The announcement of Riri Williams, a fifteen-year-old Black girl genius at MIT becoming the new Iron Man was huge news, but was met with mixed reactions. Was this a re-branding of a very popular character or a re-skinning of a Black character for the appearance of diversity? Frantz Jerome and William Evans chop up what Marvel has been up to and what it all might mean.
As comic book readers alive in the 21st century, we’ve been blessed (if not outright privileged) to have been given an influx of “diverse” characters into the mainstream.
An Afro-Latin Spider-Man, a Black Captain America (although *SPOILER ALERT* that title is to be relinquished, by design), a Muslim Ms. Marvel, and a female-bodied Thor.
No shade *plants palm trees* but it all seems very coincidental to have this diversity diversifying all at once. So timely that — as Obama wraps his last term; as dozens of high-profile, police-murder non-indictments flood the Internet; as Twitter holds the world accountable in the public eye — that we begin to see characters that reflect the disenfranchised masses represented in comics. So timely that it begs the question: Are we witnessing representation for representation’s sake?
Off rip, as a kid reading comics in the late 80s/early 90s there just weren’t enough well-rounded protagonists that looked like me. Now that these queer, POC, and differently-abled characters do exist, I need to know why they exist. Are they filling a vacuum? Are they the result of genuine artistic inspiration? Now that these characters are exploding onto the scene at light speed, I got on my Albert Einstein and traced the explosion back to the source, the Big Bang so to speak. This brought me to the one-man answer and solution: Brian Michael Bendis. click to keep reading