Diversity in Comic; Divisive?

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Diversity in comics, it has become a topic of conversation and heated debates in recent years. Some see it as a move in the right direction for the comic book industry while others see it as a misstep that will turn away long time fans. I stand with the former rather than the latter, though I do agree that diversifying the medium at times seems forced and could be handled in a better from a story perspective.

Marvel being founded in 1939 and DC before it in 1934 had primarily an all white roster of super heroes and support cast. That remained for many years until the late 60’s and early 70’s when we were introduced to Black Panther and the Falcon at Marvel and Black Lighting at DC. That was a full thirty years before a Black character put on a mask to serve the greater good at either publisher. The same goes for any and all minorities as well; Asian, Hispanic/Latinos, Middle Eastern, etc. Even with the introduction of Black Panther and Black Lighting, super heroes with non-white background were far and in between.

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We fast forward a few decades to the 2000’s, the Civil Rights movement happened thirty years ago, we have had huge leaps in women’s rights and slow but steady progress with Gay rights. Yet with all that progression, when we look at the comic book genre it seems like they’re still behind in the times. The flagship titles for Marvel were X-Men, Avengers and Spider-Man; none with a single minority besides maybe Storm from the X-Men. Flagship titles for DC were Justice League, Batman and Superman. All not having a single minority, including supporting characters. Both companies weren’t mirroring the unique potluck of cultures and ethnicities we have in our country but still mirroring other aspects of it (Society) like our politics, pop culture and overseas conflicts.

Now as more people spoke out about needing diversity in comics among other mediums, Marvel and DC took note. In my opinion, Marvel embracing it more then the other. Marvel slowly started to introduce characters from different nationalities, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion for the past ten to fifteen years. Not to say that diverse characters weren’t in comics already but Marvel was pushing them to headline their flagship titles. One of the two Spider-Man titles stared a half Black/half Puerto Rican teenager who is Miles Morales, the protagonist in Thor was now a woman which is Jane Foster, Captain America is a Black man from Harlem named Sam Wilson, Ms. Marvel is a Muslim American by the name of Kamala Khan, The Hulk is an Asian America named Amadeus Cho and the list goes on and on.

DC hasn’t push diversity as much as Marvel in recent years but they have still made progress. In the last few years they have introduced two additions to the Green Lantern Corps, one Simon Baez a Lebanese  American Muslim who was initially framed for a terrorist attack and Jessica Cruz being Latin American and the first female Green Lantern from Earth. They also have Cassandra Cain which is the current Batwoman who is also an open member of the LGBT and is co-staring in Detective Comics along Batman. Detective Comics being one of DC’s flagship titles.

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With the recent steps towards diversity in comics, it doesn’t come without it’s share of backlash and problems. Many have claimed that DC and especially Marvel are just diversifying their super hero community as a publicity stunt and pandering to minorities. Some say that the publishers are messing up the the current super heroes in exchange to make way for the new ones, they would prefer instead to introduce new characters with their own super hero identity. Now while I hear those arguments, I adamantly disagree with them.

To argue that comic book publisher’s attempt at diversity is just a publicity stunt is absurd. Publicity stunts are done to make initial shock and be talked about for five minutes. Marvel and DC’s push for diversity has been a slow build that they have been working at for years. They have invested time and effort into these characters’s story arc, titles and development. Miles Morales who is a perfect example of Marvel’s commitment to new characters that are minorities. Miles was introduced in 2011 as the new Spider-Man for the ultimate universe with stellar writers and artists attached to the title for the entire run. He was once deemed as a stunt as well and yet six years in and he’s now in the main Marvel continuity, a member of the Avengers and the newly formed Champions.

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The reason behind the recent diversity stems from pandering? I think not. Diversity is a natural evolution of the medium.  Studies have shown that the main consumer of comics are white males in the 30’s and 40’s. It just makes sense to borden consumer base. Since DC and Marvel’s initiative sales have gone up for both companies across the board with new buyers of all ages and backgrounds. Some would counter that it could be caused by the boom in super hero movies driving sales but that’s been proven false. Since the MCU, there hasn’t been a jump in sales, movie goers don’t walk into comic book stores after watching The Avengers on the big screen. Women are buying more comics then ever, young adults and minorities have been driving up the sales as well. The top Marvel comics constant of a female Thor, a Muslim American and half Black/half Puerto Rican Spider-Man. People want to see super heroes that look like them, that they can relate to.

The biggest and fairest argument (Even if I don’t agree and see its massive flaws) is that it ruins the current super hero status quo in favor of being replaced by new characters. I think that complaint, for the most part, holds no basis. Let’s take the Thor title for example; the main character of that title, which was Thor Odinson has been replace by Jane Foster (His on again, off again girlfriend) as the title’s protagonist. People were up in arms, saying how preposterous it was for Thor to now be a woman. People were angry to be angry. Thor was still Thor, a man. Jane Foster, a woman, was bestowed with powers of an Asgardian and took on the mantle of Thor. Thor Odinson wasn’t dead or gone from any major books, he actually got a new book called “The Unworthy Thor” and is going by the name Odinson. The Thor you know and love is still there for you to enjoy.

In the case of Sam Wilson,  Marvel announced in late 2014 that he would be the new Captain America. Again, people were in full rage mode. “How could Captain America be Black? Captain America is white”. Actually, Steve Rogers is white; Captain America is a mantle that could be taken up by anyone no matter race, religion, creed or sexual orientation. Now if you would want to get technical though, the first Captain America was a Black man from Harlem named Isaiah Bradley but I digress. There have been multiple individuals to take up the mantle of Captain America, the most recent before Sam Wilson was Bucky Barnes. Bucky was Captain America’s (Steve Rogers) side kick back in WW II. He had shown up in the preset day and took up the mantle when Steve Rogers was assassinated. When that happened no one was in the streets in protest, even if Bucky was a Russian assassin that murdered dozens of political figures for decades and was now the face of our country. Why is that? Because he was white and it apparently made sense. Sam Wilson was Steve Rogers’s partner for years and a veteran Avenger, it makes sense for him to have the mantle of Captain America passed on to him by Steve Rogers himself because he represents what Captain America stands for as a symbol.

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Just to piss off some closed minded people. Jane Foster and Sam Wilson were a thing.

Now however, I do think Marvel and DC have made taken some missteps when trying to diversify their brand. When you introduce a new character, pass on mantles or shack up the status quo, it should feel organic and natural. I don’t think it has been the case in multiple instances. In 2015 Iceman from the X-Men comics came out as being gay by way of his younger self from the past that was stuck in the present admitted (Comics, I know). That’s all fine, the issue was that when asked about the Iceman from the present, he was straight which doesn’t make any sense. The same person at two different times of their lives can’t have different sexual orientations. When the writer did that he promoted the notion that sexual orientation is a choice rather then something you’re born with. The whole situation was poorly handled and later rectified when they had the present day Iceman admit to being gay all along.

Another instance was on DC’s behalf that I found was a poorly executed attempt at diversity. In 2014 DC introduced us to a new Wally West, being that the DC universe was reconfigured in Flash Point (Again, comics) some characters hand’t shown up in publication, one of those said characters being Wally. When he came to the scene it was meet with some backlash. The Wally that emerged wasn’t the Wally we all knew, the new Wally was a Black teenager. Now, personally the fact that he’s Black wasn’t an issue to me (Though it might have been to some), my issue was that in introducing that specific Wally you essential erased the Wally we all knew for decades out of existence. The new Wally wasn’t taken up a mantle he replaced a preexisting character that had decades of stories, relationships and effects to the DC universe. That was all done away with and rewritten with the introduction of the new Wally. Thankfully, the original interpretation of Wally West, having been the starring character in the Flash titles for many years, was still missed by DC’s fans, and so the company decided to bring the original Wally back into continuity in late 2016. Now both Wallys reside in the DC universe and all is right with the world.

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Regardless of any missteps, diversifying the comic book landscape is a admirable cause and one that we should applauded and welcomed. Comic books are an art and art imitates life, so it makes sense for the heroes to finally look like the rest of us. A reader should be able to pick up a comic book and see themselves when they look at the cover. There is no evil agenda being pushed, the only thing that is being pursued is realism, inclusion, equality and authenticity.

Hope you guys enjoyed our post! Check out our YouTube channel in the link below. Remember to like, subscribe, share and most importantly, comment  to let us know what you want us to talk about.

The Nerd Locker with the Pod Stars

Deathstroke confirmed and being played by Joe Manganiello.

Deathstroke is coming and many might not know who he is. He is a force to be reckoned with, he is easily physically and mentally superior to Batman. Here’s a quick rundown on who Deathstroke The Terminator is.

Slade Wilson joined the Army at sixteen by lying about his age. Once in, he excelled in all forms of warfare. He got the attention of higher ups and was chosen to undergo a experimental treatment to enhance adrenal glands to resist truth serum. This being comics, the experiment didn’t go as planned. Slade fell into a coma, when he awoke he discovered that he could use 90% of his brain at once and his strength, durability and agility had increased to near superhuman levels (Think a la Captain America).

Being unable to reenlist into the Army he became a mercenary. After an incident with a rival mercenary kidnapping his son he lost his eye during the rescue. He later wore a mask showing off that he only had one eye, boasting that he was still the world’s greatest mercenary even with the injuring.

Slade has a long history as an enemy of the Teen Titans, beginning when his son, Grant, he became an early Titans foe called the Ravager. Grant took a contract to defeat and capture the Titans. Ravager was given enhancements that granted him abilities, however, those enhancements proved fatal and Slade agreed to complete the contract after his death. As a result, he attacked the Titans continually.

Deathstroke has had run ins with the likes of Batman and has a deep rooted hatred towards Green Arrow which was show cased in the second season of Arrow on the CW. Slade even fought a part of the Justice League and systematically took them out one by one, eventually losing during a deadlock with Kyle Reyner, the Green Lantern, that Green Arrow capitalized on.

Slade has three children, all with an interesting and dark past as much as his father. I will feature them in future post but for now I hope you know a little bit more about Deathstroke The Terminator. He will be in the next solo Batman film starting Ben Affleck and How Manganiello.

Captain Marvel 101

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Captain Marvel (Mar-vell) is a fictional superhero appearing in Marvel Comics. The character was created by Stan Lee and designed by artist Gene Colan and first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 in 1967. He is of the alien race, the Kree, who was originally sent to Earth to spy on the human race. During his time he began to care for humans and would use his powers to help humanity. In one instance a crowd had over heard a villain yell out his name, Mar-vell, but misheard and they ended up calling him Captain Marvel. Over the years he would go on multiple adventures and have constant conflicts with his Kree brothers over his love for the human race. Mar-vell would unfortunately pass away due to lung cancer which was caused do to a fight with the villain Nitro after inhaling deadly nerve gas.

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Carol Danvers is the current character to take on the Captain Marvel mantle and probably the most popular one besides Mar-vell himself. She was created by writer Roy Thomas and designed by artist Gene Colan, Major Carol Danvers first appeared as a member of the United States Air Force in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 in 1968. Carol was very successful during her time in the Air Force, she even retired as a Colonel before accepting a securtiy position with NASA. Due to Carol becoming the youngest security captain in NASA’s history, she became involved in the schemes of the Kree Empire. That is when she met and became friends with Mar-Vell, whose enemies would be responsible for her accident/transformation. During a battle between Mar-vell with the alien Yon-Rogg, Carol was knocked into a damaged Kree Psyche-Magnitron, a powerful device that could turn imagination into reality. Carol’s genetic structure was altered making her a half-Kree superhuman. After Carol recovered from the explosion, she had gained superhuman powers much like those of Captain Marvel and her alter-ego even wore a costume patterned after that of the Kree hero. She became known as Ms. Marvel, and soon established herself as a powerful superhero in her own right. She went through several costume changes as most super heroes do. I placed some in this post so no one would get confused when searching her up in the future on the internet.

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Marvel Studios has decided to go with Carol Danvers as the character they will use to introduce the world to Captain Marvel. There are probably multiple reason why Marvel could’ve went that route. The original Captain Marvel hasn’t been used in continuity for over 30 years, excluding the occasional parallel universe or doppelgänger. Carol has had multiple self titled series and has been a mainstay on the Avenger titles for over ten years. She will also be the first female lead super hero movie from Marvel which needs to diversify their cinematic universe. All Marvel has is Black Widow played by the amazing Scarlett Johansson, which who knows how long she’ll be in contract with Marvel. They are in dire need of some girl power and they’ll have that and some with Captain Marvel.

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Finally some Captain Marvel news!

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Marvel just confirmed rumors that Brie Larson will be playing Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel due out in 2018. Captain Marvel’s first appearance might be in Avengers: Infinity War Part I which is coming out May 2017 before her own film.

Brie Larson is an Oscar winning actress and you might have seen her in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, 21 Jump Street, Room which she won an Oscar for and she’ll be starring in Kong: Skull Island along side the talented Tom Hiddleston.

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Comic-Con is hot and heavy right now and tons of news is coming out. I’ll try and keep up as much as I can. Stay tune for me! During the upcoming week I’ll give you guys a little insight on who Captain Marvel is.

 

 

New Poster for Wonder Woman released!

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Warner Bros. released a new poster for Wonder Woman’s feature film that is due out next summer in 2017. The poster is bright, powerful and with the tag line; Power, Grace, Wisdom, Wonder.

Wonder Woman is intended to be the fourth installment in the DC Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by Patty Jenkins who was behind the Oscar winner “Monster” starring Charlize Theron.  It’s being written by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns, Johns which is the “God father” of all things DC and behind dozens of A list productions in television, film and comics. It stars Gal Gadot, of course, from the Fast series and Chris Pine.

If you would like to know a bit more about Wonder Woman, check out my earlier post about Diana Prince by clicking on the link below.

https://thenerdlocker.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/wonder-woman-the-amazonian-princess/

There’s a new Hulk and he’s totally awesome.

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Amadeus Cho was created by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa and first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15. Amadeus is a Korean American teenager and at a young age, it was discovered that he had the ability to calculate and perceive the endless possibilities of a moment. He has a superhuman brain called a hypermind, which makes him one of the smartest people on the planet. At the age of 15, he was a senior in high school and competed in an online quiz sponsored by the Excello Soap Corporation.

The Excello quiz was actually a way  for a paranoid genius named Pythagoras Dupree to find other hyperminds like himself and kill them. Amadeus would have died in an explosion that destroyed his home and family, but he was distracted on his way home by a girl and was late for dinner. Scared and alone, Amadeus went on the run and eventually met up with The Hulk while in trouble and was saved by him. After that, Amadeus became a fan of The Hulk and saw him as a hero. Amadeus would soon become an ally of the Hulk during numorous story arcs through the years.

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In 2015, Amadeus Cho was announced as the new Hulk in the series The Totally Awesome Hulk. Following an incident where the original Hulk (Bruce Banner) absorbed a lethal amount of radiation that would have been dangerous even to him, Amadeus used some special nanites to remove the Hulk from Bruce Banner and place it into his body which allowed him to become his own version of Hulk fearing that Hulk’s meltdown due to over radiation exposure would kill a lot of people.

Amadeus Cho becoming The Hulk and being Korean-American shows Marvel’s continued willingness to diversify. This is a Hulk that we have never seen before; in control, powerful, intelligent, witty and most importantly wants to be The Hulk and loves what he does. Amadeus, a minority, has taken up the mantle of yet another top tier superhero with no indication of retiring those purple stretchy pants. The Totally Awesome Hulk could be found along side Ms. Marvel and others in Marvel’s Champions due out in the upcoming months.

A new Marvel for a new age

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Meet Kamala Khan; she made her first appearance in Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013) before headlining the Ms. Marvel comic book series in February 2014 Kamala Khan was created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Scott Hepburn. Kamala is a teenage Pakistani American born in New Jersey after her parents moved from Pakistan. She is a huge fan of superheroes, her favorite being Carol Denvers, the former Ms. Marvel who had recently started going by Captain Marvel.

Although Kamala has the same superhero alias as previously Carol Danvers, her powers are not the same at all. Kamala is a polymorph after being exposed to the Terrigen Mist. This gives her the ability to stretch her body in almost anyway imaginable. Kamala can also increase and decrease her size to both the size of a small building or a toy action figure. She can also selectively increase and decrease the size of any part of her body, although she prefers to increase the size of her fists. But she also uses the ability to increase the length of her legs so that she can travel great distances in a short amount of time. Kamala also has the ability to shape shift. In theory she can look like anyone she wants, but so far she has only changed into Carol Danvers and her own mother. Kamala also has healing abilities since she has been shot in the stomach but was able to heal over the wound when she transformed back to her original form. She cannot transform again until the healing process is complete.

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Kamala isn’t the first Muslim character in Marvel’s history but she is the first Muslim character to headline her own book. G. Willow Wilson which is Ms. Marvel’s lead writer, has made us fall in love with our new favorite heroine who isn’t just another superhero, she’s a minority and she’s a nerd. In her first issue, we’re shown a young woman who is altogether aware of superhero culture. When we first see Kamala at home, it’s at her computer, writing Avengers fan-fiction. This is important, not because it builds a relationship between reader and protagonist, but because it builds a solid foundation where the reader and the protagonist feel one in the same.

All that within the first few pages of her comic and we haven’t even reached what has given her the most attention, she is a teenage girl coming from a Muslim family.  She lives in a majority non-Muslim community, she doesn’t wear a hijab all the time, as neither do a lot of inner city young women of Muslim families. Kamala attempts to balance her need for her own identity with not disappointing her parents and acknowledging their love for her.

Marvel’s treatment of Kamala seems to be the exact opposite of some critics which thought it was a political move to create controversy to drive up sales. They have brought a respected writer, penciler and inker to her title and have been slowing integrating her into the bigger Marvel universe. She’s has also become an active member of the Avengers team for several months now which is their premier title, along side Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. She will also be headlining a new comic called “Champions” which will consist of younger heroes that want to be activist/super heroes rather then just caped do-gooders that punches bad guys. Kamala is going to be a main stay at Marvel and she seems like she’ll be breaking new ground during that time. Check out Ms. Marvel at a local comic store or online.