Marvel Comics: Why the Responsibility for Diversity Falls on Both Sides

By Contributing Writer- Brandon Gray.

We’ve all seen the twitter debates and the tumblr posts. They have all asked for one simple thing. Whether aggressively, or quietly, there was a plea for representation. Being a Marvel comic fan and a PoC, I find this a sore subject. Where do I stand if a new PoC character is introduced and I’m simply not interested in them. As a PoC, I feel that HAVE to like every black character that’s introduced, at the risk of betraying my principles.

Miles Morales peeked my interest when he was introduced. I remember heading down to my local Barnes N’ Noble, discovering the first five issues in a trade, sitting down and reading the entire thing. I immediately bought the comic and I still treasure it to this day.

I felt something I hadn’t before. Reading Bendis’ rendition of an African American version of Spider-Man, one of the most popular fictional characters ever, brought me so much joy. I could partake in my favorite activity, reading comics, while seeing a hero that I could relate to, a hero who was the same color as me.

Over the years I continued to follow Miles’s adventures, which led me to branch out to reading other POC led books such as Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani Muslim WoC and Ghost Rider, a Latino mechanic who raises his disabled brother.

In more recent times, progressive comics such as Black Panther and The Crew and World of Wakanda, which has two LGBT leads, both with lots of PoC representation, came out. I watched comic twitter go insane across social media platforms like Twitter and Tumblr. They’d finally gotten what they wanted. What can go wrong?

Something did go wrong. Within a few months, both books were canceled, and that was baffling to me. I did my part in supporting these titles, and with the amount of complaints I’d seen for representation on the internet should’ve guaranteed the book would sell well. I thought wrong.

Marvel pointed to sales as the issue. I personally started thinking that maybe Marvel hated diversity but quickly realized that conclusion didn’t make sense. Ms Marvel, which has a Muslim leading lady, and the primary Black Panther title were both selling well. Then it hit me, could it be that the loudest online protesters for diversity in Marvel Comics didn’t actually follow through and support for the comic they’d campaigned for.

It seems that was exactly the case.

Now you might be reading this and thinking that I’m denying the fact that the comic industries fail to put POC to the forefront, and that’s not true. They do. They miss so many chances to uplift non-white characters, and instead provide us with the same old tropes.

That is why Ive been putting my support into less mainstream comics from Image like The Wicked And The Divine, or Deadly Class.

Moving back to Marvel, I was shocked to see another canceled comic from Marvel featuring Mosaic, aka Morris Sacket, an African American NBA player who gained the ability to control of other people via possession.

I purchase and read every issue, and I was genuinely bummed out when the series ended at issue eight. I sought to see why it was canceled, only to be hit with the exact same answer. Sales.

One good take away is that there are still diverse comics at Marvel.

Miles Morales: All New All Different, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are both doing well at Marvel. Invincible Iron-Man and Riri Williams, aka Ironheart, seems to be a mainstay and of course all of the X-men books, including Generation X, a personal favorite, which features an Asian American lead in Jubilee.

There are many hidden gems for those looking for them. The point of all this is simple. Marvel needs to do a better job at keeping PoC led books at the forefront and market them well. At the same time, it is up to the consumer to respond to these books, supporting them and continuing to buy them. Simple Supply and Demand. If we as a community of fans only vocally campaign for diversity in our books but not support the diversity when it’s there, we cant be angry when those book gets prematurely canceled.

To put it simply.

Yes, Marvel can do more.

But so can you.
Support your favorite comic.