Marvel is in an odd spot with female and non-binary creators right now. After a truly abysmal spring with some of the lowest numbers we’ve seen from them in some time, things have improved somewhat. Now, the totals are still relatively quite poor. Marvel’s been in the high 30s in the past, and their current streak has them in the low 20s. That’s not great. But it’s better than it was. The bigger issue right now is that these gains are very precarious. Let’s take a look at who’s doing what at Marvel this July:
- Ashley Witter: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #22 (cover)
- Becky Cloonan: Moon Knight #197 (cover)
- Devin Grayson: Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel #1 (co-writer)
- Emanuela Lupacchino: Doctor Strange #3 (variant cover)
- Erica Henderson: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #34 (cover)
- Fiona Staples: The Life of Captain Marvel #1 (variant cover)
- G. Willow Wilson: Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel #1 (co-writer), Ms. Marvel #32 (writer)
- Gail Simone: Domino #4 (writer)
- Gurihiru: Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel #1 (cover)
- Irene Strychalski: Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel #1 (interior art)
- Jen Bartel: X-23 #2 (variant cover)
- Jody Houser: Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #21 (writer), Star Wars: Thrawn #6 (writer)
- Kate Niemczyk: Avengers #4 (variant cover)
- Margaret Stohl: The Life of Captain Marvel #1 (writer)
- Mariko Tamaki: Hunt for Wolverine: Claws of a Killer #3 (writer), X-23 #1 (writer), X-23 #2 (writer)
- Natacha Bustos: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #33 (interior art, cover)
- Nnedi Okorafor: Wakanda Forever: X-Men #1 (writer)
- Rainbow Rowell: Runaways #11 (writer)
- Sana Takeda: The Life of Captain Marvel #1 (variant cover)
- Stephanie Hans: Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 (variant cover)
- Yasmine Putri: Wakanda Forever: X-Men #1 (variant cover)
All together, there are 22 female creators scheduled to work on 18 different comic books at Marvel this July. That’s 2 more creators than in June and 4 more books. As best as I can tell, there are no non-binary creators listed in this round of solicits. The gains are undercut to a certain degree by the low totals, but they’re gains nonetheless. Given Marvel’s track record in 2018 thus far, we’ve got to celebrate the little things here.
However, 12 of the 22 creators listed above are doing one time gigs. They’re on oneshots or variant covers, jobs that don’t come with guaranteed work next month. The June numbers were similar, and so long as Marvel can keep things rolling along with these non-permanent jobs, the numbers should hold. But there are three big problems here. First, this juggling act rarely lasts for long and things will inevitably drop off. They always do. Second, the level Marvel is at right now is comparatively poor. And third, the only way for the numbers to really grow AND to fend off this inevitable drop is to have a sizeable number of female and non-binary creators locked into long term gigs. Marvel does not have that right now, at all.
This lack is still stark even with the addition of two new series with female writers, and they also star female leads. Margaret Stohl is back with The Life of Captain Marvel mini-series, while Mariko Tamaki is launching a new X-23 (even though Laura is always the superior Wolverine to me!). A bunch of male characters are getting new books as well, but between these two titles and the ongoing Wakanda Forever oneshots, Marvel’s paltry female character representation has bumped up slightly as of late.
Overall, while representation is set to improve a bit at Marvel in July, these gains are tenuous and the publisher remains far back from the high levels they’ve set in the past. There just doesn’t seem to be much firm commitment to female and non-binary creators at Marvel right now. Things have improved from disastrous to bad over the past few months, but good is still a long way off. Hopefully we’ll see some more permanent additions to Marvel’s ranks in the future.