Posted on September 8, 2011

Are Comics Becoming More Diverse?

CNN, September 7, 2011


Miles Morales, a half-black, half-Hispanic teenager, will be taking over the character of Spider-Man in the Marvel Ultimate universe, following the death of Peter Parker. He is set to make an even bigger splash in the September 14 issue.

In the same month that Miles is becoming the star of the “Ultimate” Spider-Man title, DC Comics is launching the ongoing series “Batwing,” which features the first black character to take on the mantle of the Bat (that is to say, the persona of Batman), in stores now.

“As we were kicking around ideas for the ‘New 52,’ this idea kind of leapt out at us,” said writer Judd Winick. “For one, just expanding the Batman family, and also having one who is an African, living and working in the continent of Africa.”

Batwing is a member of “Batman, Inc.” a global extension of the Batman brand launched in the comics late last year.

“Africa is kind of an untouched setting for the DCU, it’s never been part of a monthly title, never like this,” said Winick. “We want to attack it in kind of a really honest way.”

Aside from dealing with the many very real issues in modern Africa, Batwing will face his own supervillain, right from the start, said Winick.

“He’ll be going toe to toe with a subtly named villain, ‘Massacre’–a very, very large guy wearing body armor and swinging two machetes,” he said. “This is a superhero story but it will have a lot of realism. Africa is a beautiful, dangerous, tortured and inspiring place, and we want it to get it right.”


[Comic book writer Brian] Bendis said that the original thinking behind the 13-year-old character was to find a new, ethnically diverse Spider-Man who would represent New York City and all that it means.


But what about the comic book stores themselves? Kyle Puttkammer, owner of the Galactic Quest stores in Georgia, said that he increased his order for “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” in response to the news.

“We’ve always had a lot of interest in characters like Bishop, Black Panther, and Static Shock. When Nick Fury was portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, it seemed like a natural update.”

As for Batwing, Puttkammer said, “[He] seems to be a throw back to an earlier story. Specifically, ‘the Batman nobody knows’ from Batman #250. I think it’s pretty cool that DC is keeping an eye towards their rich history, while turning an eye to the future.”