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Hollow Victories for Comic Diversity
You’ve heard it said plenty of times, but it’s a great time to be a comic book fan. With the amazing movies from the ever-expanding MCU, television shows, both upcoming and currently airing new seasons like Arrow, Agents of SHIELD, Supergirl, Daredevil, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash, to the promise that the DCEU holds, there’s a lot to be excited about.
Another reason to be excited is the idea of more “diversity” in both comics and the industry at large. With movements like “All-New, All-Different” and “DCYou” having introduced and highlighted new and formerly marginalized characters and concepts, it’s tough not to find something worth reading.
At least, that’s how things would work in theory. This writer, however, has noticed an alarming trend in this smorgasbord of new ideas. A trend of hollow victories being celebrated by groups that are now having their voices heard now more than ever in comics.
Hot arguments and criticism over diversity are aimed at the men and women at DC and Marvel Comics on a regular. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making those at the top know what the situation at the bottom is, and it’s better to tell someone something a thousand times than for them to believe everything is milk and honey.
DC and Marvel are filled with powerful people that can make things happen in terms of diversifying their companies, but far too often it seems they take the easy way out, only for it to be gobbled up like a spoonful of sugar.
I understand that today, there’s more to the world than just who we are on the outside being taken into account. The LGBTQ community is vast and deserves a voice and an image in this medium. However, DC and Marvel continually go for the low-hanging fruit. An example of this can be seen in some of their decisions in the past few years.
While I’m a fan of Thor, and I do think there is room for a female, Asgardian, leading lady, Thor…is not that person. Yet, this was what Marvel went with, and the Feminist crowd ate it up, for good reason. Here she was, a powerful, competent, female putting down Frost Giants better than the Odinson could. So maybe I’m the one who is odd for wondering why, instead of settling for female Thor, nobody pushed for Marvel to better promote its existing Asgardian heroines like Sif or Angela? It just seems a bit cheap to still use the Thor name, but hey, maybe that’s just me being more demanding than I have any right to be.
I can though, commend DC for a more subtle approach, for instance the creation of original characters like Bunker to meet the demand for more diverse characters. I’d think people would call more for an emphasis on creation and nurturing of new characters, rather than the transformation of older characters.
Agreed. The best solution is to create our own characters and stories and hope they ring true with others. https://t.co/SsjOp1yHux
— Peter Simeti (@petersimeti) October 18, 2015
I don't have issues with diversity. I have issues with companies using it as a marketing ploy. https://t.co/QpKrGZsalC
— Peter Simeti (@petersimeti) October 18, 2015
This applies not just to the sexuality of characters, but race as well. People talk about wanting more representation. However, I don’t think that should stop at just changing Superman into a black man or turning The Hulk into the alter ego of Amadeus Cho. I don’t understand why people don’t call out to DC and tell them to feature Static more, let Cho fight crime as himself, or put Vibe back in a series. Instead, DC will just shift some of their characters over to Earth-M, which I’m admittedly excited for, but it’s a hollow victory at best.
I mean, what can I say? Don’t get me wrong, I’m cool with stuff happening when it does. Sam Wilson as Captain America? I say Rogers chose well. Wally West potentially becoming Flash again? It worked once before, so why not? The thing about diversity is that it’s something that should feel organic in comics, otherwise you risk upsetting a fanbase that can admittedly be skeptical of change. However, I’m not going to call someone a racist or a transphobe or homophobe, just because they don’t like change shoehorned in for the sake of change. I consider that a legitimate grievance.
— Nerd Literature (@nerdliterature) October 18, 2015
I understand. DC and Marvel will want to make a lot of noise when it comes to diversity so they can go “See? We can be diverse and include you in our stories.” That’s great. I just kind of hope that, as we move forward, it’s not such a big thing to say “hey, we have a new Canadian Muslim transgender superhero and they’re leading The Avengers now!” Instead of learning about that on The View, I’d rather just be surprised and read it in the book. Because that really shouldn’t be a big deal.