I like what I’m seeing over at Geekscape. For instance, you can find some excellent recaps of Comic-Con. I particularly like this one that concisely lists the main PR stuff from the two giants, DC and Marvel.
Now, what brought me over to their site was something else. It was quite a hyper-active rant regarding what seems to be Marvel’s latest press grab, the revamping of Ultimate Spider-Man as hispanic. Now, we’ve all come to see time and time again that the good people at Marvel know how to tease attention from the media and, at the end of the day, all the fuss turns out to be over what is a solid piece of comics. Marvel is at the top tier. They aren’t going to produce something that is too way out there. That said, there is always room for a surprise. That Captain America/Tea Party issue is an excellent example. There’s a suprise in an otherwise solid piece of work. So, in the end, this hispanic Spider-Man will be good business and good comics. Does it mean that we need to seriously consider the ethnicity of our flagship superheroes? Yes! But we’ve got a ways to go. I like a lot of what the Geekscape essay on race has to say. It’s nice when the writer shares with the reader as in this passage from Jonathan London’s “The Motives of Race in Comics Unmasked”:
That is why we love comics. Race never really mattered here. I’m a half-Mexican kid who looks and sounds white. Growing up in Texas and playing outdoors, I would tan pretty darkly. I once had someone curse at me and call me Indian during a blacktop basketball game.
It’s little things like this that people relate to, that people cherish. Hey, I’m right in the same place in more ways than one. I’m half-Mexican. I recall once, when I was a young guy living in Houston, a guy pulled up in a truck next to where I was walking down the road. He asked if I was looking for work and motioned for me to join the rest of the Mexican workers. I didn’t appreciate his presumption to say the least. Anyway, I know I wouldn’t have made a very good day laborer. If only this uncouth uneducated Texan had known my last name was Chamberlain. I’m sure the author of this essay gets frustrated with his own last name, London. I think this helps to show how complicated the issues of race and class truly are. With that in mind, all the white mainstream superheroes pale in comparison, pun intended.
Time will tell. We’ll just reach a point when all the mainstays may fall further into danger of looking and feeling beyond retro, just too dated, too out of touch. That is, unless these characters keep changing and new characters are allowed to share the spotlight. The best way to do that is for writers, like Jonathan London, to keep it real. From what I see on Robot 6, the Miles Morales character, in the new “Ultimate Spider-Man” coming out in September, seems authentic and on the right track. We’ll get there if we focus not so much on ethnicity but on authenticity.