Tag Archives: ryan choi

SDCC Notebook: The Fan Diaspora & Eric Wallace on diversity in DC Comics

By Arturo R. García

Reginald Hudlin summed up a lot of fans’ concerns about DC Comics’ recent storylines during his annual “Black Panel” in his response to a fan’s question: “DC Comics is very much into the nostalgia business,” Hudlin said; later in the hour he called it “bad business.” No one in the room packed full of POC fans disagreed with him.

And make no mistake – POC fans and cosplayers abounded at the convention. From my perspective there were more of us at the convention compared to last year. The sad thing, however, is that heroes of color were under-represented, either in cosplay (Isaiah Bradley there was an exception) or in the news; the biggest announcement regarding a POC superhero – unless you’re counting Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, and that character’s a whole other ball of wax – concerned DC’s kicking off a new Static ongoing series next year, with a black writer, Felicia D. Henderson (Fringe, Teen Titans) at the helm. But Henderson’s run on Titans garnered several negative reviews, prompting an equally bad response on DC’s own website.

With the Teen Titans themselves going through a cast white-washing under Henderson’s replacement, J.T. Krul, the status of most diverse cast in the DCU now falls to Eric Wallace’s Titans For Hire, a series which generated its’ own share of controversy when the Atom, Ryan Choi, was murdered in the first issue. I got the chance to talk to Wallace about Choi’s death, his own experiences as a black comic-book fan, and on diversity in DC’s stories.

Race + Comics Notes: Black Panther & DC Comics Update

By Site Lead Arturo R. García

ryan1

DC Comics went back to the racial well this week in an interview with Comic Book Resources, which featured this exchange between CBR News Editor Kiel Phiegly and DC co-publisher Dan Didio:

CBR: There’s been a lot of discussion – and a lot of angry discussion, I’d say – coming out of some of the recent DCU storylines, specifically the death of Ryan Choi in the “Titans” Brightest Day launch…

Didio: And if I could jump in here for a second, I’d ask “What past that?” There seems to be a concern about us pulling back in diversity, and we identify Ryan Choi, but we don’t identify what more than that. If you’re talking about a single character, we can’t run backwards from the way we act and behave with our characters because we’re afraid of addressing characters of different race or putting them in stories that are bigger or more exciting, I’m sorry to say. This is an interesting thing to me, because since I’ve been here, we’ve been extraordinarily aggressive in trying to bring racial diversity and diversifying our cast of characters as much as possible. That’s been part of our agenda for the last five to eight years since I’ve been here. We’re talking about a single character with Ryan Choi, but I’d love to know about examples past that, because at the same time that we’ve got Ryan Choi, we’ve got a Great Ten series running. If you look at every team book and everything we’re doing, we go to extraordinary lengths to diversify the casts and show our audience in our books.

Continue reading

Quoted: DC Comics Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler on “Green, Pink, and Blue” Heroes

Regarding the recent death of minority characters like Ryan Choi:

It’s so hard for me to be on the other side because it’s not our intention. There is a reason behind it all. We don’t see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink and blue characters. We have the Great Ten out there and I have counter statistics, but I won’t get into that. It’s not how we perceived it. We get the same thing about how we treat our female characters.

- as quoted in Newsarama, June 6.

DC Comics Kills Off Ryan Choi

by Guest Contributor Jenn, originally published at Reappropriate

Ryan Choi

I have to preface this post by saying that I have not been collecting comics lately. Thankfully, a friend of mine, who still keeps his finger to the pulse of the comic world, tipped me off to a major development in the world of comic books that has ramifications for the Asian American community.

Four years ago, after the presumed death of Ray Palmer, DC Comics introduced a new Atom, remarkable because he quickly ascended to being one of the foremost Asian American superheroes in comic-dom. He was one of the few Asian American superheroes to receive their own comic book title — All-New Atom — which was penned by Gail Simone. Simone developed Atom, and his alter ego Ryan Choi, as an Asian-American in virtually every sense of the word; although he was born and raised in Hong Kong, Ryan lived and worked as a professor in an American university. Part of his personal evolution involved struggles between his more Americanized identity with the expectations of his strict, overbearing father.

Now, when Atom first launched, I heavily criticized the book for its persistent dependence on stereotypical Asian/Asian American tropes. Choi was still one-dimensional and his book contained inappropriate racially-charged jokes that seemed out-of-place in a book that should’ve been a landmark for Asian American comic fans. Despite being set in at an academic institution, the series suffered from a bizarre absence of Asian American female characters. To me, All-New Atom was jarring — Ryan Choi had none of the ease in his Asian-American identity that Asian American characters written by Asian American writers do. Unlike the characters of Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, or even the writing of Greg Pak’s Amadeus Cho in World War Hulk, Gail Simone’s Ryan Choi felt like a character forced into an Asian American skin. His relationship with his Asian-ness seemed fake and inauthentic. All-New Atom felt like a book about Asian Americans written by a non-Asian. Continue reading

Race + Comic-Book Notes, Part 1: Comics Alliance Speaks Up

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
atomchoi1

Remember when we asked, “Will Jim Lee Take After The Brave And The Bold?”? Apparently the answer is no. But we have to give props to Chris Sims at ComicsAlliance for also noticing this.

Late last week, Sims published a column calling out DC Comics after another round of white-washing its’ primary cast – in this instance the most recent Atom, Dr. Ryan Choi, was killed off, allowing his Silver Age predecessor, Ray Palmer, to don the red-and-blue mask – another nod to the penchant for nostalgia Lee and Geoff Johns are overseeing at the company:

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — I’m certainly not an exception to fan culture, and there are stories that push my “Oh hey, I remember that” buttons as hard as anyone else’s — except that the form it takes ignores that much of what made Jack Kirby or Cary Bates or Alan Moore or Frank Miller so exciting wasn’t what they were doing, but that they were doing things that hadn’t been done before. Instead, we’re in an industry right now that wants to constantly reset itself, running on nostalgia rather than innovation, moving backwards instead of moving forwards, and while I complain about it both often and at length, it seems to be what the majority of comics readers want, no matter how wrong-headed I think it is.

The switch of Palmer for Choi comes on the heels of the company’s latest event, Blackest Night, and another change, involving Firestorm. For the past few years, the character’s primary alter ego was Jason Rusch, a young black character who went from his own short-lived solo series to being included in the Justice League of America. (Indeed, there was a brief stretch during Dwayne McDuffie’s run writing JLA where the team included not only Rusch, but Vixen; Kimiyo Hoshi as Doctor Light; and Green Lantern John Stewart. Compare that line-up to this somewhat less diverse team.) At the conclusion of Blackest Night, though, we learned that Rusch and his own white predecessor, Ronnie Raymond, would have to bond to form the flame-headed hero – but that it was Raymond providing their shared body’s “default setting.” These decisions look even more questionable when you factor in the following:

* The heavy promotion given to problematic “retro” stories like First Wave.
* The replacement of Cassandra Cain as Batgirl for Stephanie Brown.
* The “off-camera” killing-off of a half-Asian child character, Lian Harper, in the critically-reviled Cry For Justice miniseries. When questioned at a convention about the decision to kill Harper off, DC Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler said, “I’m happy it upset people because it means that the story had some weight and emotion.”
* The lack of attention given to the Milestone Universe characters aside from Static, and issues with McDuffie’s Milestone Forever mini-series.
* The cancellation of the Great Ten mini-series before its’ conclusion.

batb1Add these developments up, and DC Entertainment’s animated offerings almost look like products of a rogue operation: the Brave And The Bold cartoon actually played out a Raymond/Rusch union first – but with Rusch supplying Firestorm’s skin color – and has consistently featured Choi as The Atom and Jaime Reyes as the Blue Beetle (the series’ only misstep has been re-imagining Katana as a Silent But Deadly Asian character type). Also, the company’s newest animated offering, the soon-to-debut Young Justice, features a new Aqualad, a black character, at the very forefront of its’ promo photo:

youngjustice1

And as Sims notes, these revisions extend beyond the heroes themselves:

Even the regressions of ostensibly white characters often have racially charged consequences: Wally West’s interracial marriage to Linda Park has been sidelined in favor of on-the-go suburbanites Barry Allen and Iris West, and Kyle Rayner (who was created as an Irish-American but later “revealed” to be the son of a Mexican-American CIA agent) has suffered the strange fate-worse-than-death of a fictional character who gets demoted from a starring role to a supporting one. He’s still a Green Lantern, but he’s not the Green Lantern.

Most damningly, Sims illustrates his point with a team portrait of Johns’ take on the “classic” Legion of Super-Heroes, a group which ostensibly represents a more united humanity as part of a larger group of worlds in the 31st Century:

legion1

Damn, I guess we didn’t make it to space after all!

There’s a disappointing epilogue to Sims’ story over at Comic Book Resources: In previewing Titans For Hire, where the people who killed Choi get to star in their own series, Jeffrey Renaud brought up the question of Choi’s death with writer Chris Wallace:

Renaud: Do you have a message for the twitterati and fans of the character that are angered/saddened/upset by his death, because some are even saying this death was racially motivated?

Wallace: Only that I, too, will miss Ryan. He was a great hero all the way until the end, and that’s how I’ll always remember him. I hope others will, too.

In this characterization, anyone who objects to Choi getting killed off for the sake of boosting Slade Wilson – yet another white character – is some Other on Twitter, i.e. “not a Real Fan,” and wondering about the racial implications here is clearly the work of a conspiracy theorist. Meanwhile, Wallace ducks the question entirely with a homogenized “eulogy.”

In his conclusion, Sims notes possibly the best part of Choi’s character: his super-hero ID wasn’t derived from his ethnicity. In part two, we’ll look at some of Marvel’s newest characters; some fit that description, and some most assuredly do not.