Evolution of Comics Culture or Forced Political Correctness?
by Phil Perich for the True Believers Blog
It has been reported recently that the sales of Marvel Comics have been down the last few months. Some credit competitor DC Comics due to their Rebirth initiative that has brought back many of their classic characters and story elements. Others blame Marvel itself either due to an overabundance of books or what some call “forced diversity”, where new variants of many of Marvel’s most well known characters have been replaced or copied with versions that are women and/or people of color. Is this just a natural evolution of the comics business and culture, or have comics had a variation of this for decades?
If She Be Worthy…
The most popular of the new line of heroes is the new Thor, the original’s ex-girlfriend, mortal Jane Foster. When the original Thor became unworthy to continue carrying his legendary hammer, Mjolnir itself called to Jane and asked her to wield it’s power for the forces of good. While some complained about this substitution, this wasn’t the first example of Thor being replaced by someone else. Erik Masterson and alien Beta Ray Bill are just the first names that come to mind of others who have wielded the hammer. Although as I’ve said, Jane has garnered mostly positive feedback, maybe because the character has been around almost as long as Thor himself.
While Thor’s female successor has had positive feedback, Iron Man’s has meet with a more mixed response. 15 year old Riri Williams aka Ironheart has attempted to take the place of Tony Stark, now living as an AI program, his body surviving in a strange coma. Whether it is the seeming trend of Marvel promoting teenage girl geniuses to Earth’s mightiest heroes in a very rapid manor or the fact Riri had barely appeared before Tony’s death, the debate had raged on. Years ago, when Tony Stark fell victim to alcoholism, James Rhodes took his place as Iron Man. While not as much controversy seemed to shadow this decision, it was also before the age of the internet. It could also be due to the fact that Rhodes had been a supporting character in the book for several heroes before he donned the famous red and gold armor.
As hard as it is to believe, even the Hulk has been replaced every so often. Presently, Bruce Banner is dead, killed by fellow hero Hawkeye during the events of Civil War II. Months before his passing, Banner was supposedly cured of his Hulk condition when another teenage hero, Amadeus Cho, transferred the gamma radiation from Banner into his own body to become the Totally Awesome Hulk. While seemingly in complete control of the Hulk, Cho has been revealed to be fighting his darker urges much like Banner had to. This character has also brought about controversy. Is this because Cho is another teenager trying to fill an adult role or due to hIs asian heritage?
Another popular character in the All New Marvel Universe is the new Captain America Sam Wilson, formerly the Falcon. Once again maybe the higher rate of acceptance for this character is due to his long career as Steve Roger’s crime fighting partner and name recognition from comics, animation and even the live action Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sam probably garners more good will then former Cap successors have met including John Walker the US Agent.
Probably the most flagrant example of multiple versions of one hero is Spider-Man. Not only is Peter Parker around and about to get his second monthly solo book, but you also have Miles Morales, the teenage african american hero who was originally the Spider-Man of Marvel’s Ultimate universe. You also have three female spider heroes, Spider-Woman, Silk and Spider-Gwen not to mention the Spider-Man from the year 2099 and Ben Reilly the original Scarlet Spider. Too many variations on a single theme and most importantly, TOO MANY BOOKS MARVEL!!
So what do YOU think? Is the current trend of younger, different versions of classic characters the way of the future or a passing trend? I really want to hear YOUR thoughts and discuss them on one of my podcasts!
@Nightwingpdp & @marvel_roundup on Twitter
You can hear me discussing all things Marvel (comics, movies, TV) every week with my friends on the All New Marvel Roundup, Wade’s World and Superconnectivity, all part of the Nuff Said Podcast. I also write another blog, the Legends of DC and do a podcast of the same name. You can find all my podcasts, blogs and those of others at www.southgatemediagroup.com. You can also find all my creative endeavors at www.philperich.wordpress.com.