Wallopin’ Websnappers!

Well, the latest topical controversy in the world of comics is that the new Ultimate Spider-man is bi-racial. On the spectrum of outrage, this falls somewhere between Muslim Batman and Wonder Woman’s pants.

The topic of diversity in comics is a deep one, whether you’re talking about the creative staff behind the pages or the characters on the pages themselves. I think it’s obvious that comics need more diversity. If you look at the number of African-American, Asian-American, Latin-American, Native-American characters there are in comics, they are absolutely outnumbered by white-guys. (Women also fall into the minority of comic characters.)

I have to assume that it all happened to be this way pretty innocently. A creator made a character who he could easily identify with and if he was a white-male, then the character also was. The next thing you have is a white-guy hero fighting a series of white-guy villains. Maybe a villainess would appear and he would be torn between his desire to fight crime and the attraction he feels toward her. Maybe he’ll train a side-kick, who is also white… unless his side-kick is a racial stereotype of some kind. That could work too.

Or I have to assume that the decisions are based on money. If the majority of comic-buyers are white then the industry will target their audience by giving them the character they want to grow up to be. I know when I grow up I want to either be a millionaire-playboy who kicks butt or a nerd that works for a newspaper.

But I’m guessing that the current fear is that something is lost if Spidey becomes a black-kid… as though something about his character is integrally white. Or the bigger fear that being white is becoming a disadvantage, that people will discriminate against them because they were born being who they are. When they live feeling privileged, it’s easy to say that “life isn’t fair” to those who don’t share in the benefits but when they feel themselves being treated unfairly, they feel lost.


Spider-man belongs to Marvel comics.

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