Topic Review: Diversity in Comics

(Disclaimer: All pictures and story ideas belong to Marvel Comics.)

Introduction

Diversity is becoming a major topic in all forms of media. “Is [insert anything] appealing to [insert this race/religion/sexual Orientation/gender]? Well, if it isn’t then let’s make it that way!” This mindset is not bad when it comes to comic books because they can produce some really good stories that everyone wants to read but “Forced Diversity” is a problem especially when it is not needed and avoidable. With the sudden news about Iceman suddenly being gay, I thought I would give my opinion on this topic while giving two examples where I think diversity was introduced in a good way and a bad way. The first form of diversity I wanna discuss will be “Ethnic Diversity” and after that, “Sexual Diversity”

Ethnic Diversity

Race has became a very “hot” topic in the days as of late. Comic books are no exception. Marvel and DC alike have both tried to incorporate race changes into more known and popular heroes. In their reboot called “the new 52” DC reintroduced every character with some having major changes and some being pretty much the same as before. One major change that really ruffled feathers was changing the second Flash, Wally West, from caucasian into an African American. This is a problem because they changed who he is and what made him recognizable. This could have been avoided simply by introducing a new speedster who is African American. He could become just as popular looks as he is an interesting character with some really cool stories. Now over at Marvel they took the popular superheroine, Ms. Marvel and gave her the identity of Captain Marvel. So what did they do with the “Ms. Marvel” name? Well, they gave it to Kamala Khan. Kamela is not only a pakistani but also a muslim. I think this was a great move and I am not alone. The solo series by Kamala Khan has received some outstanding reviews to the point of her joining a new avengers team starting in the fall of 2015. This says a lot because of all the books being released after their new event they would only want characters to be in the book that would make people wanna buy it. So adding Kamala Khan tells you how popular she is. I am saying all this as an example of how you can create new characters to bring in a certain ethic group and do not need to change a well known and loved hero but Marvel not every decision Marvel has made can be considered perfect.

Sexual Diversity

Just last month veteran comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis changed the entire history of well known X-Men member “Iceman” by revealing that he has always been gay but just afraid to admit it. The problem here stems just like the Wally West situation but I believe it to be way worse simply because sexual orientation is more of who you are (or rather who you choose to be) then skin color. This would be passable if he simply was made bi-sexual or maybe something else but saying he has always been gay when there has been no definite proof of this in past comics is just lame. There are plenty of really interesting gay X-Men that they could have used or could have even created a new character instead of turning Iceman gay. On the flipside an independent writer named Brian Anderson created a Gay Mormon superhero named Stripling Warrior. This book is being published by “So Super Duper Comics” and I really like what they did. My personal feelings aside the writer wanted to write a superhero who was both gay and a mormon so he created a brand new one. Such a better idea then making Batman a gay mormon. It is too early to say if creating Stripling Warrior will pay off like Kamala Khan did as his debut issue has yet to be released but the news this has gained and all the people talking about this is enough to say this has paid off at least in the advertising department.

Conclusion

I’d say it is clear where I stand on this matter. Creating a new character not only will shut up fanboys who enjoy characters the way they are ,but also the reception in sales can be beneficial if you make the character something people want to read. All this boils down to is story and making it fun to read. If it read as if it was forced and just done for attention then there is a good chance people will not return to the book in the following issue. Also if you were to say “Race really doesn’t define who you are”. In a way I would agree with this statement but what I mean is by keeping the character recognizable. Now, if making new character proved to have been a failed experiment and sales had shown people wouldn’t want to buy books based on new characters then I could see where making Wally West black or Iceman gay to be somewhat understandable but Kamala Khan(and others) have proven that new characters can sale books long as the stories are great. So, in short (Similar to death in comics) race diversity should be done for story and not for the “Shock and Aw” appeal. If you agree/disagree with what you just read then I would love to hear what you think and if you would like to read more blogs then simply “like” Comic Conversations on Facebook for more blogs when they are posted.

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2 Responses to Topic Review: Diversity in Comics

  1. xmenxpert says:

    The big problem with the “introduce new characters” thing is that it doesn’t really work. Very, very, very few new characters actually see much use beyond the series they’re introduced in. Even with Kamala Khan, it’s too early to tell if she’ll have real staying power. Her series has lasted just over a year, and still has strong sales, which is very promising, and she’s going to be in All-New Avengers. But just the same, we don’t know if, 5 years from now, anyone will care about her.

    Marvel creates new characters all the time. They almost never catch on. They don’t have large fanbases pushing for them to be used. Other writers usually aren’t interested, because they have stories they’ve been wanting to tell for years about existing characters. And then, of course, sometimes, writers do have plans for a character, but are told they can’t use them, even though the character isn’t being used anywhere else anyway. Predictably, this seems to come up more often for minority characters.

    So changing existing characters is a way to bring in diversity that readers really have no choice but to get invested in. No one is going to read a series about Falcon. But a series about Falcon as Captain America? They’ll read that. With LGBT characters, Anole is treated as wallpaper, but Iceman? He has a lot of fans, there’s a lot of writers who love the character, he’s a character who will get consistent use.

    I have no problem with “forced” diversity because it’s still diversity. It’s still getting minority characters out there, making people read about them. Can it be done badly? Sure, but bad writing is bad writing, and diversity has nothing to do with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. chrjoh2010 says:

    I do see what you are saying about new characters and that makes me think of the really interesting characters introduced in Avengers Academy who either haven’t been seen since or were in Avengers Undercover and will most likely not be seen again.

    I guess it is kinda rare for new characters to really kick it off but then they could just use pre-existing characters.

    Like

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