black-cage

So About That Whole Thing

LONG COMIC BOOK RANT INCOMING:

Okay some things need to be said:

1. If you’re going to write a smug thunk-piece about the “failure” of “diversity” in comics, maybe don’t use the cover image of a book that’s had 4 collections on the NYT graphic books bestseller list, won a Hugo and cleaned up at Angouleme. Just because you HOPE it’s on the chopping block, oh Riders of the Brohirrim, doesn’t mean it is.

2. I will tell you exactly why Ms Marvel works: it didn’t set out to be Ms Marvel. We were originally going to pitch it as a 10 issue limited series. I had a 3 issue exit strategy because I assumed we were going to get canned. There was no “diversity initiative” anywhere–getting that thing made at all was a struggle. It was a given that any character without AT LEAST a 20-year history would tank. Everybody, myself included, assumed this series was going to work out the same way.

3. That freed us–by “us” I mean the whole creative team–to tell exactly the story we wanted to tell. We had nothing to lose, nothing to overcome but low expectations. That gave us room to break a lot of rules.

STUFF THAT IS DIFFICULT TO REPLICATE AND IMPOSSIBLE TO PLAN:

1. Unexpected audiences. We are at a point in history when the role of religion is at a tremendous inflection point. What I didn’t realize was that the anxieties felt by young Muslims are also felt by young Mormons, evangelicals, orthodox Jews, and others. A h-u-g-e reason Ms Marvel has struck the chord it has is because it deals with the role of traditionalist faith in the context of social justice, and there was–apparently–an untapped audience of people from a wide variety of faith backgrounds who were eager for a story like this. Nobody could have predicted or planned for that. That’s being in the right place at the right time with the right story burning a hole in your pocket. Plenty of other stuff I’ve written and liked has fallen with a huge thud. That’s the norm. Exceptions are great when they happen, but hard to plan.

2. The paradox of low expectations. The bar was set pretty low for Ms Marvel, but because of Ms Marvel’s success, that bar got set much higher for similar books that came later.

STUFF THAT IS ENTIRELY AVOIDABLE:

1. This is a personal opinion, but IMO launching a legacy character by killing off or humiliating the original character sets the legacy character up for failure. Who wants a legacy if the legacy is shitty?

2. Diversity as a form of performative guilt doesn’t work. Let’s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is *the world.*

3. Never try to be the next whoever. Be the first and only you. People smell BS a mile away.

4. The direct market and the book market have diverged. Never the twain shall meet. We need to accept this and move on, and market accordingly.

5. Not for nothing, but there is a direct correlation between the quote unquote “diverse” Big 2 properties that have done well (Luke Cage, Black Panther, Ms Marvel, Batgirl) and properties that have A STRONG SENSE OF PLACE. It’s not “diversity” that draws those elusive untapped audiences, it’s *particularity.* This is a vital distinction nobody seems to make. This goes back to authenticity and realism.

AND FINALLY

On a practical level, this is not really a story about “diversity” at all. It’s a story about the rise of YA comics. If you look at it that way, the things that sell and don’t sell (AND THE MARKETS THEY SELL IN VS THE MARKETS THEY DON’T SELL IN) start to make a different kind of sense.

“The one thing I will say about all the female characters in this movie is that they are very strong,” Boseman says. “It’s a very matriarchal society.”

One of them is Wakanda’s undercover operative Nakia, played by 12 Years a Slave Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o. She may actually be the closest thing to 007 in this movie, and she’s a former lover of T’Challa’s.

“She is a departure from what she was in the comic book,” Nyong’o says. “Nakia is a war dog,” Nyong’o says. “She is basically an undercover spy for Wakanda. Her job is to go out into the world and report back on what’s going on.”

She also boasts some unique weaponry. “We call them her ring blades,” says Moore. “The ones Lupita carries while in the green outfit are based on traditional African weaponry. However, she does get a hi-tech upgrade later in the film, compliments of Shuri.”

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BLACK PANTHER APPRECIATION POST:

Black Panther Vol.6 #1 (Cover art by Brian Stelfreeze)

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear! Vol.1 #513 Variant (Cover art by Francesco Francavilla)

Black Panther Vol.6 #14 Robinson Variant (Cover art by Andrew Robinson)

Black Panther Vol.6 #7 (Cover art by Brian Stelfreeze)

Black Panther The Man Without Fear! Vol.1 #515 (Cover art by Simone Bianch)

Black Panther Vol.6 #3 (Cover art by Brian Stelfreeze)

Original Sin Vol.1 #2 (Cover art Gabrielle Dell'Otto)

Black Panther The Most Dangerous Man Alive! Vol 1 523.1 (Cover art by Patrick Zircher)

Need something to watch on Netflix? I got you:

-Charmed
-Sense 8
-Supernatural
-Dexter
-Law and Order SVU
-Parks and Recreation
-Shameless
-Salem
-The OA
- The Office
- American Horror Story
- The Flash
- Switched at Birth
- Black Mirror
- Stranger things
- Breaking Bad
- Gossip Girl
- Sons of Anarchy
- Criminal Minds
- Pretty Little Liars
- House of Cards
- New Girl
- Penny Dreadful
- The Get Down
- Scandal
- Bates Motel
- The Walking Dead
- Peeky Blinders
- Orange is the New Black
- Narcos
- Luke Cage
Feel free to add more!!!

I am excited for Captain Marvel just as I am excited for Wonder Woman. Just like I was excited for Supergirl and Jessica Jones. The world is wide enough…
I am excited for Black Panther just as I am excited for Cyborg or Deadshot. I’m excited for Black Lighting just like I was excited for Luke Cage.
The world is wide enough…
I am excited for the future of the MCU just as I am excited for the future of the DCEU.
The world is wide enough for them all to coexist and we should want them to. The more diversity we get behind the camera, in front of the camera, in tone, only helps keep the comic book movie alive.