Diversity Aboveground: Superheroes and Rappers

Feb 13, 2015


Marvel announced last week that May would bring an all new team of superheroes called the A-Force and all the members would be female.

Any announcement of this kind brings a certain incredulity and they know this or they wouldn’t have promised that the current Thor wasn’t a gimmick. It also happens in the aftermath of Secret Wars which leads questions about what will happen during the next comic book event destined to arrive in 3-6  months. Then, there’s the notorious short lifespans of comic teams with female leaders. Fearless Defenders only lasted thirteen issues and Sif headlined Journey into Mystery for just ten issues. Most people have forgotten the Lady Liberators which started off as a joke about feminism in 1970 and was upgraded to a subplot in 2008 Hulk series. The only exception would be the Runaways which had 62 issues published between 2003-2009.

The members of A-Force who all happen to be female.For now, aside from the name, A-Force promises an exciting roster led by She-Hulk, Medusa, Dazzler and Nico Minoru. She-Hulk is coming off a wonderful twelve issue run of her own series. Medusa and Dazzler have both been side-lined in recent years to supporting cast, although Medusa’s Inhuman status will bring more interest due to “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The most interesting addition is Nico who was the leader of the Runaways. Her debut series was about a group of teenagers who discovered their parents were super-villains and ran away, only to discover their own unique capabilities. The group was made up of multiple races, sexual orientations and species with the males being in the minority. Even the dinosaur was a female. Nico is a witch who is powerful enough to be considered a candidate to become the Sorcerer Supreme and is Japanese-American, one of the few in Marvel’s character collection. On the other hand, Marvel appears to want readers to be most intrigued with Singularity, a pocket universe able to exist in the form of a human. However, since they are on an all-female team, the reader already knows they will choose to be female at least the majority of the time as opposed to being a non-binary gender or even like Loki’s being Bigender in the 616 universe.

Despite what appeared to be every female character Marvel has ever created on the poster, there are only 25 and some notable absences especially Miss America and her Young Avengers teammates. America Chavez is a super strong Latina alien who can fly and is incredibly strong. She’s also not afraid to tell it how it is, like that all her teammates are “not quite straight”, including herself. Luckily, Jamie Mckelvie claimed on Twitter that Chavez would be involved but no word on Kate Bishop or Cassie Lang, a recent return from the land of the dead.

Is there a story here even more important than the new series about to be released?

A-Force will be written by Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson who were also instrumental in its creation. Wilson has received widespread acclaim for her Miss Marvel series and Bennett has been writing Angela: Assassin of Asgard. Between them and Kelly Sue DeConnick who writes Captain Marvel, progress seems to be coming to Marvel. Now, there just needs to be more women in higher roles and enough time to pass to prove they have truly evolved and aren’t just seeking the money of an increasing group of comic book readers.


The announcement for A-Force was supposed to be revealed on ABC’s “The View” but was bumped due to time constraints. Was it really bumped or did someone realize how insulting having Marvel announcements concerning females on a “chick show” is?

Is it the only female oriented show they could think of? And why should it have to happen on a female oriented show at all? When Sam Wilson was revealed to be the next Captain America, they didn’t go to BET. Instead, they sent Joe Quesada to “The Colbert Report” where he and Stephen Colbert had an informed conversation about the change. On the other hand, just days before that, the current Thor was revealed on “The View” without any representation from Marvel; simply, the first look at her and the press release. None of the panel appeared to even be current comic book readers or have much knowledge. How is that supposed to encourage new readers to try it?

At the very least if there’s a next time they should send Bennett, Wilson, DeConnick or an avid fan like Lorraine Cink who does their Youtube videos or Chloe Bennett who also appears on AOS.

Let us also not forget that in 2013, Marvel decided to revamp one of their series to focus more on the female characters. They did so without fanfare or the desire to earn brownie points. It remains simply called X-Men.



This week also saw the release of the red band trailer for “Straight Outta Compton”; a fictionalized account of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and those that made up the N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitude) in their early days.

With studios reluctant to release films revolving around African-Americans and not containing the names Tyler Perry or Oprah Winfrey in the credits, each film that makes it is precious. This film also comes at an important time in the United States’ history.

There are many citizens who weren’t even alive in 1986. Many seemed confused when confronted by the fact that the police chief from “21 Jump Street” once sang on a song called Fuck the Police. Others associate Snoop Dogg only with marijuana or think Dr. Dre is just that guy Eminem talked about in that song one time. With this movie, they can finally see what made these guys household names in the first place.

This also has the possibility of being an inspirational film. These men grew up in Compton, California. This was one of the most violent places in the United States at the time and they rose above it. Not only were they able to escape it, but they did it through art. Those living in the most violent of cities like Chicago or Detroit might not appreciate that message, but at least they’ll be able to see they’re not alone and others before them made it through the madness.

“Straight Outta Compton” is scheduled to be released in theatres in August.


Now, will “50 Shades of Grey” ruin Sam Taylor-Johnson’s promising career the way “Twilight” killed it for Catherine Hardwicke?

Happy Galentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day, whichever you prefer!

Next week’s column will be about “McFarland, USA”, “Agent Carter” and more.


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