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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Oh Really?

Marvel Partners With Komen for the Cure to Bring Breast Cancer Awareness to Comics; We Feel Super Conflicted

This February, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation created new grant regulations that seemed to only count when Planned Parenthood was concerned, maintained against all evidence that their defunding of the low-cost health care provider that performs abortion services only 3% of the time and keeps its funds completely separate and transparent was not politically motivated, and then, when it got too hot in the kitchen, backpedaled and refunded the organization while maintaining absolutely no political connection to their actions. And from that point on, we knew it would be a while before we could give Komen the time of day again, and until then they’d need to make some serious no downside, no catch efforts of charity and good work to get there. See, we thought they’d appeal to the mainstream adult in us, the one that does taxes, watches the news, and tries to make ethical purchases.

What we didn’t expect was for them to appeal to the lady geek in us, with a comprehensive and non-superficial campaign of variant covers and inside advertisements in Marvel comics, as if they were basically coming out and saying: we think comic books are a good marketing space for lady issues. We’re not saying they’ve succeeded. We’re just saying: we don’t how to feel about it.

For a more detailed recap of what went down between Komen and Planned Parenthood earlier this year, check this post. Komen did eventually restore funding to Planned Parenthood, and shortly after that its publicly anti-abortion VP of public policy and at least five other high-ranking executives left their posts. You read that, and I’ll try to stop thinking about how Cap’s pink-branded shield looks like it’s made out of ice cream.

It’s a part of Komen and Marvel’s partnership to create variant covers for eight comics coming out in October. Above is Captain America. Here’s the Wolverine cover, featuring gender-swapped Wolverine clone X-23, and the cover for October’s issue of The Mighty Thor.

The other titles in the campaign are AvengersFantastic FourInvincible Iron ManUncanny X-Men, and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel, the last being the only title with a female lead character. The campaign will also include a one page ad in every Marvel comic published in October, full of educational material about breast cancer, with “more content available on and through social media.” That’s considerable coverage.

All in all, Komen, I think we’re going to have to settle for calling this a good effort… that still neither proves nor disproves the kind of commitment to breast cancer research, education, advocacy, health services and social support programs without political bias we’d like to see out of you. After all, cancer certainly isn’t politically biased. How do you guys feel about it?

(via Comics Alliance.)

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  • Anna B

    I’m still really mad at Komen so I’m not ready to give them props for this. I still need to see more. And honestly, couldn’t they have thought of just leaving out the pink? Sorry, but ever since that debacle last year, “pink for cancer” has really grated on my nerves.

  • Anonymous

    I’m torn on this. It’s a good effort, but doesn’t make it all okay after such a huge mess up. If they continue to do awareness right and not be self-absorbed assholes about it I might consider revising my opinion on it.

    Also, can we stop associating the color pink with only women things? I’m getting so sick of seeing that color.

  • Cait

     This reminds me of their partnership with the NFL and the ridiculous pink shoes the football players all have to wear every October. It seems to me to be less about saying “girls can be geeky” and more about saying “Marvel is making a lot of money lately. We should partner with them”. I wish they’d spend less money on advertising and more on cancer research. Not that public health education isn’t important, but it seems to be a bit saturated now.

  • GoodbyeNavi

    This changes nothing for me. I see pink connected with cancer and I want to throw up. Please just do cancer research and find a cure.

  • Kath

    Archie Comics have done this better with Life With Archie, and I don’t think Komen were involved.

    So, how many points ahead of Marvel/DC does that put Archie now?

  • Anonymous

    pharmaceutical companies treating well-intentioned organizations and contributors as a sweet sweet lemonade, and using Komen as the straw. 

  • Anonymous

    I think this reflects the fact that the Komen organisation has a lot of smart, capable and wonderful people working for it at all levels. But it doesn’t change the fact that the people in charge has a lot more left to prove they won’t use this cause for political partisanship in other issues in the future.

    Personally I will no longer buy their ribbons. My stepmother died from this horrible disease, and to see these people use our despair and hopes to enrich themselves and punish women exercising their right to choose made me violently ill.

    Their almost complete focus on mammograms is also not a good use of the funds. They should funnel more money to research.

  • Anonymous

    As people more eloquent than I have said before, ‘raising awareness’ has already been done in the US, it’s now time to stop slapping pink on every fucking thing and to step up and actually push research and preventative medicine.  But of course there’s less latitude for skimming a nice pile of cash off the top if thats done …

  • Anonymous

    I can recall at least one breast cancer plotline in marvel comics.  Diamond Lil needed to get a biopsy, but being invulenerable, that proved a great problem.

  • ainok


    Just…why must it be pink? Why couldn’t they do something intelligent with it instead of screwing with color schemes? Bah.

  • Alana Beltzer

    To me, these covers just make it look like the printer screwed up their red ink balance. Cap and Thor look particular ridiculous in this color scheme.

  • It’s Ben Siegel!

    Women are 100 times more likely to contract breast cancer than men, and yet Marvel only has one title revolving around a female protagonist (Captain Marvel). Marvel JUST cancelled X-23, but they – like Zebra Daddy – have no qualms about pimping her out whenever it suits them.

  • Joe Momma

    They should’ve used “that” Leifeld Cap’ cover… you know the one…

  • Angelica Brenner

    I’m just hoping they’ll take advantage of the mostly-male readership of superhero comics to do some actual good, such as pointing out that, while more common in women, breast cancer is far from a ladies-only disease.

    Alas, the pink-washing tactic is a large part of /why/ people think breast cancer only occurs in women, so . . . *sigh*.

  • Anonymous

    Early dectection….SAVES LIVES. That’s how I feel about it and if Susan G Komen can get that message out in this media KUDOS to both Marvel and SGK.  Regardless of the flap earlier in the year, Susan G Komen has done more than any other organization for breast cancer education, advocacy, research and treatment support. God willing they will continue with that tradition undetered. What people still don’t seem to have an awareness of is that 75% of the net proceeds raised locally for the Race for the Cure series, STAYS LOCALLY to support breast health and breast cancer treatment programs. The remaining 25% funds the National Research and Awards Program. None of it supports the National Office. Who will suffer from the bad publicity and misinformation? Our uninsured and underinsured friends, family and neighbors in our communities. I have always admired Stan Lee for being ahead of his time addressing social issues in this way. My opinion has now skyrocketed. GO MARVEL!  

  • Anonymous

    I’m just giggling over the fact that back when Captain America was first wearing his tights, pink was gendered for boys and blue was gendered towards girls.  So, he’s going back to his colorful roots by wearing such a manly color!  :D

  • Rusty Patti

    I did the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk a few years ago and I had already paid my registration for this year’s walk before the Planned Parenthood crap. This changes nothing for me. I will NOT walk and I will not donate one more penny to Komen. 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t mean to belittle breast cancer victims or survivors, but I’m sick of seeing “breast cancer pink”. There are so many other cancers that get no attention yet need research funding. Please people, don’t limit your donations to one cause.

  • Anonymous

    Looking over the breakdown of expenses makes me wish I knew a little bit more about business and accounting.

  • Anonymous

    FYI Cait, speaking for our local affiliate of SGK on the advertising expense and most work the same way, most marketing and advertisment for the local Race for the Cure and other events are provided In-Kind….meaning the affiliate pays nothing for advertisments and the donor receives the marketing benefit of being a sponsor. They may receive a tax benefit for supporting a charity as well. The marketing budget is essentially a zero line item in the budget. Can’t do much better than that. The same net effect will come from this venture with Marvel. The added public awareness will come free of charge to Komen with a percentage of sales donated back to the organization. The messaging alone is wonderful, men do get breast cancer and It looks like they’ll be publishing breast health info in these issues.     

  • Mandy

    I’m confused as to why Marvel and Komen would even choose to partner together?? Like others have said, aren’t the demographic of people who read comics still more men than women? What market were they trying to reach? Men who don’t think breast cancer affects them but probably still wont because pinkwashing? The women who do read comics?

    And aren’t comics complaining that their readership keeps decresing? Why choose such a small market to push awareness to? This movie really makes no sense to me! What was the purpose? Is this just awareness? Or are their free coupons or instructions on how to check your breast inside each comic?

    Regardless I’m still not pacified by this movie and will continue to not support Komen. Not long after the Komen/PP debacle my Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. We have been staying away from Komen products and telling others to donate to other institutes in her name when they ask.

  • Doctor Oddfellow

    This looks great. I’m always supportive of these organizations (such as American Cancer Society which I’m a very active supporter of) who raise awareness towards breast cancer while pushing funding towards research, advocacy and treatment. So important. Yes, their kerfluffle with Planned Parenthood earlier this year has made every single one of us more skeptical about the nature of these charitable organizations, not just Komen, but every single one, but this does not mean we should give up on charity. Every dollar that Komen receives benefits lots of local treatment programs. Every dollar that you deny to that is a dollar less than the treatment program receives. I suspect this moral dilemma we see here is going to have to come down to ends justifying the means. Really, I think the Komen charity needs to step completely out of politics and be neutral, just as this disease is, but we live in an era where EVERYTHING ties back to politics and some issues. I can’t even go out to lunch anymore without worrying if the company supports something I oppose.
    I’ll continue to wear these ribbons because regardless of politics, I will stand in solidarity with those who fight cancer every day, men and women. I will buy these comic issues because a)I’m a huge Marvel fan and b)I know that my money is going to an organization who will take that money and apply it further to the research and treatment needed to overcome this terrible disease.

  • Anonymous

    Oppossed to the use of comic books in this manner. Especially given how over hyped breast cancer is. There are a hundred different sorts of cancer & we only focus on breast cancer because it is literally tittilating.

    How about we stop over hyping breast cancer & look at one of the other less sexy cancers, huh? What about prostate cancer for instance: Just as hard to diagnose & more men die of the every year then men & women combined die of breast cancer.

    There’s a point where “raising awareness” crossess the line in to the medical industry “fear mongering for cash: We’ve long ago crossed that line i think.

  • Tashabear

     Come play with the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Komen isn’t the only game in town.

  • Anonymous

    I’m really sick of all the pink, and we know that most of the money they raise goes back into marketing instead of to research. I will find my own ways to contribute to cancer research, Komen can GTFO. My reaction to this is “C’mon Marvel, really?”

  • Anonymous

    TarynAria, i’m not sure where you’ve gotten this information about how Komen spends money or who “we” is in “we know”. Here’s a fact though, 75% of net proceeds from Komen fundraising events stay in the local communities and provide education, diagnostic services and other treatment support programs, the other 25% is sent to the National parent organization for the National Research and Science Awards program. None is used for national Adminstration and working with my local Komen Affiliate, almost NOTHING is spent on marketing and advertisments. Marketing and advertisments are most often provided at no cost to the organization, as in-kind sponsorships of the events.   

  • Alana Beltzer

     The one with the moobs? hehe..yup, they should have!

  • Anonymous

    Men suffer from breast cancer too. In fact its deadlier in men as it is harder to diagnose due to the general lack of definition of the tissue in men.

  • Toxicrated The Devil Emcee

    lmao you think the seriousness of cancer the world would be pretty aware of it by now xD unless they lock themselves in a closet and shut them selves from the world 

  • theperfectnose

    Why are you lot supporting this rubbish? Have you not seen the doco on these guys? Wanna fund cancer research? Fund the researchers working on it. D’doing!

  • Mandy

    Yes I knew that. Don’t men have a harder time getting insurance to cover their treatment costs because breast cancer is still seem as such a “women’s problem?”

     But my point was from a marketing standpoint, is that the group of people Komen was trying to reach through Marvel? Men? And I don’t think that a pink cover will get awareness to men because the mentality of ”ooh, ick pink is a girly color” thing. If they wanted to reach out to men and raise awareness I don’t think pinkwashed comic covers were the best way to do it.

  • BlasianBytch

    You know what won’t help pay for a woman’s chemo. AWARENESS. 

  • Anonymous

    No Komen hasn’t. The PP debacle just exposed how corrupt they are. Most of heir money does NOT go to prevention or finding a cure. They paid Hadassah Lieberman over $300K to lobby Congress so that breast cancer drugs NEVER go generic, costing women with cancer tens of thousands more. They sue any small charity who dares to use the phrase “for the cure” or pink. Etc. etc. etc.

    Canceling grants for screenings just put the spotlight on them. They may have started out as a way to honor a woman who lost her fight with cancer, but they devolved into a money making venture that preyed on those of us who wanted to do *something* positive.

    I’ll never forgive them. My money will go directly to research or to responsible charities who care about people with cancer more than slapping pink on everything and calling it “awareness”.

  • Anonymous

    Whether you like it or don’t….75% of the net proceeds raised on a local level, stay in the local communities and support Education & outreach, diagnostic services and treatment support programs. This is accomplished through a local grants process. The remaining 25% is sent to the National Susan G. Komen for the Cure(r) Award and Research Grant Program.  Globally and Last year alone they funded more than 700,000 breast screenings. We helped 100,000 people financially through treatment. SGK invested $66 million in breast cancer research and related programs, in more than 50 countries around the world. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the only organization fighting breast cancer on every front: education, advocacy, research and community support. It’s well beyond “Slapping pink on everything and calling it awareness”