Yes, in the 40’s all comics were racist as hell, with Wonder Woman having Mammy maids and Superman punching “Japs” (NOT Jewish American Princesses) and Captain America and Dick Tracy saving their little tar baby buddies, but as little as a generation later, we had Black Panther introducing himself by beating the shit out of Captain America and Green Lantern getting schooled by a black lady for not protecting the hood and John Stewart being the most complicated and interesting Green Lantern in the entire GL Corps (Read Green Lantern: Mosaic and get #wokeAF). Even though 70’s creations Black Lightning and Luke Cage/Power Man were the designated token Blaxploitation heroes complete with what white people thought was ebonics back then, (Black Lightning, when asked to join the Justice League, said ON A COMIC COVER, “I ain’t hanging with you jive turkeys!”), their personal histories become so much more than the stereotype from whence they came.
However, there’s a reason why I use the term, “Make mine Marvel”. Leaps and bounds, in the last 20 years, they have been in front of DC when it comes to diversity. There have been multiple volumes of Blade, Black Panther, Luke Cage, Deathlok, War Machine, and even a few Storm mini-series. Storm has been official leader of multiple X-Men teams. The history of Black Panther’s Wakanda is as rich as any real east African nation’s. Luke Cage is a hell of a lot more than just a jive talking bulletproof dude. Even his black villains (e.g. Tombstone) are complicated entities. Marvel’s killing it.
“But what about DC’s Milestone line?”
Shut up, Steve.
Milestone was a valiant effort, but it was universe that DC created to get more minority readers. It’s not like they DIDN’T have minority readers, though! We just wanted more minority superheroes in the grander DC Universe! Instead, they made a “separate but equal” universe of heroes that were similar to DC Proper’s realm. Did they not know that Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned? There is a reason why there’s a site called www.HasDCDoneSomethingStupidToday.com, and not a sister site for Marvel. Fortunately, DC folded Milestone into the main DC Universe after the Infinite Flashpoint Crisis: Tokyo Drift, or whateverthefuck, so now there exists a black superhero in the DC Universe who can beat up Superman (Google Icon).
In the 21st Century, though, Marvel has been crushing it in the diversity realm. Jane Foster as Thor, Miles Morales as a new Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen Stacy, a gay marriage on the front cover of an X-Men comic, Amadeus Cho as a new Hulk, RiRi Williams is the new Iron Man, all while still maintaining the popularity of staples like Storm, War Machine, Black Panther, and Luke Cage. All this, plus the fact that every mutant and X-man, whether black, white or green, is essentially metaphorically a black/brown/institutionally marginalized person. Couple all of this with Marvel’s efforts to hire a diverse writing staff, from Kelly Sue deConnick for Captain Marvel to G. Willow Wilson (a Muslim woman!) for Ms. Marvel to Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay for Black Panther. Marvel is very critical in increasing the supply of White Male Tears™
White Male Tears™: They’re salty, but they’re oh, so sweet.
You can see the White Male Tears™ flow under every comment section under an article about the development of a new character or an author change. The whitesplanations and mansplanations give are vast and diverse, from, “[Superhero] is white!”, to “[Superhero] is a man!”, punctuated with, “your political correctness is going to ruin my childhood!” Ah yes. Because Marvel Entertainment has a task force that has mastered time travel and is ripping comic books from your 20 years ago hands while you’re trying to read them and gluing the faces of Malcom X and Gloria Steinem in the place of the main protagonists. Cry me a river, a river of deliciousness.
White Male Tears™: GD Power & Associates’ 5-Star pick for pool of liquid in which to sadly masturbate when you realize how fragile your image of straight masculinity is.
I applaud Marvel for all of its efforts to make the comic world look more like the real world, but with more people who can fly and shoot lasers out of their eyes. However, I have one gripe.
I loved the Civil War story arc. It was a riveting tale with so many questions brought in from the real world about personal autonomy vs. how far a government should go to limit that autonomy. The idea of regulating and registering superheroes based on one tragedy that got worldwide attention brings up memories of previous race-based limits on immigration and housing locations, the requirement that Jews wear Stars of David on their sleeves, and the debates about how to “monitor muslims”. The story is 10 years old, and it still resonates today. Even the part where the X-Men pretty much laughed said, “Been there, done that”, and STILL had divisions on the pro-/anti-registration sides was poignant.
With such an amazing, relevant story, why, oh why did the black guy have to die first? When I saw the image of Goliath being killed, the only thing I could say was, “Really???” Why’d it have to be a brother? We were JUST getting used to calling him “Goliath” instead of “Black Goliath”! I know in the grand scheme of popularity, Goliath is a second-tier hero, but why not kill off a tertiary character? Like, who gives a shit about Frog Man? Why not kill Ben Reilly? We have enough Spider-Mans as it is. You could have even killed Bucky again. He was dead for so long anyway! His powers are dumb anyway! Instead, you kill the literally biggest, blackest hero in the Marvel universe. Not cool, but I’m not mad at you, because the overall story was pretty good.
Fast forward to 2016, and I was excited about Civil War II. This was just as interesting, albeit a little bit more hypothetical. What if you knew how the future was going to play out? Would you do everything to tamper with to change, or would you let time and actions take their course? Would you be able to stop/kill a person who has not yet done the crime that you already know they are going to do? It’s a little bit “Minority Report” and a little bit “Would you kill baby Hitler”, but with spandex jumpsuits. Iwas was into it, until Thanos killed Jim Rhodes/War Machine.
OH, COME ON!!!
You seriously had a second Civil War with a different compelling precedent, but the first one to die is the brother??? What are you doing, Marvel? This time, it’s a primary character! Do I need to start a sit called “Has Marvel Killed a Brother Today”? Are you trying to get in on the “killing/maiming a marginalized group character to drive the story” schtick? DC has the market cornered on fridging. Maybe you can call this “Crispus Attucksing”. Don’t go the way of damn near every schlocky horror flick. Don’t tell me Marvel spent all this time developing all of these minority superheroes just so that they could kill them off every other major story arc. This is going to make the White Male Tears™ dry up!
I love Marvel, and I love what they’re doing, but if Crispus Attucksing turns out to be a new trend, I might have to Make Mine Image.