You may read comics. You may watch comic book movies and like them, but feel the books are childish. Either way, you might have come across a story that DC and Marvel both seek to diversify their line. Great! Took them decades (less so for Marvel) but hey, it’s about time.
I grew up initially in Millsboro, Delaware. It’s claim to fame is being one of a few spots in America hosting a contingent of folks once called ‘tri-racial isolates’ (Google Frank G. speck and C.A Weslager). What’s it mean? Well, basically white, black and native, and living/breeding with each other because you’re
A. Not white enough
B. Not black enough
Add to this the annual Nanticoke Indian powwow, and the stage is set for young William to be self conscious about race and identity. Maybe this is you too in a way. But it makes me think a lot about heroes and identification.
I love superheroes. Batman, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Ninja Turtles, transforming robot whatevers, etc. As much as that is, I have always frowned on how the two big comic companies do race and gender. Now I don’t pretend to be the expert on female portrayals in media (seems to be more skin than skill) but it’s all very…contrived.
Want a different raced hero? Hit the 1970s, where the trend seemed to blow up. While Marvel got busy in the 60s on Black Panther, a powerful, smart black male, it soon gave us afro, jive talking street guys because I guess they felt it was the only black people in the world (or a bit popular via blaxploitation?). Asian Americans got a chunk of martial arts heroes, but I really want to ask Asians what they think of that. Like it or, maybe not?
See, we become fans to search for, I think, a sense of better humanity (hero quests) that seems lacking in real life, and a sense of self (knowing your own group really is good and can produce greatness despite stereotypes). That’s been me anyway. I love seeing diverse superteams, even better when characters get equal billing and aren’t just there to satisfy complaints or to fill out a roster. Hec. This is America. My favorite part about it is getting up and seeing the whole world’s people in one neighborhood.
My point is diversity always has been there. Choosing to include it had not, and the 21st century looms as the inclusive future that hasn’t happened but needs to. I see numerous books on Superman. Great. Love the character. But is it necessary? In their big budgets from their movie company masters DC and Marvel can’t keep one Hispanic, gay, less popular character, et cetera book and more going? We really need a tenth Batman book ?
For the little books thar could and thrive, I take note. DC and Marvel have brought us a Muslim Ms. Marvel and made Aquaman a hit. But why not the rest? Why do young white males get incensed over a character being female or another race? There are hundreds of white male heroes for every one minority. We love those too. Really. But the world is a rainbow of colors, beliefs and abilities. Handicapped heroes? Yes please. Yemeni heroes? Serve one up! A series on an obscure character written by a top writer, every effort made by the company to keep it fresh and ongoing? Oh yes.
Expand the horizon. Don’t make it a media hype to make yourself sound good and open minded. Just do it. Women have been equal for ninety five years. Should have been a longer time than that. Diversity should be as easy as looking out the window. Indies do it sans the flourish. And they do it well. Why?
Because they write the story, not the majority…