If you’ve been following comic book news lately, you’ll likely have heard about the controversy surrounding a cover for the newest run of Iron Man, starring Riri Williams, an African American teenager, as Ironheart. The cover in question, drawn by J. Scott Campbell, drew criticism for having Riri in revealing clothing, drawn in a stereotypical “black sassy” fashion and for having very light skin among myriad other reasons that people dug up. This is just my two cents on the issue.
First, it was a variant cover. Many of the people upset by this cover have no idea what that means because they don’t read comics. Variants are alternate covers for a particular issue, with the internal pages left untouched. They are almost always rarer than the standard cover for a comic book and usually sell for a higher price at stores. Furthermore, the average comic book reader does not usually buy them and in some cases see them as the store could have them stocked in a separate location. I buy variants if they are done artists that I like, but usually opt for a regular cover because they are cheaper. That said, 80 to 90 percent of the people that had the intention of buying this issue, probably would not have even seen it and if they did, it would have been among many, many other variant covers to be noticed. This cover was for enthusiasts, not the average consumer.
The other issue is that offended parties wanted the cover removed because they don’t want people to see it. Unfortunately making a mountain out of a mole hill like this had the exact opposite effect. This cover probably received 10 times the exposure just because of the controversy. Everyone has seen it now and people want it more than ever because they know it was pulled (including myself!). The value of this issue has probably skyrocketed considered it already was a rare variant that is now in scarcer supply.
All this just to appease people that don’t even read comics. The same thing happened not too long ago with Rafael Albuquerque’s cover of Batgirl #41. Again, we had a variant out commemorating the Joker’s 75th anniversary, which depicted the Joker standing next to a scared Batgirl, an homage to the pivotal graphic novel “Batman: The Killing Joke.” It is by far one of my favorite comics, but incredibly dark. Again people were offended by the cover and I’m willing to bet none of them read The Killing Joke.
The comics industry needs to grow a backbone and respect the opinion of people who actually buy their products, not people looking for any reason to be offended.