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Marvel Fans Demanded Less Diversity in 1976

Read a couple of letter pages that show how far comic book fans have (and haven't) come as two fans rail on the ethnically diverse cast of characters.

Back before the Internet and social media, the only way for fans to reach large groups of other fans was via the letter page. The fan would write a letter. Put it in the mail. Send it to the publishers and hope the editor decides to publish it.

Comic book letter columns were also called letter columns (or lettercols), letter pages, letters of comment (LOCs), or simply letters to the editor have a long tradition. They started in the science-fiction magazines and hit their prime in the 1960s when some highly sophisticated discussions played out in the letter pages.

By the 1970s, most of the DC and Marvel comics included letter pages. Marvel had a history of not only publishing excerpts but full letters including criticism. The magazine would then engage and respond. Some truly amazing discussions happened in the letters. Unfortunately, just like today, some bozos trolled the editors. What's amazing is that Marvel decided to publish them. For good and bad.

Ororo Munroe was introduced in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975) by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. She's the first major female character of African descent in comics and quickly became extremely popular. So popular that she polarized fans.

Here's a letter from Uncanny X-Men #101 (October 1976) by Sam Mendel.

"Dear Stan: For a long time, the X-MEN was my favorite comic magazine. Alas, this is no more. The new X-Men are the worst Marvel creations I can remember, Chris' scripting is really lousy, He has left all the new X-Men as one-dimensional characterS, the best (or worst) examples being Colossus and Storm. Dave's art is almost as bad as Chris' writing. He is great at drawing aircraft such as the Harrier and Space Shuttle, but I've never seen Jean look so ugly, and the way he draws Scott, well, it is so awful it pains me to think of it. All is not yet lost, however. Here is my plan to save the X1Men: 1) Have Colossus and Storm get married and leave the X-Men and go back to Africa or some other place, as long as it is far away. 2) Kill off Nightcrawler by having him save the group- at the cost of his own life, He was a poorly conceived character in the first place, since he can not have a real alter-ego, and a superhero can't become a "real" character without one. After all, what would Spider-Man be without Peter Parker? 3) Have the Banshee return to Ireland. Though he is a good character, he is not good with a team. Use him as a guest star on occasion, but not too often. 4) Have the new new X-Men composed of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel and the Wolverine. The Wolverine is really the only good new X.Man, and I see great potential fdr develop-ment of his personality, his evident hatred of his claws II love the way they come out of his hands), his loneliness, etc. He is the perfect replacement for the Beast in the new, new X-Men. 5) Replace Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum with anyone! I don't expect this letter to be printed, but I think that many people feel the way I do, and it's up to you, Stan, to do something about it. I used to end all my letters with 'BRING BACK THE X-MEN,' and I'll say it again this time: BRING BACK THE REAL X.MEN!"

First, there's the ridiculous demand that the Russian superhero Colussus marry the African superhero Storm and "go back to Africa or some other place". Real constructive criticism. Ironically years later Storm DID get married and move back to Africa. So I guess the guy got what he was hoping for.

He does have a good point that the newly created Wolverine is awesome and the superhero did join the X-Men full-time. So I guess he got what he was hoping for.

Here's a letter from Uncanny X-Men #103 (February 1977) by Marilyn Brogdon

"Chris' writing intrigues me for another reason, I've been an X-fan since 1967. All this time, I thought it highly unlikely that all 'good' mutants were Caucasians. Who just happened to live on the east coast of the United States: The emergence of an international. and interracial team is a great step forward. As a young black woman, I am particularly interested in Chris' development of Ororo. I wonder how Chris will handle her relationship with a group of white males. (Did I detect a possible romance between Ororo and Peter, in issue #99? That should prove most interesting to watch!). Presently she seems to be a powerful and prominent member; I hope Chris 'avoids the cliche of the domineering and super-strong black woman. Ororo's development should not overwhelm the development of the other new X-Men: despite her popularity."

First, it's wonderful to see how young black women were affected by the new superhero. Second, Claremont did manage to avoid the stereotype of the black woman and made her a well-rounded character.

The comic letter pages provide a fascinating window into the world of Marvel fans in the 1970s ad it's just like 2018. Just without the retweet.

What do you think of the letters?

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