Nerd Rage! – Diversity in Comic Books

Here on Nerd Rage the Gladiators get to voice out, their opinions on a hot topic in the realm of nerditude.

This week’s topic is all about diversity in Comic Books.

With Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman being privately outed by Jean Grey in the recent All New X-Men issue, We are beginning to see more and more characters experience an overhaul, whether it be to their sexual orientation, race, creed or sex.

People, do not get me wrong, I am all for diversity in comic books. I dream of someday having a Filipino take the mantle of a popular comic book hero. But what I dislike about the sudden movement for diversity is when there is drastic change in the characteristics of a certain character. What exactly am I saying, you ask. This is simple, established characters should maintain the status quo, if his character permits it; if not, then by all means introduce some changes to prevent stagnation.

To properly illustrate this, I am all for Marvel comics introducing new characters such as Miles Morales (Spiderman), Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel), the new female Thor, as a movement to diversify the roster of heroes. Sure, the character’s mantle remain the same but these are new people taking over those mantles. By doing such, the books bring a breath of fresh air to the hero. And this was done not by changing the race or creed or sexual orientation of the original character, but by introducing new people to it.

By starting from scratch, the diversification feels organic and sincere. We are actually experiencing how it is to live in a society where the protagonist is a minority. And with that experience, we are educated on their way of life, and the struggles that they face just by being a minority. From there we gain respect and appreciation for the minority and thus creates a society without any reservations against them.

However, by changing the race or sexual orientation of an already established character, the diversification translates to an otherwise insincere action, more akin to a publicity stunt. Take for example DC’s attempt to change the race of Wally West in the New52 era or the sudden change in the sexual preferences of Iceman. These actions were regarded as “board room decisions” or publicity stunts with the purpose of bumping up the sales of their respective comic book lines, even if the intentions were pure.

When done this way, the whole diversification appears forced. In the case of Iceman, he was created as an original member of the X-Men and regarded as a straight person. In all those years of existence, he was never given an inkling of being gay. At the core, when he was created he was straight and designed to be straight. But by outing him in the recent comic book issue, the fans of Iceman were given a disservice to his character because the execution of the reveal felt rushed and out of the blue, thereby, as stated earlier, it comes off as a publicity stunt.

Again, I am for diversification, but hopefully when comic book creators and publishers do decide to diversify their roster of characters, they should do it in good taste in service tot the story and its characters and not as “marketing moves” or be perceived as such, regardless of the intentions.

Diversification is a noble act, one that would be beneficial not just in comics but to humankind as a whole in conquering racism, sexism and religious differences, however, it must be done carefully and correctly to properly convey the message of diversity and not come out as a publicity stunt. The comic book publishers should be regarded for this movement, but as uncle Ben said “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Agree or disagree? Let us know on our comments section.

Gino is the Gladiator’s resident TV episode and Comic Book reviewer. He is a lawyer in the making at day, and full on geek at night. And he believes that lightsabers are the best weapons in a zombie apocalypse. #AgeOfTheGeek


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