Tagged: racism

Is Marvel Comics Exploiting Diversity?

I’ve been seeing an increase  of stories recently online & on social media about Marvel Comics and it’s continuing sales slump. Most of the articles bring up the hot topic of diversity, some say that Marvel’s record low sales of their comics books are simply because of rising cover prices & lack of fresh new ideas for their characters. Others say that it’s directly due to it’s attempt at diversifying it’s star characters by changing their race, gender & sexual orientation. Most of their popular character’s titles have had a bit of a revamp lately, for instance Wolverine is now female, so is Thor, so is Iron Man, Cap is black, the Hulk is now Korean-American etc. etc. You get the point. Could these changes really be the reason why sales are down? Do people just simply hate diversity in the Marvel Comics titles?

I really doubt that it’s really that simple, though rising cover prices and lack of fresh ideas definitely doesn’t help their low sales. What I see personally happening is a bit of a trend within Marvel Comics that feels a bit insincere. I honestly don’t really mind that the traditional characters have been replaced but I do feel Marvel’s move to make all these changes to their most popular titles feels as if they’ve been exploiting diversity to make a quick buck. What I’m saying is that it feels like Marvel is just trying way too hard to be current on these topics rather than crafting interesting stories. I don’t believe you can simply take all of your money maker superhero titles, simply change their identities and expect them all to suddenly bring you boatloads of cash because you finally decided to make them more diverse. It’s just not that simple folks. Continue reading

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Did Netflix’s ‘Iron Fist’ Really Deserve All The Hate?!

Ok so I’m eight episodes in on Netflix’s ‘Iron Fist’ and I’m honestly not quite sure what all the crazy hatin’ on it is all about. I liked all the Marvel Netflix stuff so far, Daredevil being the best, then Luke Cage and so far I’m feeling like Iron Fist and Jessica Jones are pretty much on the same level. I remember being a bit bored during ALL of the ‘Marvel Netflix’ shows at some point or another, they are ALL about 3-5 episodes too long. I think keeping them around an 8 episode affair would easily be the best structure for these shows. 

Iron Fist does move a bit on the slow side from the start, but like the previous Marvel series they all take waaaaay too long to get to the real meat n’ potatoes of it all. The fight scenes range here from good to sloppy, nothing mind blowing but they feel in line with what we have seen thus far from Marvel for the most part. Check out the “nunchucks” scene below, it’s clear Finn jones is definitely no Bruce Lee!  It would have been really cool if they had really took the opportunity to amp of the kung fu to something truly mind blowing. Not sure why they didn’t go that route but if they had this show could have been spectacular. As far as crazy martial arts / action I think Daredevil has succeeded most and remains the best of the bunch. Overall though as much as I do enjoy watching the Marvel Netflix stuff I think all of it ends up a tad on the bland side of things still. The street level realism is personally getting a bit boring in my opinion. They’re better executed than the movies and have definitely had better villains than the theatrical stuff but still there’s something missing. In my opinion ‘Logan’ has set a new standard for the live action superhero stuff.

That being said Iron Fist I think is actually an OK series. I was really prepared for something truly horrendous but I’ve actually had a fairly fun time with the series so far. the amount of shit this show has gotten has reached laughable levels online, like the other Marvel Netflix stuff was The Shawshank Redemption or some shit. The writing is indeed not award worthy but I’ve kinda enjoyed it for that. It’s a bit ridiculous at times with characters their odd “motivations”, Danny Rand is certainly quite a bit different in the way he acts and deals with things. But kinda I dig that aspect of the show. Rand is pretty naive and seems quite often a bit clueless. I’m guessing that it’s because he spent the last 15 years training in the mystical city of K’un-Lun with monks in another dimension. He’s basically new to the real world, as he went missing when he was tween. He’s a bit bratty, he’s got a crazy kinda weird unpredictable temper and though he’s supposed to be “enlightened” he’s a bit of a spoiled privileged poser. Hey those people really do exist, I’ve met a few in my time.

He throws tantrums and really hasn’t much of a clue what to do with his business and his insane inherited wealth. I like his ‘flaws’, he kinda acts a bit like a clueless rich white teenager who’s got a good heart but is a bit of a dipshit. Rand’s got some realism to him, that maybe wasn’t the show’s intention but I’m kinda glad he’s not a carbon copy of Matt Murdock. This could all be due some bad writing but in this case it kinda actually works in the series favor. I also thought Colleen Wing was pretty cool too, she steals the show from Danny Rand quite often and is just as much of main character here. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up getting her own series with Misty Knight, ‘Daughters of the Dragon’ anyone?

There’s a lot I would have done differently here with this show. It should have a TON more crazy kung fu action, it shouldn’t have been 13 episodes and it most definitely should have had the costume dammit!!! That alone would have set this apart from the last two series, we need way more of a superhero presence in these shows, this one was one I was certain was going to deliver on that front. I could easily see this character come up with a bit of a cheezy flashy classic inspired Iron Fist costume and it making perfect sense. Danny Rand should be the one kinda clueless dude who sports a questionable “superhero” costume.

Marvel should play off of that aspect of the character and let Iron Fist go over the top. They hopefully up the ante’ ten fold with his kung fu escapades when we see him next. That being said we definitely DON’T need anymore rich white superheroes. Or anymore weatlhy superheroes for that matter. Let Rand be the last of em’. I’m glad they chose to go with a character based more on his comic book counterpart, I think it was a good choice and it raised some good controversial conversations that perhaps needed to happen in the ever changing spectrum of modern pop culture. Again we also see some pretty piss poor villains, why can’t Marvel get this shit right? This “street level realism” is getting a bit old, bring out some crazy costumed villains already. Even the movies suffer from this, The shows are the perfect place to build excellent villains, they have the time to develop them and I’m not quite sure what Marvel is afraid of. They did a good job with the Kingpin, tried their best with the Purple Man but still they were too afraid to make the guy actually purple!

 I also don’t see the show as ‘racist’ after viewing it thus far and I think that whole aspect of things was way blown out of proportion by critics. Iron Fist is proof if anything that Marvel needs a new formula, if they go for a season two with Iron Fist I’ve got a feeling it’ll be quite different with all the flaws everyone has been pointing out. Let’s hope the Defenders brings something truly unique to the table…

Is Netflix’s ‘Iron Fist’ Really Rooted in Racism?

It’s a hot topic here the past couple days surrounding the upcoming Netflix series ‘Iron Fist’ online. The series starring Finn Jones as the legendary kung fu playboy vigilante has come under fire for it’s supposed racist roots and just plain shitty all around reviews. It’s been slammed pretty hard by the critics calling it “boring” and “racially uncomfortable” with it’s white male lead. Apparently Finn Jones shut down his Twitter because of the online backlash from people who’re calling him out personally as part of the problem.

Now I’m not sure whether the show really sucks or not, I haven’t seen it. I’m curious to see if it’s indeed as bad as critics are saying or if perhaps this racial controversy is really the root of all the negative reviews. I thought the previews looked ok but the whole set up looks a bit too familiar. The problem seems that people are upset that the character, who is a white male in the original comic books, should have been recast and played by an Asian actor in the new series. Then it was stated that many were against the idea of a recast because having an Asian actor in the role of the “martial arts guy” played too strongly into racial stereotypes. A bit of a double edged sword it seems. Continue reading

Extra! Extra! A Collection of Superheroes Punching Nazis!

Punching Nazis is all the rage these days! It’s never been a more popular thing than right now and while I really don’t want to condone punching anyone, I’ll admit that I’m not particularly saddened when I find out that it happens! This whole punching Nazis thing is nothing new, especially in comic books. So here’s some great images to satisfy that urge to kick some Racist Nazi booty! Take a scroll down and get it out of your system for the moment! Again I don’t condone violence, but hey what’s not to love about seeing a good nazi knock out in the comics?! Yeeehaw lets go!

 

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Comic Book Review: Black #3 Continues The Conversation…

I just checked out issue #3 of Black Mask’s controversial new series “Black” which tells a unique superhero story where only black people have superhuman powers. I’ve been pretty intrigued with the series so far & it’s interesting spin on the superhero genre. The series is produced by an all black team focusing on the continual racial tensions rising in our country. It tackles some tough scenarios where blacks are brutally abused and killed by white people and with all the media focus these days covering the racial divides this book fits in nicely with the current conversation that has been finally addressed and put into the mainstream.

That being said so far each issue has had a very similar theme and the tone of the book is dark and clearly angry. It reminds me a bit of the vibe that the X-men once had as mutants dealt with discrimination from the public who feared their superhuman powers and differences from “normal” humans. Issue #3 continues the story of an evil corporation looking to exploit the the superhuman powers of the teams main character by way of tissue sample. It makes you face some things you might not want to address normally in a comic and it’s likely going to start conversation in the comic book world amongst readers of all skin colors. So far I find it a solid read with some pretty sweet artwork to boot.
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Comic Book Review: Black #2

Issue #2 of Black Mask’s new series ‘Black’ was one I’d been looking forward to checking out. The premise of the book thus far is that black people are discovered to possess superhuman powers and which are unique only to them. We’ve got a story from issue number one that seems ripped from today’s headlines as three innocent black teenagers are attacked by corrupt cops. When one one of the wounded teens figure out he’s got superhuman powers he escapes the police and meets a mysterious man who promises to train him hone his unique abilities.

Issue #2 follows the main character Kareem as he’s being trained how to fight by his new allies and soon he sets off on his first mission in New Orleans. A bit of a nod to the X-men. The story continues to show some truly vile white red necks as they attempt to kill a black man by burning him alive in the woods. But remember, some people possess super powers and soon the white trash have got some serious problems on their hands when Kareem and his crew arrive. The man who’s to be burned becomes the burner. That’s not all though they’re also being followed by powerful secret Gov’t agents who’re intent on capturing them. Yeah they show up too. I’m enjoying this series so far, it goes the distance perhaps a bit far with the consistent theme of racism throughout the first two issues. It tries really hard to pull heartstrings.  I liked how the first issue kicked off as it felt pretty damn relevant but by issue number two the racism showcased again seemed a bit forced. I hope that this series is not only and just a continuous series of horrendous racist events occurring to the black characters. I expected of course this team to be tackling this serious problem but so far it’s come on pretty strong.

 

I think it’s important for this series to have something to say about the real life issues people are facing but I hope every issue isn’t always focusing on this. It could be coincidence that this issue features extreme life threatening racism once again & we’ll see what the next issue holds. I’d like to see the story tackle these issues of racism but I’d also like to see our characters experience different threats in their adversaries for different reasons. I don’t feel every issue needs to cover the topic of race, unless that is indeed the sole purpose of this book. Now that’s not to say that the book doesn’t feature some positive non-black characters, it definitely does and I dig the offbeat idea of once race developing powers. It’s a cool twist and certainly empowering -I hope they bring about some truly memorable black super heroes from this book.

I’m hoping issue #3 branches out a bit more and sprinkles the racism about in a more believable manner. A good example would be the Luke Cage Netflix series which handles the issues pretty gracefully without feeling forced. I’m not sure every central character needs to have his origin buried in a racist act. The second issue brings some pretty decent solid artwork back along with a simplistic easy to follow story. That being said I do feel that this issue is bit to quick of a read. We get a lot of big panels with pretty minimal dialogue which with new comics means it takes about five minutes to read.  Also we get a pretty shocking cover sure to raise some eyebrows. Anyway I’ll be around to check out issue #3 to see exactly where this story is all headed. Overall a unique series thus far worth picking up if you’re looking for something a bit different from the average super hero tale… 

 

Comic Book Review: The Skeptics & Black #1

The Skeptics #1 (Black Mask)

I just read the debut issue for the new Black Mask series “The Skeptics” and was quite pleased with this sweet little intro to a thus far promising retro adventure. Brought to you by Tini Howard and Devaki Neogi we’ve got a solid story of two teenagers during the Cold War era that are brought in by the US government to test for paranormal abilities. There’s a claim made by the Soviets that they’ve got a new breed of soldier in the works, ones with intense psychic abilities. But is it just a hoax to scare us Americans during those tense times? Either way it doesn’t matter because of course the US is determined to find people with similar unique abilities here in our own country to face off with the Soviets.

Well all just is not what it seems when Mary and Maxwell are brought in for testing, for unknown reasons these two have figured out a way to to trick the scientists and even the President into believing they’ve got telekinetic abilities. The President claims they’re the key to stopping World War 3 but it seems there’s more going on than meets the eye. The two young “psychics” quickly decide to take matters into their own hands when they realize that perhaps it’s not a hoax. The Soviets may indeed be harboring people with superhuman abilities. 

I had a pretty fun time with the first issue, it’s really simplistic, pure story telling with some decent artwork as well. It’s a refreshing break from all of the ultra edgy stuff being cranked out these days, I’ll check out issue number two and see just where this all goes but either way the debut is worth a look if you’re looking for something a little different.

 

Black #1 (Black Mask)

Here’s another decent debut issue that finds it’s plot ripped from the media headlines. It’s a story about police corruption and racism in America with a superhero twist. We’ve got corrupt white cops who shoot down three black teens who’ve done nothing wrong in broad daylight on the streets of the inner city. Sound familiar?

Well things get more interesting when one of the teens who’s presumed dead awakens alive and well in the ambulance on the way to the hospital with seemingly superhuman energy and endurance. On the run from the cops he meets a Morpheus like character (from the movie The Matrix) who helps him to safety and soon it’s revealed that people do indeed exist on this planet with superhuman powers….except only those who are black can have them. This like The Skeptics is also a pretty quick and simple read with an  interesting spin on the superhero genre. This idea spun out of a Kickstarter campaign and was soon picked up by Black Mask. The art adds to the experience as it’s really well drawn and in black and white.

The writing for this by Kwanza Osajyefo is solid yet at the same time a bit on the predictable side. Starting out with a fairly popular view point being, corrupt cops are running rampant and they kill black people for no apparent reason. I think it’s fair to say from most of the news stories we’ve heard reported on point to this similar scenario. So we’ve definitely got a story here thats basis is controversial and hotly debated. I can already see people being upset about the race issue presented here, it is indeed written to get a response from white readers and continue the much needed dialogue about racial tension today. I think however it’s not much really of a different concept than say “Y The Last Man” yet this comic’s timing probably is the most controversial aspect of it.

Overall I dig it, the idea of just one race being graced with superpowers is an odd angle but given the recent headlines this one’s certain to make some waves. It’s also written & drawn by an all black team as the above The Skeptics is an all female team. So we’re getting a lot more projects out there now that are created with race appropriate and gender appropriate teams attached. It I guess raises questions about whether or not it’s ok in modern times to have people writing books that aren’t of the same gender or race of the characters in the book? This topic alone has become somewhat of an issue lately for movies, books and tv shows. I’m still under the belief that at the end of the day in works of fiction, in a free society none of that needs to really be micro-analyzed. So therefore I welcome anyone to bring a unique story to the table no matter what their race, gender, sexuality or association may be. With that being said I’m curious to see where the story of “Black” ultimately goes. I’ll be back for a second issue…