h1

DC Comics: Run the Numbers

June 11th, 2010 by | Tags: , , ,

What people like this Mark Engbloom guy don’t understand is that my post about Ian Sattler’s comments wasn’t a reply. It was a dashed off “Your mama” or “u mad?” He said something stupid, and rather than coming with a point-by-point reply, I came with jokes published by his own company. It’s like joking about “White Power Rings.” No, they aren’t called that in the text. No, it isn’t a valid criticism. Yes, it is funny.

But fine. Let’s look at exactly why Sattler’s statement is the most clown shoes, two-faced thing to come out of DC since the last time somebody up there talked about how much they liked Milestone.

It’s so hard for me to be on the other side because it’s not our intention.

It’s not how we perceived it. We get the same thing about how we treat our female characters.”

That’s nice, but who cares about your intentions? If I’m stomping around with my big feet and I accidentally stomp on your toe and break it, I don’t get to say, “Yo my bad about your toe, dog, but that wasn’t my intention.” I can either apologize if I’m feeling sorry or I can move on. I don’t think forcing people to apologize is a worthwhile endeavor, either. I know that I gave enough insincere apologies as a kid and have seen enough as an adult to completely devalue the thought of a forced apology meaning anything at all.

When faced with criticism, you can either appease people or you can stonewall them. If you don’t think you did anything wrong, stick to your guns. “I don’t think it was racist” is perfectly fine. “We didn’t mean it, but also people say we’re mad sexist, too, isn’t that weird?” isn’t.

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.

The problem with this statement is that green, pink, and blue people don’t exist. In fact, comparing actual, real-life people to fake people when discussing real-life issues is a pretty screwed up thing to do, isn’t it? It’s saying, “Yes, I understand your complaints, but look over here! This thing that we made up is just like what you want, just a different shade! That’s the same thing, right?”

No, it really isn’t. The point of diversity is to reflect reality. If you’re bringing up imaginary people when talking about actual people… you probably should just stop talking. A real life example: you’re making a cartoon for kids. Your boss asks why there aren’t any kids in your show. You respond that there are several kids, like this dwarf, this baby dragon, this baby goblin, those are like kids, right? No.

If you have counter statistics… bring them out. Setting aside the fact that this isn’t about statistics at all (Who wants ##% of characters to fulfill some role? Straw men? Idiots? Let’s go with idiots.), show me what you’ve got. Here, I got a head start on them for you! I did a rough count and came up with 73 DCU covers in their August 2010 solicitations. I didn’t count CMX, Wildstorm, or Vertigo, so these are strictly books with characters owned by DC. There is one Brazilian woman, one Asian woman crying in a cemetery (and perhaps another in Birds of Prey, but I can’t tell through the mask), and five black people. Except, two of the black men are unnamed criminal henchmen, one is Azrael, one is Static, and the other is Bumblebee on Tiny Titans. I didn’t count the covers Damian appeared in, but probably should have, as he is at the very least part Arab and part Chinese. In contrast, there are eight alien characters who have recurring roles and seven blonde teenage girls.

So, please. Tell me about how you “strive very hard to have a diverse DCU.” There’s an equal number of talking monkeys and black women on your covers. Scooby Doo is on more covers than that.

John Stewart is the only Green Lantern to not show up on any covers. Hal, Kyle, Guy, Alan, all of those guys get covers. Hey, pop quiz! Does the JLA have a Luke Cage? No? Well… name a black supporting character in a DC Comic on the level of a Sam Wilson! Steel? Now name another. Or hey, name one on the level of a Robbie Robertson. Just Lucious Fox? Really? Whatever happened to Ron Troupe? Remember him? Married to Lois Lane’s sister, had a kid with her? Oh, right. Lucy Lane is back and superpowered. Ron and the baby are a footnote and a question mark.

DC Comics isn’t a racist company and it isn’t run by racists. This does not, however, mean that they cannot do and say stupid things that are racist. Killing Ryan Choi is not, in and of itself, racist. Ditching Ron Troupe and marginalizing John Stewart is not racist. Replacing Jason Rusch with a more boring version of Firestorm isn’t racist. These are perfectly valid story choices that, in a better world, would have taken place in stories that were worth reading.

The problem is the trend. Jason Rusch gives way to Ronnie Raymond. Kyle Rayner and John Stewart give way to Hal Jordan. Wally West and his multiracial family is replaced by Barry Allen and Iris West, a good ol’ down home American couple. Ryan Choi is replaced with his equally unlikely to support an ongoing series predecessor. Milestone is publicly courted and wakes up to find money on the dresser, with a note saying “Lose my number.” Despite the fact that white people are a global minority today, the official future of the DC Universe is about as lily white as it can get and most of the aliens are white people. In what world does that make sense?

When you consider the trend of how DC has treated its non-white characters (and the fact that this argument has to be phrased in terms of white vs ______ is foul), DC Comics comes off looking pretty stupid. I don’t care whether these characters fit into their Silver Age nostalgia or not. When, as a company, you have made a habit of marginalizing a specific type of character, introducing new characters that you’re going to let die on the vine in an attempt to show how “diverse” you are, and then talking out the side of your mouth in public…

Whatever. I don’t have time for things that don’t respect me. Kick rocks.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

58 comments to “DC Comics: Run the Numbers”

  1. I still think John Stewart should be the Green Lantern (or Kyle Rayner at least), but then again I grew up with him in the Animated series, where he was an interesting character. When I found out about Hal Jordan, I was glad he was gone because he just seemed really boring. About the only time he was actually appealing was in New Frontier.

    I hate using the phrase “I want to like it”, but when it comes to DC’s comics output, I find that’s exactly how I feel. I like the characters, I like the concepts, I like the universe, but guys like Ian Sattler making boneheaded statements about insensitive decisions by not only bad writers but good writers who should know better gets me shaking my head. Batman: The Brave and the Bold has been consistently more entertaining and diverse than anything DC Comics does, so I think I’ll stick with that.


  2. Oh, man. I feel like, “You got more monkeys than black women on your covers!” is something someone need to write on Ian Sattler’s face.

    Nothing violent. Washable marker, just enough to really make him take a good hard look about his understanding of diversity.


  3. I agreed 100% with you, David. Sattler’s comments were some of the most cringe-worthy I’ve ever read coming out of a Con.


  4. Haha, seven blonde teenage girls. I would really like to see a book where Supergirl, Batgirl, Speedy, Stargirl, Wonder Girl, and whoever else are hanging out without their costumes just to see if anyone could tell them apart. Oh, and they can’t have color-coded casual clothes.

    It all seems like an unfortunate side effect of their current obsession with hearkening back to a simpler time, a whiter time.


  5. I wonder why Engblom feels so butthurt about a 40 year old comic he feels the need to carry DC’s water over this. I think it says far more about him than it does about anything else.


  6. As I read your post this song was going through my head:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtPluXq_hko


  7. @Paul DeBenedetto: Close, but here’s Run the Numbers.


  8. I remember reading a scene in LSH where thy Legionnaires are chastising Tyroc for thinking that they don’t help black folks, and their spiel was about how diverse the legion was… of course they were talking about the blue and green ppl. Ppl that I see everyday… when I’m off my meds.

    - Seafire


  9. “Hey, we got a black Aqualad now!” :wink:


  10. Let’s be honest. The core of the DCU is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, the JLA and the Legion. Those are all very white franchises. I do not just mean they are fronted by white characters, but their premises are bounded by mid-20th century American WASP culture. The whole concept of legacy is WASP-y. In those seven core franchises, there is exactly one (1) viable non-white character. His name John Stewart and they would be smart to use him a LOT more.

    That is the status quo and it is unlikely to change. Legacy heroes have a hard time holding the mantle forever, so the role is always going to revert back up the chain. That is not the solution.

    So, if DC wants to remain remotely relevant in the modern world, then they have a massive task at hand. They need to figure out a way to introduce popular non-white characters that are not part of some legacy franchise. The Milestone properties seemed a like a good way to achieve that, but obviously that has not worked out. They really need a systematic, line-wide effort of some kind.


  11. I’m actually impressed they didn’t reveal the new Aqualad sooner, given how many people have criticized DC over the way Jason Rusch and especially Ryan Choi have been treated.

    You bring up a lot of good points, David, but I can’t entirely agree about Ron Troupe. He did virtually disappear during the early 2000s, but Geoff Johns brought him back in the conclusion of the Superman “Last Son” story. He’s been around ever since, although usually in a small role, unfortunately. I get the feeling we would’ve seen Ron more frequently had Geoff Johns stayed on Action Comics a little longer, especially since Geoff was building up a love/hate relationship between him and Steve Lombard.


  12. Gokitalo, Ron Troupe might have been around in a very background way, but did we get any reaction from him when the woman he married and the mother of his child was flying around murdering people?


  13. I ain’t even mad.


  14. [...] David Brothers covers the basics in explaining the many problems with a DC editor’s recent statement, in [...]


  15. I’m in the camp where I honestly don’t think there’s a trend that’s specifically set in either way of race. When it comes to DC, EVERYONE suffers. Firestorm got a shit end, as did Superboy and Impulse. Ted Kord got killed in the most retarded way possible, while also doing a stupid heel turn characterization on Max Lord’s characterization. The Dibnys will never be the same and are still dead, and probably aren’t coming back. Stephanie Brown got offed in the most inglorious fashion possible, while also ruining Leslie Tompkins went the same way. Tim Drake’s parents were both murdered and the character was forced to spiral into the boring depressive state of post-Identity Crisis Robin and Red Robin. Risk is still missing his arms, and being white certainly doesn’t seem to be helping Roy Harper.

    It’s the stupid cyclical nature of retcons and DC continuity that eventually brings these characters back. Ryan, Wally, and Kyle just got screwed because they had the unfortunate title of being legacy characters. Even the white legacies like the new Aquaman were unceremoniously replaced. At least Wally, Kyle, and Jason get to hang around.

    DC’s racial regression is just a symptom of their absolute lust for blood and their dumb ass decision to make new racially diverse characters as legacy figures instead of propping them up as their own figures like Marvel does. White, Black, Female, Male, if you’re not Batman and Superman, you’re fucked.

    I agree with the portion about DC not promoting their black and alive character like Marvel does, but DC can’t even sell a fucking Wonder Woman book that sells above 34k. Meanwhile, Marvel can afford to put out that Prince of Power or Atlas book, because they put out twice the amount of titles and dominate the sales market.


  16. “I wonder why Engblom feels so butthurt about a 40 year old comic he feels the need to carry DC’s water over this. I think it says far more about him than it does about anything else.”

    Uh…I wasn’t the guy who unearthed the 40 year old comic, remember? I was responding to it’s (non) effectiveness as a retort to Satler’s statement. I’m certainly not carrying water for DC Comics…Lord knows I’ve given them enough crap over the years….but I just happen to disagree with the “DC is racist” hysteria.

    Funny thing is, on that same threat at The Beat, a critic of Satler called the new Aqua Lad (who will be black) as “Token Lad”. So….DC makes a black character white, they’re racist…then they bring out a minority character, and they’re accused of tokenism. What a joke…..and illustrative of the futility of trying to please race-baiting cranks.


  17. There’s an even bigger problem with the whole “we also have green, pink, and blue characters” justification: these characters are usually just white characters with a palette swap. Jade, Shadow Lass, Arisia, etc. are basically just caucasian-types with pretend skin tones. They hardly count towards the diversity quotient.


  18. “So….DC makes a black character white, they’re racist…then they bring out a minority character, and they’re accused of tokenism. What a joke…..and illustrative of the futility of trying to please race-baiting cranks.”

    @Mark Engblom:

    Dude, I don’t put money in DC’s comics (except The Return of Bruce Wayne, nuff said) and even I’m aware of the remaining DC being whitewashed. And I really just feel sorry for you if you’re too self-righteous to understand that a token character though unpleasant to your ears, is a reality; one both comic giants have yet to let go of, one which never has nor ever will be progress. If you truly believe that the best DC can do to show a populace, let alone their earthbound heroic populace, reflect the world’s diversity, is a cartoon blond blue-eyed (haphazard guess) Creole Aqualad, while the rest of the legacy characters get shunted off to second-string land, then by all means, call us all race-baiters. At least it shows that you’re different from all of those who generalize the DC creative staff as racist.
    If you can read David’s article and still ignore the reality of DC’s history and present in regards to race, and still stand by your statement, then I’m sorry.

    You can’t drive a knife into a man’s back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and call it progress.
    ––– Malcolm X

    You wonder why the general public doesn’t respect comic books? Maybe because the people who make comic books don’t respect them, either.
    ––– Scipio on his blog The Absorbascon, 5/8/05


  19. I’ve always felt that “that wasn’t my/our intention” means “I/we didn’t mean to do it.” And that’s an inferred apology.


  20. I like how Aqualad is somehow a token character even though he has yet to be introduced yet and was revealed long before this blogosphere narrative even hit the front page.

    Was Jaime Reyes a token at first? Jason? Ryan? Don’t be fucking ridiculous.


  21. I did a similar count of Marvel comics out of pure curiosity, and came out with about the same results.

    There were about 6 appearances from black characters on Marvel covers in August (2 of which were Luke Cage, one was Falcon from an issue of Super Hero Squad where he gets fat, and the other was the hilariously stereotypical black guy from Millar’s Avengers), there were 2 asians and only 1 hispanic. Keep in mind that Marvel puts out 1.5 the amount of superhero books as DC.

    I agree with everything you said about DC here David, I just think that was a pretty poor way of proving a point.


  22. @Yohan: It was a fine way of proving my point. Sattler said he has numbers and counter statistics, so I did a count to see. Setting aside the fact that this is not about Marvel vs DC, Marvel has several fairly high profile and varied black characters in their ranks who have regular appearances inside the books. Cage, Storm, Falcon, Photon, Bishop (assuming he’s still alive, I’m behind/apathetic), Robbie Robertson, Rage, Misty Knight, and even Turk. They even thawed out hoary old Glory Grant in ASM a few months back and turned her into a recurring character. On the villain side of things, Killmonger, Man-ape, Princess Zanda, Moses Magnum (in a stellar ASM story drawn by Paolo Rivera), Tombstone, and… I’m spacing on her name, but the black chemist lady from Modok’s 11 have all appeared in the past three or so years.

    Marvel doesn’t need to pimp their diversity on panels, because it’s present in the books. DC can’t say that.

    @Tanner: Yeah, I agree. I don’t know anything about him, though DC’s prior track record makes me wary, but to call him a token this early? C’mon son.

    @John Foley: That’s a good point and something I didn’t address in detail. Thanks.

    @Mark Engblom: u mad?


  23. I agree with everything David said, but I also think Tanner points to a vicious cycle. Or circle. I always get that wrong.

    DC is always killing low-interest characters for laughs/sales. Old Dibnys, new Firestorms, whatever. But since they never give new, nonwhite characters a chance (Palmer and Ronnie Raymond got decades!), and since they never say “You know what? The fanbase won’t support a Ryan Choi book after all. But hell, they haven’t supported a Ray Palmer book since the ’60s, so to hell with it — keep Choi around, diversity is actually a value, and his potential hasn’t been nearly as heavily mined yet as Palmer’s.”

    So, requiring no more than its stunning corporate tone-deafness to racial issues, DC assures that no “diverse” character will ever break out of the low-interest killzone. The era of canceling every new series after eight or a dozen issues (and jayzus, the Silver Nostalgia) is exacerbating the more pointed issues in David’s post, I think.


  24. “When you consider the trend of how DC has treated its non-white characters (and the fact that this argument has to be phrased in terms of white vs ______ is foul), DC Comics comes off looking pretty stupid. I don’t care whether these characters fit into their Silver Age nostalgia or not. When, as a company, you have made a habit of marginalizing a specific type of character, introducing new characters that you’re going to let die on the vine in an attempt to show how “diverse” you are, and then talking out the side of your mouth in public…”

    I wonder did you show the same outrage when Barry Allen was killed or when Hal was turned evil because the sheer hypocrisy and bull coming from people like you is amazing. So it’s ok to spit on white characters and replace them with minorities but when those same characters are brought back DC is run by racists. Seriously take a step back and look at how silly your argument is before making another ridiculous post like that.

    Making Firestorm black and The Atom asian isn’t progression it’s pandering hey read about our hero because he’s a minority and speaking as a minority that is beyond insulting. I don’t care about a characters race, I care about his personality and if he’s interesting and the fact is most of these replacement heroes weren’t nearly as interesting as the guys who they tried to replace.


  25. Hey who let white-privileged-casual-racism-nerd-guy in here?

    Are you going to tell us to “get over it” next? C’mon man, we’re all waiting for it.


  26. @EJ: Speaking as a black dude… you sound mad. u mad?


  27. @John Foley
    Don’t be ridiculous. Arisia is from a planet where you can be an available Barley Legal at Sweet Sixteen, which is totally different from how human sexual maturity works (also HOT HOT HOT).

    @david brothers
    I tried to make the same point in the older post.


  28. Bravo, Mr. Brothers!

    I reference in my response to the same topic:

    http://sonofbaldwin.blogspot.com/2010/06/skin-game.html

    http://sonofbaldwin.blogspot.com/2010/06/blessed-are-cynical.html

    Peace,
    Son of Baldwin


  29. That should read “I reference YOU in my response to the same topic.”


  30. @EJ: Are you nuts? Jason Rusch was fabulous. Yeah, I liked Ronnie Raymond, and I do agree that DC’s track record of only introducing “minorities” (that term isn’t really accurate anymore, is it?) as legacy characters isn’t what anyone should consider progressive, but you personally stated that you want to judge these characters on their own merits. Guess what? I did. I loved everything about Rusch, and I’m NOT EVEN BLACK. Loved the character, loved his look, loved the fact that he was created by Dan Jolley and ChrisCross, two creators I really dig. I liked the fact that they used Raymond as the new equivalent of Martin Stein. He was good as an advisor. Why they brought him back full-time and shoved Rusch into the background is beyond me.

    I also liked Ryan Choi, but I didn’t really read enough of the title to get a feel for him. All I know is that Ray Palmer is boring as anything other than the JLA reserve scientist. He just doesn’t have the power to support his own book, and DC’s gonna have egg on their face when they shunt him back to that after killing Choi to make things look more like 1968, when they could have had Palmer as support while keeping Choi alive.

    Off the top of my head, the last DC title that I think you could call diverse without sounding like a fool was the Power Company, and that started in 2002. Late 90s-mid 2000s DC was pretty decent and less than insulting. What the hell happened? Did they replace the higher ups with Ian Sattlers? Come on DC, you’re the home of Batman and Superman. Both we and you deserve better than this nonsense.


  31. It grows increasingly difficult for me to justify continuing to read the two DC comics books that actually hold my interest.

    I’m enjoying Batgirl and The Flash (Wally was the Flash of my generation, but I never cared about him. I did love his kids, and I hope they continue to make appearances in the book.) But they’re both such white washed books.

    This weekend, I picked up a pile of Marvel Comics, and I was struck at how much more diverse the characters are in those books. There are people of color (of various backgrounds) as heroes and as background characters and it doesn’t feel like they even have to make an effort, whereas with DC, the opposite is true.

    I felt ~good~ about giving money to Marvel for those books, whereas I cringe a little each time I give money to DC for Batgirl and The Flash.


  32. @lamuella: Good point. And like David was saying, have they mentioned Ron and Lucy’s child at all since Infinite Crisis? And come to think of it, where’s Lena Luthor?

    @EJ: Thing is, Jason Rusch and Ryan Choi both had pretty different personalities from their predecessors. Jason wasn’t a black Ronnie Raymond and Ryan wasn’t an Asian American Ray Palmer. I’d argue that Jason and Ryan were just as interesting, perhaps moreso, than Ronnie and Ray. I think the reason they didn’t catch on probably had more to do with the fact that they were replacing characters who weren’t all that popular at the time. I mean, before Jason’s Firestorm series, the only noteworthy thing Firestorm had done in recent times was get stabbed by a magical sword and explode. Ray Palmer had a fairly big role in Identity Crisis, but he hadn’t been a leading man in quite some time.


  33. Racial diversity in Marvel is quite diverse, with even Luke Cage leading their Avengers-super team book. If Milestone was a hit, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But I do think that DC Comics missed the boat in Didio’s regime where it seems like they’re intent on reverting all of their main icons back to the status quo…sort of the Geoff Johns initiative.

    Johns does not seem to like legacy characters, or at least he doesn’t seem to understand how to write them. Even his run on the Flash was him basically writing about the Rogues and writing Wally as a sort of Barry-lite. And since Johns is the big seller and an de-facto EIC writer, we aren’t going to see the investment that DC once had in new properties.

    Once upon a time, DC had an investment in creating new characters that took up legacies. That’s why DC could compete because they invested in new titles and legacy characters. But DC has decided not to invest in deeply in their legacy characters because they view it as a limited resource. Remember, they wanted to kill of Nightwing during Infinite Crisis…if only to give the rest of the DCU a more “youthful” appearance. That’s the true problem, not necessarily race (although you can definitely see the through-line of racial politics in their recent decisions). Legacy characters in the DCU are created with diminishing returns because they don’t have the investment they once had in 1986 when the idea of Kid Flash becoming the Flash was a new idea.

    And this is a shame. Because Ryan Choi is a great character and Jason Rusch has the potential to be an interesting character. And if DC just decided, “Let’s make a Super-Hero Professor-type character” or “Let’s make a character that shares the body of a Superhero with other people” and really pushed behind those characters, we would have an interesting group of characters that are both new investments instead of, say, getting the Red Circle license or the Milestone License again.


  34. @Gokitalo: I think DC has it more in for kids right now than any minorities.

    Ryan Choi was probably hurt by how quicky his book tanked after one writer change. It was what, five issues? And I don’t think it was even on the chopping block before hand.


  35. Anyone looking for some yuks should check out last summer’s Beat archives to see Engblom defending Obama-in-whiteface as a not-at-all racist political message, and tsking people for being mean to those nice teabagger folks.


  36. Right, I remember All-New Atom went through a lot of art changes as well.

    As for kids… yeah, DC does seem to have a bit of a mad-on for them, doesn’t it? I mean, Chris Kent was treated pretty well, but Lian Harper’s been killed off, while Lena Luthor and Samuel Troupe have disappeared. Oh, and Donna Troy crushed her undead baby’s head. Eee.

    Johns does not seem to like legacy characters, or at least he doesn’t seem to understand how to write them.

    Ah, but don’t forget JSA, where half the cast consisted of legacy characters. Black Canary, Mr. Terrific, Jakeem Thunder and Hector Hall got quite a lot of Johns love, for example. Johns even created quite a few new legacy characters, like Stargirl, Citizen Steel and Wildcat III.


  37. @G: reminds me a bit about how M’s skin color kept getting lighter in X-Factor


  38. @gary: I think that Johns genuinely likes the legacies. His run on Flash with Scott Kolins, and later Howard Porter, is one of my top 5 favorite runs on a DC property. I thought it was fantastic, and it convinced me to like the Flash and his Rogues. I still say Flash has a better rogue’s gallery than Batman, who just has crazies and sadists (but Spider-Man tops all of them).

    The end of Jason’s series, the One Year Later stuff written by Stuart Moore and Dwayne McDuffie, was quite good and showed where he was going to go as a hero. A rookie, but an eager one, willing to learn and just happy to be a part of the group.


  39. David, what does “u mad?” mean? Just, “fuck you?”


  40. @Zory: More or less, yeah. Call it a casual dismissal of someone’s poorly reasoned, poorly argued, and fundamentally flawed position.


  41. Eh, DC’s new policy of reintroducing token minority prelegacies is really grating.

    (see what I did there)


  42. I think this is the Legion link

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tW3g8zCM6c0/SzGX7_av-VI/AAAAAAAAAgQ/SyZsQ_6Awyw/s1600-h/skin+color.jpg


  43. “Uh…I wasn’t the guy who unearthed the 40 year old comic, remember?”

    that 40-year old page was the FIRST thing i thought of when i read that quote from sattler. and i’m not even 30.

    sattler’s statement was kinda embarrassing for DC and also pretty dang funny.

    Seafire: hah! yah, like that! how can anyone not laugh at that writing? that’s funny stuff right there.


  44. Yes. This.


  45. Best part of that Legion scene:
    You’ve got Brainiac a blond, Karate Kid, who while in that scene is black haired and looking asian, in a lot of his appearances he is always portrayed as a brown haired white guy, and finally Shadow Lass, who i read was supposed to be black originally and then the powers that be decided its better if she were blue… what a completely color blind crew LOL


  46. Just to go partially off topic and stick up for statistics for a moment: demanding x% of characters fulfil some role is foolish, as you say, but pointing out x% of characters currently fulfil that role is different, isn’t it? in fact, how else can you have this conversation, unless it’s grounded either in a) the current proportions of various types of people, or b) how that proportion is changing as time goes on (either compared to the other proportions, or on its own terms)? What are examples but points of data, and what is the drawing of conclusions from those examples but the application of statistics?

    I mean, sure, some people do it very, very badly, but at heart it’s still number crunching; at the end of the day (and acknowledging the unpleasantness of this being framed as white vs all others) I can’t see how “Here are six examples of non-white characters in DC being badly treated” is actually qualitatively different from “Here are the proportions of white and non-white characters in DC, and the proportion of those that have been badly treated”. The latter would take much longer to compile, but that makes it hard, not stupid.

    In short, I think there’s a difference between stating statistics are irrelevant in these kinds of discussion and pointing out statistics can be applied in exceptionally stupid ways.

    Or am I missing something?


  47. @SpaceSquid: That’s a really good question/point! I have some thoughts on it, but I’m going to gather them for the next few hours and do a full post on it for tomorrow.


  48. Two things:
    1. That Legion panel with Tyroc looks stupid to us, because there’s no such thing as green people and blue people. There are only lazy writers. In-universe, however, it probably seems like a great point to the characters. It’s a minor point, but worth noting. The Legion characters don’t come off as sounding as tone-deaf as the writer does. This actually has meaning to them.
    2. That Green Lantern “what about the black skins?” page just does not age well. I’m not a huge Hal Jordan fan (could care less about him, actually) but this scene is ABC Afterschool Special-level of heavyhanded.


  49. All of this is totally correct and it’s why I read this blog. Thanks.


  50. For the love of Zod, can we please *stop* perpetuating the blatantly false notion that Jason Rusch is no longer Firestorm? He *and* Ronnie Raymond are Firestorm. In any sane world, this would be considered a win-win situation: Classic Firestorm fans get Ronnie back and Jason’s fans (and fans like me, who like both guys) get to keep him around too.

    Firestorm has been two people for 90% of the character’s history. If Jason isn’t Firestorm now, Martin Stein wasn’t Firestorm back in the day.

    For the record, I *do* agree that the current version of Firestorm should appear to be white: He’s the fusion of a white guy and a black guy, and his skin tone should reflect that.

    That aside, I think there’s lots of story potential in the Jason/Ronnie dynamic. I’m also fairly certain that if Firestorm were to get a series again, Jason and Ronnie would probably wind up going back and forth w/r/t who gets to ‘drive’ Firestorm. Every other Firestorm series has played with the dynamics of the Firestorm matrix and there’s every reason to think that a new series would do the same.

    Gail Simone is one of my favorite writers, but not every single thing she’s ever touched has turned to gold and deserves eternal preservation. Ryan Choi was a snooze as a character and his Atom series was, IMHO, a mediocre affair from start to finish. Granted, Ray Palmer isn’t Mr. Excitement either, but if Johns and company have some cool ideas for relaunching and/or rebooting him, I’m happy to give them the chance. The outrage over Choi’s death seems vastly out of proportion for a character that never really transcended his origins as a scribble in one of Grant Morrison’s notebooks.

    As for John Stewart and Kyle Rayner, they’re both still active and prominent in the DCU. In fact, with Guy Gardner moving over to the ‘Emerald Warriors’ series, both characters’ spotlight time will likely increase. Has fandom become so concerned with fighting over some weird notion of racial spoils that anything other than starring in the Green Lantern book is considered a cruel marginalization? Is that where we’re at? Or do John and Kyle fans just hate Hal Jordan that much?

    As a reader, I’d have no problem with Kyle, John, and Hal rotating on and off Green Lantern an arc or two at a time, but considering that both the GLC title was front and center of the last major DCU event — I think arguing that they’ve been somehow sidelined is a pretty curious rhetorical tack to take.

    As for Wally West — he has been sidelined, and I think he’s a more interesting character than Barry by far (and the same could be said of Linda vs. Iris). But I have a hard time seeing that decision as one that has a racial dimension to it. Especially since they just made one of his kids the new Impulse, which would seem to suggest that her role in the DCU is about to get more, rather than less, prominent.

    And could we hold off on calling the new Aqualad a token at least until he as a chance to appear and maybe do something? Sheesh, no wonder minority characters have such a tough time getting and audience — they get blasted beyond recognition by both sides from the moment they’re announced.

    Lastly, though nobody else seems to care about her when these discissuns come up, I’m going to speak up for Renee Montoya/The Question. I was a huge Vic Sage fan, but Rucka completely sold me on her as a worthy successor and her back-up in Detective rocked. Though Rucka’s moved on, I hope somebody picks up where he left off. If nothing else, she’d be an entirely logical addition to the BoP cast.


  51. @david brothers: Why are you typing that out when I had a GIF ready months ago?


  52. @david brothers: Ooops. Here ya go.

    U MAD?


  53. @Cheryl Lynn: Oh man, that reminds me. I found a SUPER dope u mad the other day. I hope somebody does something stupid soon so I can use it.


  54. [...] other day, I said this: Who wants ##% of characters to fulfill some role? Straw men? Idiots? Let’s go with [...]


  55. DC: “We’re not racist! Look at the new Aqualad: he’s black and he can totally swim!”


  56. Actually Pennyworth, no he can’t. Just read his quick bio. *sigh* DC official mayor of Racefailville.


  57. I had this same conversation with a comic book store owner/friend recently. The argument was, “well [that offended person] was taking it to extremes” and “they were basically decommissioning a color of the spectrum.”

    I pointed out that 1)WE don’t get to say that being offended is an extreme, or not. I wrote a review of a book that I said made me cry and people told me that I “overreacted” and “took it too seriously.” No, actually I didn’t. It made me cry. That was not an overreaction – it was a reaction to what I felt was hate and misery directed at people like myself. WE simply have to accept that if something offends someone, that their reaction was valid. Not just for them, but for us, as well. That thing was offensive because someone was offended.

    And 2) marginalization is not a random thing. The 4 millionth time you see a predatory lesbian, black=evil, Yellow Menace thing it just wears on you.

    So, I’m 100% with you, David. In the case of offending, intent means nothing. When you do/say something that offends say you’re sorry and shut up. Doing one or the other is acceptable, but not really the right thing to do. Doing neither – completely wrong.

    Seriously, DC, you treat ethnic characters and women less well than you treat animals. You’ve been told by, what, 8 million people? Clue in.


  58. [...] David Brothers on DC vs. Diversity: The problem is the trend. Jason Rusch gives way to Ronnie Raymond. Kyle Rayner and John Stewart [...]