Diversity Aboveground: Marvel Legends Form a Zodiac Legacy
With a story devised by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore and illustrated by Andie Tong, you might be surprised to find out The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence is a 464 page novel. Aimed at the middle school set, the book has appeal to those of all ages.
The first character introduced is Steven Lee. As a 14 year old born and raised in the United States, he can’t relate very much to his grandfather’s tales of China so his parents insist on attending a class trip to Hong Kong. He finds himself torn between two worlds: China where his looks and name blend in and the United States where he never learned to speak or write Chinese like everyone around him uses in Hong Kong. It’s a fun foreshadowing for when Lee develops powers that also set him apart from everyone around him.
This is Marvel so you knew there were going to be powers, right? There are twelve to be exact: one for each animal of the Chinese Zodiac calendar. Don’t assume that just means animal abilities either. The Rabbit can teleport while the Boar is a Technopath and so on. Since the powers were spread around the world, the bearers are found in South Africa, Ireland, France and more. Even better is the fact that this diverse group of superheroes have been formed by their culture and background which shows in their actions and dress, not just their speech. Two of the group are from towns left economically impoverished. In a twist on the usual trope of orphans, their family insists they leave in order to have a better life.
Tong’s illustrations are a joy; not too much to disrupt the story flow but enough to help build the excitement. His drawings also better illuminate exactly which races are represented by which characters. The salmon monochromatic quality goes really well with the book’s red theme. The red is well chosen, not only because of its association with China but also blood, danger, courage and Tigers. Will this trend continue with the next book? Will its color scheme reflect the culture of another member of the team? Even if it doesn’t change, it would still tie into the Zodiac angle and reflects Tong’s own family background.
While the beginning of the book revolves around Lee, the chapters flit around to different members, providing a deeper insight into their characters. It’s reminiscent of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series for the same age group, but a more accurate comparison would be Moore’s previous books, including his novelization of Civil War. His work there shows how he can pull off a cast of dozens as Zodiac Legacy is shaping up to be the same way. Characters on one side at one moment may not remain on that side in the next moment. There’s a faster pace than the usual children’s book and makes it feel more like a comic book series.
As the characters are introduced and we learn more about their powers, there no forced partnerships, romantic attachments or obvious pairings to come. It was really refreshing. In fact, Moore pointed out on Twitter that “We didn’t get into ANY of the chars’ sexuality in bk 1”. However, when asked “if any of the teens might be gay, bi or Asexual in the future books?”, he replied, “I like that idea. Will discuss it w/Disney & Stan.” Those of other sexual orientations are still lacking in Middle Grade books where the few examples that exist wouldn’t take a whole hand to name. This would be the proud continuation of a legacy of young adults and teenagers who happen to be homosexual or bisexual like Northstar, Karolina Dean and America Chavez. There are no known Asexual characters in Marvel comics.
Book Two will be released this fall. The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence is on sale anywhere books are sold, including Publix.
Catwoman #39 has confirmed that Selina Kyle is a bisexual. With it being speculated and discussed over decades, Genevieve Valentine was finally able to put it into print. Now, the question remains how this will affect her other incarnations? Will Selina (Camren Bicondova) on “Gotham” have female relationships as she grows older? Will it be mentioned in her future cinematic versions? There are currently no plans for her in any of the films in development.
Whatever happens, let’s not keep this within Valentine’s run on the comic.
Ronda Rousey only needed 14 seconds to knock out her latest opponent but hopefully, she also knocked out some stereotypes as well. Female athletes still suffer from less money and less lucrative sponsorships than their male counterparts. Some sports, like Major League Baseball, still ban them from playing at all.
You can also read more about Rousey’s burgeoning acting career elsewhere on this very site.
How are you celebrating National Women’s Month?
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Next week, the column will be discussing everyone’s favorite new show- “Empire”.