Cree Superhero Equinox To Debut in ‘Justice League United’ from Lemire and McKone
When Justice League United #0 ships to stores late in April readers will encounter a new roster of mostly familiar faces and one new hero, Equinox. A sixteen-year-old girl with powers tied to the changing seasons, Equinox is already notable ahead of her first appearance for being one of the few First Nations heroes currently appearing in superhero comics.
Created by Ontario resident and series writer Jeff Lemire, Equinox is a Cree girl named Miiyahbin. She hails from the community of Moose Factory in the Moose Cree territory of Northeastern Ontario, Canada, at the southern end of the Hudson Bay.
Lemire talked about his plans to introduce a Cree hero to the team as far back as October of last year, when Justice League United was still called Justice League Canada. (That title now applies to the first arc.) Lemire said he was inspired by the story of Shannen Koostachin, a 15-year-old Cree activist who led efforts to lobby for funding for First Nations education. Kooostachin died in a car crash in 2010 shortly before her sixteenth birthday, and a youth education movement, Shannen's Dream, was established in her memory.
CBC News provided an exclusive first look at Equinox and ran an interview with Lemire. Echoing a theme we've often observed here at ComicsAlliance, Lemire noted, "Most superheroes are white males ... we need diversity and we need different personalities. Especially when you're writing a team book with different superheroes, you need very distinct voices and personalities on the team."
Lemire visited the Moose Factory community and spoke to Cree teenagers to find the voice for his character, and spoke to residents to hear their ideas. One resident advised Lemire to steer clear of "beads and fringe and feathers and a loincloth", and while Equinox's costume is inspired by traditional Cree ceremonial clothing, it's certainly more contemporary than the costumes worn by many First Nations and Native American heroes like Red Wolf, Owlwoman, Shaman, Dawnstar, or Black Crow. The character's nature-based powers may skirt close to cliché, but much will depend on the execution. She's thankfully neither a tracker nor a shamanistic magic user like... Red Wolf, Owlwoman, Shaman, Dawnstar, and Black Crow.
The Justice League United roster is not short on white dudes - it includes Hawkman, Green Arrow, Animal Man and Adam Strange - so the addition of a new Cree hero to the team and to the DC Universe is welcome and laudable. We hope she makes an impact, and serves as an inspiration to First Nation comic readers in search of new heroes. Characters like Equinox can make a huge difference to minority audiences, and can help shape the diversity and resilience of the superhero genre for generations to come.
Justice League United #0 is available in stores and online on April 23rd.