Comics need to become more diverse

In late 2016, DC Comics once again rebooted its major comic book series centring on the Justice League. This includes characters such as Batman, Superman, the Flash, and Green Lantern. Looking closely at that list, you’ll notice one character who isn’t a white male in John Stewart’s Green Lantern, and even he is overshadowed by his white predecessor: Hal Jordan.

Simply put, DC, and its major competition, Marvel Comics, need to do a better job of representing all types of people in their graphic novels, not just white males. Not only do they need more characters of different cultures, genders and sexualities, they need to do a better job of representing them.

DC in particular has a large number of female characters they could work with, with Wonder Woman at the forefront.

There are characters in the DC Comic universe such as Black Canary, Batgirl, Batwoman and others who could help represent female comic book readers.

DC also has Martian Manhunter, a Martian who disguises himself as a black man in order to blend in on Earth, and Cyborg, half man, half robot, to represent black males. However, outside of those characters, there isn’t much representation of different cultures in DC’s mainstream comics.

Batwoman, a character who was on the rise with DC fans, was a young gay woman in the Justice League’s comic universe. She represented a group rarely seen in mainstream comics. However, when it came time for her to get married, DC refused.

DC claimed Batwoman could not get married because she was a superhero and so because of this, can’t have a true personal life due to her alter ego. In the end, the decision to not let Batwoman get married caused the team behind the character to leave DC.

Marvel on the other hand has made some attempts at better representing different types of people. For example, Ms. Marvel is a Muslim teenager who has readers very excited. Her character attempts to show the world that Muslims are people too.

Marvel has also announced the person taking up the Ironman mantle will be a black, female, teenager with a genius I.Q. A woman has even become the wielder of Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer.

Of all the changes Marvel has made, the most significant would be Sam Wilson, a black man who was once the Avenger known as Falcon, taking up the mantle of Captain America. This is important because of current events, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, being so prevalent in the media.

However, the big question surrounding all of these changes is: how long will they last?

Comic book readers aren’t known for being the most receptive to change. This can be seen in the racist response to Michael B. Jordan, a black man, playing Johnny Storm (the Human Torch), a typically white character, in the most recent Fantastic Four film.

However, with DC’s new soft reboot, titled “Rebirth,” there seems to be hope as seen in Aquaman: the Drowning. In this comic series, Aquaman has a sidekick named Jackson Hyde, who is a young, gay, black man.

Characters such as the Flash and Nightwing often overshadow interesting characters who are not white males, such as Batgirl. Photo by Chris Jones
Characters such as the Flash and Nightwing often overshadow interesting characters who are not white males, such as Batgirl. Photo by Chris Jones

Once again, that one question remains: how long will this last?

There’s no simple solution to this problem, but Marvel has started heading in the right direction with characters such as Ms. Marvel and Sam Wilson as Captain America. DC might be heading that way too with “Rebirth.”

The importance of diversity is not lost on many of those reading DC and Marvel. Young girls should have a realistic female superhero to look up to. Same with people of colour. In the end, everyone should have the opportunity to be able to relate to a superhero, not just white men.

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Christopher Jones is a second year journalism student. He enjoys writing about video games, sports and politics. His work can also be seen on Riot Radio at Durham College and out of Montreal. In his spare time Christopher enjoys reading, playing video games and catching up on his long list of TV shows. He hopes to go into either video game journalism or into sports one day.