After Ultimate Spider-Man’s death in 2011, we see that a new hero has taken up the mantel of your friendly neighborhood web-head. But who is this mystery Spider-Man? He takes off his mask to reveal the half-black, half-Latino Miles Morales.
There has recently been an influx of diversity in the comic book universe. Spider-man is black/Latino, the original Green Lantern has come out of the closet and Ms. Marvel is now Muslim.
In the 21st century, a good dose of diversity is exactly what we need, especially since superhero comics and movies are pretty much unstoppable at this point.
Up until 1966, when Marvel Comics created Black Panther, there were no mainstream black superheroes. When DC Comics created Wonder Woman in 1941, there were no mainstream female superheroes. Granted, both publishers could have just been playing into the politics at the time, but I’d like to think they were truthfully reflecting the society and culture of those eras.
Black Panther stemmed other black heroes such as Falcon, Luke Cage and Cyborg all of whom are either being featured in upcoming films or series — Morales is the perfect example of black role model.
For decades, we all recognized Peter Parker as a white, nerdy kid with spider-like powers because comic books were read by white, nerdy kids who wanted spider-like powers. Now, comic books are read by a more diverse group, and changing Spider-Man into a black/Latino teenager makes complete sense.
In my life, I happen to know more geeky blacks and Latinos than I do geeky white people.
Diversity aside, Morales is a likeable and riveting character. People like the comic book as a comic book, not as some politically correct stunt.
Homosexuality is another previously taboo topic that’s becoming more main stream in comic books. The aforementioned Green Lantern is now gay, but homosexuality is not just for superheroes. In 2012, Archie Comics had its own gay marriage between two military men. Even with protesting, this issue managed to sell out in stores all across the country. Now there are tons of gay and bisexual characters in comic books — Iceman, Batwoman, Mystique, Catwoman.
So I’ve covered race. I’ve covered sexual orientation. What am I missing? Oh, that’s right: religion.
Kamala Khan, the current Ms. Marvel, has an interesting personal life. Yes, she is Muslim, but she’s also an American teenager. One of her main problems outside of fighting crime is being forced into Muslim stereotypes.
This is a highly relatable conflict for any Muslim youths in America. Your faith shouldn’t have to dictate who you are as a person, and Khan shows us exactly that.
I like all the diversity comic books are pushing nowadays — it makes the characters we grew up with more current and entertaining. We can now relate easier to the characters we regard as role models. The world isn’t just white guys who save damsels in distress — it’s full of women, blacks, Latinos, Indians, Asians, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, Jews, Muslims and Hindus.
Email Griffin Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org