I normally avoid writing about Black History Month for a couple of reasons. Mostly it’s because I’m not black. It’s basically the same reason I never write about menstrual cramps. I simply have no history with the cause. Still these lacks on my part have not prevented me from becoming friends with black people or women. Sometimes I hit the jackpot and became friends with a black woman. That’s called covering all your bases. Anyway, recently, I have been following the efforts of two people I respect and like, Jiba Molei Anderson & Mandell Cheeks. They are both artists who happen to be black. Since they write about what they know their characters tend to be black. I know they bemoan the industry standards that prevent their works from attaining wider appeal. But, to me, it was more of an abstraction. Certainly I know there are racists out there. The emails I got here when I lauded the teachings of Malcolm X made that abundantly clear. Still, being called names is not the same as being denied a living.
Nevertheless, as you regulars also know, I’ve been following the development of the Justice League movies, and there will be movies, with considerable interest, especially when they cast Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
For those of you who have lives allow me to elaborate. The actual Wonder Woman in the comics and the DC mythos is from an island near Greece and spoke a mix of Greek and Turkish. In other words, not English. If you click on Gal’s name I have the entire history of her character for you to read.
So by casting an Israeli native they are clearly going back to the true origin story. Which means they are looking to do more than just throw crap at the screen.
It also means that they will release the first superhero film with a female lead.
I could go on but for all intents and purposes it’s clear that the Warner vision for Justice League involves inclusion and depth.
You would think the nice people who created the source material would have been pleased by these developments.
You would be wrong, it seems, but there you are.
You see, as The Outhousers report, DC comics is celebrating Black History Month by turning some of their main black characters white.
Yesterday evening, Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass pointed out that this week’s comics included the debut of New 52 versions of two Green Arrow characters. In Earth 2 #20, Major Sato calls Red Arrow Connor Hawke. Connor was originally the son of Oliver Queen, and took over his father’s role as Green Arrow after Queen was killed in a terrorist attack. Red Arrow had previously been referred to in Earth 2 as Roy McQueen, so whether Connor is just an alias or his true name remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, in Green Arrow #28, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino introduced the New 52 version of Onyx, a former League of Assassins member and ally of Green Arrow. In the New 52, Onyx is the leader of the Fist Clan, one of the seven clans that make up the Outsiders.
So besides being Green Arrow characters, what do Connor Hawke and Onyx have in common? In the old continuity, both characters were black (Connor was of Asian and black heritage), and in the New 52, they’re not. Here’s Connor in the old continuity:
And here he is now:
Here’s Onyx pre-reboot:
And Onyx now:
Why DC decided to change the characters’ races isn’t really clear. For a company that’s been so desperate to show how diverse their characters are, and has made real attempts to introduce more characters of color in their comics, it’s an unfortunate step back, and one that doesn’t really make sense. In a world featuring a gay Green Lantern, an Arab Dr. Fate and a black Hawkgirl and Aquawoman, why is a previously mixed race character now white?
Of course, this little bit of whitewashing occurs on the first week of Black History Month due to a sad scheduling quirk, which makes it that much more embarassing. It’ll be interesting to see what DC does with both characters, and if any of the creators involved will explain why they decided to make the change. Regardless, this is a pretty clear counter reset.
I’ve got nothing. There is no rhyme or reason to these changes other than they ran out of dark brown ink. It was a mere two years ago when the comic book world kind of yawned and then continued living when Spider Man was rebooted as a half black, half Latino kid who might be gay.
The reboot is doing well and the original still lives.
Alternate universes and all that.
And maybe that’s it. Someone at DC wants to imagine a universe where there’s nobody but white people.
I’m sure that will work out well.