Once again, let’s take a comic-book company’s statement and compare it to what’s being presented. Our subject this time is Bob Wayne, Senior Vice-President of Sales for DC Comics. Here’s an excerpt from a letter he sent to comics retailers Tuesday:
In the time I’ve worked at DC Comics, I’ve witnessed any number of industry defining moments. But today, I bring you what is perhaps the biggest news to date.
Many of you have heard rumors that DC Comics has been working on a big publishing initiative for later this year. This is indeed an historic time for us as, come this September, we are relaunching the entire DC Universe line of comic books with all new first issues. 52 of them to be exact.
In addition, the new #1s will introduce readers to a more modern, diverse DC Universe, with some character variations in appearance, origin and age. All stories will be grounded in each character’s legend – but will relate to real world situations, interactions, tragedy and triumph.
Here’s the punchline: the statement was released the same day as the picture posted above: an almost all-white cast for a new Justice League comic. So right off the bat, this “more diverse” DC Universe looks like those “more colorful” NBC ads. But there’s other reasons Wayne shouldn’t be crowing just yet.
It’s bad enough to screw up. But DC Comics can’t even say nobody warned them in advance of its’ latest faux pas.
The map above, posted by DC this past Friday, shows the lay of the land in its’ latest crossover story, Flashpoint, a limted series set on a screwed-up version of the current timeline.In the first issue, we get some of the particulars behind the map shown above: this version of Earth is in danger of being overrun by a war between the Amazon nation of New Themsycira, led by Wonder Woman, and Atlantis, ruled by Aquaman.
In America, an ad-hoc alliance of heroes and villains gathers to discuss how to face the growing threat, only to splinter apart when this world’s Batman – no spoilers here – doesn’t join up. While the series will center around Barry Allen, aka the Silver Age Flash, it was at least good to see Cyborg in a position where he could figure into the bigger outcome. Maybe.
The premise is questionable enough on its’ own – “it’s telling that the only independent nation of women in the superhero mainstream is here being associated so definitively with sexual abuse, to say the very least” writes Colin Smith at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, “and, once again, organised mass violence.” – but what really set some readers’ antennae off Friday was the notation under Africa: Ape-Controlled.
On Monday I posted how DC Comics had published a corrected version of the Flash family from Flashpoint #1. This portrait included the granddaughter of Barry Allen properly portrayed as a black woman. In the pages that were included in DC’s Green Lantern Free Comic Book Day issue, she has been colored and presented as a mysterious white member of the Flash family.
How did this happen? I have no idea. I asked DC if they wanted to comment on it yesterday, but my email has not been responded to. Neither have I seen any explanation. And even if they did respond, I am sure that they would say it was a “mistake.”
But a mistake that changes one of the few women of color in the Flash family, one of the few women of color in the Legion, one of the few women of color in comics is more than a mistake. It’s a painful reminder that in comics, white is the default. White is the majority. White is the easy choice because you have, according to Marvel’s Tom Brevoort, only a 1% chance of being wrong.
Dwayne McDuffie left a lasting legacy on the world of comics that many writers can only aspire to. He will not only be remembered as the extremely gifted writer whose scripts have been realized as comic books, in television shows and on the silver screen, but as the creator or co-creator of so many of the much-loved Milestone characters, including Static Shock. The industry has lost a true talent.
- Dan DiDio, co-publisher, DC Comics, Feb. 22, 2011
This June, Felicia Henderson, Denys Cowan, Prentis Rollings, Eric Battle, John Rozum, Matt Wayne, John Paul Leon and others will contribute to a STATIC SHOCK Special, with a cover by JH Williams III.
This Special is our way of acknowledging the industry’s loss. It is not a tribute comic intended to raise proceeds for charity.
We regret if there was any confusion regarding our intentions caused by the solicitation of this project.
The short answer is, DC Comics doesn’t have to do anything to honor Dwayne McDuffie, who suddenly passed away last month. But the disconnect between the two statments above show that, even if the company’s intentions are good, its’ approach in this case came off as tone-deaf.
Nice to see the team behind the new Wonder Woman show stepping outside “traditional” bounds here – it was announced earlier today that Tracie Thoms would be joining the cast as Etta Candy, personal assistant to the the Amazon superhero – more specifically to one of her secret identities, Diana Themyscira.
So far, reaction on Twitter has been positive, although you just knew somebody was gonna attempt to troll it up, and sure enough, here’s a comment from the thread at DC Women Kicking Ass:
wow they went from morbidly obese fat woman in the 40s and 50s, to the pudgey blond woman in the current (well formly current) series some random woman who looked like etta in the animated movie to this current woman? I’ve seen her in a horror movie before and she was killed and she’s blk this is going to cause a bit of backlash in the fandom world
That kind of reads like a set of derailment Mad Libs, doesn’t it? Luckily, this POV was quickly rebuffed in the thread. But we digress.
There is a hardcore piece of the audience whose back goes up whenever you go into these issues, and they don’t even realize it. What kills me about it is, when they’re writing about it, they’re always hyper-rational: “Look, the fact is there are more white characters, and if you pick randomly, you would end up with all-white teams, and the fact that there are three black people on this team is statistically ridiculous. It’s obviously a quota.” And the quota arguments on fictional teams crack me up. I’m sorry, is somebody losing a job here? Which fictional character is losing a job? They’re not talking about what’s going on in the comic books – they’re talking about what they think is going on in their lives, and that’s not really going on, either.
- Dwayne McDuffie, in the video above (starts at 1:57)
The word “loss” encapsulates a lot of concepts, large and small. You lost that receipt with an idea on it — an irritation. You lost a job — financially crippling. You lost your mind at that club — not so shabby.
It is difficult to describe what it’s like to lose a person to the gaping chasm of death when you didn’t know them all that well. That’s some of my challenge with the passing of Dwayne McDuffie.
It was confirmed earlier this week that NBC is moving forward with the pilot episode for David E. Kelley’s much-discussed Wonder Woman revamp. Not only that, but the alleged script for the episode has leaked online.
So, using some reports on the script as a guide, let’s step back into remix mode and pick contenders for both the characters confirmed to appear, and some important members of Diana’s personal canon, assuming the show survives.
A note on the choices: this time around, I played it a little closer to the vest and went with actors more likely to be available. So, names like Maggie Q (Nikita), Rutina Wesley (True Blood) and D.B. Woodside (Hellcats) missed the cut.
That said, if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon, some of these picks might make you wish (again) he’d gotten to stick with the project. Continue reading →
Okay, so we know Tom Hardy can play someone who’s physically intimidating, based on his role in Bronson. But is casting him as a biracial Central American national problematic? … It could be. Assuming that’s the case at all.