I just read that Marvel is doing some variant covers of their work to pay homage to some legendary hip hop albums. It’s an exciting time to be into mainstream comics because there’s finally a huge push to improve their previous dearth of cultural or gender variety. Wow that’s a sentence. It sounds so professorly.
Comics as Cultural Education
If you’ve not poked your head into the Netflix series Marvel’s Luke Cage, you’re not only missing a great take on a 70s comic book staple, but you’re missing an education on Harlem, on a diverse view of the complexities of being black in America right now, about power, and hell, just some really good acting and a well told story. In episode five, I even learned about a musical talent I’d yet to have heard of named Jidenna (language NSFW). Great lines hidden away in there.
You’ve got a great experience for gender right now, too. Batgirl is at once about a cute girl dating (which can still ruffle some feathers, I’m sure) but it’s a SMART cute girl who is holding her own and no longer just a gimmick. Iron Man now features Riri Williams, a smart, competent African American woman in the lead role.
What makes this great? You can have lots of interesting conversations around this stuff with kids, with other adults, with people who maybe aren’t already clued in to the “world beyond white people.”
It’s Not About the Tights
Superhero comics have always been a mix of entertainment and education. The smarter titles have always snuck in political opinions, social issues, cultural worries and more. The worse title bludgeon you with them. It just feels like THIS wave of comics that are coming out really offer a lot more to absorb than just the pretty-boob-white-girl offerings of the past several decades.
Before You Point to the Indies
You and I both know that the indie comics have done all this right for decades. We also know, like third party presidential candidates in America, that no one pays enough attention to that sector. It’s not right. It’s not what they deserve. Blah blah. All true.
But once the mainstream starts getting smarter, the smarter people go looking for the good indie work out there, too.
Long live the chief, and long live the neat stuff going on with comics and their multicultural experiences these days!
Now, just keep delivering good stories please, comics!