Spider-Man, Diversity and "Who Cares?"

StewShearerOld

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Spider-Man, Diversity and "Who Cares?"

Spider-Man issue 2 recently touched on the issue of diversity in comics. We touch on it further.

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madwarper

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I never minded Miles Morales, simply because he was Mile Morales, and not Peter Parker.
One person steps down from the mantle of a superhero (for whatever reason), and someone else picks it up.

However, when it comes to female "Thor", I take a bit of exception. But, let me talk about Superman for a second... Superman was born Kal-El, he was sent to Earth and assumed the identity of Clark Kent and eventually took the mantle of Superman. After he "died", Clones and Androids may have taken over the mantle of Superman, but it didn't change who Kal-El was. Now, back to Thor, he was born Thor, Odin sent him to Earth in the body of Donald Blake, when he found Mjolnir disguised as a walking stick, he takes on the mantle of The Thunder God. So, when Thor steped down from being The Thunder God, his replacement should have been called The (female) Thunder God, don't take the man's name away from him.
 

Baresark

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Eh, the truth is, a lot of diversity is added for the sake of it, especially when we are talking about stories written in the board room, which is what Disney does.

I don't have an issue with any of the characters being changed, though some readers around here have gone out of their way to point out how sexist or racist I am, but they don't understand simple things so far as I can tell. Female Thor doesn't make sense because it doesn't make sense to call the character Thor. It's just bad writing from the get go. Not that it's doomed to be bad forever, clearly it's not. But I don't think the change was made for a second to improve the character, only to keep a name and draw more girls into reading the comic. Mile Morales was always a fine change to me, afterall, we are talking about passing on a mantle. But the reasoning was so incredibly contrived and racially driven that it's outright offensive to me. For instance, the man behind the change was the at the time Chief Editor, Joe Quesada. He literally said at the time (I'm paraphrasing) that the character is a poor character without a lot of means, so it just makes more sense for him to black or hispanic. It's offensive because I grew up a lot more poor than a lot of people, at times my family was actually homeless. I'm a white guy from a white family. I am honestly offended for the reasoning because it simply makes poverty a product of the color of your skin, and that is completely ridiculous and not indicative of reality. It helps that Mile Morales Spidey is very well written. But there will always be a part of me who actually outright hates Joe Quesada for making the decision he made for the reasons he made it.

Also, these characters because of the race and gender are above critique, or at least were at the time of the changes. It was like not caring for one of Barack Obama's policies when he first became president. He too was above critique because of the color of his skin. Female Thor was above critique at first because she was a female character. Mile Morales was above critique because of the color of his skin. Like it or not, when you make a substantial change to a beloved and popular character, the positive reactions have to be earned, they can't be expected because of their race and gender. No one is going to pat you on the back because of your gender or your race in life, and as such, not in comics. All things are earned. So far as I can tell though, since the time of those changes, the pats on the back have been earned through good writing, good characterization, and good art.
 

StewShearerOld

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madwarper said:
I never minded Miles Morales, simply because he was Mile Morales, and not Peter Parker.
One person steps down from the mantle of a superhero (for whatever reason), and someone else picks it up.

However, when it comes to female "Thor", I take a bit of exception. But, let me talk about Superman for a second... Superman was born Kal-El, he was sent to Earth and assumed the identity of Clark Kent and eventually took the mantle of Superman. After he "died", Clones and Androids may have taken over the mantle of Superman, but it didn't change who Kal-El was. Now, back to Thor, he was born Thor, Odin sent him to Earth in the body of Donald Blake, when he found Mjolnir disguised as a walking stick, he takes on the mantle of The Thunder God. So, when Thor steped down from being The Thunder God, his replacement should have been called The (female) Thunder God, don't take the man's name away from him.
Isn't Mjolnir specifically inscribed with the name "Thor"? I could totally be wrong with that. Even that aside, regardless if thats true or not, it can still make sense in a way. Its not the first time that a position of power has gotten its name from somebody who used to in that position of power. For example, a "caesar" is a political position named after Julius Caesar, who used to occupy that position. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_(title)] Its wouldn't be difficult to apply that in conversation either, as demonstrated by how we talk about caesars. We can talk about caesars, the caesar, a caesar as the position or Caesar as the individual, which sounds confusing, but if you just say the whole name, Julius Caesar, there's no confusion. Likewise, "Thor" and "Thor Odinson" could work, even while they both live and breathe simultaneously.

This sort of thing happens with informal names, like nicknames, too. For example, the "First Lady", in this case specifically referring to the wife of the president of the United States was a nickname of a wife of a president that later was applied to all.

Unless I was trying to add to the lore of Thor Odinson's culture and society I probably wouldn't have gone with the name "Thor" as a title myself because there its just sort of pointless but it makes sense if you're trying to do some world building with Asgaard.
 

Kyle Winston

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If you keep up with Linkara's Atop the Forth Wall, he is currently in the middle of a Blue Beetle Retrospective. It is worth noting because there have been 3 Blue Beetles: Dan Garrett (a white cop), Ted Kord (a white archaeologist), and Jaime Reyes (a Hispanic teen). Each of them is the same hero, but a different person. They were judged not by ethnicity or career, but by deeds and character. I think is is a good example and how to create a new character for an old mantel.
 

madwarper

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MarsAtlas said:
Isn't Mjolnir specifically inscribed with the name "Thor"?
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

That just gives the wielder "the power of Thor", which is odd because that's how he gets his (nonphysical) powers.

But, others have wielded Mjolnir without taking the name of (or mantle) "Thor"; Buri, Bor, Odin, Beta Ray Bill, Storm, Captain America, Loki, etc.

but if you just say the whole name, Julius Caesar, there's no confusion. Likewise, "Thor" and "Thor Odinson" could work, even while they both live and breathe simultaneously.
Perhaps, but it just comes off to me that the man is being stripped of his name, rather than just his mantle.
 

Fanghawk

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madwarper said:
MarsAtlas said:
Isn't Mjolnir specifically inscribed with the name "Thor"?
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

That just gives the wielder "the power of Thor", which is odd because that's how he gets his (nonphysical) powers.

But, others have wielded Mjolnir without taking the name of (or mantle) "Thor"; Buri, Bor, Odin, Beta Ray Bill, Storm, Captain America, Loki, etc.

but if you just say the whole name, Julius Caesar, there's no confusion. Likewise, "Thor" and "Thor Odinson" could work, even while they both live and breathe simultaneously.
Perhaps, but it just comes off to me that the man is being stripped of his name, rather than just his mantle.
I haven't read much of the latest Thor books, so someone might need to correct me on this, but isn't the comic book mythology that Asgardian gods ARE the power, and need human hosts to interact with the world? It's not like the movie universe, where Thor is an independent entity.

So with this new Thor, is it a female host carrying Thor's essence, or that Thor has been stripped of his power and it was transferred to Foster?
 

MCerberus

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Diversity in edict is something that's tricky because while at once being a copout... already existing IPs pretty much always sell better, but the past was really, really white-washed. So sometimes it gets really convoluted.

My favorite example is John Stewart. As a 90s kid, I knew of Green Lantern, he was my mom's favorite comic hero growing up. However, my introduction was from the DCU. Ring chose him, Supes came and said 'oh hey, let's go beat up Sinestro a bunch'. Didn't know anything about him, but as a kid, I just knew, okay he's green lantern. Didn't know about the comic side and Coast City's mess. He was pretty much defined by himself being Green Lantern instead of his race.

They did bring it up, I think twice in Justice league. Once when they were time travelling back to WW2 and he was called a pussy by the most awesome set of 1-off extras in the series and another time was making fun of silver-age. Stewart and Hawkgirl had the best reactions to it (also, DCU Hawkgirl was awesome, and also forced diversity_.
 

StewShearerOld

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FemThor was just a clumsy push to get that sweet Feminist money that's floating around. It's insulting.
At least Angela's series is getting the [unsolicited chop]
 

Sniper Team 4

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Touchy subject here, no doubt. And like a fool, I'd like to add my two cents. :)

As someone else already pointed out, switching the mantle of the superhero doesn't bother me. Spider-man is now Miles and not Peter? Okay. Thor is now a girl? Okay (Yes, Thor is an actual name, but here on Earth, it's a title, and if she's packing all the same powers, then people are going to call her Thor because we see it as a title).

Where I kind of get bothered is when the character holding the mantle is supposed to be the same person that originally held the mantle, only they're a different race or gender. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I remember a while ago that someone wanted to play a black Peter Parker. And I don't think that would work. Being black, that Peter would face a different set of challenges growing up that wouldn't make him Peter Parker. Trying to have a black man have the same life as a white man growing up in Peter's circumstances isn't going to work. Whether we want to admit it or not, their lives and outlook on life are going to be different. If you want to make Spider-man black, go right ahead, but don't make Peter black too. Make a new character.
The same goes for switching genders. Don't make Bruce Wayne Brianna Wayne and try to tell the same story--she grows up and becomes Batman the exact same way under the exact same circumstances.

I feel you can change the mantle of the hero without too much trouble (there are always going to be people screaming about it, but oh well), but when you start changing the person wearing the mantle, and then tell us that that person is supposed to be the exact same, just with some body changes (be it skin or anatomy), I think you're crossing a line and insulting not only the original, but also the new one you're trying to create.
Does that make sense?
 

william1657

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madwarper said:
Perhaps, but it just comes off to me that the man is being stripped of his name, rather than just his mantle.
It's been a while since I read the first volume of this series, but didn't Thor specifically give her the name? Or were you talking about the writers doing this?

madwarper said:
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."
I gotta say, I really enjoyed how they altered the hammer's engraving when she picked it up. I thought it was a clever little thing and it is one of the more memorable things I remember about this series.
 

Jetfan007

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Female Thor is hated because the writing is absolute GARBAGE. "Actually it's about ethics in hammer wielding!" "I'm not going to fight you because you're a woman and I respect that too much!" Etc, etc.

The book keeps getting uploaded and memed for a reason, and it's not the artwork. And Angela's series is even worse. The whole "Unsolicited opinion about Israel" bit not only was needlessly political and horribly out of place, but as a Jew it came off EXTREMELY anti-Semetic on the writers' part, not to mention how it made the title character look. But that's "social justice" for you.

Not to mention the origin is trash and an insult to all of the other female charatcers in the Thor family (Why isn't it Sif? Valkyrie? Enchantress, even--that would have been cool!).

And it's not even the first time Thor has been a woman for heaven's sake! This whole thing has pushed Earth X Thor (and her writers/artists) under the rug. It's ridiculous, a marketing stunt that has been executed so poorly it's reminicient of bad fanfiction.

There are plenty of existing charatcers that could have been promoted if Marvel truly cared about diversity. They chose to pander instead, and it's resulted in trash.
 

StewShearerOld

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Whether you're talking a black Heimdall in the Marvel movies or a female Thor, there's no lack for examples of comic fans getting really freaking upset over issues of gender and race.
So, you cite the only two examples where there's any remotely significant controversy, and then state there is no lack of examples. Generally speaking no lack of examples means an overabundance of them, whereas those are pretty much the only ones you've got. I mean, the only other case where there was any real controversy at all was Kamela Khan as Marvel, and that nontroversy blew over pretty damn quick because unlike Thorina her comic was competently fucking written.
 

Tanis

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Note:
'Male Thor' has a real name, it's Odinson.

Female Thor made Thor worth reading again.

Ms Marvel cut down all the galactic drama and went back to basics, while making for a DAMN good comic.
-I LOVED that her choosing the name had to do with her being a HUGE fangirl.

I agree that 'Black Spider-Man' really did bring a boost to that whole universe.
-Problem is Peter Parker had WAY too much baggage to do anything 'revolutionary' short of killing him or doing that 'now Doc Oc' crap.
 

StewShearerOld

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Tanis said:
Female Thor made Thor worth reading again.

Ms Marvel cut down all the galactic drama and went back to basics, while making for a DAMN good comic.
-I LOVED that her choosing the name had to do with her being a HUGE fangirl.
The Mighty Thor was an amazing series, BitchThor was feminist pandering twaddle
 

StewShearerOld

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Jetfan007 said:
Female Thor is hated because the writing is absolute GARBAGE. "Actually it's about ethics in hammer wielding!" "I'm not going to fight you because you're a woman and I respect that too much!" Etc, etc.

The book keeps getting uploaded and memed for a reason, and it's not the artwork. And Angela's series is even worse. The whole "Unsolicited opinion about Israel" bit not only was needlessly political and horribly out of place, but as a Jew it came off EXTREMELY anti-Semetic on the writers' part, not to mention how it made the title character look. But that's "social justice" for you.

Not to mention the origin is trash and an insult to all of the other female charatcers in the Thor family (Why isn't it Sif? Valkyrie? Enchantress, even--that would have been cool!).

And it's not even the first time Thor has been a woman for heaven's sake! This whole thing has pushed Earth X Thor (and her writers/artists) under the rug. It's ridiculous, a marketing stunt that has been executed so poorly it's reminicient of bad fanfiction.

There are plenty of existing charatcers that could have been promoted if Marvel truly cared about diversity. They chose to pander instead, and it's resulted in trash.
The good news, as I mentioned is that Angela series got cancelled.
I mean, if the writer hated Bor that much, why was she allowed near him? If you can't tell a good Bor story, given his amazing background, you need to leave comics writing forever.
 

JimB

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Jetfan007 said:
Female Thor is hated because the writing is absolute garbage.
Dude, if you want to argue that's your reason for hating the book, that's fine; though for the record, I kind of doubt it, since you attribute one nonsense line to the book and then denigrate another that the character speaking it first uttered nearly thirty years ago to She-Hulk, making it a pretty well-established character trait by this point. I do wish, though, that you would refrain from speaking unilaterally for every critic out there, as if no one is hating it specifically and solely because Thor is now female.
 

StewShearerOld

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Sniper Team 4 said:
Where I kind of get bothered is when the character holding the mantle is supposed to be the same person that originally held the mantle, only they're a different race or gender. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I remember a while ago that someone wanted to play a black Peter Parker. And I don't think that would work. Being black, that Peter would face a different set of challenges growing up that wouldn't make him Peter Parker. Trying to have a black man have the same life as a white man growing up in Peter's circumstances isn't going to work. Whether we want to admit it or not, their lives and outlook on life are going to be different. If you want to make Spider-man black, go right ahead, but don't make Peter black too. Make a new character.
The same goes for switching genders. Don't make Bruce Wayne Brianna Wayne and try to tell the same story--she grows up and becomes Batman the exact same way under the exact same circumstances.
I think these sort of changes can be valuable if they properly acknowledge how these changes effect how they develop. For example, the recent DC animated movie Gods & Monsters had Superman being raised by a mexican couple. I don't recall exactly if he was raised in Mexico or the United States, the evidence pushes far more towards the latter, but its made clear that his family being mexican caused undue hardship on upbringing, something that wouldn't happen to Ma Kent and Pa Kent in the heart of Kansas. He's not evil and he's not an outright villain but he's less optimistic and trusting than Superman as raised by the Kents. Thats a practical way that being raised in a persecuted will effect how you see the world.

There's some other changes that are more acceptable that nobody really thinks about, though. For example, in Action Comics #1, way back in 1939, Superman was presumably raised on a Kansas farm in the 1920s'. In, say, Man of Steel, he's being raised in the 90s' and early 2000s'. That unquestionably had a difference on his development. A farm in Kansas in 1920 likely didn't have electricity or plumbing. There's over seventy years of technological advancements and cultural changes. Man of Steel (the film) actually does a good job of addressing this by him having a secret that is known throughout the town. The world that MoS Superman was raised in is too connected and advanced to not be noticed so instead of pretending that nobody ever figured it out they turned it into a secret among neighbours that nobody would tell because it would ruin the lives of somebody who just saved their own lives, trusting them to treat Superman as he treated them. There's a lot more ground to be treaded with this notion and people tend not to think too much about it because it doesn't visibly change the character.

A similar thing happened with Batman. As techonology advanced and became more nebulous in societ (as well as expensive), as the world became more urbanized, as the world became more interconnected and as inflation began Batman went from being "old money", having maybe a few million to his name, to being one of the richest people in the world. Many people have taken notice of this, asking why Batman doesn't use his vast fortune to invest in infrastructure to create a less poverty-stricken Gotham as well as investing in public education and mental health, all with the aims of decreasing crime, as these measures do more than running around at night beating up mentally ill people and criminals who aren't evil, just poor and desperate. Its even been addressed in some comics, too.

The passage of time and the shift of culture is just as important as somebody's skin tone, gender or sexual orientation but nobody really thinks about stuff like this because it isn't as immediately visible and, frankly, most people don't get upset when it changes unless it turns them into an asshole in a way you can clearly perceive. People would flip out if we updated Mulder from the X-Files and made him a 9/11 truther and an anti-vaccinationist, which you must reasonably admit he very well might've been in the original run if they were around in the 90s', but it would be a faithful adaptation to apply those to him today. Nobody really thinks about these changes though unless they're immediately visible. Few would suspect that Mulder would be a 9/11 truther in the X-Files reboot unless he states it but then how are you going to know about these changes, or rather, perceived changes, if they don't act out on them? Do you think Clark Kent in Man of Steel (the film) knows how to do half the standard things a farmhand would do in the 20s' that have been phased out today? Probably not and you'd probably never notice if he doesn't demonstrate it in a very visible way.


Jetfan007 said:
The whole "Unsolicited opinion about Israel" bit not only was needlessly political and horribly out of place, but as a Jew it came off EXTREMELY anti-Semetic on the writers' part, not to mention how it made the title character look.
Really? It came off to me as the sort of thing an anti-semite would be saying, the sort who goes on about "THE JEWS" and how they "killed Jesus" and are doing whatever to ruin the world. That was my interpretation of it anyways. I can see it being insensitive, no question, but it seemed more like a swipe at anti-semites rather than Israel. Thats just my perspective and I must admit that it could easily be way off though.
 

Rebel_Raven

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Personally I love diversity. I'm a massive fan of Gail Simone's Secret Six because it's probably the most diverse team to ever exist in comics, especially in the most recent version.
It's a miracle, bluntly, that a prominent character is not only lesbian, but MARRIED, and it's not going to be destroyed by jackasses in DC. Moreover, the lesbian marriage is between 3 women! Granted it was never shown to happen, but it's still there.
The writing is super, the art is great, the characters are simply wonderful, and they're not typical in many ways.

Changes to characters, I take with a grain of salt. Thor?
Certainly not! Especially not fan favorite Beta Ray Bill!
I get it's not the main world, but I don't even believe that in the main world, Thor will remain a woman.
Sadly, it's what people tend to sound like when they complain about just about anything being changed, especially when it's adding any sort of diversity. Seriously.

How many times have we seen, bluntly, Peter Parker clones? But it's always Peter that comes out on top. Plus the most recent plot still had Parker coming out on top.
What about Death of Superman when we had some half dozen people out to replace the supposedly dead Superman? Clark Kent is still our Superman.
Bruce Wayne was never permanently replaced as Batman, since he's not afraid to suit up in the Beyond era. Ya think Gordon will stay Batman? I don't think so.
Hey, Loki was a woman for a while! Kinda hot, too! What happened to that? It's not that way anymore! Infact, I think he's a Shield agent, or something now? <.<

When the arc's over, things will return mostly to the status quo. Thor will be a guy again, there might be a spin off of the arc that'll prolly not last, though I hope it will.
Peter Parker's still going to be Spiderman. Miles will hopefully remain successful, and remain a reminder about societal issues (Comics were always about that), and become an anchor in the spider family.

All in all, IMO, people should relax, let the plot play out, and things will go back to normal. I just hope something new and diverse gets birthed from it all.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear it now, "Make new characters! Stop changing existing ones!"
Problem is that's very fucking hard to do.
Characters have to be designed, and with that design, they have to be easy to draw because they'll be drawn a LOT, and IMO, it's likely that's why they're often in skin tight clothes since the human form is way easy, and there's less worry about how the clothes will fold in action shots. Complex character designs won't really fly, yet they still have to look good, and odds are if they're too derivative of other popular characters, odds are, people are going to hate it more than anything.
Also their powers have to be cool! But all the really good powers are basically taken, meaning anyone with remotely the same powers is going to potentially live in the existing character's shadow. Like the character design, the powers have to be easy to visualize because they're going to be drawn over, and over and over again.
Writing comes in to play, too. That writing has to include a proper, well done push to let the character have spotlight so they can get in the public eye, and have a chance to catch on.
Have you LOOKED at the respective character lists in DC, and Marvel Wikis? There's so many discarded characters over the ages that it's obvious they did try, and they didn't catch on for various reasons.

I'm not going to say new characters are impossible, though. Spider Gwen, Silk, Ms. Marvel (even though i saw some dodgey art due to her powers), and so forth happen. Despite that, I'm not sold on the notion that new, great characters can just happen.
Hell, Spider Gwen was probably an unintended success.

And can we can it with the "OHMAHGAH! It's pushing the gay agenda!"? I mean odds are that they're not pushing the gay agenda any more than they've been pushing the straight agenda since, basically, the birth of comics.

Kinda crazy that when it's a straight white guy, no one bats an eyelash, but when it's any sort of minority people lose their minds, and the minority has to justify themselves.
 

Kameburger

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Miles Morales is a good character, female Thor maybe a good character I don't know. Miles feels a little forced but done in the right way. He has an incredibly interesting character with a backstory that just like Parker bestows a real young New Yorker with super powered and all the nastiness that comes with it. Miles is relatable and a good spiderman because he embodies the same spirit that always made spiderman great but in his own way. His race enhances his character.

Female Thor? Was released at the height of tensions in the geek world, taking liberal swipes at its readership who had a problem with it. And is generally a giant middle finger to the gamergaters and mansplainers who sit in that space. Now I have no problem with that, but female Thor feels as though it's having a fight with readers that I'm not involved in, it's like walking in a room where a couple is fighting. You may not have a problem with either of them or you may have a side to choose, but for that moment it's best to stay out of it.

Ms. Marvel, spider Gwen are both great comics, and silk is alright if marvel can ever decide who they want her to be. But they're not picking a fight with people who may or may not deserve it.

So to the answer of "who cares?" We I certainly don't and miles morales as a comic doesn't seem offended by the fact that i don't care about his race while female Thor does seem to care that I may not like that she's a women. Her story is full of her villains quipping about her gender and her hitting them with a hammer in response. It's not my thing.