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Marvel to Al Sharpton – We Have the Spider-Man You Were Looking For!

Some spoilers for this Wednesday’s Ultimate Fallout #4 follow (and the identity of the new Ultimate Spider-Man). So don’t read any further if you don’t want to learn the spoilers.

SPOILER WARNING!!!

In the first episode of David E. Kelley’s Boston Legal, James Spader’s character, Alan Shore, is representing a little girl who was turned down for the role of Little Orphan Annie because she was black. The case is not going well when, all of a sudden, Al Sharpton walks in making a dramatic speech. He finishes with:

You talk about racial equality, how we’re making progress. The problem with that progress is it’s always a day away. Tomorrow, tomorrow-you love that!-because it’s always a day away. I’m here to stick out my chin today! Today! Give us an African-American Spider Man! Give us a black that can run faster than a speeding bullet and leap over tall buildings in a single bound! Not tomorrow-today! Today! The sun needs to come out today! Not tomorrow, your Honor! God Almighty! Give the American people a black Orphan Annie. It’s just not good enough to say she doesn’t look the part.

I thought of this today with the news from USAToday that the new Ultimate Spider-Man will be revealed in this Wednesday’s Ultimate Fallout #4.

Read to see the new Ultimate Spider-Man!

Yep, Miles Morales (great name, by the way) is a half-Hispanic/half-African-American kid who is the new Spider-Man.

Smart idea by Marvel. If you’re introducing a brand-new character ANYways, you really should be looking to improve the diversity of your comics.

So this is nice news. And Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli is a really nice creative team, so the new Ultimate Spider-Man book should be good, as well.

66 Comments

Awesome! Might lead me to pick up the new Ultimate Spider-man book.

Except it’s “Ultimate” Spider-Man. Marvel playing it safe and having it both ways. Fair enough.

I honestly couldn’t be bothered. The Ultimate line has been dead to me for years already.

I’m conflicted.

Just the expression on his face and that single statement set the tone for a character I think I could really appreciate. Reminds me a bit of Peter Parker #35 (1999), probably my favorite single issue of a comic.

At the same time, I’m not a fan of Peter Parker being killed off, in any reality. And who are we kidding…he’s not going to stay dead. So what’ll happen to this guy when he returns?

That said, I’ll be reading this.

Btw, anyone know what his powers will be?

Some spoilers for this Wednesday’s Ultimate Fallout #4 follow (and the identity of the new Ultimate Spider-Man). So don’t read any further if you don’t want to learn the spoilers.

The headline was kind of a spoiler anyway.

Smart idea by Marvel. If you’re introducing a brand-new character ANYways, you really should be looking to improve the diversity of your comics.

I hate the idea of declaring they “should” anything. All I care is that it’s a good character, that he adds a dimension that the previous Spider-Man didn’t act (basically, not exactly the same as a previous existing character except now black) and that he’s interesting enough to carry the book. But the idea that Marvel “should” be pursuing diversity I don’t quite agree with, because that attitude often leads to some noble but misguided efforts that reek of tokenism and can be patronizing. That being said, I enjoy diversity when it comes about in a way that feels organic and not forced, and I hope that’s the case here. I trust Bendis when it comes to this book so I’m optimistic.

I wonder what Larry of Larry’s Comics has to say about this:

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/08/01/the-power-of-a-black-spider-man

Except it’s “Ultimate” Spider-Man. Marvel playing it safe and having it both ways. Fair enough.

Well, it’s something. Keep in mind, Marvel for a stretch replaced a top-tier character with a black person when they replaced Tony Stark with Rhodey. The problem with replacing a top-tier mainstream version of a character is that everyone knows nowadays that it won’t stick, whether the replacement is white, black, Asian, whatever. Look at Batman, Captain America, Thor, mainstream Spider-Man, Iron Man, even identities previously deemed off-limits for reversion like Barry Allen’s Flash.

At least with Ultimate Spider-Man there’s a chance it could be permanent or at least long lasting.

I never liked the Ultimate Marvel U, but it seems interesting.
I still won’t spend a dime on any ultimate title.
I always thought that the people that are new to comics would
confuse the Ultimate U. for the Classic Marvel U. The Death of Ultimate
Spiderman was the # 1 comic the month it was released because that
people don’t usually collect comics bought copies of it.
I believe that this is all about publicity anyway. Instead of focusing on the
fake Marvel U. so much Marvel should focus all its resources on the classic Marvel U.

I don’t think making this part of the Ultimate reality does anything to lessen its impact. Spider-Man 2099 was hispanic, and that element wasn’t diminished by the setting.

This makes literal part of Spider-Man’s wide appeal– that when you first see him in costume, he’s covered from head to toe, so he could be any ethnicity. Of course, once he takes off the mask, he’s about as white as they come.

Looking forward to this comic.

Except it’s “Ultimate” Spider-Man. Marvel playing it safe and having it both ways. Fair enough.

Another thing to take into account: I know it’s not as big as it once was, but I’m pretty sure Ultimate Spider-Man is still a fairly strong seller. Or at least it sells more strongly than many mainstream Marvel books with established characters. So it really isn’t playing it “safe” since they are taking a risk with a book with decent sales.

I actually like the risk, even though I don’t read 616 or 1616 Spider-Man.

It’s akin to ‘Stephanie Rogers’ or American Dream. You don’t make Steve Stephanie to fill some quota, but the concept of a sentinel of liberty isn’t limited to just some guy from Brooklyn.

Forgot to add,

of course including a reference to Al ‘Diamond Merchant’ Sharpton knocks points off the article, Brian.

I assume you meant something like “In the first episode of David E. Kelley’s Boston Legal,” Brian.

Thanks, Michael!

Clearly this is all a long-term plot so that Donald Glover can actually get to play Spider-Man. Didn’t Bendis support Glover’s Internet petition for an audition?

I don’t like the way this is being reported as “the first minority Spider-Man”. PAD’s Spider-Man 2099 was Hispanic.

Here’s what I have an issue with:

Bendis said his decision was made before actor Donald Glover’s efforts to be considered for next year’s Spider-Man film went viral. He had talked it over with Joe Quesada, Marvel’s chief creative officer.

“Joe and I talked about it at great length — what if he was an African-American and how interesting it would be,” Bendis said.

Later, he saw Glover on the television show “Community,” wearing Spider-Man pajamas, and knew he was on the right track.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110802/ENT05/108020393/Marvel–New-Ultimate-Spider-Man-boasts-big-changes#ixzz1TtMiQT8H

I admit I may be reading too much into it or that it may be a poorly worded article, but why should making Spider-Man African-American make him, as a new character, automatically interesting? And the thing that makes it stick that this is the way to go is seeing Glover in Spider-Man pajamas?

I have no issue with diversifying a hero’s race, even established ones, but when changing races is what supposedly makes the character interesting or the motivation is that you have a visual of how it might look, I’m not sure that this is what the goal should be.

Feel good liberalism abound…A serious question will this bring in more black comic book readers, or heck anymore comic readers?….

This is awful…..and before the “diversity” crowd forms a posse to chase me down, it’s not because Marvel has stories with a minorities as a superheroes, but because Marvel felt the need to kill off Peter Parker – an established character in two universes – to do it. Good stories sell no matter the race of the main character. Marvel could create new titles with interesting minority characters, but apparently that’s too difficult for them. Don’t kill off established characters in order to create “diversity,” garner media headlines and kiss the asses of the PC crowd.

Cancelling my subscription!

August 2, 2011 at 11:51 am

Marvel is going down the DC primrose path.

Al Sharpton, you want your Little Orphan Angry, write your own damned play! Don’t mess with what shouldn’t be!

Marvel, I pray that you do the whole time travel/multiverse/displaced in space/resurrection thing you do so well on this and fix the mess you’ve made!

Until then, don’t make mine marvel!

This makes literal part of Spider-Man’s wide appeal– that when you first see him in costume, he’s covered from head to toe, so he could be any ethnicity. Of course, once he takes off the mask, he’s about as white as they come.

There was a great moment at some point where Spider-Man said to J. Jonah Jameson that he knew JJJ hated him because he was black, leading to some marvelous Jameson sputtering.

USM was the only Ultimate title I actually liked–and one of only a couple of Bendis titles I actually liked (I only like his work on non-team books with street-level heroes)–but all in all, I’m curious to meet the new guy. I grouse about Brand New Day and the DC Relaunch as much as the next guy, but I think it’s silly to get all outraged about the sanctity of an alternate Peter Parker in an alternate universe that was created specifically to give the freedom to take characters in new directions.

Good stories sell no matter the race of the main character. Marvel could create new titles with interesting minority characters, but apparently that’s too difficult for them.

That’s not true. I wish it were true, but it’s not. Look at how many writers like Fraction, Rucka and Bendis do creator-owned stuff that’s very good, but doesn’t sell. Look how many good series come out with new characters or established but less popular characters that have great stories that don’t sell. Now look at every book Jeph Loeb writes, and how those sell.

Good stories don’t always sell. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But in this hobby, marquee characters sell. They can’t even make brand-new or established b-list WHITE characters sell these days.

Comic readers won’t try new or B-list characters in books long-term.

Why not kill Ultimate Peter Parker, honestly? He was just a variation anyway, going through familiar story beats where familiar villains got slight redesigns to create an illusion of novelty. Ending a character’s individual arc with death isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact many great characters die at the end of their stories; and if you’re telling the story of a teenager who risked his life to help others even when he was outmatched, having that character die at the end adds impact and significance to the whole saga. And it’s not like Peter Parker is going anywhere, he’s still on many many monthly comics – the Ultimate Universe SHOULD be the place for experimentation, since it’s unacceptable to actually change anything in the “official” universe.

I applaud Marvel for trying something different from the same old calcified familiarity that straitjackets most modern superhero comics. I hope they don’t ruin it by resurrecting him; that sort of fan-pandering necrophilia is as tired as it is tasteless.

And I don’t think it’s “tokenism” to create a minority character when that character is the actual star of the book he appears in. The Black Vulcan was the token black man in SuperFriends because he was only there to create an illusion of diversity in a massively caucasian group; but if Black Vulcan was the actual protagonist of a show called “Black Vulcan and his SuperFriends” then he wouldn’t be a ‘token’ anymore. if the main hero in your story is a minority character, that isn’t tokenism – it’s the actual protagonist of the story. Is Blade a “token” character too?

I wonder what John Byrne thinks about this?

More creative bankruptcy. Remember the Black Panther? Remember Luke Cage?

Somewhere along the line — and, sadly, it’s not recent — Black characters at Marvel suddenly were only allowed if they adopted the names of existing characters. Iron Man. Captain Marvel. Giant-Man (who’d begun with the staggeringly original name “Black Goliath”). Nick Fury. Now, a Black Spider-Man.

I’ll admit to having created only a handful of Black characters, but at least NONE of them were forced to follow in some White guy’s footsteps.

Aren’t Black audiences weary yet of this modern-day Minstrel Show?”

http://www.byrnerobotics.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=39522&TPN=1

To me it depends. If they did it the Didio DC way, which was to say first “Hey, we need diversity,” THEN pick a hero to kill off or retire to replace with a minority (Firestorm, Blue Beetle, Atom), or look for a preexisting character to reinterpret as a minority group (Batwoman), then I’d say that it was awful and tokenism.

If they were going to kill Ultimate Peter Parker and replace him anyway, and then along the way said, hey since we’re replacing him anyway why not go for a black guy and see what story opportunities it opens up? that would be way better.

At the very least, if they did come up with this idea the Didio DC way, if they can at least not make it as obvious a piece of tokenism as Didio DC did and at least make it plausibly FEEL like it could have come about the second way, that’s fine with me.

What I don’t get is if minorities taking over from established white heroes is so insulting to minorities in the mind of John Byrne, why did he work on the Ryan Choi Atom book?

@John Byrne: Because the comic industry is f***ed and won’t support new superheroes unless they’re connected to other mainstream superheroes. Period. Don’t try to argue with me about it, we have several decades worth of comic sales to back me up on this. If Miles Morales was a totally new hero with the same creative team, same supporting cast he’s gonna have in this book, same new villains, but he was named “Kid Awesome” or some shit, he’d be lucky to have his book last for a year.

Ah yes, we can always rely on good ol’ John Byrne to set the rest of us straight regarding racial matters. If Byrne thinks black people should be offended, offended is what they should be. We can rely on the racial insights of the intellectual giant who said “Latino women with blond hair look like hookers to me, no matter how clean or ‘cute’ they are” about Jessica Alba’s casting as Invisible Woman.

T: Clearly, It’s not offensive when HE does it.

Killing off Ultimate characters is nothing new. Quite frankly, it is what has put me off the line. I always expected someone to put all the Ultimate characters in a nuclear explosion as a plot point.

Nice touch to go with the double M initials. Old school.

Sara Pichelli sure can draw. I’d buy the book just for her artwork. And maybe it’d be a good comic.

The rest of the arguments are just white noise.

I haven’t been reading Ultimate — how did he get his powers?

My problem with this is the leaking the news…. Honestly I thought that this was the direction the book was heading however I thought from the teases:

“He feels partly responsible for Spidey’s death and has a unique connection but is a new character”

I really thought it was going to be the son of Ben Reilly (black in this universe), the scientist assistant who took a vial of Peter’s blood which may or may not have been tainted with the Venom symbiote.

As I said at Robot 6, it obvious that Larry’s Comics don’t have much of a minority fanbase if he thought those tweets were funny…

I’m going to give it a chance because in terms of Spidey, Bendis hasn’t done much wrong and Ultimate Fallout has been surprisingly good…..

I think Sharpton is a professional victim and a con man, but that episode of Boston Legal is a dazzler. The first couple of seasons were terrific, before the show crawled up it’s own ass. Denny Crane!

Personally, I like the idea of a black kid as Spider-Man and really hope that the Ultimate Spidy title turns into a best seller because of it.

Very cool.

Oh yeah, before I forget, John Byrne is a total asshole and nobody really should give two damms what his washed up ass thinks.

@Cancelling my subscription! Well Poed, clerk.

But to those who might agree with you, let’s be clear; Sharpton didn’t write it. A White guy did. Both sides of the issue were presented fairly and clearly. In fact, Shore was clearly losing the case, which is why he had to resort to cheap theatrics. IIRC, he didn’t even agree with the case he was arguing. He had to win or he’d be fired. Or lose a bet. Something like that.

Byrne’s examples are hilariously tone deaf. “Remember back when every black character had to have Black in their name? Remember the jive-talking blaxploitation days? Why can’t we go back to *real* black characters like that?”

Also, the people commenting on his blog are what I expected the Internet reaction to this to be; I was really glad to see this board was a lot more level-headed, for the most part.

Well thank god they didn’t put him in the black costume

The problem with the Byrne examples is that very few characters/teams created in the last 30 years can still hold their own title and very few characters/teams older than 30 years were black. This move by Marvel means that they can bring a black character to the forefront with a built in audience. A great opportunity.
Which brings me to the big problem. The costume.
Kids should be able to see spiderman take his mask off and him be black/hispanic. Instead, some dude who looks nothing like spiderman will. Respect or not (to a fictional dead character) if we don’t return to the red and blues, (or at least the new movie version) we may be looking at a title that starts bleeding out before it begins.

New characters with the same old voices behind them. Creating minority characters to sell a product to a new/different demographic isn’t socially conscious, it’s a smart business move. I think it’s a cool idea, but I don’t think Marvel needs to be patted on the back. They haven’t created a diverse voice, they’ve created a new product aimed at a different market with the same creators behind it. How many people of color are at Marvel’s Annual Creative Summits? How many women are there pitching stories? If you hire creators of color and encourage diversity in creators, you wouldn’t have a problem with diversity in comic book characters. I’m curious to see what they do with the new Spider-Man but currently DC’s Static is my “Black Spider-Man” of choice

If Marvel is trying to appease Al Sharpton with the new USM, then I hope they go down in flames.

You create a character because he’s a good character and you want people to see their stories. Not because he fills a demographic.

Anyone remember the United Colors of DC a few years ago. Black Firestorm, failure. Asian Atom, FAILURE!

DC has great character who happen to be black (Steel, Mr. Terrific, Cyborg), they are great not because of their skin color, but because they are compelling.

Considering Al Sharpton’s role in the Crown Heights Riot, I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to listen to him.

Like Sharpton or not, can you honestly disagree with his Kelley written statement on a fictional television show?

i have no problems with the new Spidey. In fact the opposite – I love it. But how it’s come about feels forced.

“Joe and I talked about it at great length — what if he was an African-American and how interesting it would be,”

Ethnicity in of itself is not ‘interesting’, it just is. Mixed ethnicity and gay male here – none of which makes me more or less ‘interesting’ than a straight, white person.

What I wish had happened is the Bendis had said ‘the character is X because that’s who they happen to be’ and Quesada had said ‘okay’ rather than some long talk about it. To me that would have helped this thing not smell of tokenism.

Uh, yeah. Dwayne McDuffie (RIP: you are missed) once observed that White guy Spider-Man meant more to him growing up than Black guy Luke Cage. Why? Because Peter Parker was more real to him. He could relate to Peter in ways that he could not to Luke. Artistry is always more important than well-meaning gestures.

As for this new iteration of Spider-Man, I will reserve judgement until I have read a few issues.

I had a thought related to this when I was stationed at a military base a few years ago. One of the top officers gave a crowd of us a sales pitch on affirmative action in the ranks. His speech was words to the effect of, “It’s important for the young troops to be able to look up to someone and say, ‘this guy looks like me.'”

Which I guess makes a certain amount of sense: people need role models. But then it occurred to me: the nature of race, or any other categorical human definition, is that it’s naturally *ex*clusive. Race isn’t either/or, black or white. It’s black, white, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American. To say nothing of other categories: male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, young, old, and any combination of the above.

So, I thought to myself, if we need to promote (for example) a black person to the higher ranks to give the younger troops a role model: does that leave the white, Hispanic, or Asian kids *without* a role model? Do we need to promote a black female to a higher rank in order to give the women a role model–and if so, who do all the males look to?

It ultimately occurred to me that the race/gender/whatever shouldn’t matter, because at the end of the day, we were all wearing the same uniform. I shouldn’t be looking at my boss as a black man, a white man, an Asian man, or whatever, but as a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine in the same business as me. He/she wears what I wear, the end.

So in closing, my two thoughts are this: if you overly try to be target yourself one group (or in this case, two–new Spidey is black and hispanic), will it backfire by excluding every other group? Second–if the character and stories are both good to the point where you don’t care about race, then who the heck cares?

I don’t understand why some commenters are saying ethnicity can’t be interesting. It’s not as if the difference between being white and being black is the same as the difference between wearing a red shirt and wearing a blue shirt. Different skin color means different experience. A white reader can expect a black super hero to have elements of his civilian life that differ greatly from his own. If the reader can’t expect that, it means the writer is guilty of tokenism.

Knowing how Sharpton acts, he’ll probably rail against this Spiderman because “the Jews at Marvel” are pandering to Hispanics by making the kid not African-American only. The man has time and again proven himself every much a bigot as your typical guy in a white sheet, and in fact, if you remove the black/white dynamic, they pretty much share the same hate list otherwise.

Dey terk er heroes!

Adam – I don’t think you have to worry about whites and men not having enough role models to look up to quite yet in this country. You’re looking at “role models” in a very abstract way that doesn’t really apply; the idea (poorly expressed by your commander) is that, when a young black kid in a poor neighboorhood says, “What’s the point of trying to make it in this country? There’s no path that will lead me to success at the end of all the hard work,” their teachers, their parents, *somebody* who cares about them can say to them, “No, you’re wrong, look at *this* person.” But that’s not really ideal either. It’s not about one person, it’s about proving “You can be whatever you want, look at this guy who’s a doctor, this guy who’s a Supreme Court Judge, this guy who’s a general, etc.”

In and of themselves, yes, any of these role models can be seen as “exclusive” to other races. But, cumulatively, there is no reason that every race can not have a wide variety of successful people in every field to look up to.

“will it backfire by excluding every other group?”

Are you still talking about Spider-Man? Is there really any argument that a white person who stops reading a character because they’re now black is *not* being racist? Are you saying that they should sacrifice diversity in order to appeal to racists? The people of other races are used to having to read super-heroes that are about races which are not their own, so I don’t think it would be as much of a problem for them. It certainly can’t be any *more* excluding to them than limiting yourself to only white characters.

So in closing, my two thoughts are this: if you overly try to be target yourself one group (or in this case, two–new Spidey is black and hispanic), will it backfire by excluding every other group?

The problem is, your argument can go both ways. I could make the claim that comics for decades have overly targeted one group, white males. It just wasn’t accompanied by a press release. So would you say that by doing that, the strategy backfired by excluding every other group.

Having been raised as a military brat, race has never been an issue with me and I hope for a day when others won’t notice it as well. I’m hoping for the same quality of work Bendis has provided during the duration of his Ultimate Spider-Man run. However, if he needs some research material, I think DC beat him to the punch as Blue Beetle was a perfect example of how to build an outstanding supporting cast while dealing with issues in the Hispanic community. Looking forward to seeing the attitude of this new character and how he fits into the Ultimate Universe. I’m also glad that there was one Peter Parker title I could read after Amazing became the stories of a character that has no moral character and makes deals with the devil, which would seem to be the anti-thesis of “great responsibility”.

However, if he needs some research material, I think DC beat him to the punch as Blue Beetle was a perfect example of how to build an outstanding supporting cast while dealing with issues in the Hispanic community.

Ugh, Blue Beetle was horrible. It was just Ultimate Spider-Man except with spanglish, bad jokes, annoyingly clever and spunky sidekick supporting cast, the dialogue just seemed way too pleased with its own supposed cleverness…ironically, I guess it’s the same accusations people always level against Bendis’s work. Even though Blue Beetle may have done the minority-Ultimate-Spider-Man thing first, I still think this is the first chance to do it well.

“Don’t mess with what shouldn’t be!”

That sounds VERY racist.

That sounds VERY racist.

Why, it’s tantamount to misspideration!

But yeah, any new development like this brings out the weaselly arguments that it’s fine to have minority characters as long as there’s “a reason” for them to be minorities. I for one am certainly fond of asking people to explain why they’re black.

But yeah, any new development like this brings out the weaselly arguments that it’s fine to have minority characters as long as there’s “a reason” for them to be minorities. I for one am certainly fond of asking people to explain why they’re black.

I agree. For me it’s not about whether there’s “a reason” for them to be minorities. It only bothers me when it seems like being a minority is the ONLY reason for the character to exist. In this case the Ultimate Universe already has a track record of killing their versions of mainstream Marvel counterparts, as well as replacing them (Daredevil, Wolverine), so it’s not unbelievable to me that this replacing of Spider-Man may have ended up happening regardless. And if so, why not do it with a black guy this time?

I think this is a great move. I’m sure the new stories will be comparable in quality to the older ones. I just hope it doesn’t cause less open-minded readers to jump ship.

When I say “less open-minded,” I’m not just talking about racists here, I’m also talking about people who won’t buy a book called Spider-Man if it’s not about Peter Parker.

“I don’t understand why some commenters are saying ethnicity can’t be interesting. It’s not as if the difference between being white and being black is the same as the difference between wearing a red shirt and wearing a blue shirt. Different skin color means different experience. A white reader can expect a black super hero to have elements of his civilian life that differ greatly from his own. If the reader can’t expect that, it means the writer is guilty of tokenism.”

I’ll put my neck out here.

1) Peter Parker wore a mask and his identity, up until the very end of the series, was largely unknown by the populace at large. Therefore, his race and being Spider-Man mattered very little in terms of his heroics. So why does that make the identity of Spider-Man any more interesting as a character? Race (typically in comic stories) matters when other people react to race and make it matter, unless Bendis wants a character that is going to be an activist for African-American culture and rights. People Ultimate Spider-Man interacted with could presume he was any race; the only one’s who truly knew where the ones aware of his identity and the reader. Now, if they unmask him/go the Wally West route, fine, then that goes somewhere. But if it’s the same costume modified, the race adds nothing to others’ perceptions, unless it’s going to be introspective and the costume becomes a haven from issues he has in his civilian identity (which may be a dangerous way to go, IMHO).

2) That leaves us with how you portray the character out of the costume, to which point I would ask what possible story that is centered on the idea of “race being interesting” could be done that hasn’t been done before. We have Green Lantern/Green Arrow; we have GL John Stewart; we have X-men (mutants being treated as a separate race); we have had other African American heroes displayed in their civilian lives before (the entire Milestone line, and the Static Shock TV show often dealt with race as well), and this is a very small list of where race has been done in comics. What else is going to be new or fresh that this direction will bring that we haven’t seen?

It isn’t that having an African-American, Asian, Canadian, Middle Eastern, or any other race character is a bad thing; again, I don’t even really care that they did it to a major character. However, why should marrying the concept of Spider-Man to a new race make the character any more or less interesting than it was originally? (essentially, Bendis is claiming indirectly that the old character was worn out…after all, he now has “a fresh batch of Spider-man stories to tell”). That’s what i want to know, and that’s why I question the move.

1) Peter Parker wore a mask and his identity, up until the very end of the series, was largely unknown by the populace at large. Therefore, his race and being Spider-Man mattered very little in terms of his heroics. So why does that make the identity of Spider-Man any more interesting as a character?

I just want to say, by far, the biggest thing that made Spider-Man, and Marvel superheroes in general, so unique and so much more compelling than DC heroes was who they were outside of costume in addition to who they were in costume. With DC, secret identities were just a plot device and the superheroic identities were the true persona. With Marvel, the secret identities became as compelling and at times even more compelling than the superheroic identities. In fact, the line between the two often blurred.

So even though Peter Parker wore a mask and his identity was largely unknown by the populace, his face and his identity were known to the reader and played a big part in the book. His identity, his class status, his family structure, and yes, even his race, were important.

White people don’t realize that their race plays a factor in things because they take their own race for granted. When you’re the racial majority, you don’t think of your culture as mattering because it’s omnipresent. You only notice the role race plays in things when the race is someone other than you. Or when the whiteness is contrasted against a black character. But believe it, the whiteness of characters plays as much a role in a character’s outlook, depiction and appeal as the blackness of a character does. It’s just that when it’s white culture, you just consider it mainstream or normal culture rather than being conscious of it as white culture. White people, by virtue of being the majority, have the virtue of forgetting for periods of time that they are white.

That leaves us with how you portray the character out of the costume, to which point I would ask what possible story that is centered on the idea of “race being interesting” could be done that hasn’t been done before.

Yet no one asks “what possible story based on “white male being interesting” could be done that hasn’t been done before” strangely enough

T:”I just want to say, by far, the biggest thing that made Spider-Man, and Marvel superheroes in general, so unique and so much more compelling than DC heroes was who they were outside of costume in addition to who they were in costume. With DC, secret identities were just a plot device and the superheroic identities were the true persona. With Marvel, the secret identities became as compelling and at times even more compelling than the superheroic identities. In fact, the line between the two often blurred.

So even though Peter Parker wore a mask and his identity was largely unknown by the populace, his face and his identity were known to the reader and played a big part in the book. His identity, his class status, his family structure, and yes, even his race, were important.”

That was well said, T.One of the reasons why SPIDER-MAN was the best scripted comic book of the Silver Age was because Stan Lee understood the character so well. Stan could understand what it was like to be a poor, White teenager in New York because he had been a poor , White teenager in New York.Heck, this shared background even enabled Stan to overcome the fact that he was a man in his 40s writing about a teenager.

Even reader who didn’t share this background (like Dwayne McDuffie) could sense the authenticity of the character, and it was that sense of reality, of authentic experience, that made Spider-Man such an artistic success.

“Yet no one asks “what possible story based on “white male being interesting” could be done that hasn’t been done before” strangely enough”

Well, from my perspective, there isn’t; I just accept that in comics that most white males in comics are big, muscle bound men who like to fight and spout one liners and most white women like to fight and dress in the cheapest looking outfit possible while doing so while spouting one liners; creator attempts to develop the civilian identity in a meaningful way are dead or stuck in the same ideas that marked the characters since their origins; FWIW, I’d ask these same questions of why do it if they suddenly decided to turn Luke Cage, the Black Panther, Storm or any other African American character white. But then I don’t look to comics for my moral grounding, especially with the current group of clowns on both sides in charge.

“White people don’t realize that their race plays a factor in things because they take their own race for granted. When you’re the racial majority, you don’t think of your culture as mattering because it’s omnipresent. You only notice the role race plays in things when the race is someone other than you. Or when the whiteness is contrasted against a black character. But believe it, the whiteness of characters plays as much a role in a character’s outlook, depiction and appeal as the blackness of a character does. It’s just that when it’s white culture, you just consider it mainstream or normal culture rather than being conscious of it as white culture. White people, by virtue of being the majority, have the virtue of forgetting for periods of time that they are white.”

But again, while I would agree with this, I’m still asking: what possible new story or insight are we going to see simply because they have changed the character’s race to African-American/Hispanic.

My contention wasn’t that race as a whole doesn’t matter to the populace or the reader; my intention (and I’ll clarify in case it was being misinterpreted) was to ask what makes this a necessary move in the scheme of storytelling. How do you make this “new” without treading all over the same stories that have been recycled about white and black race and race relations for the last however many years in comics? What is so “new” about this save that now Spider-Man is another race?

Let me phrase this another way: if they decided that the new Spider-Man should be of Middle Eastern descent and were to do stories looking at things from that culture’s perspective, I would be good with that because we haven’t really, to my knowledge, seen that. Or how about instead of race, we make the new Spider-Man openly homosexual and activist. We haven’t had that in a major, mainstream character (again, to my knowledge), and some would argue we should. Or hell, let’s drop the race and social considerations completely and just make him an immigrant who comes to NY and accidentally gets bitten by the spider. Why not? In any mythology, it’s pure luck that Parker gets the powers. Why not something like this? I might be on with any of that. But if someone comes back with that this wouldn’t sell, then what you’re essentially doing is saying that this is then a money move, that these character interpretations wouldn’t sell but an African-American one would, and that to me is an issue as well.

I question it from a storytelling perspective. I question what can be done with it, but we’ll see when Bendis releases it.

But again, while I would agree with this, I’m still asking: what possible new story or insight are we going to see simply because they have changed the character’s race to African-American/Hispanic.

Here’s a question you never hear asked:

“What possible new story or insight are we going to see by introducing yet another new white hero?”

For example, there’s going to be a new Ultimate Wolverine introduced and no one asked that question.

So why must it be asked when introducing a black one? Why do black characters need some kind of deep and profound motivation behind their creation to justify their creation?

Let me phrase this another way: if they decided that the new Spider-Man should be of Middle Eastern descent and were to do stories looking at things from that culture’s perspective, I would be good with that because we haven’t really, to my knowledge, seen that. Or how about instead of race, we make the new Spider-Man openly homosexual and activist. We haven’t had that in a major, mainstream character (again, to my knowledge), and some would argue we should. Or hell, let’s drop the race and social considerations completely and just make him an immigrant who comes to NY and accidentally gets bitten by the spider. Why not? In any mythology, it’s pure luck that Parker gets the powers. Why not something like this? I might be on with any of that. But if someone comes back with that this wouldn’t sell, then what you’re essentially doing is saying that this is then a money move, that these character interpretations wouldn’t sell but an African-American one would, and that to me is an issue as well.

So what you’re saying is, you judge it by a sliding scale of racial uniqueness?

That is, an openly homosexual activist Spider-Man is more worthy of being seen than a black Spider-Man because openly homosexual superheros are a much rarer occurrence than black superheroes? An immigrant Spider-Man is more worthy of being seen than a black Spider-Man because an immigrant superhero is a much rarer occurence than a black superhero?

Do you realize how this line of reasoning damns your own premise? Even though a black superhero is much more historically commonplace than all those options you mention, they’re still WAY more rare than white superheroes. Like, there’s probably historically maybe 5% black superheroes at most in comparison to 95% white superheroes. So by your own rationale, a black Spider-Man is worth being told.

This is going to piss off a lot of very, very stupid people. Damn you, Marvel, and your bigotry towards very, very stupid people!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of an African-American comic book character who can shoot webs from his hands (as opposed to yet another one who shoots lightning). But that’s the House of Ideas for you; spanking DC Comics upwards and downwards in the diversity department for 40 years and counting.

Cancelling my subscription!

August 8, 2011 at 6:01 am

A second line of reasoning in this is the reason the black super-population is only %5-%8 is because historicaly, black people don’t want to get involved. They don’t want to stick their neck out regardless, because they’ve seen things as an “every man for themselves” deal as oposed to helping their fellow man, which would better their lot in life.

The ones who go out there have seen past all that. They said to themselves “I don’t have to worry, I’m setting things right for everyone”

As for the openly gay superhero, Does Luke Cage and his yellow shirt and tiara not come to mind? :lol:

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