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14Aug/1115

Spider-Man: Progressive Storytelling and Iconic Characters

Superhero comics are an odd slice of pop culture, living and growing throughout the decades by constantly reimagining and reshaping their characters and universe, while somehow appealing to an audience that angrily resists change. I covered the issue of regressive storytelling as it pertains to women last month, but it applies equally to all characters that aren't white, straight, male, abled or otherwise at the top of the food chain.

Marvel's Ultimate line was set up to explore characters in a new and contemporary setting; a beginner's level entry to the world of Marvel superheroes that didn't rely on reading years of continuity recalibrations. The Ultimate Peter Parker was killed off (he's still alive and well in the main Marvel Universe) and fans have been waiting to see who will pick up the Spider-Man mantle.

When the mask was lifted to reveal Miles Morales, a half-Latino, half-Black teenager, comics were thrust into the media spotlight while the internet and press exploded in shades of righteous indignation, outright bigotry, and misplaced concern. With one side firing out the "I'm not racist but..." diatribes, and the other prostrating themselves with the old "I'm whiter than white and I think..." cringe, let's pause to consider why this new Spider-Man, and the extreme reaction, really does matter.

Luke Cage in '72 to Miles Morales in '11

The term "regressive storytelling" was coined by Chris Sims in his article for Comics Alliance last year: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling. Reboots and relaunches in superhero universes commonly place Silver Age characters back in their original roles, usurping more modern interpretations who are often less white than their elders: Ray Palmer reclaiming the Atom suit from a murdered Ryan Choi being a prime example. Of course, many of the rejuvenated Silver Age heroes are replacing fellow white people, and while many characters of colour are killed off, the same is true of white characters – something that those with a fear of "political correctness" are always keen to point out.

But the overall effect isn't similar at all. Already in the minority, every character of colour removed has a huge impact on the overall diversity of the superhero universe which is already blindingly white. All the major iconic superheroes, with the exception of Wolverine, were created between the 30s and 60s, and as a result are overwhelmingly white, straight and male. Creating a new icon is difficult and near-impossible work, much less creating one who doesn't fit the parameters of the previous success stories. And so again and again, new characters are white as default or regressed back to white interpretations.

Ryan Choi's short-lived Atom career. Ryan's removal caused great controversy.

All of which is met with dismay by comic fans of colour, and those who want their comics to better reflect the real world in terms of diversity. The Marvel and DC Universes may be fictional fantasy, but they are based on our own world, a world that is full of different races, sexualities and abilities, with half the population being female. The majority of superhero comic book fans however are white, straight males, and while their percentage share is diminishing as the rest of us muscle in, they are still the crowd that the major comic book publishers are playing to; something that may now be changing as the Big Two seek to expand their audiences in a shrinking market.

Equally, the majority (disclaimer: the majority, not all) of superhero comic book writers are white males, and while that doesn't mean that good non-white (or non-male) characters cannot be created, increasing the diversity in the creative teams can only increase diversity on the page. And while the existing teams increase diversity on the page, so will they attract a more diverse set of would-be employees and fans.

Batwing survives Batman Inc Batwing: a new character to get his own title at DC.

Back to Spider-Man, and it can be argued that replacing Peter Parker was always going to cause disappointment and concern for some fans, although he does still exist in the main Marvel Universe. For as long as Spider-Man has existed, his name has been synonymous with that of Peter Parker: this is a big change. But this would not have caused nearly such a fuss had Miles been white. It's a sad fact but not a particularly surprising one, that the media can still react with such outrage to the idea of a) a superhero being black, and b) a black man taking over from a white man.

Miles of course is biracial, both Latino and Black: in the press, the former has been ignored while the latter has received all the attention. Miles' heritage is equally important to the many mixed race readers (and to Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso), but from a publicity point of view it seems like the world is divided in two: black and white.

Preview courtesy of CBR.comA younger Miles and his parents.

In recent years Bruce Wayne was replaced as Batman, his absence from Gotham leading to a battle to wear his mask. Dick Grayson taking on the mantle caused very few ripples outside of the comics community; few people I spoke to at the time and just recently were even aware Bruce Wayne had "died". Charitably, this may be partly down to Dick Grayson being an old character himself. However, it's hard to believe that even a newly introduced character taking over the role would have caused much of a reaction: unless of course that character had been black, something only acceptable in side characters. The potential outrage such a move would have caused is illustration of how gutsy Marvel are being with their Spider-Man change.

And Miles is in good hands, with writer Brian Michael Bendis well known for his progressive comics, and brilliant Italian artist Sara Pichelli bringing fresh talent to the table.

Some commentators have argued that now their child has no hero to look up to, which is absolutely incredible. Firstly, to single out the one "main" superhero who now has a mask worn by a black man rather than the multitude with white skin, as the death of their child's heroes. And secondly, the implication that no white child can or should look up to a man of colour. The implications of that are staggering: at worst that the realm of being "super" should not apply to anyone without white skin, at best that readers are unable to relate to anyone who isn't identical to themselves.

Jackie Ormes at work Jackie Ormes: The Ormes Society is named in her honour.

I say staggering, but of course this is only surprising to those of us with the privilege not to have it shoved in our faces every day. The fallout of the new Spider-Man reveal has caused no such revelations amongst communities who must put up with such bigoted commentators (at best) every day. The huge reaction show just how important Miles Morales is as an addition to the world of comic books. A (very) brief look back through comics history helps explains why.

In 1937, Jackie Ormes became the first syndicated black woman cartoonist with her strip, Torchy Brown. Incredibly, she remained the only syndicated black woman until the 90s, over fifty years later. Torchy was one of the very few black characters at that time to not be a crude stereotype: she was intelligent, independent, sensual, fashionable, and spoke clear English, a world away from the mammies and maids that black women were usually portrayed as. But Torchy wasn't read by everyone: only the African American newspapers carried Jackie's work. Later there were All-Negro Comics too: again, only within the segregated black communities.

Torchy Brown: fashion fan!Jackie's creations were very popular amongst the segregated black community.

Ebony White, the sidekick of Will Eisner's The Spirit, is perhaps the most famous example of the stereotypical African American character that white comic readers were used to. Eisner was arguably making a larger point, but Ebony remains a fair example of what black characters were relegated to at the time. Tintin in the Congo is another notable example, as the right-wing influenced Hergé regurgitated common beliefs about the Congolese people. More naïve maybe than deliberately racist, subsequent editions were edited by Hergé to try and tone them down, yet instructions to keep the title out of children's sections in bookshops have predictably been met with anti-"politically correct" outrage. But regardless of intent, the book remains controversial and offensive.

From the very beginning of superhero comics, there were a handful of black characters in the background of a few titles, or as African chiefs in the jungle story strips. The majority of these were racist stereotypes, crudely rendered side characters or spectators hooting and hollering at our heroes. As the century progressed, and casual racism became slightly less acceptable, these caricatures retreated, leaving a vast white expanse.

Ebony White, sidekick to The SpiritBlack characters were depicted as more animal than human.

In 1966, Marvel introduced the first black superhero with the début of Black Panther (T'Challa) in the Fantastic Four, and in the 70s the first major black hero to have his own series, Luke Cage, as well as the first black female superhero, Storm, in the X-Men. Cage suffered in his early years for being a product of the Blaxpoitation era – an ex-con with exaggerated slang, and the only hero to charge for his heroics - but recovered in later years, and this progressive decade also saw the arrival of a new Green Lantern, John Stewart, and Black Lightning over at DC.

John Stewart is arguably as famous a Green Lantern as Hal Jordan, due to his presence in the popular Justice League animated series, and he made his stance clear: he was a man who happened to be black, and who would not tolerate racism. His creators were tuned into the Civil Rights movement, and resisted calls for the character to be renamed Isaiah Washington, a typical slave name.

Black Panther and John Stewart Along with Luke Cage, these men were the first iconic black superheroes.

Storm is possibly the most famous of all black superheroes: the powerful mutant has been present in many key storylines, as well as the popular animated television series, and the blockbusting films of the last decade. But Storm has many critics despite her role as a powerful woman, giving in somewhat to the tropes of hyper-aggressive black woman and mystical exotic woman. The white hair and blue eyes also softened the impact of having an iconic African American female superhero, and her marriage to T'Challa has been labelled as tokenism by many – a charge that is hard to avoid when so few characters of colour exist in the first place!

In '93, Dwayne McDuffie co-founded Milestone Media, a comics company with a focus on making non-white characters the stars. McDuffie had impressed with his awesome Damage Control series, and was a huge champion of diversity in comics. Sadly the comics imprint was only to last a few years due to a belief amongst both sellers and fans that comics focusing on black characters could only be for black readers: a belief that Miles Morales will be trying to subvert.

Ororo and T'Challa, sitting in a tree... D'aww. Ororo and T'Challa, a celebrity super-couple.

It was a problem McDuffie came up against frequently; the writer was often accused of shoving a "black agenda down the readers throats". An all white line-up for a comic causes no controversy, yet an all black line-up would be accused of sensationalism or being anti-white; and even having more than two black characters in a sea of white could do that. McDuffie described his rule of three: that three black characters would be enough for threatened white fans to term the title, "a black product".

Latino characters rarely cause such a reaction and are notable for their racial invisibility, often being portrayed simply as white. Bane, that hulking Batman villain, is being played by Tom Hardy in the upcoming Christopher Nolan film, yet his origins plainly state that he is Latino. Where was the media outrage on this change of race? Perhaps everyone was too busy still after the outrage over a black actor, Idris Elba, was cast to play Heimdall, guardian of the Bifröst bridge, in the 2011 Thor film. Angry conservatives staged a boycott of the film, with many others supporting their argument that it was "wrong" for a black man to play a Norse god, and more of that "political correctness gone mad". Clearly one person of colour is one too many.

Dwayne McDuffie, sadly missed. Dwayne McDuffie was an invaluable proponent of diversity in comics.

Thankfully there are a few good Latino characters in comics, though they are often shunted out of the limelight: Renee Montoya has yet to receive a place in the New 52 although Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) does have a new title, while the new Spider-Girl (Anya Corazon) is still web slinging, and old Kyle Rayner hasn't cracked up quite yet. Outside of the superhero realm, do pick up Love and Rockets by Los Bros Hernandez.

As for mixed race characters, forget about it. The focus on Miles' blackness demonstrates that too many white people are struggling to get over one hurdle, never mind what they'd perceive as two. However, Miles is not the first mixed race Spider-Man: back in '92, Marvel introduced their Marvel 2099 line, a series set one century later than normal continuity. This future Spider-Man was Miguel O'Hara, of Mexican and Irish descent, and his title was a popular one: ending due to the sales slump of the other 2099 titles.

Miguel is often written off as being a true Spider-Man of colour, as his story was not that of the "real" Spider-Man; something Miles has been accused of too. But the Ultimate Line is a far cry from the Elseworld stories of the past that have seen experimentation and black Supermen: Ultimate Spider-Man is more successful than the main title, and has been consistently popular since its conception in 2000. It doesn't get any realer.

Spider-Girl and Blue Beetle Spider-Girl and Blue Beetle both return soon.

The lack of racial diversity within superhero comic book universes puts a lot of pressure on those characters of colours that do exist. Instead of being just a character, they become a representative of their entire race within comics, in a way that no white character ever has to deal with. There are a lot of expectations on Miles Morales shoulders, and fans and boardroom executives will be quick to point the finger at him if sales start to drop.

Whiteness of a character is never an issue: it is seen as the default. No one asks, "why is this new mutant/alien/hero white?", but any new character of colour is seen as being either tokenism or affirmative action; the latter is a charge often used alongside the phrase "political correctness gone mad", a belief that "progressive" is a dirty word, and hyperbolic accusations of a racial agenda. The charge of tokenism does contain some merit, with many fans asking that new characters of colour be created rather than shoehorned into white skin which could be seen as a half-measure.

Idris Elba as Heimdall and Tom Hardy as Bane When it comes to changing races, the media is choosy over its outrages.

But creating a new icon is near-impossible with a white character, let alone with a character of colour. Consider the fate of Milestone Comics, dismissed as comics for black people simply because of the prominent black characters. To create a new character who is also non-white, is perhaps less commercially viable at this point in time. Difficult to get the initial sales, and any drop in figures would be attributed to the colour of the hero's skin. Stepping into Spider-Man's suit gives Miles a chance, and subsequently gives all characters of colour a chance. The more successful diverse characters there are, the more they will continue to appear.

Yes comics companies should be creating new characters of colour – like Spider-Girl and Batwing and preferably some completely independent ones – but no heroes should be untouchable, particularly in alternate universes like the Ultimate line. Why couldn't there be a black Spider-Man? Or a female Superman? Or a gay Batman? Many have said they object to a black Spider-Man not because they are racist, but because it's not correct. But these characters were created at a time when they could only be white: their whiteness was not a deliberate choice, but a default setting. Stan Lee did not set down that his heroes must be white, no more than he said they couldn't be Jewish. Minorities should not have to settle for sidekick duty in the main titles; all superhero comics are completely malleable, and have been throughout the decades.

It's a question comics are still answering. Comics should always strive for progression.

Moreover, there are countless tales of Spider-Man as the white Peter Parker already in existence for fans to read. Change is good, evolution is good, and hey, it'll all get rebooted in at least one continuity at some point anyway.

A tabloid in the UK ran with the headline that Spider-Man was black and could (gasp!) be gay in the future due to the open-mindedness of the creators. Spidey is now not only pushing a black agenda, but a gay agenda too! While Ultimate Peter Parker was always set to be replaced this year, people have jumped to the illogical conclusion that clearly he was killed simply to make way for a black man. In fact, the idea of a non-white Spider-Man has been waiting in the wings for some time and the planned death of Peter Parker allowed the idea to be put to use. Poor straight white people, with their lack of representation. Oh wait, they have everyone else.

Despite what many commentators would have you believe, the decision to have a new Spider-Man of colour is not racist, nor is it "reverse-racist". It's not even discriminatory. Western society is however, institutionally racist, with white people holding both the power and the prejudice (as well as control of the dictionary definitions). Almost 30% of the US population identifies as non-white (15% in the UK), but these numbers do not translate to our films, television programmes, or comics. (Equally, women make up 51% of the population of both the US and the UK, unlike the population of films and comics.)

Spidey is carrying a lot more weight on his shoulders now. Poor kid, no wonder he's sweating!

The reveal of Miles Morales under the Spidey mask has shone a light on the nasty side to our so called "post-racial" society. Believe me, those that have to live it every day never believed in such a thing. The day a character can be revealed as being non-white and that not be newsworthy? Well then we might be getting somewhere.

Comics may be an odd slice of pop culture, almost constantly at odds with both their fans and society at large, but the one thing they can do better than almost any other media is reflect and even instigate real change in the real world. The path of black characters in comics, as well as that of women in comics, has intersected with the real life movements in our society, and historically Marvel have led the way: from the noble T'Challa, Joseph Robertson who kept J. Jonah Jameson in check, through to Luke Cage and Storm, many of these characters are still around today, albeit very low in number. Perhaps Miles Morales will be around decades later too.

If the superhero world is a reflection of all the best that humanity can be, fans of diversity need to step up and support all decent attempts to show the world as it should be. Progressive, not regressive.

Comments (15) Trackbacks (2)
  1. I don’t have much to add to this, so I’ll just say thanks for the article! I was thinking about these very issues the other day, not in direct relation to comics, though the shock that issues of non-whiteness cause do seem to ripple through all aspects of the media.

    The public often says it wants cultural diversity, until they actually get it and realise they might have to rethink some of their antiquated viewpoints.

    A quick search on twitter shows up just how alarmingly racist society still is. Personally I’m glad for the Spider-Man change, hopefully Miles won’t fall foul of a “Oh! That’s his evil black clone! Here’s the real, white Miles!” storyline!

  2. Thank you for bringing up Bane in the Dark Knight Rises. I had completely forgotten that he was Latino.

  3. For the most part I agree with you, but I feel I should point out that the reason nobody made a fuss over Tom Hardy being cast as Bane is that ‘Latino’ is not a race.

  4. Another great thought provoking article so thank you and well done :)

  5. Firstly: Another great article, keep ’em coming!

    The whole ‘controversy’ over Miles Morales just made me sad. When I saw the announcement that the new Ultimate Spidey was Black/Latino I thought “that’s nice, a positive step by Bendis (who always seems to make the effort to write inclusive comics) and a sound decision by Marvel” and paid it no more mind. Until I woke up the next morning and saw the sh!t-storm.

    At first I felt an urge to give up on comics websites, out of revulsion for the community and a desire to not be associated with such people.

    Then it occurred to me that virtually every comics fan I’ve met was a nice well-rounded person, generally quite liberal in outlook and I had a realisation: the outrage comes partly from a very small and very vocal minority of comics fans but mostly from ‘outside’ the community, i.e. the Daily Mail, its readership and their American equivalents.

    These people don’t read comics but want the medium (like they want EVERYTHING) to conform to their narrow conception of how the world should be.

    Fortunately it seems as though there’s been a less-widely publicised (doesn’t fit their agenda or sell papers) backlash from comics fans against the bigots. Articles such as this one have been springing up in their dozens (though generally not so comprehensive or well written) and it has greatly lifted my spirits to see the brighter side of comics fans on the ‘net.

  6. I really impressive article; It does seem an impossible task to re-imagine existing characters or introduce new ones, let alone to approach it from an inclusive angle.

    A friend and I had discussed what would be a truly gutsy move by either DC or Marvel; not a character reboot but a full company reboot. Lock all the top tier characters in the “Disney Vault” for about 10 years and start from scratch. If done right, it could boost the value of those characters and their material while opening the floodgates for a new generation of creativity.

    For all the reasons stated Miles deserves and has earned his shot at web slinging. Yet a strong argument can be made for introducing and making a long-term commitment to center stage minority characters. And to the opponents you can simply say “You don’t like him/her yet, but that’s okay. You have time.”

  7. Thank you for bringing up Bane. I’m still upset at his whitewashing, as Bane identifies with his Latino culture, completely ignoring his British side (because he feels nothing for his British father, King Snake) and it’s a pivotal part of his characterization. I can’t believe they hired Tom Hardy, when there are many Hispanic actors who fit the part far better, like Fernando Colunga (who even looks like Bane).

    Needless to say, I won’t be watching the latest Batman.

  8. I’m curious for for peoples thoughts about the use of African characters (Black Panther, sometimes Storm depending on which retconned origin, and now the upcoming Batwing) to fix the lack of black characters in comics which are basically focused on the American consumer market, and so contributing to cultural identities and representations etc.
    On the one hand it creates a globalized story telling, but on the other it kinda denies a place for African Americans. That is to say a character of African descent who is part of the shared history of the United States rather than an outsider “from over there…”. Its just a query, as realize there are guys like Luke Cage and Mr Terrific, but I find it interesting when non WASP characters (in various mediums) often seem to have their racial difference coupled with a nationality question.

  9. “But the Ultimate Line is a far cry from the Elseworld stories of the past that have seen experimentation and black Supermen: Ultimate Spider-Man is more successful than the main title, and has been consistently popular since its conception in 2000. It doesn’t get any realer.”

    While it is true that the Ultimate line is more successful than 2099, the line has been in steady decline sales wise since Ultimatum and the main ASM outsells USM regularly by 20000 copies at least. USM will see a sales bump because of the number one but if the title fails in the long run it will be partly due to readers like me who have dropped the title because it has someone else under the mask and not because of the racial makeup of the lead. Peter Parker is Spidey and it’s impossible to extricate the Parker aspect from A list icon like Spider-man.

    Anyone who thinks Miles might get even a quarter of the cultural penetration and exposure and awareness Peter Parker has is deluding themselves. Miles’s book might last but I disagree with the notion that the best way to introduce diversity is to create replacements or derivatives. It might have its positives but it does a great disservice to the new character.

    I wonder how much the situation will play out next year when we will have the first in house produced animated series by Marvel, after the Disney buyout, called Ultimate Spider-man headlined by Peter Parker.

  10. I wanted to actually make a nice response, but then I saw your “About” section and the name of the blog. They just translate to “LOOK GUYS I’M A GIRL AND I DO GEEKY STUFF ISN’T THAT AWESOME?”.
    In the end, what you do with your blog and what Marvel did with Miles is essentially racist/sexist. By calling attention on that you are different, you’re making that difference even more obvious. You just stand out in the crowd of white males.
    Yes, women are half of our population and we barely have superheroines. But then again, do we really have half female writers and half female audience?
    Same with the minorities. If you want cultural diversity in my comics, don’t you think we need to handle the cultural diversity from our real life first?

    If a black guy or a woman is a protagonist in a TV show, or a book, or member of a band, no one complains. Because those are for everyone, made and enjoyed by every part of our human spectrum.

    Forcing a white male making video games or comic books to depict blacks and women (which he may not even understand well enough, since he’s white and a guy) is racist in itself. You’re holding and changing something by force, something that your side doesn’t even really want to enjoy.

    I don’t mind Miles Morales being black, even though he is just for its own sake. I do mind that Spiderman is black just for its own sake. Instead of having Miles as a new character, someone that can shine by itself, he gets pushed in another comic just so it can force cultural diversity on our throats.

    Same with you. Can’t you be a comic book fan without showing off your girl characteristic? Can’t you stop demanding white males from doing your job of integrating comic books to a female audience? I’m just saying..

    • You wanted to make a nice response until you found out I say I’m a woman? An anonymous voice on the internet is, by default, assumed to be male (white, straight and cis too), and being a woman has a large effect on how I consume and enjoy comics. People react in surprise, disbelief, or condescension when they find out I read comics, play games, enjoy sci-fi and would like to have an opinion on my media. And being a woman and participating in what is still seen as male dominated culture is a hell of a different experience from what the “default” males experience. I’ve been told this time and again, not just by women, but by many of the male regulars that follow my site.

      You may be correct (though others would argue) that no one complains if “a” black guy or woman is a protagonist in a tv show/book/film/etc but you can bet they do if they start to get uppity and make the cast actually representative. Suddenly it’s media for black people or for women because they’ve dared to go against that default. Spider-Man was only ever white just for the sake of it, being black is no different. In fact, it would make no difference if every superhero was black instead of white – it would be just as imbalanced, yet it would actually scare the old default contingent. It’s incredible.

      So yes, I’m a woman and that very much informs all my opinions on comics, and my criticism and support of them. I do not demand anything of my comics, except perhaps that they survive. The games industry is successfully increasing its female audience, and while publishing in general is struggling, women make up the bulk of the market and graphic novels/tpbs are one of the few growing genres in the UK. Not only is it financial sense, but I personally believe that comics have a large amount of power to influence as well as reflect societal change.

      And to be perfectly fair to the comics industry, I haven’t yet heard from any of the writers, artists and publishers who enjoy my work that they disagree.

  11. You are damn good at this. Keep it up, please.

  12. The problem isnt the great racial divide. its trying to take established Characters and rewrite them or latch onto their Popularity to effect a persons view of Change. The Original deal with Comic books were they were a means of social revolution. They were a nerds voice to be heard in a cacophony of hipsters and cool people. The Xmen symbolized the great Racial divide as mutants were really black people and their plight during the civil rights. Batman is the hero we all long for in a world of crime and evil on so many levels. Although Superman is the shining beacon of Hope He is a great Popular Charachter but it is Batman who provides us hope as to being human overcoming impossible odds and always fighting the good fight. These Characters inspire us. But when we look at the new characters they are poorly developed and usually a thrown in Character to appease some people who want their culture represented just to be represented. U can say oh u are saying that because u are white, but in actuallity I am black. I am a minority the great black characters were all developed and well written which is why they have lasted. Luke Cage Power Man was a great Character. Blade was a really good Character but is underused by Marvel. He had his own serious for a while and it really began to get into the mythical world of Vampires Werewolves and the like. We see a resurgence to the Horror genre now. This Character’s popularity should be maintained. The Black Panther is really the Black Bruce wayne. Strategic detective like Methodical analytical and the peak of a human physically in perfection. This Character embodies the critical thinking we all should aspire to much like Bruce Wayne and the Batman the Black Panther always has a plan. The new Characters and storylines are often betraying to the Notion of Comics as they are being written to suit an aspect of the Population rather than great storytelling most cases. The New Blue Beetle is actually the opposite of that which makes the bok a bit refreshing. The Blue Beetle was killed off as part of Infinite Crisis and was an amazing story His replacement then was later developed and introduced as part of the Teen Titans. The Characters origin wasnt revealed for a while so it was a miystery. He was a change in costume and Powers and storyline makings his Takeover successful. In Spidermans case he was so Iconic some things should be changed just in the name of their are more minority readers so lets take mainstream characters and rewrite who they are for sme minorities. Lifelong lasting Characters are always newly created and newly minted not living off the name or exploits of their predecessor. Characters like War Machine who was a spinoff of Iron Man but made his character different and unique and equally loved by readers. This is what storytelling is about. Black Lighting in DC became more dangerous after being under Batman’s tutelage and influence… His run with the Outsiders and his Term at infiltrating President Luthor’s cabinet was a stroke of genius. It brought the character into the fold of him being strategic and biding his time rather than swooping in with no plan and trying to take Luthor out. Change from within … what a Great Concept. John Stewart the Black Green Latern what can I say … Its an architects world John is also a marine and was a developed Character with his own story lines and I like the Guy in The JLA series and in the Corps. He is the Outsider as a black man sho sees things differently and everyone takes notice of his view. He is a very good character. The Corps are Great as a hole with Kyle Rayner when he replaced Hal Jordan he was also a well developed Character. He didnt ursurp Hals legacy or attempt to hijack it he made his own way into being a very popular Green Lantern. Now this brings me to the next new Faction of whats wrong with a lot of Comic Books now days.
    The new belief that we should make a lot of new Characters Gay just to appeal to their lifestyle. I believe we should have Gay characters in comic books but I dont believe we should latch them on to Popular Charaters names in order to try to influx them into Comic mainstream. Green Lantern had the Hate Crime Storyline with his assistant Terry. This was a great story it was introduced into mainstream comics it showed ways that straight people should interact with Gay People It was a social change and a message of love for friend and family no matter what their choices are. Next Up we have The Titans Black Lighting’s Daugther Thunder (Anissa) and Grace in what was the Outsiders at the time… They were two lesbian or bisexual women as Grace had slept with Roy Harper. Anissa was also black and the way these characters got together was a great creation of a love affair in comic books. It was sublte, developed, not rushed, and it flowed it wasnt forced. Compare this to the Love affair that is the direction of Congo Bill and Mikail Tomas Starman. Instantly these two meet hate each other and then all in the same book instantly start crying each others names when the other one is in a fight scene. Its rushed its forced and thats why it didnt work as Characters on the Team. Its difficult to accept because its an attempt at placating a group of people without actually building the characters into likeable Characters first then letting their sexuality come forward as a side Part of the Character rather than the Defining trait of the Character. The Comic Book Person should come before their sexuality they should hhave more defining characteristics than simply being Gay or lesbian.
    This Brings me to the Horrific thing that was introduced into the Bat World we now call Batwoman. Thats right I said Horrifying and let me dismantle how Badly this Character was designed and forced into the world trying to Ursurp the Bat name all in the sense of bringing Gay and Lesbian love into Comics without Developing the Character and forcing it rather than Building it up. Lots of Gay and Lesbian readers will be up in arms but I invite them to dispute the facts I am about to give about the origin of thise Character. if They try to attack me and say I am Homophobic that cant work either as I have just given u three gay characters and storylines I like and I am about to give u another. Lets go to Renee Montoya shall we. A very well developed Character in the Batman Mythos. An Intergral hard hitting cop who is attractive in comic book standards and gets hit on a lot. Her character is built into the stpories and then begins to get her own sidestories that are a natural biproduct of her Character. Renee Montoya ha sto evolve and she does she becomes the Question in the 52 storyline. Its an amazing story and we see in this Batwoman is introduced as a side story in the Crime Bible etc etc … But Batwoman is shown sleeping with men … No mention of Westpoint no mention of Dont ask dont tell and she is a side Character to Renee. When U read the new Batwoman Books u see that Plasters on the first page in every book. Its disgusting not because of her sexuality its because of how they tried to change it to make it more that what it was. In 52 u see Kate Kane is bisexual as she is rich and sleeping with men at dinner parties etc and thats the Implication. Kane and Renee have a things and some history … But inthe new Batwoman Books she is lesbian even though thats not the history of the Character. they try to make her like Batman and analytical but it doesnt work. bataman history is his own because of what happened to him one traumatic event. Kane doesnt have that catalyst like other heroes do … Its just reeks of let me try to add in a sensational story just for the sake of adding one in. BY Comparison the New Batwind Series has taken time to build the character. Not Gay but a new Black Character. It develops and focuses on him and why he is what he is. It takes time to give u insight and makes u like the character aside from his personal choices or lifestyle. This is the Key ingredient moissing in Batwoman and for those of us who remember the Characters introduction we know that this is appeasement rather than good story telling. I have read the Storyline its not very good. Neither is the New Green Arrow and quite a few of DC’s Relaunches are flopping becauise of trying to reinvent the wheel and taking away from the Characters Quality. This is where good storytelling trumps sensational relaunches. The Batman books themselves are for the most part good. The Dark Knight is eh but most of the other books are good. The Superboy somehow being a super Genius and Superman too were dumb Ideas because those Charatcers have all the powers in the world but dont think before they act and for anyone who reads the books knows this so to try to make them more than what they are weakens the Character and his Continuity. The appearace of Batman in the regular Justice League is equally disturbing because in Issue Five he isnt even on the Cover with the rest of them … A bit disturbing they make him more Pompous and more comical relief than the analytical most dangerous man on the planet we all have come to know and Love. The Batgirl book is equally problematic. Barabara Gordon gets out of the wheelchair ok we can believe it. Then she was the brilliant mind as Oracle that somehow goes and regresses to being a Ditzy non thinking crime fighter. In Bruce Wayne The Road Home She was the one Person Bruce couldnt fool at all because she is developing into a version of him as a detective so I dont by the Regression … Give me back Oracle anyday.

  13. Despite what many commentators would have you believe, the decision to have a new Spider-Man of colour is not racist, nor is it “reverse-racist”. It’s not even discriminatory.

    You’re wrong, it is. Imagine the reverse. Had Spider-Man always been black, can you imagine how it would go over to suddenly make him white? Yet the reverse is accepted and anyone who opposes it is, hilariously, thought racist. McDuffie was a racist.


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