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Thursday, June 07, 2012 

Marvel and DC's black superheroes' history

The LA Times Hero Complex section writes about the history of Marvel and DC's black superheroes who began turning up in the late 60s starting with Black Panther's debut in the Fantastic Four. However, they take an unfortunately superficial turn when they talk about the most recent takes on some of these protagonists:
Now there are myriad black and other characters of color to be found in comics, though it’s still unusual for them to headline their own books. Mr. Terrific and Static Shock, two recent black superhero titles, were recently canceled in the wake of the New 52 relaunch of its line from DC Comics. Static Shock was originally part of Milestone Media, a 1990s attempt by the late Dwyane McDuffie and others to create a line of multiracial superheroes who existed in an alternate universe but crossed over to the traditional DC Universe.

The Black Panther, who again got his name on a masthead, had a solid run as the replacement for a recovering Daredevil as the protector of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. But, despite decent sales and positive fan response, that title also got the ax. Why? That’s a good question. It’s hard to answer, though, because matters of black-and-white standards are almost always answered in shades of gray.
Well there's a few reasons why the reboots of Mr. Terrific and Static were failures: 1]few people want anything to do with a company still run by Dan DiDio that abuses its properties, and even the Milestone cast are among the victims, 2]there were needless political overtones in Mr. Terrific, and 3]if the writers of Static's newest series were going to go out of their way to rely on the spectacle of severed limbs, how can anyone possibly be encouraged to try those out? There's also the vital question of whether DC should have even forcibly shoehorned the Milestone casts into the DCU proper to begin with, which for a line like this actually decreases its impact.

Another problem is that as of today, Marvel and DC have made no real effort to market and promote the series with their minority member casts, and with the kind of editorial mandates they impose, good writing is hard to do. It's also kind of absurd to put T'Challa in Matt Murdock's costume, even if it was only temporary, instead of letting Black Panther be himself in his own role.

I'm sure they could headline their own stories, but not with the kind of people in charge now. However, I can say that if they're to publish a story starring the black superheroes today, it'd be advised to try out more miniseries first and then, if a miniseries gets a positive response, then it's worth adding an ongoing series as well. The mistake that's become commonplace today is to try out nearly everything as an immediate ongoing and not rely on any miniserials at all, which doesn't help anybody.

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A big reason why a lot of their black heroes have failed as solo series in recent years, too, is because writers seem way too damn keen on playing the "blame the white man" game... Reginald Hudlin's Black Panther series was filled with that nonsense.

Carl, was that the aborted cartoon series? My God, if you haven't seen any of those episodes, check 'em out YouTube. The whole premise is "hate whitey."

Oh, well, now I'm just intrigued, Hube. Heh.

I was also amused that Jill Scott voiced Storm, given her stance on interracial relationships (she opposes them). I don't care and she's perfectly entitled to her opinion, but if a white person said what she said, oh, my.

I thought Carl meant Hudlin's comic work, but, either way, some memes have to transcend everything, and apparently, these days, "Hate Whitey" is one of them. How nice.

I've never watched that show, Hube, but I've heard similar opinions about it. I think it largely borrows from Hudlin's run on the Black Panther series, which was chock full of "blame whitey." And yeah, Killer Moth, if Jill Scott was white, the MSM would be eviscerating her as a racist.

Now that I have watched the show, Hube, I can see your point. It is full of "blame whitey." I referenced it on my blog when I was writing about DC's Milestone work. However, someone tried to come and "correct" my views of it; I didn't publish it because it actually showed up in the spam folder for some reason:

it wasn't of the "blame whitey" variety that you'd see on BET's short-lived Black Panther cartoon. REALLY?? Did you even watch the show?? If you did, is that all you read out of it?? That's the typical fanboy route of "I don't like this because it's perplexing to me so I'll just say whatever about it" answer. Black Panther was never about "Blame Whitey". Just cause an African ruler closed his borders to outsiders doesn't make it a "I hate white people" situation. Maybe if you watched the show and took the time to understand the characters, you'd see it's much deeper than that. Why people wanna put stress on race in a place it wasn't is a mystery to me. "

Even if it hadn't showed up in the spam folder, I probably wouldn't have published it. It really doesn't add much to the conversation.

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