Deny it if you want, but after last week’s Strange Fruit controversy (which Boom Studios has yet to address), this week’s discussion about Marvel’s appropriation of hip hop and black culture (which Tom Brevoort addressed first badly, then wrongly) and a general pattern of racial diversity promised in press releases but rarely actually seen in the creative process… the writing is on the wall.
San Diego Comic-Con is underway, bringing over 130,000 people to enjoy the pop culture extravaganza taking place inside and outside the convention center. There is a lot to see and do every day during SDCC. More likely than not, if you don't go in with a plan for experiencing the things that you most want to check out, you'll miss them!
Starting this fall in the Marvel comic book universe, Spider-Man will be a half-black, half-Latino teenager. Starring in the character’s flagship series by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, Miles Morales has given a new generation of comic book readers a superhero that reflects our diverse culture. But fans also learned recently that the newest iteration of the web-slinger on the big screen will once again be Peter Parker, as British actor Tom Holland, the third white actor to play the character since 2002, was announced as the new Spidey.
Changing the racial identity of characters has become a contentious issue amongst fans of superhero comics and their adaptations in other media. The awful practices of casting white actors to play people of color, or of turning previously non-white characters into white characters, is all too common in movie adaptations of books, cartoons, TV shows, or even real life stories -- but rather surprisingly, superhero comics and their adaptations have mostly avoided this problem.
In comics, the controversy takes a different direction. Several white characters have become non-white, mostly in movies, and sometimes in reboots. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four; Helena Bertinelli aka the Huntress in the New 52; Nick Fury in the Ultimate Comics line and on screen. These are changes that agitate some readers -- but realistically, the changes don't go far enough. Superhero comics have a cultural bias towards white characters that has everything to do with their institutional history and nothing to do with what makes sense to the stories.
The comics world has been mourning the loss of writer and producer Dwayne McDuffie since his passing last month, and I recently stumbled across a website cataloging a series of interviews with McDuffie that address the issues he faced as a black writer working at Marvel and DC, and the discomfort, pigeon-holing and criticism he often encountered...
In this month's comic book solicitations, it's been revealed that Ray Palmer is making a return to comics as the Atom, following in the footsteps of characters like Hal Jordan and Barry Allen in what I like to call "regressive storytelling...
After Barack Obama was elected in 2008, talking heads started pushing the idea of "post-racial" America. "Finally!" they shouted. "America is past race!" Exactly what post-racial meant was never all that clear...
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