After completely devouring Netflix’s Luke Cage in two days, something about the show continued to weigh on my mind. It wasn’t how badass the hero was, it wasn’t how brilliant the casting was, and it even wasn’t the fact that I was completely crushing on my boo Luke Cage. Although all of those things are certainly true, what made the most impact on me was the bold statement Marvel was making with such a show. The way they didn’t shy away from important issues and the way they took a comic book series from the 1970’s and made it real and relevant for today. Today, in a world where racism is still running rampant in our country, where people are being gunned down for nothing more than the color of their skin, a show was made where it centers around a powerful black man in a bulletproof hoodie. I seriously got chills just typing that out. Cheo Hodari Coker, executive producer and show-runner stated in an article that “it was important to me that we have a hero that was black-and he didn’t just happen to be black. His identity is a part of him.” That fact was incredibly apparent all throughout the show, and it was clear to me that Marvel was in no way trying to hide it. I have seen people bitch and complain about it, calling it prejudice or racist. Complaining about the lack of white people or how “black” the show was made. I have also heard from people that honestly didn’t even notice that, because the show was that damn good. I think that says a thing or two about the types of fans they are.
Last week, Executive Producer of Jessica Jones, Melissa Rosenberg announced that all of the episodes in next season would have female directors! This is fucking HUGE, and something that got me so excited for season 2. If you know me at all, or if you have followed my BAM episodes, you know how big of a fan I am of Jessica Jones. The show, the comics, the character herself. The show brought up so many sensitive topics, topics that many women deal with throughout their lives, such as assault and abuse and it was handled in such an amazing way. The last season had approximately 1/3 of its directors that were female. This is actually still a very high number for a show, but Marvel pushed that number even further with season 2 and once again, I applaud them.
These things really bolstered my hopes for the direction comics are going in modern times. The average comic book reader is changing, albeit slowly. For a time, comics’ main target audience was white males. Over decades, things have progressed, and it seems that Marvel has been in the forefront when it comes to pushing the boundaries of that evolution.
The first openly gay character in American comic books was created by Marvel. In 1992, Northstar openly admitted in Alpha Flight #106 that he was, in fact, gay. 1992 was a time period where being open about your sexuality was not as widely accepted as it is today, and even today it can be quite controversial. A move like this was huge for comic fans. A superhero was gay. Think about that for a second. Picture yourself at 18, 19 as a young gay man.A man living in a world where he feels like he has to hide who he is. A man who escapes from reality through the incredible, fictional world of comics. And imagine, if you will, picking up that Alpha Flight #106 and seeing, on paper, Northstar open up about his sexuality and state “I am gay.” Imagine the comfort that would have given you, knowing that you were not alone, that there was nothing wrong with you, and that you are perfectly fine, just the way you are. AGAIN goosebumps!
Marvel comics has been getting a LOT of hate as of late. It does beg the question of motive though. Are the majority of people hating on Marvel comics because the story telling legitimately sucks, or is it more of a “I don’t read comic books to draw attention to the social injustices in the world; these are for entertainment,” type attitude. If it is the first, more power to you and if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. If you are the second person, I really encourage you to reevaluate that opinion. Think about the fact that comic books have been written about relevant social issues for decades. For example, Captain America was huge during WWII. Marvel comics are being written to bring to light to many important issues and there is, in my opinion, a book for EVERY person. I assure you, there are still plenty of comics being made for your average Caucasian male. Right now, though, think about why you are not celebrating comics being made for EVERYONE. I didn’t grow up on comics. I’m sure I could have dug around a bit more, but I really didn’t find very many of them relatable to me growing up and quite frankly they weren’t written to be. Times are changing. I have a good friend whose daughter is 10 and already an avid comic book reader. Her favorite comic book is Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur which follows a super genius teenage girl and her interaction with a teleported dinosaur from the prehistoric times. She is also holding her breath with anticipation of the new Iron Man, RiRi Williams. I think those people who are getting really upset with Marvel’s more inclusive comic books really need to think about why they are so upset. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that now there is essentially a comic book for everyone in any walk of life. Comic books should be progressing with the ever changing times and I, for one, applaud the fact that Marvel has really stepped up their game. Sure, people may be upset enough to affect the sales of comic books now, but I strongly believe that eventually, this inclusive attitude is going to win. I think Marvel believes that now. Their attitude has seemed to be one of “get on board or get out of the way” and I believe in them!