Last year, DC announced that they were merging the Milestone Dakotaverse into the world of Superman. This is sad. Milestone truly lived up to it's name in comic book history as the first attempt - make that only attempt - to create a truly diversified comic book world made up of complex characters.

In 1993, during the heyday of independent comic book companies, a group of African-American artists and writers set out to create a series that would redefine minorities in comic books. While it was published by DC, the comics were completely independent. I fondly remember reading the first issues and it opened my eyes to the restrictive view of minorities in the medium. It spoke to me as an African-American in ways no one else had, and I was sad to hear of it's eventual demise in 1997. Static (renamed "Static Shock") came back briefly as an animated show in 2000 for four years, but then disappeared again. 

While it's nice to think of the characters coming to life again, it's virtually impossible for them to retain their soul. Why? Because mainstream comic books are written and marketed to American audiences and there's no marketing value in minority superheros. In comic books, minorities are treated like novelties because there's no money in it.  Minorities are usually reboots of failed white characters (ex. Mr Terrific, Firestorm) or sidekicks (ex. Falcon, Battlestar) and grateful to get any work at all. For now it looks like characters like Icon and Static will just be joining existing superhero teams like "Teen Titans" and "Justice League" and probably won't get their own series.

Maybe it will get better, but the fact that the only honest African-American superheroes are being bused into a larger comic book world to survive says something.
[Image from kevingarcia.livejournal.com]


Monkey Migraine said...

That is truly sad, and ultimately pointless. The world of Milestone was unique and diverse. Importing them into the DC Universe will diffuse and ultimately destroy it. How can Icon and Superman exist side by side? How do the Bang Babies fit into the world of metahumans? The two are mutually exclusive. They might as well try to fit the Marvel and DC Universe together.

Well written obituary to a truly great era.

Geek1 said...

I know right? Icon is basically a rip-off of Superman where he falls among black people instead of white. Of course, from there it diverges completely, but since their so similar won't it get confusing? yeah, it's kind of sad really.

09smithjame said...

It is only the comic characters who does not discriminate between the colour and cast of people....Else everywhere,this discrimination is a big headache.I really hate this kind narrow minded thinking.
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Mauricem said...

09smithjame Your right. It's rare to see racist comic book characters if their not a villain. Imagine Superman trying to arrest "illegals" or Wonder Woman refusing to leave her purse alone with Cyborg. Discrimination is a migraine on the collective society. It's sad, but hopefully things will change. Thanks for leaving your thoughts.

Brian Hancock said...

You must not be reading Marvel Comics.

I counter your argument with a rise of Luke Cage in the Marvel Universe - his character has evolved from a 1970s blacksploitation stereotype to a leader. The rise, IMHO, wasn't due to the color of his skin, but Bendis and Marvel has made him an interesting character. He is trying to reform the Thunderbolts and also is the leader of the Avengers.

Falcon is no longer a sidekick under Brubaker's run, but a partner and friend. Fraction is also started using Rhodey, also as a partner.

Black Panther was on of the Illuminati and has proven himself to be a leader and fighter that match not only Steve Rogers, but the head of an advanced country. Not to mention, Ororo was also the leader of the X-Men and they both were recently part of the Fantastic Four.

monkeymigraine said...

These are all true. The previously racist characters have been given greater status. But there are still very few black characters that are the star of their own comic book. If you look at the examples you've listed, only Black Panther has his name on the front cover of the comic. The rest of them are merely powerful supporting players. Compare that to the comics of the Milestone universe (Icon, Static) where African-American characters weren't just in the background, but were the stars. They were also flawed and imperfect, which is really what minorities want - superheroes that are allowed to be real human beings, not just two-dimensional heroes and villains either pandering to stereotypes or thrown in as a token to appease minorities.


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