Thursday, February 09, 2006

Comic Book Rant: Minority Super Heroes In Comics

I realize in my last topic that I pretty much just bashed and criticized comic companies like Marvel and DC for needlessly killing established heroes just to have them replaced with a minority character. I thought that I should put forth my beliefs on how DC or Marvel should go about creating minority heroes.

First, comic companies should be banned from naming the super hero anything that references his race. It is so painfully stereotypical and rather cheesy. Black Lightning. Black Goliath. Yellow Claw. Crap like that.

Second, do not link the super hero with stereotypical powers. An Asian super hero who is a martial arts expert or a ninja. A black super hero who is super strong or super fast. I would love for a black super hero whose special powers were telepathy, telekinesis or becoming intangible. Just something different that the usual powers black super heroes have like Black Panther, Triathlon, Rage, Luke Cage, etc.

Third, and most important, think about the man when creating the character and not the race. The race should be an inconsequential factor. Creating a black super hero, but making all urban and stereotypical is not only uninteresting, but it only appeals to a small portion of your reading population. If you make a “black” hero in a “black” setting and the fact that he is “black” is a main story point then you will probably only appeal to black readers. The black population in this country is about 9%. How much of that 9% actually reads comics? That title will be doomed to fail. The key to any successful title is to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. By focusing on the character rather than his specific race, comic companies will create individuals who stand on their own rather than depend on their race to define them and the title. This will also create much more interesting and more fully developed characters that any person regardless of their race would enjoy reading. Nobody reads Iron Man because Tony Stark is white and it is all about white successful business people. People read it because Tony Stark is a guy who is amazingly intelligent, gets tons of chicks, but still battles alcohol addiction and has problems like the average guy. You read Spider-Man, not because Peter Park is white, but because he is the everyman that people can identify with. You can do with almost all of the major established white super heroes. They are fully fleshed out character independent from their race. No minority super heroes have gotten that same treatment.

Until DC and Marvel follow these three rules, they are going to struggle in creating minority super heroes that interest a broad cross section of comic book readers. They will continue to struggle in creating a minority character that can carry a solo title that gets good sales numbers.

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