Are comics becoming more diverse?
September 7th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Are comics becoming more diverse?

One night in early August, while watching the "Colbert Report" with the sound off, comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis had what he calls a "surreal moment."

"I'm watching Colbert, and there goes our book up on the screen! I truly did not expect that."

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "Conan" also joked about his comic book. The reason that Bendis' "Ultimate Spider-Man" (a title he helped originate in 2000, since relaunched as "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man") caught their attention is the same reason it caught the attention of much of the media one month ago.

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 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."

With these two high-profile characters hitting the scene this month, opinions vary as to what it means for the comic book universe as a whole.

"We’re having crazy web debates about Peter Parker, and Spider-Man and the Ultimate Universe," says Bendis.

One participant in that debate is iReporter Omekongo Dibinga.

"I want more people of color in the comic book world but I believe that new characters should be made with their own stories," he said shortly after the announcement was made in August. "I never wished for a black Wolverine or Cyclops. Conversely, I don't want to see a white Storm character. I just wanted characters like Bishop, Sunfire, Sunspot and others that represented different backgrounds."

Aside from the characters Dibinga mentioned, we've seen more diverse characters introduced in comics over the past 40 years, including an African American Green Lantern (John Stewart, best known for his role on the animated series "Justice League: Unlimited"); Cyborg, a member of the Justice League in DC Comics' "New 52" titles (along with a black Firestorm, Latino Blue Beetle and more diverse characters within the "52"); and the Ultimate Universe's Nick Fury, who was the basis for Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of the character in the "Avengers" movies.

Jonathan London wrote an essay on the new Ultimate Spidey for his site, Geekscape.net, and told CNN, "Marvel did this a few years ago with another character, Rawhide Kid, and made him an openly gay character. For about a week, it got a lot of attention. However, comics have never been about that."

London doesn't think that comics have traditionally focused on issues of diversity. "It’s always been more about social issues based on economics. In the ‘70s when Green Arrow’s sidekick became a drug addict, that was a story."

Even so, he notes, "Integrating racially diverse characters is something comics have always done really well."

Podcaster John Mayo of ComicBookPage.com points to Image Comics as a great example of that diversity, but is not very impressed with the new Ultimate Spider-Man.

"I don't think that the new Ultimate Spider-Man represents any sort of increased diversity in terms of storylines or the industry," he said. "If anything, it is something of a step backwards. If Miles Morales was a new flagship character for the Ultimate Comics line for Marvel, that would have been a step forward. Instead, the character comes across as a temporary substitute that is a pale imitation of the original Ultimate Spider-Man."

Bendis, however, has assured readers that Miles Morales is here to stay, pointing out, "In the very first issue of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, you will find out exactly who he is, exactly what’s going on in his world, and how he got spider powers."

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.

However, he pointed out, "It’s not about this character representing all that is ethnically diverse, it’s a story about a kid who happens to be of an ethnically diverse family. Over the last few years my family has been more ethnically diverse, so I’m writing the world the way I see it, sometimes the world the way I want it - it’s about this kid looking at the theme of Spidey as ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ A new character is now trying to discover what that means in today’s world."

As Bendis worked on the character, he said, "Every day something would happen which would make us feel like we’re on the right track."

One big example of that was actor/musician Donald Glover's Twitter campaign in 2010 to get the lead role in "The Amazing Spider-Man," complete with a Photoshopped image of Glover in the costume. "I thought, 'that does look good!'" said Bendis. "I would buy that book, I’m glad I’m working on that book."

Mayo's podcasting partner, Bob Bretall, said, "Today, having new characters that reflect the diversity of our country just makes sense. I hope that people just read and like the stories that show how these characters can be examples of how to behave heroically towards others and not focus in on a factor like the race of the character, which should be irrelevant."

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."

"It is significant that an African is taking on the mantle of the Bat," said Jonah Weiland, executive producer of Comic Book Resources.

Weiland said that fans reacting negatively to the new Ultimate Spider-Man is something to be expected. "There’s always going to be mixed reaction to this because he is Spider-Man. People like their icons. People generally don’t like change." he said. “As long as the event is story driven, that’s all that matters. I have 100% confidence in Bendis to do that."

No matter what, all agree that high profile events such as these are good for the industry overall. "Anything that can get people to walk into a comic book store is a plus, so I’ll take it," said Bendis, about the jokes on late night TV. "I’ll take the gibing from Jon Stewart if it gets them there."

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  5. Blair

    Does anyone remember Milestone Media (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milestone_Media) in the early 1990s. All the characters in their comics were minorities. Their professions ranged from a lawyer (Icon: African American), a scientist (Xombi:Korean-American), a genius (Hardware: African American), a teenage kid (Static: African American), to even a gang (Blood Syndicate, which was multicultural). The creators of Milestone Media believed that minorities were severely underrepresented in American comics. Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle were the creators of this Universe. I have enjoyed reading their comics and currently hunting down the rest to complete my set.

    September 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • KajinPL

      Hmmm...... I missed out on that one. Sounds cool.

      September 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  6. MissGirl

    But I have a question....why the name Miles Morales? Could've chosen a better name than that. Both sound so stereotypical! I mean it seems like a way to satisfy both blacks and hispanics in my opinion. But sometimes yes, it's great to see a person in your ethnic group depicted as the hero instead of the hapless side-kick or thug. Haven't read the series, but I'll give it a look see and judge for myself.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • KajinPL

      I don't think there's anything wrong with Miles. I don't hear that name too often myself really. What's actually peculiar is that in the comic his mother is hispanic and not his father, but his last name is still Morales. I guess the wife didn't take the husband's name.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Thomas

      It might be nice to see someone in your ethnic group depicted as a hero, but... First theres the fact he's replacing Peter–(yes, I know it's only the ultimate unmiverse, but given one more day, I had pretty much migrated my idea of the "real" spiderman over there anyway) and then there's the fact it more or less came out of nowhere in comic. I would have had a lot more respect for the entire storyline if it didn't feel like a lst minute ratings grab. There wasn't anywhere near the lead in this should have had. heck, bvenom had more lead in, and the character of Eddie Brock was created especially for spiderman. I would have had a lot more respect for it if they had brought Miles in, even as just a freind of Peter, and had some sort of establishing arc. Maybe shown him getting his powers and Peter showing him the ropes. (and no, I don't mean as a sidekick–more like a mentor, the same way that the avengers were doing for Pete in the same series.) Then, when shit went down and Pete ended up dead, Miles taking up his mask would have been more of a successor than a replacement.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:37 am |
      • KajinPL

        To be honest I would be a bit peeved if he has no direct connection to Peter. There has to be at least something there.

        September 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  7. SightZero

    I think that this is nothing new in comics, especially with Marvel, whose characters and stories have always been addressing issues of diverse communities (identity, finding a sense of belonging, civil rights, racism, etc.). The characters are taking dramatic changes and also being modernized to be more in tune with today's culture, which is increasingly more diverse. It's good business sense.

    That said, I can't say that I'm personally pleased that the stories I grew up on are being changed and updated all the time, but that's the price of being a comic-book fan no matter what with all the ret-con. After all, none of us would find Captain America as interesting if it every issue was still set in WW2, right? It wouldn't ring as close to home. Comics have to change with the times to be relevant.

    September 14, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • SightZero

      I'd also like to see in a year how time decides if the minority community will accept this change and if sales will continue to be strong, which ultimately decides whether or not a title character is altered or killed off. Sometimes ethnic minorities they don't like their characters changed at all from the ones they grew up with, just like anyone else. Just ask mothers of black little girls how many of them cry if they get a black Barbie or Black Cabbage Patch kid. It's sad, but it happens a lot because they feel like they didn't get "the real Barbie". I think that makes a more profound statement about how minorities are being influenced by the media they grow up with.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
      • MissGirl

        Please don't generalize, because that isn't true. This black loved the fact while growing up there was a doll just for her with the same skintone as her.

        September 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  8. KajinPL

    Both arguments have a point, but to say that the white community are losing out on something I think is just ridiculous. First of all, the lists of characters that have made that transition from one race to another is relatively small compared to 80% of the established roster. There are more gender changes rather than race changes from what I've seen in comic books and this is regardless if someone died or not.

    I do wish that African-Americans wouldn't complain and be extremely sensitive about small stuff and this coming from someone who is African-American, but unfortunately this isn't the case. This is a country that was practically founded on racism contrary to popular belief. Some people can let things go and some can't. Case in point, we still have the KKK and Neo-Nazis running around and so is the Black Panther party.

    Bottom line, no one is really losing on anything. As far as cinema, has anyone ever stopped to think that maybe the reason the actors' or actress' got those parts because they were best for the job? Just think about it. Who is really losing out on anything here?

    September 14, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  9. Kamensence

    Not really. The same goes for the videos game industry unless the gave you the option to customize your character.
    Out of DC comics new 52 there are no Asians or Hispanics. The reason they put blacks into anything is because they are the first to complain about anything. Asians and Hispanics don't give a shit that's why you don't see them complain and publishers get away with it.

    Here's a better example..Comic book creators dont have a problem in creating alien characters some of which look humanoid with purple, blue, yellow etc faces than those who are hispanics, asians and blacks.

    Its a sad world we live in.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • tevii

      Thats kind of what I was meaning in my statement below. That we make black versions of everything. So now there WERE white, NOW there are black... so does that mean screw the rest??? thats not equality and neither is replacing white with black. We can have equality and diveristy in comics , movies, video games and whatever else.... but NOT the way its being done now.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  10. tevii

    Its too much too often. When does it end? what else will the white community lose, when we could just as easily create GREAT new black characters. Does anyone want a white man to play Shaft or Blade? For those that support it when do you think it should end? How would anyone like what they love taken awayThis is a racist and unnecessary trend. Everywhere not just comics.

    Here is a SMALL list of white characters turned black : (DC) : Aqualad, Mr. Terrific, The Tattoo Man, Spectre, Catwoman, Firestorm, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle (Hispanic) Commissioner Gordon (new Earth one) Perry White (Man of Steel Movie)
    (Marvel) Iron Man Alicia (Ben Grimm’s girlfriend/ movie) Nick Fury, Captain America, Kingpin (movie) Spiderman, Heimdale (Thor movie)
    (Movies) The Honeymooners, The Karate Kid, I Am Legend The Wild Wild West The Manchurian Candidate The Nutty Professor, Dr. Doolittle, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Death at a Funeral, Little Orphan Annie (TV) Kojak

    September 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  11. KajinPL

    I don't see how this is any different than when they revealed that there was a 'African-American' Captain America or when Rhodey took over as Iron Man when Tony was a full blown alcoholic or how about John Stewart as Green Lantern? Anyone? Anyone? Oh, here's some more. Aqualad, maybe? Oh yeah. Remember when Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two Face, was originally black? Where were all the complaints then? I'm just curious.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Thomas

      Difference is that they killed of (Ultimate)Peter to do it. In every case you mentioned, the old character still existed, and the whole thing was used to add depth to both the characters and the roles. This just comes of as a publicity gimmick.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
      • KajinPL

        Well about 75% of characters in the Ultimate universe were killed off anyway. After the "Ultimatum" storyline, I felt it was just a matter of time before one of the main people were next. Was there an issue when they made Colossus homosexual in Ultimate X-Men and Nightcrawler practically called him an abomination? I didn't hear anything.

        September 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • tevii

      One major reason is the fact that the Green Lantern Ring, or the Iron Man armor can be worn by more than one person. It isnt unique to them. Now AnYONE can be Spiderman? that takes away from the character. AND they had to kill the white one to do i. STUPID

      September 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
      • tevii

        **supposed to say "it's STUPID"

        September 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  12. Ella

    I'm white and I don't care what color people in comics are at all. I think it's fine. Just too bad they couldn't invent new ones and had to kill off white ones. I don't read comics so I'm not upset about anyone dying. I just think that it would've been nice to create brand new heroes. Imagine if a woman character was brought in to replace Batman or something. Then I'm sure everyone will be saying how unfair that is and how they're only doing that to make women feel better. There were people who got pissed off when the Superman movie a few years back cast a man with brown eyes. There were posts about how it's not right to do that because he doesn't look like Superman, but for the love of jeezus who cares??? They ended up giving him colored contacts. I think people just like things to stay the same which is fine.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Thomas

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batwoman

      September 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  13. tevii

    Diversity in comics is great.... when your not changing one exisitng white character and making them black. Its a double standard that wouldnt be accepted if they made Black Panther, Blade, or Static Shock white. To take away one groups role models to give to another is ridiculous,when there is plenty of room for both. Its insulting to everyone. Why should they make a black version of Spiderman when they could just call him Spiderboy or the Arachnid? Now you're creating barriers that shouldnt exist. Not to mention confusion. How many people didnt go see Green Lantern becasue they thought he was supposed to be black becasue all they knew was the JLA cartoon? We as a society act like everything is interchangeable and that we are all alike, when we should be embracing what makes us differenet, oitherwise it'll be a boring place. I want my Black Panther to be a black man from Africa, I want my Spiderman to be a white geeky kid. But that doesnt mean we cant introduce a similar character that is a different ethnicity for either. By making black versions of the existing white characters, you take away from the white fans, you give the black community a hand-me-down rather than something of their own, and you technically tell the other ethnicities they dont matter.... Diversity is great, but NOT how they are doing it.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  14. Jules

    African-American Spiderman = PANDERING. I'm disgusted, as someone of African-American descent! Never purchasing another book again.

    Batwing – New character, part of the Batman Family. This character is new, not recycled. Thumbs up, DC!

    I do find it disturbing that many seem to be upset whenever a woman is a major character. I was directed to a few comics, where Jean Grey and Sue Storm were both fashion models. I think someone forgot to tell the artists, that models need to have no chest, and no figure to do that.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  15. kel

    Is their racial diversity in rap music? To a degree. There are SOME white rappers, but it only goes to figure that the field is dominated by blacks, since they invented the genre.

    Is there racial diversity in comics? To a degree. There are SOME ethnic character in comics, but it only goes to figure that most of the characters are white, since whites invented the genre.

    September 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  16. Steve

    I find it funny that minorities are on here supporting this when, in actuality, they are being short-shrifted. You are thrilled with the diversity issue, but completely ignore the fact that they couldnt be bothered to come up with new heroes, they just painted a few of the old ones in new colors and everyone is Yay diversity!

    LOL, you are completely being pandered to and you are happy about it. What a bunch of maroons.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • KajinPL

      Well considering that Spider-Man is like Marvel's Batman in terms of popularity why wouldn't we be? Spider-Man is THE face of Marvel no matter what universe it's set in. It's not the first time Spider-Man has been a different person. Anyone remember Miguel O'Hara? This is just the first time they killed Peter Parker to do so.

      September 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Travis

      LOL way to fail at insulting MORON

      September 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  17. KajinPL

    Wow. Reading some of these comments really had me cracking up inside. ^.^ I don't see what the big deal is. It's a comic book with people in it and there's all types of people. That's enough said really. I think some folks need to just let some things go. In the end, who really knows why they did this? I'm just hoping the story is solid enough to keep my interest. I'm not gonna lie. When I first heard about it about I was like "Who, wait, what?!" Stranger things have happened in comics, IMO.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  18. robert e.

    As someone who's been a comic book READER since the late 60s, I see the problem with characters catching on/not catching on due to one thing: Proper promotion from the companies themselves. Look at DC: No matter what they do (including their new 52 #1 issues), who gets pushed/promoted/marketed by far the most? That's right: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and maybe Green Lantern. Every other character is left out there to fend for themselves, leaving DC execs to sit there and blame everyone but themselves as to why they didn't sell. Take Static Shock for example (a black youth who has his own book as part of DC's new 52). Thrown out there with zero promotion, while DC's falling all over themselves hyping Supes, Bats, WW and GL (the only four that does NOT need it). Promote books like Static Shock with the same fervor that you do the Big 4, and perhaps the book will sell more copies. Sometimes, I wonder if DC's in business to actually MAKE money?

    September 12, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Anutha_readah

      BUT... as a Comic collctor/reader/junkie for over 40 years now, I call bul%^&* on that argument too.

      Promotion is meaningless in comics... if it is good, well written, good art, it sells. Make me a convincing world with an interesting character I'm willing to "suspend disbelief" for while I enjoy the story and I'll keep buying it. The cold dark reality is that Comics are just like any other entertainment medium – consumers will buy it if it is entertaining and shun it if it sucks. So, whether you view this as diversity or pandering, hate it or love it – none of that matters; the only reason it will continue is if people like me buy it.
      If the art is good and the story is good then it will continue to sell.... if it isn't, then people won't buy it and you can bet your ass that Marvel and DC will drop them like last weeks leftovers.

      September 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
      • robert e.

        You call BS on my post, yet not only do nothing to refute it, but you also state something about sales that's totally incorrect. Quality doesn't always translate into sales. Would anyone call most of the big sellers in comics today higher quality than all other titles. I think not.

        Or, to put it another way: McDonald's sells far more hamburgers than anyone else. Good luck in finding adults that will truthfully tell you that McDonald's has the best hamburgers.

        September 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  19. humperman

    Which changing colors now is as easy as a mouse click.

    September 12, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Stink-o-Man

      No, it's not that easy. Obviously you missed the cartoonish new face on spiderman, and the seemingly gender neutralization of the nether-regions therein.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  20. Grumpster

    If you want diversity, make your own dammed comics instead of stealing everybody else's heroes. The only reason that this was done was to make easy money and not have to rewrite anything except changing colors.

    What an absolute travesty for comics. I never much cared for them, but this takes the cake. Never again.

    September 12, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  21. tde1975

    For those of you screaming about racial equality involving comics, write your own comic based on your own life experiences or imagination. But for goodness sakes stop playing the race card. It only makes you sound ignorant and pathetic!

    September 11, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Shaunique

      But playing the race card is easy, helps me feel better about myself and I was taught to do it at an early age. My hope is to one day become a community agitator/organizer and maybe even the president.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  22. Crockett

    White is the new black.

    September 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Grumpster

      You wish.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • humperman

      White will never be the new black, because a white dude won't wear his pants down to his ankles, talk in ebonics, sport a "fro" or drive big ugly gas guzzlers down the road with oversized rims that have spinning hubcaps. Nor will whites forget their verbs (i.e.: "Who dat be" or "He at home") even though they have a masters degree. No...white is not the new black.

      September 12, 2011 at 7:18 am |
      • humperman

        Occasionally we'll play loud music in our cars, but it will likely be something intelligible that doesn't have M*TH*FK*R in every other sentence, or super loud base that shakes windows of nearby houses.

        September 12, 2011 at 7:20 am |
      • JaeB

        Wow. You WAKE UP racist?

        September 12, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  23. jb

    The new Spiderman is so desperately politically correct that it just makes me cringe. It makes no sense at all! Being a superhero is not a role that can be swapped between one person and another, like the lead in a Broadway play; being a superhero is an intrinsic part of a fictional character's identity, and to say that a DIFFERENT PERSON is now the SAME SUPERHERO just makes no narrative sense.

    And you know, I'll bet there isn't even that much of a market for this. I'll bet the people responsible are just trying to earn brownie points for their PC piety. They've really drunk the Kool-Aid!

    September 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  24. FairAndBalanced

    I'm all for more creativity, and shaking up the ethnicity of superheroes opens up some great possibilities. If Batman is something of a corporation (like James Bond was in the 60s version of "Casino Royale"), I'm looking forward to an asian version – especially Catwoman!

    Regarding Spider-Man, well, I had almost forgiven them for killing off Gwen Stacy, when they did that ridiculous reboot involving the deal with the satanic entity. Almost makes me want to get a real life.

    September 11, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  25. Belseth

    The idea is moronic. It's purely pandering by the companies to what are perceived as potential new customers in the minority communities. There have been black and female super heroes since the 60s and they were even getting their own comics by the 70s. Gee do we get a white Blade now? This is about rewriting history. Do we get a black Lincoln and a hispanic Thomas Jefferson to keep everyone happy? I don't care if the majority of new characters are women and minorities just don't mess with the ones that have been around since the early days. There's nothing racist about opposing it the real racism is in feeling you need to make white characters black and hispanic. Also creating black super heroes with "black backgrounds" is potentially racist. Can't we have a new black super hero that's a student or graduate of Harvard that's a biochemist, hey we have a black President that graduated from Harvard. Spiderman is part of our culture and not just the comic book culture and it grates on me to see him changed. Like I say do we get a white Shaft and a white Martin Luther King now? How about Megan Fox as Cleopatra Jones? Okay that one gives me the willies.

    September 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • NobodySpecial

      The black superheroes you mentioned didn't get alot of advertising back in the 60's, 70's, 80's and so on as well as big exposure like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc. Thus, they also didn't get multi-million dollar movie deals that will gear towards the new generation. And generations of minorities and women always dreamed growing up of being Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc – but I'm sure they were conscious enough to remember they are not WHITE. So, I think it's more than fair and more than about time that they get a chance to be their superhero.

      September 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
      • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

        As a 50+ year comics reader (yeah, I'm that old) the only two Black "Superheroes" with their own movies got somewhat the short end of the stick. Cases in point: Wesley Snipes as Blade. After the 1st movie, these became almost as bad as the "Highlander" series. They shoulda stopped at the first. The second (unfortunately) bad example was Shaquille O'Neal as "Steel". This character tried to pick up the slack after Superman's "death". Here we had an engineer/weapons designer who pretty much became another Tony Stark. Yes, the character was a somewhat bad copy of Iron Man with a Cape, but when he wasn't wearing the armor, John Irons was a sought after character by others in the DC Universe. If you needed something no one else had, or needed something better (even if your name was Bruce Wayne), you went to John and dealt with the crap of his "steel union suit". O'Neal played the character as a joke! Finally, I gotta do it – Halle Berry as Catwoman. At least she had the courage to accept her own Razzie for this ultimate Turkey.
        That's two DC characters and one Marvel character with really bad movies. These made "Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin" look like good movies!

        September 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Tom

      Comics sure aren't getting any better. Let's just put it that way.

      September 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • JaeB

      As a looong time comics buyer, who spoke out for years about lack of black characters, this is person Belseth's post is exactly the kind of fanboy racism, I've experienced. Hostile, passive-aggressive, mean-spirited and childish. Their first talking point is: "What if your (pitifully few token) black characters were white?" Silly argument, because I'd trade the Black Panther, Tyroc and Storm in a heartbeat if NINETY-NINE POINT NINE percent of the rest of the characters were black. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman - sounds like a fair trade. But, their argument isn't about those beloved tokens, it's about accept that status quo or nothing. Their fervent wish is that there were no non-white comic book characters. Again, in my experience, fanboys have been some of the most prejudiced folks I've ever interacted with. I used to be surprised by that, considering comics creators often say their stories are allegories promoting diversity and tolerance. I guess our society doesn't get allegories. Maybe instead of mutants standing in for black people, they should just draw black people. That might help.

      September 12, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  26. FlavorDav

    I'm not happy about "The New 52," just as I wasn't happy about The Crisis on Infinite Earths (or the so-called "Final" Crisis, for that matter; Marvel's "Ultimate" line, on the other hand, I ultimately don't much worry about, as it doesn't affect decades of, if not quite always "continuity," history, at any rate), and I doubt that, a couple/few titles aside, I'll be picking up most any of the relaunched/new titles past their first half-dozen issues (I've simply skipped half of them already), but so far, Batwing has been the best of the lot (the art in particular is spectacular).

    September 10, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  27. TC

    I came on late as a subscriber to Ultimate Spiderman and really enjoyed the death of spiderman series. I did not enjoy the ultimate fallout mini after that. I don't like losing so many good characters. I thought Miles kinda came out of left field, but they have half a year's worth of subscription issues to win me over. We'll see. I hope they ramp up fast with backstory and action, because if it drags out slow, i'll probably be gone.

    September 10, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  28. NobodySpecial

    I say forget the trolls, the haters, and the critics. I personally WELCOME more diversity in comic book characters. Bring it on! The more, the merrier! All this "white-washing" is obsolete and rather boring. With more diversity will come richer and bolder and new point-of-views as well as character developments that will embrace today's multicultural America.

    America's 2011 census has minorities growing in an exponential rate and I hope comic-books reflect that.

    September 10, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • FlavorDav

      The irony is, the casts of mainstream superhero comics have ALWAYS been diverse–Kryptonians, Atlanteans, Amazons, androids, aliens (illegal or otherwise), mystics, mutants, the occasional woman, even–but, exotic colors/textures/materials aside, they were not for decades (if they can even be said to be now) visibly so. To paraphrase Grean Lantern/Green Arrow No. 76 (1970), I've been readin' considerable about the blue skins and the orange skins and the purple skins, only there's skins you never bothered with–the black skins, I want to know, how come?

      http://dccomics40.blogspot.com/2010/02/green-lantern-76.html

      September 10, 2011 at 10:11 am |
      • Chianna

        Great article but it didn't have ereyvthing—I didn't find the kitchen sink!

        September 20, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  29. Joe

    COMICS are dead...diversity is really just political correctness... think black people are going to read comics, Bull%$#@ how many black people have a kindle or ipad or nook to read...I go to the hood everyday they got guns and painted up old used police cars, but face it... black people cant read and they cant speak proper english..nuff said...stop f..ing with Comics Marvel and DC...

    September 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • NobodySpecial

      Right. Uh-huh. Sure. So, how long have you been with the KKK?

      September 10, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • FlavorDav

      Somebody who doesn't realize that "can't" is a contraction requiring an apostrophe btewixt "n" and "t" is questioning someone ELSE'S command of the language?

      September 10, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Steve

      Ahhhyyes , flavor dav, attacking someones dialogue...the last vestige of those who actually have nothing to say.

      September 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  30. GHJr

    What's really funny to me is that they're trying to make comics more diverse – and nobody asked them to ! How about worrying more about continuity and not alienating your core fanbase by pushing " diversity agendas ? " Race isn't the issue ...good writing and good artwork however....

    September 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Jasonb

      Umm for years people have been asking for diversity not till recently have they been screaming for it. Sorry but the world does not consist of str8 white males only. So seeing more and more diverse characters makes for a much richer comic reading experience.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • NobodySpecial

      I've been asking for more diversity. I'm taking a guess – but you're white, right?

      September 10, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  31. Matt

    I used to be a huge comic fan as a kid. I of course loved the staples and most classic of superheroes, Spiderman, Hulk, X-Men, Avengers, Superman, etc. The comic industry is taking classic characters created by now dead revolutionary pop artists and re-inventing them to be more 'diverse'. How about this? Why don't they simply MAKE NEW SUPERHEROES THAT DONT SUCK? Why on earth would you KILL Peter Parker?? That's like saying the Statue of Liberty needs a sex change. 'Nuff said, true believers.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Jasonb

      you didn't read the article did you? Its the ultimate Universe Pete is still alive in the main universe no longer married to marry jane and being a general douche. This is the line that was created to simplify continuity but became its own animal and will have great stories to tell.

      September 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  32. lordshipmayhem

    Comics aimed at superheroes tend to target one market: males under 15. By the time the kid's 17, he's either not into comics anymore, or heading into serious geekdom.

    I was hoping the "diversity" would be more along the line of what they have in Japan: manga ("Japanese comics") for girls, for boys, for teen males, for teen females, for adult females, for adult males, for business persons, for housewives, for sports fans, for political wonks, etc. etc.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • KajinPL

      I would think so as well.

      September 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Jeff

      There are many comics out there not meant for people under age 15. They aren't meant for people under 18. I'm not talking about sex comics, either. The new 52 detective comics batman, for example, has SPOILER! the joker slicing off his face and hanging it on a wall. I mean.... wow.... 15?

      September 9, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  33. The_Hawk

    What this world needs is an all-white basketball team. Support diversity!

    September 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • NobodySpecial

      Again, let me guess: You'e white, right?

      September 10, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  34. Pissed

    Look, I have no issue with black super heroes. BUT there is something here... the main issue is that these superheroes have always been white. If they want more diversity among superhoroes create new and interesting black superheroes DONT JUST kill the white guy. I mean to me this 1/2 what ever will never be spider man, Spider man will always be Peter Parker. These writers can take their need for diversity and shove it up their ass. and to the blacks that feel like they 'Deserve' a superhero CREATE A NEW ONE! Create a new and interesting superhero that isn't already created. Deal with it. Stop trying to make good superheroes black for no damned reason.

    September 9, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • KajinPL

      Dude, pump the breaks a little will ya? That's why they are called "Alternate Universes". That gives them opportunity to do something different. You got Marvel Zombies, Marvel Apes, Marvel Kids, stories with Collosus being gay, Nightcrawler was in Weapon X, Wolverine actually gets killed, Professor X, Magneto and Cyclops all get assassinated, Sue Storm falls in love with Ben Grimm, I mean there's plenty of room for anything to happen. It's the people that getting in such an uproar about the character's race. Times and standards have changed over the last 60 years. A cool story is a cool story.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:06 am |
      • Thomas

        It's still taking an established Character(in this case, ultimate Peter Parker/spiderman) and replacing him with someone else for no apparent reason other than DIVERSITY!!!(to be read in the same voice as the Tick Saying SPOON!!!).

        If they had begun with Peter as another race, or introduced the new character and started integrating him into the world as a potential protoge before the fact, it wouldn't be so bad, but it really just comes across as an editorial fiat for no purpose other than gimick.

        September 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
      • Pissed

        Why Pump my breaks? I agree a good story is a good story. I for one enjoy reading tons of comics. It pisses me off when writers decide for no good reason to change the ethnicity or what ever about the heroes they put out. Stop killing the good heroes and bringing in new ones... if they want something 'black' or ethnic... create a new one. That is my issue it's not just marvel I mean DC does this kind of crap as well.

        Let me play devils advocate for a minute are we going to see a white/mexican/asian shaft soon? HMM? I sure as hell hope not.. they need to stop messing with the mythos and get creative write something new... and if they want an on going story Kill certain characters and leave their mantles dead. Let new characters 'Honor' their mentors in really tasteful ways. but to just be like nope this is spiderman... he is now black.. that is kind of BS.

        September 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  35. jowl

    Diversity, Shmersity. SIck to death of hearing about it ad naueseum

    September 9, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  36. Thomas

    The ultimate brand hasn't been selling well because they screwed it over to hell and back with the awful awful ultimatum, and because comics in general aren't doing very well.

    September 9, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  37. Joe

    I have no problem with increasing diversity. However, when you kill off an iconic character simply for the sake of diversity, it reeks of two things. First, it is sacrifcing the integrity of the comic based on ideology, which is nothing new. We saw this with Marvel's Civil War. Second, it reeks of being nothing more than a cheap marketing tactic. Then again this is nothing new. D.C. had done this for years with killing off Superman in 92 and then having him renounce his U.S. citizenship. It may temporarily bump sales, but readers will eventually get bored with it.

    September 9, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • Brian

      Ultimate Universe is the not the regular Marvel Universe. They killed off that Peter Parker because the Ultimate Spiderman Brand was not selling well. So they decided in an alternate world not the established Marvel Universe a new Spiderman being a minority works. This is not just to establish a minority character but maybe do something different with the brand. The person behind this is one of Comics top writers.
      Already in the Ultimate Universe they changed Nick Fury to be an African American that was before Sam Jackson ended up in the role for the films. Yet in the established Marvel Universe Fury is still white.
      DC at least makes a minority character to be their own brand they put them in the established DC Universe. Marvel puts them in their Ultimate Universe of late.

      September 9, 2011 at 7:48 am |
      • KajinPL

        Well, that's not entirely true. Most of the established Marvel universe's young cast of heroes are pretty diverse. Spider-Girl is latina, that one kid Patriot, or whatever his name is, from Young Avengers is black. Of course Spider-Girl is the only one that comes to mind that has her own comic. I get what your're saying, but just about all the younger heroes are pretty much represent the times.

        September 9, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Christiana

      I don't even know what to say, this made tgihns so much easier!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  38. Drew

    Diversity was an old old wooden ship used during the civil war era.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • NobodySpecial

      And Racism has blonde hair and blue eyes?

      September 10, 2011 at 1:55 am |
      • Sara

        Yup. Looks like my neighbor.

        September 10, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  39. Average Joe

    I'm getting tired of all this diversity crap always being rammed down my throat.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Philip Hades

      How, exactly, is it being rammed down your throat?

      September 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • NobodySpecial

      If you don't like it, give up comics and look for something else. For me, I welcome the diversity. It's about time.

      September 10, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • JackofArts

      Dude, have you noticed your neighborhood? It is becoming more of a hodgepodge of various culture, ethnicities, and races. Literature (and all of the Arts in general) reflects the society it is being created in. If you do not like the diversity, joined a xenophobic society hidden away in the boondocks of the country and SHUT THE $#^* UP!!

      September 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  40. Cory

    I have absolutely no issue with the comics getting more diverse. In fact I say go for it; it makes it all the more interesting....My issue is when you destroy your previous characters in doing so. Killed off Peter Parker? I say if you are going to reuse a character idea, use one that is not all that popular. One that even you as the creators didn't like so much. Or simply get creative and make a brand new one. I do it all the time with my characters in my story. I mean I saw my favorite male video game character get totally mutallated......... And that's why I say it this way.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • chuchu353

      Peter Parker is not being completely killed off. Bendis' Miles Morales Spiderman takes place in an alternate universe. The original Spiderman will continue.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  41. The truth

    Every thing that you avoided in the 90s and 80s in comics you are now being bombardded with today nonstop. And sales are still not going anywhere. Thank you technology, and social progress, where would comics be if you didn't involve yourself. Probably at the hights of japanese sales in manga.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Philip Hades

      Let's see comics cost a fortune, have more mature stories and aside form the occasional gimmicky simply rehash the same stories over and over. That's why sales suck. In the 80s I could grab an armful of mainstream and indie comics for $20 now you can get maybe 4 or 5 issues for $20. How are you supposed to get a new generation of kids reading them if they can't afford the titles?

      Kill the 80pound, full glossy, pages and throw in some ads for Grit and joy buzzers. You'll get readers who are younger than 30 and expanded sales.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  42. Thomas

    I think my biggest complaint right now is that it sounds like they are just taking peter parker, and adding mixed race on top of it–My second biggest complaint is that they killed off peter and ushered out most of his cast to do it.

    If they tell stories that they couldn't have told with Peter, which require the protagonist be spiderman, then I have no problem with it. If the stories are just the same type of stories, then it makes me angry because it just proves they killed off peter for a publicity stunt.

    @mutantlexi:
    When Wally became Flash, and Dick became Batman, I had less complaints than this for one reason: the characters were already established, and were actively training to be successors/partners already. I think if Miles had been there before this, and had actually been trying to do the job/had some development and interaction with peter, then there would be a lot less outrage. It came out of nowhere, though, and that makes it feel arbitrary.

    September 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Bubba

      Thomas, it's the "ultimate world" Spiderman, who lives in an alternate universe. Peter Parker is fine, and this has no effect on Spiderman comics.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
      • Thomas

        Yes, it is the ultimate spiderman. And they killed off the Peter Parker of that world, who had developed his own character and distinguished himself quite nicely from his 616 counterpart over the 10+ years of his run. Just because it doesn't effect the main continuity doesn't make it an issue, and neither does it negate any of my points. In fact, I would have had far less issues if they had just made (ultimate)Peter a minority from the beginning.

        Also, I'm not a big fan of 616 Spiderman at the moment either, mostly because of OMD. I'd almost rather they had killed him off.

        September 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
      • Jules

        So – you mean to tell me, that Marvel stole the Multi-verse idea from DC comics, and recycled it, AGAIN? And think by renaming that universe, to Ultimate, it's all nice and cozy, what, in NYC? Niiiiice. I'd rather hear RAP music being sung by a white female coloratura soprano, than this recycled, regurgitated junk!

        September 13, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  43. samiam

    What a joke. "Batwing" ... wow. These WILL NOT SELL.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Bubba

      Collectors will buy them.

      September 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
      • Philip Hades

        Catering to collectors will kill the industry, again.

        September 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
      • Bleys

        No, we collectors won't buy them. Most of us are busy paying mortgages now.

        September 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  44. KajinPL

    If anything I think it's cool. If anything it's a real bold move killing off Peter Parker because he has always been Spider-Man. It's like a curve-ball, but a cool "curve ball" in my opinion. As far as the other characters go well hey the world is diverse so why is there a issue when the stories are diverse too. I mean, come on guys.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Bubba

      It's "ultimate world" Spiderman, not the real one. It all takes place in an alternate world where all superheroes got their powers from the Captain America serum, even the Hulk. That's why it's more like a cry for attention than a plot twist.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Thomas

      The problem is that it's poorly done; there was no build up of the character beforehand, and the actual death wasn't handled particularly well.

      It really comes off as "they killed off (ultimate) Peter just so they could add diversity. as a gimick.

      I have no problem with bringing more diversity to comics. WHat I have a problem with is the way it was done this time. I'd have far rather had Peter Parker be half black or hispanic, or even a muslim asian american with skrull grandparents, if it had been justified before the fact, created as such from the beginning, or just been handled well.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:44 am |
      • Bubba

        Exactly, a gimmick. Bring on the Hispanic Spiderman as a sidekick or ally for Parker, and then maybe kill him off. This sounds like Parker will be back by Christmas . . .

        September 9, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  45. Adam

    Why does the media keep bringing this up? WHO CARES ABOUT DIVERSITY? A comic book is good or bad...completely independent of what color or race the superhero is. This is a non-issue. Stop putting so much emphasis on race. The truth is, ONLY people who are racist themselves think racism is a hot issue.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Bubba

      Who cares about diversity indeed? Probably not you, Whitey, but it's important to a lot of adults. Now go back to eating whitebread and shining up your brown shoes for the crossburning tonight.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
      • Philip Hades

        LOL. Harsh but not off target.

        September 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
      • Wimpy

        Your articles are for when it absolutely, positively, needs to be understood ovrengiht.

        September 20, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius

      You mean people like Bubba down there? Good call.

      September 11, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  46. Bubba

    I don't find this exciting or compelling in any way; it seems like a ploy to get some attention instead of an actual interesting storyline. He'll end up martyred and Peter Parker will be cloned or retrieved in some way.

    September 8, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  47. bboyshekki

    So when are we going to see asian men?

    September 8, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Bubba

      You can Google them.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
      • Philip Hades

        Just let me google santorum and goatse first....

        September 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
      • Bubba

        Aw, you guys are spoiling my surprise.

        September 9, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  48. Chris

    So I thought this was going to mention how there are now flat chested, size 10 female characters. I guess that will take a while.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • blue79

      What you're looking for, bro, is "pettanko." If you ever get tired of overly-voluptuous women and disgustingly unrealistic body types (or just never found them that interesting in the first place), pettanko is the answer.

      September 8, 2011 at 12:59 am |
      • Bubba

        Yeah, but that's a manga thing. I doubt it will catch on over here.

        September 9, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  49. mutantlexi

    Wow, only a brief mention of Rawhide Kid? How about Batwoman, Alice, The Question, Wiccan, and Hulkling.

    I love how no one complains when white guys take over, like Wally becoming Flash, or Dick becoming Batman, but if a woman or minority takes their place, the nerd community rages.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • kei

      Actually, a lot of people are complaining simply because it is Peter Parker/Spider-Man. When Ben Reilly took over as Scarlet Spider, there were complaints too. Yet Spider-man 2099 (Miguel O'Hara) drew less criticism and he was half Hispanic. Also, the fact that it is a 13 year old kid draws some negative attention. And yes, some people are just flat out racist. I've read Ultimate Spider-Man since it began and I am not terribly pleased but it has nothing to do with race.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm |