I could not believe what I was reading after watching a great YouTube channel called Diversity & Comics! It’s a great channel, even if you disagree with some of the points the guy makes, the amount of insight he brings to the table is gold. Today, he uploaded a video in which Avengers #27 (1998 run) has a lot to say about diversity & comics. I suggest you go read the comic before we look at what I’m going to talk about. It’s ironically written by Kurt Busiek which I say ironically because go look at his current Twitter.
The comic right off the bat starts with a man named Duane Freeman who is very proud of the Avengers, he loves them and is happy to be their liason. Yet there is something he wants changed about the team.
You see, he believes the team is a symbol for good, but there is one more obstacle in their way to truly be a representation for what’s right in the world. At the moment Firestar, Justice, Wonder Man and Captain America are all taking a break from the team. This makes Duane very happy. Under his nose he mutters, “Not bad. Not bad at all….Fewer mutants, but we’ve still got one, which defused the anti-mutants crowd without relaxing our stance on the mutant rights. And now we’ve got a chance to add a black character or….”. Sadly for Duane Iron Man hears and responds:
That’s right, Duane believes that to shut up the protesting SJWs about the lack of diversity on the team and the mutant outlash he has to eliminate the problem of “Too many mutants.” and replace them with people of color. Now for my favorite part:
Hahaha! Iron Man just told Duane that diversity shouldn’t be a criteria. Kicking out people based on their race to fill in another person of a different race, or just putting more diverse characters in for the sake of “being a representation of good” is not very welcomed by the Avengers. This is basically the opposite of what modern Marvel is doing. Ironically enough (man, irony is strong with this one) they use Sam Wilson as an example for forced diversity.
Duane proposes for Avengers to continue their practices of asking former teammates if they wanna return, but this time start from the minority ones. Iron Man agrees. Suddenly emergency news come up. While an ongoing arc from previous issues is about to move forward within the issue Duane interrupts with more of his talk about pandering to the protesters and media. This to me echoes the amount of times modern Marvel Comics had to pause the story to fill in some social justice quota. Thor starts arguing with Duane and the annoyed God states that he too is leaving the team from the disrespect to the rosters(so Thor are the readers who feel like Marvel cares more about their PC message than the fans themselves). Later in the issue Wasp and Hank Pym rejoin the team. You know what Duane has to say about this?
So the Avengers keep their promise and start to call the black and Hispanic members who have previously been on the team so: Monica Rembau, Falcon, Living Lightning, Firebird, Black Panther, War Machine, Rage, Mantis. After hearing the response Wasp said, “That’s it?…. Maybe he’s got a point.” We skip to Carol Danvers wanting to rejoin the team, Iron Man asks Duane for permission as she was an alcoholic, had a history of crimes and would be another white face on a white team (wow isn’t it weird seeing this imperfect version of Carol who isn’t beloved by everyone for no reason within the comics and has actual struggles and personality [also goodlooking ] ?). Weirdly enough Duane accepts. Iron Man is surprised by this decision. It seems that he only let her in to have 4 women to 3 men. 3 men? Triathlon joins the team after Duane forced to let him in if not, Avengers will be never more. Also She-Hulk joined, but you should read the comic for exact details.
Duane admits to hating his job so it turns out he is only doing it to please the protesters and media who call for lack of diveristy. He also made Iron Man feel bad to the point where now Wasp will be takimg over as the leader and Tony will just remain as a member. A lot to unpackage.
It seems like Marvel once knew how to tell apart agenda from story. Even though the issue had some minor problems, I did find the comic to be brilliant under the idea, that this echoes what Marvel’s current problem is. You see, many fans have been very frustrated about Marvel’s current formula with superheroes. Currently they are creating multiple versions of each hero. 2 Spider-Men, 2 Spider-Women, 3 Iron Men, 2 Captain Americas, 3 Thors, 3 Hulks, 2 Hawkeyes, 2.5 Wolverines and let me not even get into the time displaced X-Men. All this in a span of what? 5 years?
Another thing was that these “mantle characters” do not have any impact on the universe. Name me what Sam Wilson did as Captain America in his past events that made him so interesting? In AXIS he was turned into a mind controlled dick, nothing in Secret Wars, in Civil War II he was removed from the main battle within seconds, Avengers Stand-Off pretty much little to nothing and Monsters Unleashed you guessed it, nothing. That is only one of the characters. Do we wanna talk about Amadeus Cho as Hulk, Jane Foster Thor, etc. Here is where the fan outcry comes from. Marvel not only gives us things most of us didn’t ask for to begin with, it also ends up being what the least of us wanted. If you look at the comment section of the Marvel’s Generations Trailer you can see this is starting to be the more vocal opinion. It isn’t the characters entirely to blame, but more the social justice need that is present in all of the new comics of the characters. This goes on to spread into well known of heroes too like Ms. America, Captain Marvel, Mockingbird, etc.
We don’t hate Marvel for pointing out what’s wrong with it. If that wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t have me praising this older comic as a set example of how Marvel should approach such topics with the way they used to. The issue actually ends in an interesting way so who knew that this would make me have a new run to read. Many of the story points do echo in today’s day. It’s awesome how something classic can take on a whole new or another meaning as the time goes on. Now tell me what you have to say in the comments below. And remember kids, stay in school, don’t do drugs and don’t be a Duane.