Facebook and Twitter are a cesspool of hatred and racism. Yes, I open this blog up with a very bold yet obvious statement, but it’s true and it’s very apparent in nerd culture. It’s never going to stop nor do we have to the power to shut out negativity, but we do have the ability to overpower it.
For example, a recent post on the official Batman Facebook page, shared an image of the show Batwoman. This image was of Javicia Leslie in full Batwoman outfit stating that she is the first black lesbian superhero lead on a television show and the first black actress to play Batwoman. As of 6:16 PM on February 25th, this post had 3500 reactions with 2100 of them laughing at the post. Which honestly is quite sad. I understand if you don’t like the show but truth be told, Javicia is doing one hell of a job in the show. Before seeing the post, the original idea of this blog was to be about the massive improvement that Batwoman has had from season 1 to season 2. But it was heartbreaking to see the amount of hatred aimed towards Batwoman and Javicia.
While I stepped away to collect my thoughts and try to find a way to address the problem in a well stated matter, one more example of utter stupendous Facebook interaction happened with the most recent reveal of Blackfire in the HBO Max show Titans. When the better half showed me the costume and character design, my first reaction was “damn that’s George Perez’s art come to life”…. but the comment section decided to be ugly with comments like “No, it’s starfire” and “So every superhero is going to be black or brown”. Seeing stuff like that in a community that was built on characters that taught us values and how to be good people, really make you question, do they understand?
As comic book readers and fans of super heroes, we should know “with great power comes great responsibility” and to spread positivity is among our greatest responsibilities and powers. It’s easy to hate on something you don’t agree with, but it’s fulfilling to express love about something. Trust me, you’ll feel better with positive thoughts opposed to negative thoughts.
The man that many of us idolize, Stan Lee, championed for diversity and for over 40 years, he would address racism and bigotry in his soapbox in the pages of Marvel Comics. The characters that he helped create were allegories for women’s rights, racism, and social injustice. X-Men and the mutants are the perfect example of comic book characters fighting against bigotry. To argue that we need to remove politics and social events from comics, is a slap in the face to comics. Right from the beginning, comics were addressing social problems. Superman was created by two Jewish guys who were sick of the bullying and on the cover of Captain America, he was punching Hitler in the face. So to be blunt, if you don’t like these ideas in your comics, hate to break the news to you but you don’t know comics and are about 100 years late with that rhetoric.
I will never know the feeling of being represented by a superhero for the first time because most of the characters are white, as a kid I had Spider-Man, Batman and Superman. Now nearing my thirties, characters such as Miles Morales, John Stewart, Jessica Cruz, and most recently Yaya Flor from Future State: Wonder Woman are more interesting to me because of what they represent. I remember being eight years old when Static Shock was showing on WB Kids, it was one of my favorite shows and I never really understood why until I was much older. It was something new, it was giving us a character that was unlike anything else on tv and especially a cartoon. I truly believe we are in the midst of great creative changes in comics with writers, artists and characters representing everybody.
It warms the heart knowing that a young lady can turn on Batwoman, Titans , or Stargirl and feel represented. Seeing young kids look at characters like Black Panther and Falcon as their favorite superheroes is such a glorious thing. As comic fans, we should try our best to entertain these changes and not be afraid of a strong character that does not represent us. The world is always changing and things will always be different, but comics have proved over the last century to be a suitable outlet to represent the world.
It can be debated that it was not suitable at first with characters such as Ebony White in The Spirit being incredibly racist and offensive, and many other examples can be made. With the likes of characters such as Miles Morales, American Chavez, and Kamala Kahn who have become major influential characters in Marvel comics, the relationship of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn being explored in DC Comics and some characters being retconned to being a part of the LGBTQ community, we are looking at a beautiful and enlightened future for comics.
We don’t own these characters, the publishers and creators do (in some cases). So let’s say a character you like, were to change their gender, their ethnicity or their sexual orientation, there is not a damn thing you can do about it. You could stop buying the comic and merchandise associated with that character, but with that change that pissed you off and made you stop supporting it, that character would find a new audience on top of those that already supported it. Who knows, that change could reinvigorate a character that has become stall and give it much needed new life.
If you have made it this far into this blog and disagree with everything I have said, that’s normal, you feel attacked and I am now probably on your “shit list” but before you cast judgement, let me say this; We can have different beliefs and still have respect for one another, no one person is the same, so thank you for reading this and I hope you understand where I am coming from. It does not matter if we are thousands of miles apart or a very close friend or family member, we are different and I respect you.