Diversity in Comics

So I have felt some rumblings for awhile about the addition of diversity in comics. This includes any change in a persons race, gender, or sexuality. For this rant I’ll focus on Captain America being black, and Thor being a woman. Comics are an ever evolving and changing medium. Often the trends in society affect comics (and trends in comics affect society), the effect of this has led to a more diverse cast of characters. To this I say good. Before female Thor I had no interest in reading Thor. He came across as a hulking brute (admittedly with beautiful hair), who liked to smash things with a hammer…..bor-ing. The addition of a now female Thor has led to a more nuanced character with several levels of personality. Shes funny, witty, intriguing, and still kicks butt. Overall a large improvement on old Odinson. As for Captain America, Steve Rogers is like a billion years old and he decided to retire and pass his mantle on to some one else. That someone happened to be Sam Wilson (formerly the Falcon), who also just happens to be black. Whats the big deal!? Sam was a sidekick of Caps and a close friend. It makes perfect sense for him to step into that role. So I have no problems with it.

black-captain-america

The second thing that makes me mad is when people say “You have to uphold the integrity of the creators characters”. When utilizing this argument you have to realize the context in which the characters were created. The two listed up above were created between the 40s’60s. That era in Americas history was much more close minded about diversity than we are today. So even if the creators had wanted to put a black person as, say, Captain America, there’s no way that would have been published. Society then was going through such a shake up, and the powers at be would never have let that happen. We are in a much better place now, for comics to more properly reflect the true diversity of America than we were then.

Another argument people use (which usually is a thinly veiled attempt to not appear racist) is “Why don’t they just make new ethnic characters?” The answer is they are. You can look to the big two and see some expanding of diversity in new characters (Ms. Marvel, Silk, etc.). Where the big explosion really is is in the indie market. Companies┬ásuch as Image, Boom!, and Dark Horse just to name a few, really put out great works with a large amount of diversity. Often these series are creator owned (meaning the are created by the writers and artist, and they maintain the rights to the characters). This lends some credibility to the idea that when given the opportunity to work with a more diverse palette, creators often will. Which would seem to validate my last point

I guess to sum it up: Stop complaining and enjoy this era of comics we are in. There’s much more diversity, which leads to more interesting and layered story telling, and fresh new and exciting characters. Society, like comics, is not static. Its dynamic. Ever evolving ever changing. I think our comics should be the same.

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