comicbookGRRRL Do not offend the chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible.

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