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Friday, April 13, 2018 

George Perez did not manage his criticism the right way in discussing Vibe

Two years ago, CBR, when they still had the Comics Should Be Good section that's now mostly been merged with the rest of the site into nothing special, discussed how the Justice League Detroit era at the end of the 1st volume was adapted to TV, and why they think it works better on the small screen than in the comics. But what really drew my attention here was the following comments by George Perez about Vibe, Gerry Conway's creation of Puerto Rican descent who became a Leaguer for the remaining few years, from an old issue of the Comics Journal where he was interviewed by career propagandist Heidi MacDonald, in one of her early jobs:
Perez: I sincerely say he’s the one character who turned me off the JLA. If nothing else, every character that was introduced was an ethnic stereotype. I couldn’t believe it. I said, “Come on now!” These characters required no thinking at all to write. And being Puerto Rican myself, I found the fact that they could use a Puerto Rican character quite obviously favorable since the one Puerto Rican characters in comic that existed, the White Tiger, is no longer a viable character. But having him be a break dancer! I mean, come on now. It’s like if there were only one black character in all of comics, are you going to make him…

MacDonald: A tap dancer.

Pérez: A tap dancer, a shoeshine boy? Particularly when you’re picking a stereotype that’s also a fad. You’re taking a chance that this guy is going to become very passe, his costume becomes passe because it’s a breakdance costume, the minute the fad fades.
For heaven's sake, I understand he doesn't like stereotypical renditions - they do carry negativity - but he's laying his complaints in the wrong place, or not showing the guts to put the blame at Conway's feet, since he was the one who resorted to much of the stereotypical traits in the first place. I am guessing though that Perez doesn't have a high opinion of Dazzler, who debuted nearly 4 years earlier and embodied the disco scene as it stood at the time.

And I think that, while it's regrettable Conway gave Vibe such a stereotypical accent (how many times did he have "chu" written into his dialect in the JLA stories?), they had the wrong idea in mind to put Vibe to death by the end of the Justice League of America in 1987, prior to the relaunch that would be titled JL International. All they had to do was quietly drop Vibe from the proceedings and write him out of the cast, give it all some time, and then bring him back minus the stereotypical accent, if not the breakdancing background. But the galling problem at DC (and Marvel too, for that matter) is that the people who came to run to studios failed to recognize it's only human to err, and instead punished the fictional characters rather than the writers.

And if stereotypes like Vibe's original rendition are a dismay, what about how Luke Cage has been portrayed since the turn of the century, after Brian Bendis was given the keys to the characters he made use of at Marvel? I thought it was denigrating to portray Luke as bald with a beard on the front, which in itself is a stereotype for goodness knows how long. Yet that's not discussed anywhere in the mainstream media, if at all, and the TV show on Netflix made use of this without question. I know there's fans who've complained about how SJWs at Marvel butchered Carol Danvers, but what about Cage? He should matter too. It only does a disfavor to how veteran characters were portrayed in the past to depict them overnight as bizarre stereotypes from a visual perspective, and that's not improving comics legends at all.

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It makes Cage look a bit like Benjamin
Sisco, from Star Trek Deep Space 9.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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