lunes, 3 de diciembre de 2012

Diversity in the New DCU, or just the Illusion of Diversity

Diversity in the New DCU, or just the Illusion of Diversity

Diversity is something I personally never really particularly cared for in comics
I live in Costa Rica, thats in latin-america, Im obviously from an hispanic background, spanish is my first language, But i never really cared that the heroes that i saw on TV didnt had my same color or background or whatever, i just saw characters not races.

Even though I would love to see a hero in DC or Marvel from my homeland, the fact that such hero is ever created is not a huge concern for me, I dont identify myself with a latino hero more than i would with a black or white or asian hero. but thats just me. I can still admire Batman and Superman without any critique on race just like i can admire Icon or Vixen or Katana.
However I never really care much in general in comics cause I never experience the comic book medium until i was already an adult and i saw comics more like a form of literature but its just not the same for kids.

look at this little advertizement
Its very easy to understand why diversity is important and even necessary in all mediums and specifically in comic books cause as it exists now, Comics are mainly populated by white male characters, and the reason for that is cause its a medium that began and grew in a time where people just plainly didnt really care at all about diversity or hell even stereotypical portrays.

So its important to have a diverse stable of heroes of different backgrounds because readers themselves come from different backgrounds, however i personally dont believe that the race/sex/sexual orientation/religion/etc of a character should on any matter influence for someone to care/dislike more or less about that character, its important the option exist for exactly the same reason, because even if those factors dont matter, its important to have the option, and having more options can bring more possibilities.
With that said this is something its obviously not easy to do, DC has tried to do it for years and we are still in the same situation. always trying to be more diverse because simply the world of DC is not Diverse. I will like to add that Marvel has a similar problem but for this blog i will just focus on DC in the new 52
However with the new 52 DC pushed the envelop to accept more diversity of different genders and created new ongoings staring diverse characters
and the result was and an Absolute Failure!

I might be oversimplifying things but if i had to compliment one of the aspects of it is that it has been very positive in diversity with women and gays, we have several ongoing titles of good quality staring women like Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Supergirl, Amethyst(and also World finest and Batgirl but those titles Suck), and that is not even mentioning other great female characters in several other ongoings like Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad and others and ofcourse Batwoman who is also the first lesbian character to star in her own ongoing, and then we have the character of Bunker in Teen Titans and the Superboy ongoing.
Not to meant that DC had problems with female characters before, we had some very good ongoings staring females in DC for quite some time but now it feels like the most natural thing in the world to see a female staring a book when in another time it would be a miracle unless the title was Wonder Woman and in the other hand Marvel seems to have a situation where the female push goes in waves

  • first they put female titles
  • then they cancel them
  • then they do it again
  • then they cancel them

I still remember how big of a deal was for X-23 to get her own ongoing by a great female writer only to be gone at the second year despite getting good reviews and good sales and be cancelled as the last female staring book at Marvel for quite some time, and now once again the wave starts to move up with Sif, Captain Marvel and a new all female Defenders team, which are probably not going to last long
Journey Into Mystery #646
Journey Into Mystery #646
But I digress
It seems being a female doesnt seem to be a problem in DC, but its not the same with Races
Which lead me to the following titles, Omac, Mr Terrific and Static Shock, this 3 titles not only release to foment more diversity in DC, are also titles that got bad sales and were cancelled in the very first wave of cancellations, now i need to mention that there were other books like Voodoo and Blue Beetle also of different races cancelled in the second wave, and of course the new Batwing ongoing is the lowest selling Batman title, but i will just focus on the first 3 titles



Omac is a surprisingly good comic cause of its Kirby like style in both writing and art, its a book thats was spiritually an 70s book and had an interesting protagonist and a good story. the main problem was that it was something that the public didnt seem to want, after all there is a ton of Gold and silver age books out there to read on, so i guess this cancellation didnt had anything to do with the fact that the protagonist was asian, it begs to mention.

Mr Terrific


I read and reviewed the 8 issues of Mr Terrific and you can check them here, but if there is a main problem with this book I would say that it was Eric Wallace
Eric Wallace
Eric Wallace
As you can see from this picture Mr Eric Wallace is black, and he was offered the job to write Mr Terrific, not to say that one has to do with the other one but it feels iffy

Lets talk about Wallace for a moment, as far as I know he was the only black writer in DC at the moment of the launch and his resume include working in the TV show Eureka, his first job in DC was writing a Vixen story in a DC Christmas special which then lead them to write Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink, I loved that book, it was just a great story about a man trying to discover he really was, a family man, a husband, a villain, a hero, what?, its just a very good book and his next project was taking the Titans into a new direction, being lead by Deathstroke, his first chp Titans: Villains for Hire Special was Abysmal, one of the worst comics produced by DC in recent years, also was the first comic in being reviewed by a score of 0 STARS in CBR and other bad reviews all over the comic world, and his work in the ongoing Titans wasnt any better, in fact is one of the worst comics I have ever read in my life.
So this guy, who just wrote one of the most critically panned books in DC was being rewarded by the herculean task of relaunching one of the most interesting characters of the JSA.

The result was one of the most boring, preaching and stupid books I have read, though it was better than titans, it was very bad, which quickly reflected in abysmal reviews and sales at the very bottom.
So if DC wanted to launch a book to appeal to the black readers, and to push a black character, then why dont call for the best possible writer for the job?
and if they were looking for a black writer, why dont look for a better one, or more actually, there is not only a disproportion in black characters but also of course in the writers too.
The point is, if Wallace did such a terrible work with Titans, why give him another chance?

Im not trying to say that Mr Wallace was the sole culprit of this and I explored that in my reviews and in fact i have watch interviews of Wallace and he looks like a pretty decent guy and obviously had a lot of good intentions with the book, he mentioned how Mr Terrific being the 3rd smartest man was going to play an important part in the Beginning of the story and that by issue 10-11 we would get to meet the 1st, the 2nd and the 4th smartest man in the world, of course by then the book was already announced to cancelled but what impressed me was the idea that Wallace really saw those first chp as the beginning of something bigger when it had things like this:
and of course, this beautiful line
Powergirl asking if Aleeka's hate is racial induced
And Finally we get the last of all

Static Shock


The 2nd worst selling title of the new 52 by the time of its cancellation, second only to Men of War #8, which is sad cause the last chp of MoW had Frankenstein in WWII killing nazis and fighting G.I. Robot, and it was totally Awesome.
Static is a character created by Milestone, a company which was founded on the idea of creating more diverse new characters and Static might not be the best of them but its definitely the best known of them, and the sole idea of creating an ongoing title to spearhead the induction of Milestone in the DCU seems good enough
except that the title wasnt good
I think by this point everyone knows the controversial story of Static, how a writer wasnt allowed to write and an artist was allowed to do whatever he wanted while the editor just wanted to push cheap stunts to sell comics, the fight was very public, very loud and both sides presented their arguments.
The book of Static Shock is practically unreadable, it has several plots that go absolutely nowhere and comes from nowhere, it wasnt friendly to new readers and it wasnt friendly to old readers, its the biggest failure of DC in the new 52
And the current state of the Milestone properties is put in question at this very moment
Here is the thing, DC has had the Milestone properties for quite sometime and Static is the only character that they have bother to use, the reason might be cause Static had a TV show which was fairly popular, and even good appearances in other TV shows like JLU.
And here FINALLY we get an ongoing of this precious property, the only reason DC is even remotely interesting in Milestone
And they blew it
They blew it big
This was a huge, amazingly beautiful train wreck of epic proportions.
How do you move from that?



Milestone is a source of great original ideas and for the present day DC seems to have a grab on them
But here are the facts, for better or for worse Milestone Fell, and it never pick itself up, its the reminiscent of an era when a company proactively tried to push diversity by thinking "lets make great characters" not "lets make black/asian/gay/etc characters" and fail to maintain for more than 4 years

However DC instead of having those characters being pushed once again, they seem to be pushed aside
why is that we see Icon flying around in Young Justice and he cannot afford a title in the new 52, much less a cameo?

The reason is money, if the idea is simply to push diversity they dont really need Milestone for that DC has property and control over several characters that can be used to push diversity, and seeing as how Milestone stop producing comics almost 2 decades ago, what is the point of reviving them to do something they failed at the first time?
DC sees Milestone as a failure, if they couldnt do it when the market was stronger, now would be even a bigger missfire which is the reason they were so careless with Static Shock.
and Yet we have this which lasted longer than static

Here is another enterprise that started in the late 90s, Wildstorm, a company created by Jim Lee, which then he proceed to sell to DC and now we have a bunch of Wildstorm characters running around everywhere
and unlike Milestone, Wildstorm didnt fade away, and now Jim Lee is one of the heads of DC
and including all those characters of Wildstorm we also have Voodoo.

The very first Black Female character to get her own ongoing book, thats even on top of any book ever produced by DC. Marvel, Image or even Milestone. thats right, a wildstorm character got there first, which is sad considering that its the first on the almost 80 years of history of comics

The book itself was recently cancelled, the main writer Marz was replaced after just 5 issues and once he left the book took drastic turns, its obvious that DC didnt like what was going on and its cancellation was expected.
And, despite all its problems I actually enjoyed Voodoo more than Static or Mr Terrific.
My point with this is once again, Why bother to use the Milestone characters for diversity when we still have diversity from the Wildstorm characters.

Thats the DC mentality. They see Milestone as not those great characters who cost some extra money to produce, but those "diverse" characters who cost some extra money to produce while they can have other "diverse" characters without that extra cost from a new character, they only see their race and not their possibilities.



Why even try to push diversity? If you are not even trying to push diversity?
there is something call creating diversity for diversity's sake, Which is very negative, not only if its done like that but even if it is perceived as suc.

DC or any company needs to create Characters first and then give them color and style, because you cannot start backwards.
One of the reasons why pushing diversity is so hard is cause most of the famous characters in DC right now are white, and thats because they have always been white, they became Brands and gain fame, we know them as the characters that they were created on for the pop culture, you have no idea how surprised I was to watch the Justice League cartoon when i was young and discover that Green Lantern was now black "for some reason" when the one from superfriends was white, we all already have this set idea of how some characters are and how they act.
Green Lantern 16
Green Lantern 16
so the brands that exist will remain as such, the Green Lantern is a huge exception cause we can have more than one, and in the case of the new one Simon Baz i can see him already as a character without thinking 'oh the Arab GL!"

so it all comes down to Sales, the current industry is build in a broken methodology that sells only on bases of Brands and Gimmicks, it doesnt matter if a story is good or not to sell well.
so is hard to make a new character who is new and sell without help even if its the best character in the world.

In February we will get 3 titles
JLA which will have a very diverse line up accompany by Johns and Finch and a huge push on sales with 52 variant covers
I have no doubt that it will be a hit in sales but i think it will also have a better chance to be a great title of quality.
But the other 2 titles are
Katana written by Ann Nocenti and Justice League's Vibe cowritten by Geoff Johns
here is my humble prediction, Katana will sell around 25k in the first issue and will go down until it gets cancelled between issues 10-12
Vibe on the other hand will sell around 40k, maybe even 50k and will survive a second year and third year, unless its canned for other reasons
Katana #1
Katana #1
why? because so far the Nocenti "brand" doesnt attract readers, some of her later work in Green Arrow and Catwoman has been from disappointing to just terrible on some cases, but even if she does a good job with this book, she doesnt have the tools to make it sell
Vibe, and this is no way bias to the fact that he is hispanic like me, he will succeed cause he has johns behind it
I dont even care to look up who is the other guy writing it cause he will not matter to ppl,, and the extra factor that it has Justice League at the beginning of the title will bring more readers
Brands and Gimmicks
thats the difference between an Effort, and no effort
in this state of the industry, DC just cannot afford to be diverse, if they want to push diversity, if they really desire it, they will make sure to take the precautions to make a character that works and do whatever it can to make it sell, not just promote diversity but accept it and believe on it
Otherwise, DC will have the same waves that Marvel has with its female titles
JLA Vibe 1
JLA Vibe 1
Its either that or give a complete change on how the industry is working
and maybe one day we will get to see an Icon title written by Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, or hell maybe even Grant Morrison, and hopefully more creative and diverse writers will come along too

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