Marvel has 3 black writers currently (that I know of): Reginald Hudlin (of BET fame, not sure where to link to) on Black Panther, Dwayne McDuffie (who’s been in the biz for ages) on Fantastic Four & Damage Control (& Avengers classic?), and newcomer Kevin Grevioux (I would link to his site, www.kevingrevioux.net, but it appears to be hijacked by “rapimusic” right now. Oh wait, I did just link to it, consider yourself warned) on New Warriors.
Is that some kind of industry record (outside of Icon, for which that was pretty much the point)?
They’ve also got 1 Asian-American writer – Greg Pak, who has been doing a fucking killer job on the Hulk/Planet/War thing in the last few years.
Who am I missing? Tell me I’m missing people!
So, on to the characters, who died, who didn’t, and who’s new?
- Over in the Initiative, we have a return to action for Rage and Triathlon, and somewhat of a new character (he was featured in a future shot in She-Hulk I guess??): Gauntlet. Now, Gauntlet may be in a coma, but he’s not dead! Sooo…we’ll call it a step?? Dani Moonstar also put in a few panels over there. Lots of other random background characters…or at least there should be with 140+ characters to choose from.
- In New Avengers news, Luke Cage is Bendis’ dreamlover (;p), so no one is touching him for while. His & Jessica’s baby was born recently. We used to have a poster up of all the Avengers welcoming the baby, it must be around her somewhere (image on right). Anyway, this is kind of a big deal, and I hope the baby doesn’t get turned into some freaky alien or something, and grows up to become a hero, so my son (and any future children we have) can have a young multiracial character to identify with. Not that he won’t love all the black & white heroes out there (of course he’s going to love comics, he’s my child!), but it’s always nice to have someone you can have that kind of identity bond with. Or so I’m told. Bendis also brought Echo with him from Daredevil. I’m glad he brought her in, she’s too good a character to leave floundering around in Limbo. She’s supposed to be deaf, but I think the artists need to be made aware of this, because she is often shown responding to conversation she couldn’t have lip read from her position.
- Arana is still hanging out in Ms. Marvel (speaking of Ms. Marvel, random link), along with Agent Sum. I guess, I don’t read the title much so I don’t know if he has a real part, but I thought I’d be nice & say hi to him. I never did read Arana’s series seriously – I mean I skimmed it and saw some stuff about a mystic spider cult or something, and she met Spider-Man, etc. – so I have no idea what she’s about, but the character seems like it has a lot of potential. Especially for a young hero – she’d fit in well with the next round of Young Avengers I think.
- The Order is a title composed almost entirely of new blood, so you’d think they would take some risks and go for some prominent minority characters right? Well, you might not have thought that a year or two ago, but hey, it’s 2007 baby! People talk to each other on the street! So, uh, yeah, we’ve got Marvel’s first (?) lesbian (bi?) – Mulholland Black, an Asian American – Calamity, a half-Mexican/half-German – Veda, and an African-American – Supernaut. And all of them have fleshed-out, actual characters. Holy shit you say, indeed. Dammit, I just realized I should start buying this book before they cancel it. It really is a good read, I was just scared off by the 98% new cast (Initiative at least had a strong previously established supporting cast). Ok, it’s going in the pull box next week.
- (Black) Goliath (…gotta love those 70s names. I’m sure he hangs out with Black Panther and Black Lightning whenever he gets a chance) got annihilated by Clor in order to make the Civil War “really serious” (Look, we hauled a character that hasn’t been used much in years out of the closet and blew his chest out! Look at our huge Marvel-ous balls!). Surprisingly, it took a turn for the positive (or looks that way so far), by highlighting his nephew Tom Foster as a character, and allowing him to take over the mantle. Yay for legacy heroes! This seems like a good way to make use of a death, and the attention should be a good thing for Tom’s character. He got some good panel time in the WWH stuff, and is set to appear in McDuffie’s Damage Control next month.
- Monet is still chilling in X-Factor. She gets the award for most variably drawn skin color. I’ve seen her drawn as a white girl, to a black girl, to everywhere in between. I’m not sure what they intend her actual ethnicity to be – her mother is Algerian, and they vary a lot in skin tone and ethnicity – arabs, africans & french, lots of mixing. I’m not sure what her dad was, French last name. They need to decide, so artists can be fucking consistent. Rictor is still there too. They cleared up that long running rumor about his sexuality too., He’s straight.
- Bishop is still floating around, but see X-Men 206 for a WTF moment.
- Storm is of course, floating around. She must have got a little bit of Wolverine smeared on her or something…because she was appearing in 3 separate titles for a few months – and only one of them was an X-book! She can now also say, like Wolverine, that she has been a member of the Fantastic Four. Her tenure lasted longer than his too! Check her out in that BP cover (#34) on the right.
- Warpath has been getting a lot of page time lately, with the Shi’ar war bit, and his thing with Hebzipah, and the new X-Force.
- Forge was around for a few cameos, looking dead now (but I doubt it).
- Over in the New X-Men, Prodigy surprised pretty much everyone on the planet by not pulling a Cypher/Sync “I’ve got no powers, so now I die.” I like him, and love that the Cuckoos made him semi-bad ass again. His costume looks kind of stupid now though. Anole is currently the only gay male hero at Marvel (Northstar is a villain or something now right?? Or was he un-brainwashed in that annual. I forget). Rockslide & Dust have also proven pleasantly difficult to kill. Is Dust the only Muslim in Marvel comics? Nezhno (sp?) & Indra and also make an occasional appearance.
- Thunderbird was back in Exiles for 5 seconds, he’s gone again though.
- Nothing to say about adjectiveless X-Men.
- No one is killing the Black Panther, that would just be silly, so he’s still going strong in his solo title and over in McDuffie’s FF. FF probably also set a record by being 50% black for a few months.
- The New Warriors are back, bringing with them one of Marvel’s few long running black characters from my generation of readers (if you count the 1989 as long running, although he did last longer than Synch, my favorite Gen X kid), Night Thrasher, sans skateboard thankfully. Interestingly, this is also looking to be one of Marvel’s few legacy super-heroes. I like legacies (which is why Hal Jordan should have stayed dead. Nevermind…). This title brings with it some other returning ethnic characters: Jubilee and Angel 2 (the fly chick from Morrison’s X-Men run), and a pair of black siblings whom I can’t place – oh shit, he dug deep – Christine & Christian Cord – the sister was Tattoo, one of the many students created during Morrison’s run. No idea about the brother. Anyway, sister is dead already, but brother is still alive, so we’ll call the two of them a net gain of 0 (kill an old char, bring in a new one). Wind Dancer/Sofia is also in this title, and she is from Venezuela, but they always draw her as lily white, so I’m going to just call her white. There are white people from Venezuela, so I’m thinking that’s just what she is. Maybe I’m wrong though? I should add that I MUCH prefer Angel’s (out of costume) look from X-Men to the one she’s got now. I guess this could have been under the X-banner, since Grevioux raided the X-vault for de-powered kids. This is a good thing though!
- In New Warriors related news, Turbo hung out in The Loners.
- In Heroes for Hire, they featured Shang-Chi, Misty Knight & a new Tarantula. Great character moments for all 3 in the series, although I stopped picking it up after the first few because ….hmm, I forget why, it got lame for a few issues I think. The finale/WWH/Savage Land stuff was decent though.
- The new White Tiger had a limited series, targeted at young girls I guess (guessing this due to the writer they picked). It was decent, and the character is not dead, so we’ll call that a step.
- Rocket Racer (yeah, I know) and Puma put in an appearance in a limited series. I think Puma might have been floating around somewhere else too….dating the Black Cat in one of the Spider-titles I think.
- Greg Pak did a brilliant job of making Amadeus Cho so much more than a stock or token minority character. I can see this kid staying around, and being interesting, for years to come. Here’s to hoping other writers keep him around after Pak moves on.
- Ultimate Nick Fury turns out to be even more of a dick than we thought, and gets left in another dimension so they can say the crossover really “shook things up”.
- Ultimate Colossus and Northstar are still gay, and even appear in panel once and a while.
- Ultimate Bishop shows up, and so does Ultimate Psylocke – does she count? I’d say no, but who knows.
- Ultimate Black Panther is in too. He doesn’t talk much.
- In general, Ultimate universe continues to fail by not “changing” anything about the big name characters other than Nick Fury or Colossus.
There’s probably (hopefully!) more out there, I can’t read everything.
So, what’s the verdict?
Progress: weight on accelerator increasing, still cruising through of the desert, needs air conditioning.