In recent weeks we have been inundated with Marvel news and announcements as they re-craft their post-Secret Wars universe. This has meant the reinvigoration of a lot of characters, new series, and a whole lot of variant covers. A lot of this has been in the vein of giving Marvel some very real diversity, but many of these more superficial additions have highlighted some more glaring problems in comics, and Marvel in general. The chatter has begun to move past mere internet disagreements into a coherent analysis about where we are at in the comics world, whether we reflect the actual state of the country, and if it is a progressive medium that is challenging racial and gender orthodox.
Below are a few of the key reasons that many people are calling for a Marvel boycott, which includes both whitewashing and a focus on straight white men.
- Blade, the black half-human, half-vampire character, is returning with a new #1 in October. Instead of sending it to a team of color, it has instead been firmly attached to a pair of white men. It is not so much that people are assuming they cannot portray a fully realized black character, but that this was an opportunity missed to highlight black creators.
- Out of the sixty possible new launches this fall, not one of the main characters are LGBTQ. It was recently announced that Hercules was to return to the Marvel line-up, who is clearly in all the classic literature a bi-sexual man. This was going to be continued, then Marvel backed off and is straight-washing him. This is especially bad in comparison to DC right now that has a lot of queer comic leads.
- The Marvel hip-hop covers were an interesting idea, but got hailed as problematic almost immediately. People noted how many of the books took the hip-hop covers yet had to use their white characters on them, and really highlight how few creators of color they really have. They can profit off of black creativity, but they certainly don’t employ it. This is also especially problematic given that Marvel is at least acknowledging the diversity of readership with characters like Ms. Marvel, yet still appears very white both on, and behind, the page.
It seems less like this is a matter of simply adding a couple characters and creators and instead asking Marvel to really create a space for creators of color to come in and to allow characters to develop. This means having intentionality at Marvel about changing the dynamics that are at play. Hopefully they can hear this criticism and begin to take a shift in course.