17
Jul
14

Female Thunder Gods, Black Avengers and Other Things That Seem to Scare Comic Fans

We’re about to get super-comic-book-geeky here so, you may want to grab onto something and hold on.

I’m not 100 percent certain, but the world might be ending.

image via BleedingCool.com

First, Marvel Comics announced that Thor, god of Thunder, will be a woman.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough for one week, they announced that Captain America will now be…..black. Yes, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon aka just about the coolest part of Captain America: Winter Soldier will be taking up the mantle after Steve Rogers somehow got really old and is more concerned with his Depends than what the Red Skull is doing.

OH DEAR GOD PLEASE STAY OFF THE INTERNET AS IT EXPLODES.

Listen, I’m no fan of change for the sake of change or PR stunts. I’m not bothering to buy the “How Wolverine Dies Until The Next Movie” series going on right now. And honestly, they can talk about how neither of these things are stunts, but we all know things will go back to normal when the new Thor, Captain America or Avengers movies come out. Just like Wolverine will come back from the dead the moment Wolverine 3: Even More Wolveriney or X-Men: Seriously It’s Only About Logan comes out down the road.

But I don’t get the knee jerk and, frankly, ridiculous reaction to either of the above changes.

Let’s assume for a moment they are both well written. I know, that can be dicey in comics, but indulge me. Isn’t story the ultimate determination as to whether something is worthwhile?

We all knew Cap was coming back when he was shot and killed in the comics because it was before the first movie. But writer Ed Brubaker did such an extraordinary job making Bucky (Cap’s former partner) transition into Captain America that when Bucky left the role (died, sort of) it was actually a bummer.

When it was announced that Barbara Gordon was returning to her role as Batgirl, we weren’t sold. She had been defined by the events of The Killing Joke and been in a wheelchair for so long it was who she was to fans. In fact, in many ways her struggle to overcome her disability and the wheelchair were an excellent thing for kids to see.

But Gail Simone came along and absolutely nailed Babs in her return to crime-fighting and (more importantly) walking that we forgot about our misgivings.

What is it about change in comics which makes us upset?

In the recent instances, it’s hard not to see the push-back in purely racial and gender terms and it seems as if a lot of the issues people have with it is that they immediately assume it’s the “PC-police” forcing a change.

I actually understand that thought as once upon a time, I thought it too. When Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) was brutally killed and replaced by Jaime Reyes, I wondered if it was driven solely by political correctness. I wondered the same thing when The Question died of cancer and was replaced by Renee Montoya.

image via Wikipedia

I’m not proud of my gut reaction, but I want to be honest about it to make a point.

Something about it seemed unfair. I can’t tell you what it was, only that it happened. In so far as The Question, that was likely in part to my love for what we did when I worked on the Justice League animated series. Seeing him replaced bugged me and that might be why.

But I ask myself why I disliked the idea of Beetle or Question or even Firestorm (who died in the dumbest way possible) being replaced and I don’t have a rational answer. I didn’t love any of the characters save Question (and again, for personal reasons) and none of them were comics or characters who drew big numbers on the sales racks.

And I have no rational reason because, if I’m honest about that time in my life, the reason wasn’t rational. I think I was upset on some level because I was watching three traditionally white, male characters get the brush off in favor of a different gender or color.

Again, I’m not proud of that, but I think looking back on it that it’s true.

And I can’t help but wonder if that’s true of many people reacting to Falcon-Cap and Fem-Thor.

image via ABCnews.com

Certainly if you read the comments (never do that) it’s there in subtext if nothing else.

Why is that?

I mean, not to get even more geeky here but Norse gods have always been mutable (hell, gods in general – Zeus anyone?) so Thor being a woman isn’t insane from the mythology. And honestly, if Captain America is the representation of the US as it stands, it makes sense to me that he isn’t a blond-haired, blue eyed white dude.

And who better than Wilson, his long-time partner (now that Bucky/Winter Soldier isn’t a choice)?

I have no explanation as to why changing a race or gender riles comic fans up. It doesn’t do that to me anymore (especially once I read the rebooted characters). I’m not sure why it ever did.

But I think it’s time to get over it. I think it’s time for readers – particularly white, male readers who have been the bulk of readership for a long time and get pandered too far more than we should – to let go of it.

If the story is good, the story is good. What does it matter if  Thor a woman? Or Ms. Marvel is a Muslim or Superman of Earth-2 is black?

The stories are either good or they aren’t.

And speaking of stories, let’s applaud comics for trying anything new. After all, there’s no new story to tell, just different ways to tell them. How can you make the same superhero nonsense fresh? Shake things up.

Too often that mean rebooting the universe *coughcoughDCcoughcough* and changing little or reverting things to status quo regardless of past stories *coughcoughMarvelcoughcough*.

image via Marvel Comics

So Thor is a woman? He’s also been an alien and a frog,  used to turn into a crippled mortal with a cane and at one point was a construction worker.  Cap’s been replaced at least three times I can think of in his own comic, and according to Marvel mythology, was several different people in the 50s and 60s.

Who cares if we change up who is holding Mjolnir or the shield? This could be a good jumping off point for stories as it was for Batgirl, Bucky-Cap and Ultimate Spiderman (currently Miles Morales).

That’s what will matter .

The stories are either good or they aren’t.

Hopefully these stories will open up opportunities for creators to put together more original female and minority characters like the aforementioned Ms. Marvel (on of my favorite books right now).

Meanwhile, maybe this is a chance for some new takes on old stories.

And if you don’t like it, oh well. As you can say about the weather in some states: wait five minutes and it’ll change.

Meanwhile enjoy the ride and stop bitching for once. We have two new heroes to follow. Let’s see where they take us.

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Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages

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