Thursday, August 4, 2011

El Hombre (Negro) Araña - The Afro Latino Spiderman

Interesting news in the world of Superheros. Marvel Comics has announced that there is a new Spiderman. I would say the black Spiderman but we have already seen that. This a whole new multicultural Spiderman. This is Miles Morales, half African American and half Latino. Before people can get all excited or upset about this, please realize this is a part of Marvel's "Ultimate" line of comics. This is not the actual Spiderman that we have come to know over the years, this is an alternative reality of sorts.

The Ultimate line is more of the real life version of Marvel. Imagine what would happen if Superheros did exist. It is a brilliant way to sell books and stories. It is so successful that when you look at movies like Captain America and Iron Man, you can see how they have adopted themes (i.e. The Black Nick Fury). So, it is not too much of a surprise to me that something like this would happen. This "real life version" of Marvel has always been a refreshing look at superheros. However, they are still behind the curve with moves like these.

John Stewart
DC Comics has made similar moves in the past to stir readership and promote Multiculturalism. The difference is that this isn't in a 'alternate' universe. John Stewart is almost as popular a Green Lantern as Hal Jordan. His first appearance was in 1972 and yes it was temporary but in 1984 he played a more prominent role. He never left the DC consciousness since playing major roles in the Justice League animated series in 2001. I will also mention how DC changed a semi-popular Firestorm to a black character in 2004 that sparked some animosity amongst older fans. I am personally a fan of Firestorm since childhood and I was ok with this change. They also made a change to the Blue Beetle in 2006 making him Latino.

The room for change in comic books is there. Many people have argued why change a white character into another character of color? The basis is perhaps if these companies made original characters that were African American or Latino then perhaps readership would be sparked in that way. While I think that sounds simple, I do not see the average white person buying the adventures of "El Guapo". However, a coalition of African American writers, including the late Dwayne Mcduffie, had made great strides with his creation of Milestone Comics in the early 90's that featured predominately Black Superheros such as a well known teenaged hero called "Static Shock." DC has purchased this company and had integrated them within the continuity.

The New Spiderman!
Marvel's move is indeed courageous. I think that having a Mixed Race (which is what this is being deemed as) or Afro Latino Superhero is great for youth and new readership. It gives a sense of being able to put yourself in the shoes of hero if you can see yourself represented. Of course there is a small uproar some of it positive and some not so positive. What I am concerned with is the idea that the writer (Brain Michael Bendis) is not ruling out the fact that Miles Morales may be gay.  While, I am not against the concept of gay superheros I think in this case, it is too much. Making him homosexual as well is like wrapping up all the under represented people into one costume. Marvel may shrink the readership from those who originally identified themselves as being in the shoes of the new Spiderman. 

The other problem I have is more of a consistent stereo type of Latino males being gay. I think that goes beyond Marvel Comics, but it is still something that I see consistent in images and roles being played on television. I think about Oscar in The Office, he is the only Latino in the show and of course he is a homosexual. I think it is becoming a pattern in which the once Macho Latino Male was portrayed as the hot latin lover is now becoming the emasculated gay guy in mainstream television.

Northstar:
Marvel's 1st
Gay Superhero
Before anyone can bark at me and say that there are no homosexual superheros, I will say that there are several in both DC and Marvel Comics. The list is quite extensive actually and in my opinion I think it is quite impressive. I wont get into detail about it but if you want more information you can check this out. I am very impressed on how far comic books have come form the days of my youth. Many of these things seem to be unheard of just 20 years ago. As a matter of fact, there was indeed a gay marriage in a popular comic book.

In any case, it should be interesting to see how this all plays out. The Ultimate Spiderman #1 comes out in September and quite frankly, I cannot wait. It shows that there is some recognition that we are moving into a more global society. I love this quote from Marvel’s editor in chief, Axel Alonso:
What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who’s reflective of our culture and diversity. We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker.
I hope the world is ready for the New Spiderman because he is coming. The envelope is being pushed it just am matter of how far it can go.

2 comments:

FoodieMouth said...

I think Junot Diaz would appreciate this piece. :-)

mac-and-me said...

worst idea ever
this will fail on so many levels :3

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