Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett looks at Marvel's new female reader initiative, and takes a pass on the new Robocop movie.

Last time, when I was writing about the new Ms. Marvel, I really should have mentioned it was part of a whole new Marvel female reader initiative, "characters and creators," that includes titles like Black Widow, Elektra, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel and the X-Men comic featuring an all women line-up.  I'm old enough to actually remember Marvel's first attempt at that, the well intentioned if clueless and ham-fisted "Lady Liberators" from Avengers #83.  I assume the thinking beyond it is that Ms. Marvel would have a better chance of success if it were partnered with a line of similarly themed comics.  It's just a pity they hadn’t thought of that when they released the recently canceled all female hero team Fearless Defenders in 2013.  Of course numbers don't always guarantee safety.  I was around in 1972 when Marvel launched a similar line featuring Shanna the She-Devil, Night Nurse and The Cat, none of which hung around very long.
Maybe I missed a memo (I seem to miss a lot of them), but I never heard it being called "characters and creators" before; I just assumed these were being lumped in with the other Marvel All-New NOW! books.  But no, it's actually a thing all of its own according to an article titled "Ms. Marvel : Marvel Comics' new focus on women 'characters and creators' aims to defy the scantily clad cliche".  It's a piece by Sabaa Tahir that appeared on The Washington Post's Comic Riffs section that quotes Marvel's editor-in-chief Alex Alonso as saying that these books "are not the big-breasted, scantily clad women that perhaps have become the comic book cliche.  They are women with rich interior lives, interesting careers and complicated families who are defined by many things--least of all their looks."
The piece also uses the Alonso quote from The Washington Post piece I mentioned in last week's column; "While we don't have any market research, the eyes don't lie.  If you go to conventions and comic book stores more and more female readers are emerging."  I continue to find it absolutely adorable that there exists a youth synergistic entertainment conglomerate that instead of investing a couple grand on market research (or better yet, asks their parent company to do it for them) they would prefer to make major business decisions the old fashioned way, entirely by means of gut checks.
All of which is fine as far as it goes.  I just hope Marvel can resist the temptation of doing what they usually do when they do something like this: publish a half dozen issues of each title then cancel them when they invariably don't meet the sales plateaus of their regular superhero comics.  But unfortunately it doesn’t go very far off the porch of Marvel's comfort zone of superheroes.  I can't help but think that a lot of potential adult female readers would be more interested in, well, any of the CrossGen properties the publisher owns.  Or something like the upcoming original graphic novel Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne based on the ABC TV series (see "Marvel OGN Based on ABC's 'Revenge'").
And, being an old guy, there's still a part of me that would like Marvel to take another pass at their romance titles.  Yes, I know that with their hopelessly out of date morals and attitudes "everyone" believes them to be innately ridiculous (Marvel itself made that abundantly clear when they released Marvel Romance Redux back in 2006, which featured classic stories with "hilarious" new dialogue).  And I won't argue that they aren't dated, but that doesn't mean they couldn't be rehabilitated for modern audiences.  I could even make the argument that romance comics never got the opportunity to evolve out of the inherently restrictive several short stories per issue format, and to mature to attract older readers the way superhero comics did.  Though at the very end of their runs in the early 70s both My Love and Our Love Story made solid attempts at doing just that, as well as featuring beautiful art by both John Buscema and John Romita Sr.
Well The LEGO Movie (a/k/a "The Logo Movie") continues to do incredible box office, completely overwhelming the new version of Robocop.  Now I have nothing against Robocop; I have absolutely no plans to see it, you understand, but that isn't motivated by any actual animosity towards the film, just indifference.  It just seems like the kind of movie I'll eventually watch via Netflix Instant Streaming three years from now.  I even have nothing against the characters' sleek black (it is slimming) new look, but looking at his mechanical six-pack I can't help but think that one of the film's producers must have looked at the original and said, "Um, does Robo have to be so, you know, chunky?"

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of