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Cautiously Optimistic

Marvel and Komen Unveil Pink Variant Covers and One Page Ad for Eight October Titles



When Marvel and Komen announced that they were partnering for a considerable marketing push this June, we felt very conflicted about it. On the one hand, it appeared that Komen was banking on something that the Big Two comic companies rarely like to face: that their product already reaches an audience interested in issues that concern women. On the other, it had only been four months since Komen had defunded Planned Parenthood for pretty shaky reasons that were very clearly politically motivated, experienced a mountain of backlash agains the decision, and refunded PP, shortly after which several high ranking executives of the charity resigned their posts.

Now that each variant cover and the one page ad that will run in every Marvel comic this month have been revealed, it turns out that this is, in fact, not about lady issues at all: the ad is specifically concerned with male breast cancer. Am I disappointed? Yeah, kinda. But am I glad that someone’s pointing out that this disease isn’t as gendered as our pink-is-for-girls society would have it? Yeah, that too.

Cancer, plainly, knows no gender, race, creed, or political leaning. But breast cancer is overwhelmingly associated with women, despite that fact that affects men as well. It’s good that somebody is taking the two heroic male leads of this summer’s record setting blockbuster and putting them in a “feminine coded” situation and saying that’s okay. It’s good that somebody’s showing two examples of the peak of heroic masculinity as having a care for each other’s health, that somebody’s pointing out that breast cancer happens to dudes too, and that those dudes shouldn’t be apprehensive to take care of their own health or admit to their disease for fear of being perceived as feminine.

I’m not thrilled that Komen is one of the somebody who’s saying it, but hey, if I completely discounted a campaign for good simply because of other practices it was associated with, well… I could look like Komen did this last February.

P.S. Let is also be said that I admire the clear attempts to push female characters to the covers of books where they do not always appear prominently, such as Sue Storm on the front of Fantastic Four or X-23 on the cover of Wolverine.

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  • http://twitter.com/FroWillis Sarah

    Captain Marvel’s face looks strange. It reminds me of Barbara Walters and it just doesn’t look like her.

    One of my old managers lost her husband to breast cancer. It’s amazing how guys don’t realize they can get it too. There was a case in the news a while back of a man’s insurance denying him care because they didn’t cover breast cancer in men, only women. There’s a lot of gender bias when it comes to breast cancer. It’s good to see a breast cancer ad actually targeting men.

  • http://twitter.com/sarasakana Sara Sakana

    Friendly reminder: Komen pulled funding that enabled Planned Parenthood to provide breast cancer screenings, thus making it HARDER for some women to find a place where they could afford to have a damn mammogram, and then had the nerve to claim they did so because they wanted to focus on finding a cure. Because it’s not like early detection is important or anything, right?

    I’d think if Komen was so short on funds to find a cure, maybe instead of taking money away from facilities that provide breast cancer screening for low-income women, they should consider spending a little less money producing all that ridiculous pink junk they sell.

    If I sound a little bitter here, it’s because I supported them for years, raised a crapload of money for them via Race for the Cure, and then found out exactly where that money was going.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=620723099 Bryan Gaffin

    F Komen. Plenty of other Breast Cancer charities to support.

  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    There’s only one Captain Marvel. And he’s a DC.

    Though really, CM Jr, and Mary Marvel can also be Captains Marvel, but Billy Batson is the only genuine Captain Marvel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.eubanks.5 Jim Eubanks

    I applaud Marvel for providing the needed attention to the issue of breast cancer. It makes me miss comics more than ever. I gave them up for financial reasons only. However, this brings back good memories and shines a very positive spotlight on Marvel, and the educational potential of comics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaysaint Jillian St. Charles

    I can appreciate the push to raise awareness of breast cancer in men. But Komen is too tainted for me. I don’t trust that their reversal was sincere. I mean, clearly it wasn’t sincere, it was damage control. I will support research and prevention through other avenues. They won’t see my dollars again any time soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=157400537 Sara Crow

    I’m with you, Sara (and not just because you happen to have a FANTASTIC name)! Screw Komen. When a group claiming to be about women’s health allows politics get in the way of women’s health, it’s time to find another charity to support.

  • Anonymous

    While a few too many in the leadership are political reactionaries, let’s not forget that the huge majority of those that work for Komen don’t ascribe to that political ideology one bit. Which was apparent when many prominent women doctors and researchers resigned in the wake of the scandal.
    That said, I have probably bought my last pink ribbon from the group, my money will go to other causes for breast cancer research.
    My stepmother has been gone 8 years now. I hate that damn disease.

  • Nick Gaston

    Not putting a pink-variant cover on Black Panther was probably a good choice. That would have been slightly…awkward.

    (Wakanda established as having a cure for cancer, but refusing to share it with the world, bein’ the dig.)

  • Jamie Jeans

    Yeah, considering that Komen defunded Planned Parenthood, giving them less money for breast cancer screenings… yeah, they can shive right off on this. I’m not supporting a group that pulled this kind of crap and is now trying to get back into people’s good graces.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jasondab Jason Dabrowski

    Let’s not also forget two other bits of douchebaggery from Komen:
    -They’ve sued other nonprofits for using “for the cure” or just “cure” in their name or advertising. Komen thinks the word “Cure” is their personal copyright.
    -Only around 11% of their budget is spent on research “for the cure”. So if you give Komen 100 bucks, only 11 dollars of your donation is going to go toward research on a cure for Breast Cancer.

  • Anonymous

    Those would be cool if I supported Komen anymore, but I won’t ever again.

  • Anonymous

    The real Captain ZADL would never say anything like that. You must be an … impostor!

  • Brian

    There’s a time and a place, Captain.