Marvel's New Riri Williams Cover Upsets Fans Because of Sexualization and Skin Lightening

Controversial variant covers of Invincible Iron Man comic

In July, comic fans got excited when Marvel announced the Invincible Iron Man series, whose main character is a genius 15-year-old named Riri Williams. Many people said they felt it was an answer to the lack of diversity in comics, and paid homage to #BlackGirlMagic. But on Wednesday the variant covers drawn by artist J. Scott Campbell for the first edition of Invincible Iron Man drew the ire of many people.


People couldn't quite understand why Campbell had over-sexualized his drawing of Riri. When confronted about his work, Campbell became defensive and said he didn't have time to deal with social-justice warriors.

Black Girl Nerds confronted Campbell about his artwork on Twitter after he claimed that his photo was no different from the one he was given to work from:

The issue over Riri's new look spawned the #TeensThatLookLikeTeens hashtag.

"#TeensThatLookLikeTeens was created to show that teenagers can be drawn without over sexualizing them not just in regards to attire, but as well as having a youth-like quality in their face. RiRi cover is an adult body painted light brown," says the hashtag creator's @MizCaramelVixen.


What was most obvious to me when I saw the photo was the skin-color change, then the dramatic change in her shape and outfit. Now, sure, there are probably some 15-year-olds out there who dress like that on a daily basis, but as one Twitter user pointed out, these are white men drawing these hypersexualized images of a black teenager. Are people (white men, who are the majority of comic readers out there) being enticed to buy the comic because she's a teen genius, or because she looks like some man's fantasy?

Invincible Iron Man Issue No. 1 will be released Nov. 9.

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