s character used for sex appeal…

    That’s it. I’m boycotting Sony Pictures. Violence? Was that not her trussed up and dangling from building after building in those most financially successful films of all time?

    I get that the reason it doesn’t immediately bother you is because similar images pervade the media, but dude? This is a woman who has had part of her face torn off and is missing a chunk of her torso who’s pouting sexily at you, and on top of that they’re using a popular children’s character to do it. If you don’t see how that’s really fucked up, well, Christ. I hope you never get a girlfriend.

    Seriously? I’m sure any horror fan could name a dozen very popular horror movies which are beloved among popular culture with shit worse than this. It’s a zombie book. Zombies get ripped up. It’s not de-sensitization, it’s another storm in a teacup of fanboys having a tizzy-fit over some meaningless shit.

    I’ve said my piece, and I don’t do the internet flame war anymore, so you folks can duke it out. Once it gets to the point where I have to defend myself from the pedantic grammar police, and the exceptionally tired girlfriend barbs (married, for years, btw. Not a scratch on her), I’m out.

    But I do appreciate you coming and giving your side of it. Debate is always good.

    Oh and Jimski….please read Marvel Zombies. It’s funny as hell, and the stuff they let him get away with with their cherished characters is fantastic. Then again, if you have a bug thing, I don’t blame you for not reading Exterminators.

  32. So, I finally read the entry at the center of the hubbub, and it starts off by comparing my Marvel comic purchases to blood diamonds, which, classy. At least the Nazis got left out of this one for a change; I appreciate seeing a timeless classic getting updated.

    Having said that, the author goes onto say that he feels uncomfortable recommending Marvel comics because of the blood diamonds they publish. Uncomfortable recommending, but not uncomfortable selling. The outrage is inspiring.

  33. This original comic book cover isn’t even something I remeber. I like the Marvel Zombie cover. It’s funny kinda like the series, funny in a sick sorta way. If they did this with Ms. Marvel would it be the same?

  34. All of the covers feature male zombies striking traditionally masculine poses, which are the equivalent of the “come hither” female pose, in terms of appearing ready for mating. This is the only one that features a female character in a pose that attempts to look attractive (in one, Black Widow poses in a more masculine pose, for example). This is a Women in Refrigerators thing.*

    Honestly, Marvel Zombies turned me off in the first issue, when Giant Man ate Black Panther, which was just another representation of the ways in which the white man has been existing off the flesh of black Americans for centuries. The not-so-subtle racism of that scene is exactly as clear as is the sexually disturbing nature of this cover.

    Maybe this whole debate should be treated as another entry in Blog Like It’s The End of the World Day?**

    * ***
    *** I support the whole idea, here. Sticking women in refrigerators is gross. I keep my food in there. That’s just not sanitary.

  35. Are you kidding me? This is still being debated? Covers, Statues, and now this.
    Simple solution- if you don’t like it, you don’t have to purchase it.
    I understand these images may rub people the wrong way but in no way does this merit the attention its gotten. There are much bigger issues out there to fret about. My everyday work life revolves around a lot of the issues that folks are ascribing these images to and not once did any of this offend me. If you are passionate about something,which I am am all for, go volunteer at a local agency that supports that cause (because having worked non profits most of my adult life I know they need the help) rather than lambasting one of the founders of the website.
    In short, remember why we found this site in the first place, we love comics and in loving comics enjoy escapism on a certain level.
    I normally lurk more than write but I felt the need to point out a deep breath would be good in this discussion.

  36. Racism….. in Marvel ZOmbies? Naaaah.

  37. Oh lord would people jsut stop already. If you don’t like it don’t buy/look at it. Secondly it Marvel Zombies, they can do whatever they want with this title because everyone knows it’s a damn joke and funny.

  38. Ok really, why is he so upset over Mary Jane. Conceptually she has lost her popularity to comic fans. And honestly with Civil War, Identity Crisis, Countdown, House of M,the comics world is becoming more adult. So he freaks out over a Zombie May Jane. GET OVER IT!!! I mean Spider Man is a fugitive nowadays. Wolverine ( who kids love) is a constant murderer. The Xmen are outlaws. And the Hulk has anger issue and authority issues. I’m sure we can find something else to talk about. The cover rocks, it fits with the other covers for Marvel Zombies. I think he just wants to moan and groan and get some popularity. He states he knows so much about comics, but as we can see, he doesn’t know that much at all.

  39. You know, I’ve been thinking more about this, and it struck me as odd that no one is even really mentioning the original cover that was spoofed. Now, I know it comes from a line of books that are for teenage girls, and apparently this image is ok to our retailer in question.

    But if we want to get crazy about this, don’t we think that the image of Mary Jane is inappropriate? I mean, isn’t it obvious that she has an eating disorder and is it really ok for a teenager to be wearing that much make-up? In a society so obsessed with image is this the message that we want to be sending to our little girls?

    Ridiculous, I know, but we can continue to nit pick and spin things anyway we want. Honestly, if some kid buys this book because he gets a boner from zombie Mary Jane, we’re looking at someone who has a lot more issues.

    And what about the role of parents? Isn’t it their responsibility to be in the store with their younger kids to make sure they don’t purchase stuff like that? If parents are so concerned about the content their kids observe, then they’ll be there monitoring it.

    As I said before, this whole thing is stupid ass lame. Marvel doesn’t care, and 99.9% of the rest of the world doesn’t either. Marvel Zombies is great and hilarious. All of you should read it.

  40. Butcher seems like he’s just trying to get people to read his crap-ass blog

  41. Regardless, he runs the best store in the city, and is a nice guy. So go easy all…let’s not lash out.

  42. Yeah, try to keep the debate academic, and germane to the subject rather than personal attacks please.

    I’ll hold myself to that standard as well. Thanks Cam.

  43. It’s a bit like if Archie Comics started publishing “Cherry”.

    I’d like to state for the record that this is the only way that they’d ever get me to buy an Archie comic.

  44. Honestly, if some kid buys this book because he gets a boner from zombie Mary Jane, we’re looking at someone who has a lot more issues.

    Get that kid a catalog for undertaker college

  45. OK, now I’m caught up on the thread. As Josh said, the forums did rather explode with the MJ statue and tentacle rape debacles. I was strongly against both of those items for separate reasons that don’t need to be gotten into again. The furor over this though is in a word: INSANE. How could you be upset about this? I don’t understand. She’s a zombie. Zombies look dead and chewed up and shit. She’s in a sexy pose. It’s ironic – she’s not sexy. It’s just funny.

  46. By the way, while I didn’t so much love the other covers, I could appreciate them. But looking at this image, agree with it or not, that guy can paint his ass off. The anatomy, and colors and shapes are excellent. And it’s all done with sort of sloppy paint work (good sloppy), which impressed me with the way it almost appears photorealistic, and then upon closer look, it’s totally not.

  47. *shrugs*

    did they already run out of real iconic covers?

  48. You know, for a character that the editor in chief loathes so much, she certainly shows up a lot. Hey wait a minute! I think we been scammed boys!

  49. Yeah, for a character,that rumor has it was going to e going away. Looks like she ain’t going nowhere. From Marvel Zombies,to the Spider Man Annual, to Spider Man:One More Day. Its almost like Mary Jane is the new Jean Grey. Those darn “red headed woman with breen eyes in comics” darn them to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.

  50. FOr interest sake Chris has posted a response to the fervor from yesterday, where he attempts to further clarify his position.

    I still don’t agree, but, hey, when in rome. (Anchorman)

  51. Where was all this when Todd McFarlane was drawing MJ like two zeppelins in lingerie and kids actually were buying comics? Maybe I wouldn’t be so warped now, if only my local shopkeep had been there to fail to recommend the blood diamonds he totally sold me anyway.

    I just hope too many impressionable kids aren’t traumatized by seeing the front of this $30 hardcover and being reminded of the flirty cover to the kids’ book 5,000 of them bought.

  52. Maybe the mice are crawling all over zombie MJ because they need her brain to help them find the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

    Sorry. I’m a little late to the party.

  53. If I were Quesada I would send C Butcher an email stating simply, “suck it, Butcher”.

  54. Here’s the comment I left on the blog:

    “Wow, a gory zombie cover for a zombie book that’s not meant for kids. What next, a girl with big boobs on the cover of Playboy? Seriously people, G.A.L. Sometimes I curse the internet.”

  55. I didn’t see the movie “Blood diamond,” but have been familiar with the issues facing the workers in Africa and how diamonds have funded militias and military juntas. The blogger that somehow compared Marvel to those incredibly violent and inhuman monsters that have killed thousand upon thousand people is truly a moron. How sad.

    As for the merit of the cover, I think it’s great to juxtapose the young and vibrant MJ from the “Circle of Friends” book, to the rotting and decaying zombie. It makes the point all of the covers have conveyed.

  56. Wait are people in a uproar about the image being provacitve and sexy for a childrens book when the original image came out 3 YEARS ago??? Or can they just not recognize zombies? Or are zombies not allowed to get sexy? ATTN: DO NOT WATCH DEAD ALIVE! I hope it’s that they can’t recognize zombies. Cause that is GOOD NEWS FOR ME!

    Also for the record cause I have heard people bitching about the bare midriff as well: well the original cover had a bare midriff and thanks to some internet detectiveness (IE three seconds of research ) the collection cover was altered to add an under shirt.