4 Aug

They killed off Peter Parker in the name of racial-ethnic diversity

                                       

What the frak are they doing to my superheroes?!

I was checking in over at the Washington Post and just discovered that the superhero closest to my childhood heart, Peter Parker, is dead:

Oh my God! They killed Spidey! It’s true. More than 10 years ago, writer Brian Michael Bendis brought Ultimate Spider-Man into the world, and today he’s taken him out. According to Bendis, this isn’t temporary, either. Is there a future for a Spider-Man without Peter Parker?


I have no idea what Ultimate Spider-Man and Bendis were about; the last I had paid attention to Spiderman was when Peter Parker and Mary Jane got married in 1987(and while doing some research for this post, I discover their marriage also had ended a few years ago! Egad!)

But in the WaPo article I read, it wasn’t the death of my favorite superhero that made my skin crawl. What really bugs me is that they have a new replacement Spiderman and are making much hoopla over his biracial ethnicity:

It’s not simply about publicity and stirring things up to get people talking (although Marvel surely welcomes those, too). It’s about a black kid in D.C., a Dominican kid in the Bronx or a young Mexicano from California being able to read a comic and come away from it saying, “I can be Spider-Man.” Generations of minority comic-book fans before this day, couldn’t say such a thing.

I call bullcrap:


~~~

Take a look at the photo at the top. Is there anything strikingly odd about the photo? What do you see? I see a “ridiculous” little Asian boy pretending to be a cowboy, and proud of wearing the get-up. I say “ridiculous”, because, of course, there weren’t really any Asian cowboys out in the Wild West. If anything, I should be playing the part of an Injun. But back then, at the time, I didn’t feel ridiculous. I thought I looked like Robert Conrad.

I didn’t see the movie version of Wild Wild West (starring Will Smith). But it certainly didn’t have to do with not being able to envision a black man in the role; or myself having a hero who is black (Tony Dorsett was my football hero I wanted to emulate). But I do associate Robert Conrad with being James West in the same way that William Shatner is the definitive Captain James T. Kirk.

Of course, if you’re going to ignore established character ethnicities and canon, does that mean when a reimagining of Star Trek sees fit to have Kanye West play Captain Kirk, that Matt Damon is up to play Sulu and Angelina Jolie gets to be Uhura? That Chekhov is cast as a Pakistani rather than a Russian? Or maybe they just kill off the entire crew and start afresh, yet still call the series “Star Trek” and reshuffle the diverse crew because they were never…um….diverse enough?

Wolverine isn’t Asian. He isn’t even American. Yet he’s another superhero I loved while growing up. It wasn’t his non-Asiatic ethnicity that made it difficult for me to see when I looked in the mirror: It was the hairstyle, my unconvincing scowl, and lack of chest hair. Minor physical details, though. It didn’t stop me from pretending. I could, however, identify with his short stature (he’s supposed to be 5′ 4″ – sorry bub, if you happen to be 6 ft tall and want to pretend you’re Wolverine).

When Jim Rhodes replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man before becoming War Machine, that wasn’t the same as what they’ve done to Spiderman, here.

What’s in “poor taste” is killing off an American pop icon and yet trying to keep the franchise alive by turning this into a teachable moment/selling point on the value and importance of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism. Blech!

After the death of Peter Parker, rumors started that a focus on ethnic diversity would play a part in the new casting of Spider-Man. It turns out rumors were right on the money. Miles Morales is half-black, half-Hispanic, and at least a few percent spider. It’s a bold move from writer Brian Michael Bendis, since cape-and-tights heroics still continue to be a mostly all-white affair.

Says Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso, “What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who’s reflective of our culture and diversity. We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker.”

It really drives me nuts that in the 21st century, what this is really reflective of isn’t that we’ve moved beyond race, but that we are still fixated on making it into an issue. That we are still paying attention to the content of skin-color and identifying ourselves by ethnic pride/ties/loyalty/heritage.

Is it a bad thing to acknowledge where you came from and honoring ancestral heritage? To take pride in it? No. But when people whine about Generations of minority comic-book fans before this day, couldn’t say “I can be Spiderman”, I just can’t help but feel horribly bothered by such sentiments. Instead of just creating a whole new Marvel character, they essentially want to do to Peter Parker what they did to Nick Fury in the movies (which wasn’t so irksome as this whole line of thinking):

Axel Alonso, Marvel’s new editor-in-chief, says that Spider-Man’s newfound diversity was something that was considered the moment Marvel knew that their ultimate universe Peter Parker was headed to the grave.

“We knew that the death of the Ultimate Spider-Man/Peter Parker was coming,” Alonso told Comic Riffs by phone Wednesday. “The question quickly became: Who will be the person to fill those tights? We knew very quickly what had to be done. Having a character as iconic as Spider-Man, when he peels off that mask, having a new demographic be able to relate to him, we’re very excited about that.

The reason why I related to Peter Parker when I was very young was because I felt awkward and nerdy as a kid…just like him. I identified with him and his desire to do good in the world.

Alonso said a Marvel title accurately reflecting the society we live in is nothing new and that it’s been going on since Stan Lee was in charge, agreeing that X-Men in the ’60s was just as much about the civil-rights movement as it was the hatred of mutants.

Yup….and yet these new clowns at Marvel, like most Democrats and liberals, are still mired in fighting the good fights of the 60s and have not moved beyond it to the next level (like most Republicans and conservatives have): Transcending melanin count for content of character.

And here’s some moral condescension (yes, I realize I’m guilty of exercising this as well in my criticism) from David Betancourt (who identifies with the new Spidey based upon shared biracial makeup):

“For the small portion of the fan base who hates anything changing from their childhood, who say Peter Parker can crawl on a ceiling but Miles Morales can’t, they need this change the most.”

You want racism to disappear? As Morgan Freeman said on 60 Minutes, “Stop talking about it.” And what he meant by that (as I understood it) wasn’t to ignore the issue of racism and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but to quit obsessing over it, keeping it alive by making it into such a big issue.

Spiderman’s dead. Writers other than the original creators killed him off. Let him rest in peace. Call this other guy, Miles Morales, the Arachnid Kid or something else.

There’s only one Spiderman, and that was Peter Parker…

…and his white ethnicity didn’t matter.

This entry was posted in American Exceptionalism, Culture, Entertainment, multiculturalism, Personal, Race, Social Studies, WtF?. Bookmark the permalink. Thursday, August 4th, 2011 at 9:53 pm
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34 Responses to They killed off Peter Parker in the name of racial-ethnic diversity

  1. anticsrocks says: 1

    All in the name of “fairness.”

    Sad.

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  2. Buffalobob says: 2

    We still have Snow White.

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  3. Wordsmith says: 3

    @Buffalobob:

    Disney has finally gone and done what many thought was impossible. Seven decades after Snow White, they’re making an animated feature with a black princess in the lead role. The Frog Princess will introduce the world to Maddy, a girl from the French Quarter of New Orleans who we assume must be the royalty of the story.

    Growing up as a young girl in Jamaica with a black and white television, it took my parents getting a rusty old VHS to reveal the secrets of Disney animation. The world of Sleeping Beauty and Bambi were comforting: the good guys won and the baddies were usually cast out of the kingdom. That was great for an hour and a half, but it had absolutely no relevance to the rest of my life.

    Little girls who looked like me lived outside the enchanted forests. We never even made sidekick status. Hell, we didn’t even inhabit the same kingdoms. Black Disney characters were conspicuous by their absence. Even the Little Mermaid’s Sebastian (a Caribbean crab, no less) did nothing to redress the balance. I knew all the words to Under the Sea and Kiss the Girl but even that could not make up for the Disney’s reluctance to add any characters more ethnically more diverse than Pocahantas or Mulan. Even then, the suspicious whiff of the “exotic” was never far off.

    Disney was a corporation who could make nearly half billion dollars in revenue from their tweenies show That’s So Raven with old Cosby kid Raven-Symonè, but shied away from showing diversity in their choice of animation characters.

    We still have to wait until 2009 to see just what kind of a black princess Maddy will be. Will our New Orleans royalty be more of the Princess Beyoncé ilk, complete with flowing blonde highlights, or will we have to make way for a truly revolutionary (and far more representative) Princess India Arie?

    Whatever she looks like, we can’t underestimate what this seemingly innocuous move on Disney’s part will mean for young women, who like me had to grow up surrounded by white imagery of goodness and beauty their whole lives. There will be little girls of all races who playing with their Princess Maddy dolls not thinking anything of it. I just hope Disney’s first animated black princess avoids the fate of early black screen characters and survives the end credits. Or come to that, avoids adoption by Madonna.

    I like this guy’s comments in one of the links in my post:

    kane (kane corso) said on Dec. 23, 2010 at 10:59 am:
    Alternate time universe? Well then, what comic book are we supposed to read to see the real Nick Fury? I am so sick of seeing white Characters magically changed into black characters in super hero movies. How would black people like it if they cast Brad Pitt as Shaka Zului? To set the record straight, Nick Fury, Hiemdale, Alicia Masters, and the King Pin are white characters!
    I am not against black super heros. If that’s what people want, then make some new ones that are black. Either that, or I want to see Nick Nolte as the Black Panther.

    ~~~

    kane (kane corso) said on Dec. 23, 2010 at 11:08 am:

    Oh yeah, and to the guy who says what does it matter, do I really have to explain the world of comics to you? Really? Okay, let me get a crayola crayon for you. You see, The heros that you read in comics shouldn’t age or die, get pregnant, or get married. These are things that happen to real people. Comic book heros are there to face challenges that normal people couldn’t take on, and this creates a fantasy for the reader to live through.
    I mean to say, if your going to say what’s the difference? Well then we should change his race evry month so nobody is left out. Every one should be able to cheer for Nick Fury. Wait, we can’t leave women out, he should change his sex for awhile and be Nina Fury while we are at it! Wow! Is it that difficult to understand?

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  4. Skookum says: 4

    Word, I don’t know much about comics, but I know Western dress codes. I think you look pretty good except for those trousers. For the next photo session, I suggest a pair of Wrangler 13 Wz Cowboy Original Cut. You will be right on the money! Get them long enough to break over the instep of your boots without touching the floor at the heel. That way they are just the right length when you sit on your horse. Generally, two inches longer than your city slicker trousers will be perfect. (If you are wearing road apple kickers)

    Otherwise, I love the photo. I used to get duded up to go to the movie house in town to watch Tom Mix and Gene Autry. I thought I looked pretty good. I had no idea that it would be my fashion statement for the next six decades of my life. I don’t know how to dress any other way now. I’d feel silly wearing anything else.

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  5. L.T. says: 5

    “There’s only one Spiderman, and that was Peter Parker…

    …and his white ethnicity didn’t matter.” —-to you. It’s an interesting assumption, that how you felt as a child is, of course, the way all children of all ethnicities and backgrounds should have felt and should feel now—but it’s not a surprising one. You speak of “most Democrats and liberals”, well I find it is not uncommon for Republicans and conservatives to manifest an inability to understand how anyone else’s views on race could reasonably differ from their own. It allows you to comfortably discount the value of any experiences that differ from yours that might lead one to have a different point of view. You can label those who disagree with you as “clowns” who are mired in the past, and then you no longer have to acknowledge any reality with which you may have little personal familiarity, any experiences and feelings that do not mirror your own.

    Yes, it can be painful when a beloved childhood character undergoes a change. I’m a huge fan of Star Trek. I would be amused if the bridge of the Enterprise was repopulated as you describe it but I understand that every fan would not share this feeling. Still, if iconic characters are going to last, in fact the reason that they last is that they adapt with the times. Spiderman, The Avengers, Nick Fury, all came to life when comic book heroes were almost exclusively white. The few non-white characters were usually relegated to the role of sidekick. Changing the ethnicity of a character is not the only way to adapt to changing times, but it is one way. Changing the race of an iconic character does not reflect fixating on race as an issue. It reflects an acknowledgement that race still is an issue. The ways in which race is still an issue in American life are more subtle, more varied and more nuanced than in times past but it is still an issue. There’s a difference between recognizing and trying to improve a situation and obsessing over it and making it a “big deal”. Right now there are little boys and girls out there who will be delighted to see that Miles Morales looks like what they see when they look in the mirror. They will find as much joy in this new incarnation of Spiderman as you did in the white one. I am very happy for them. Through out American history there have always been those who felt too much fuss was made about racial issues, that it was talked about too much and that we have moved past it to the next level. They have usually been proven to be clinging to the past.

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  6. drjohn says: 6

    I’m looking forward to a new Star Trek with an all Maori Enterprise crew. Or maybe Al Sharpton as James T. Kirk.

    I have to say- Avery Brooks was a great Benjamin Sisco. So why do as you suggest- why not simply create a new character? I liked Sisco a lot. And no one had to be killed off to introduce him.

    So you can’t help but wonder- maybe killing off the white boy is part of the fan appeal as well.

    The problem with changing the ethnicity of a character instead of adding a new one is that it makes so bloody obvious what it is- pandering.

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  7. Hard Right says: 7

    @L.T.:

    Way to show that as a liberal you just don’t get it. Then again you want to pretend we are the tone deaf ones. Project much? BTW, it was made clear this is for the sake of “diversity”/PC and nothing else. Reading comprehension must not be your strong suit.

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  8. Necromancer says: 8

    @hard right
    Great reply. BTW we still have a choice and can either not go to said movie or see it on television and or change the channels. But you are correct this is total PC crap and I am damn tired of it.
    “Semper Fi”

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  9. Wordsmith says: 9

    @L.T.: Thanks for your thoughtful comment and great challenge!

    “There’s only one Spiderman, and that was Peter Parker…

    …and his white ethnicity didn’t matter.” —-to you.

    Of course this entire post is “my opinion”. I even remind the point here:

    And here’s some moral condescension (yes, I realize I’m guilty of exercising this as well in my criticism) from David Betancourt

    and here:

    And what he meant by that (as I understood it) wasn’t to ignore the issue of racism and pretend that it doesn’t exist

    But it’s a bit cumbersome to have to remind readers with a disclaimer every single sentence along the way, don’t’cha think? It’s the obvious that this is just my humble or arrogant opinion, sharing my righteous and indignant perspective.

    You go on:

    It’s an interesting assumption, that how you felt as a child is, of course, the way all children of all ethnicities and backgrounds should have felt and should feel now—but it’s not a surprising one.

    If you took the time to read the post regarding my background and part of how I felt growing up, thank you.

    You speak of “most Democrats and liberals”, well I find it is not uncommon for Republicans and conservatives to manifest an inability to understand how anyone else’s views on race could reasonably differ from their own. It allows you to comfortably discount the value of any experiences that differ from yours that might lead one to have a different point of view.

    Certainly there’s merit and truth in what you say. (I think in my original post, I acknowledged that my perspective and experience is my own and I don’t speak for everyone who’s had a similar background as myself). But I think it’s also the case that conservatives are misunderstood by liberals when we rail against the concept of multiculturalism and embrace the idea of American exceptionalism.

    I love celebrating the diversity and beauty of other cultures; but when it comes to being an American, I value the concept of an American melting pot and not a salad bowl where all cultures are created equal (they are not, even if it sounds like an ugly, pompous, and self-centered thing to say. Think Michael Jordan. He and I were not created equal when it comes to cultural significance to the world of basketball; yet the multicultural-type of mindset will have you believe we are both equally significant and important in our contributions to the world). I don’t want separate mini-countries (other cultures) segregated within a country (the U.S.). I prefer assimilation into established American culture. Yes, add your own unique cultural flavor to the mix; but don’t replace what’s already there with your own brand.

    Celebrating America as “the greatest country on God’s green earth” isn’t about being arrogant and putting down other countries as lesser than us by doing so. When those from other countries express pride and patriotism and love of country, I think it’s a beautiful thing. It’s wonderful when people are in love with where they came from- their home, their neighborhood, their city, their school, their state…their country. It’s sad when they are not. When someone says, “my dad is the best!”, why must I argue “No he’s not” then start pointing out all of the man’s faults to prove to the son what is otherwise not the case? Those who believe in American exceptionalism aren’t denying the sins of our country; but we choose not to dwell on them- something that Howard Zinn liberals and blame-America firsters hand-wring over or over-magnify them. Not without balancing it out with what’s great about our country.

    What multiculturalists want to do, as I understand them, is to claim that all cultures are created equal, have equal significance to American history, and deserve equal recognition. This goes back to my Michael Jordan analogy. It may be an idea that makes some people feel good so as not to experience hurt feelings and feelings of being “left out”; but it’s misguided. It’s the same sentiment that drives liberals to want to update American history books with a more “balanced” text by including the contributions to American history by ethnic minorities, gays, and women. What’s next? Fat people? Short people? The inclusion of a person’s role to general American history should be based upon the significance and size of their actual contribution to it- not in order to magnify the role of some and minimize the role of others just so special interest groups can feel good about themselves by who they identify with. How about identifying with Americans regardless of ethnicity, sex, and sexual orientation?

    I’m sorry, but Islam had very little to do with founding this country. I’m sorry if that makes Muslim multiculturalists uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t. They should take pride in George Washington and identify with him and embrace him if they are Muslim-American. American textbooks don’t need to be updated by searching high and low for some obscure Muslim founding father and claim he had equal significance to the nation’s beginnings as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, etc.

    But this is what multiculturalists want. 13-15% of the population may be black; but if that is reflected in, say, Hollywood, they complain about lack of equal representation on tv and on the big screen (news to me that non-white actors aren’t starring in leading roles). Diversity happens naturally. It should not be forced, however. Whites, blacks, yellows, reds, Thais, Irish, Samoans, Presbyterians, Mormons, etc. did not all contribute equally to the formation of our country. The lament that most of America’s presidents have been a whites-only club is a ridiculous argument. I’ve heard some use the point as proof-positive of America’s racist attitudes! Good grief!

    Sorry for this little rant. I’m not trying to set up strawmen and put words in your mouth. Just knocking a chip off my shoulder and ranting about what bugs me.

    You can label those who disagree with you as “clowns” who are mired in the past, and then you no longer have to acknowledge any reality with which you may have little personal familiarity, any experiences and feelings that do not mirror your own.

    I apologize for using that self-indulgent term (I am speaking to a conservative audience on a blog and writing in a personal way after all and not for the Wall Street Journal) if you felt insulted by it. I respect the fact that they and others have different opinions from my own on this topic. My opinion is of the mind that they are misguided, at best.

    Yes, it can be painful when a beloved childhood character undergoes a change. I’m a huge fan of Star Trek. I would be amused if the bridge of the Enterprise was repopulated as you describe it but I understand that every fan would not share this feeling.

    Which is a separate matter from the issue of race and ethnic culture issues. This is more about nostalgic love and familiarity.

    Still, if iconic characters are going to last, in fact the reason that they last is that they adapt with the times. Spiderman, The Avengers, Nick Fury, all came to life when comic book heroes were almost exclusively white. The few non-white characters were usually relegated to the role of sidekick. Changing the ethnicity of a character is not the only way to adapt to changing times, but it is one way. Changing the race of an iconic character does not reflect fixating on race as an issue. It reflects an acknowledgement that race still is an issue.

    I say it’s “fixating” on it, because if you go back to the WaPo piece, the editor-in-chief makes the biracial component into a selling point. He makes an issue of it. He draws attention to it.

    My ethnic background is Thai. Broader, it is Asian. When Ellison S. Onizuka became the first asian (Japanese)-American astronaut, was that a source of pride for me? Should it be? I don’t think so. I’m more inclined into taking pride in Alan Shepard as the first American astronaut. Do I really need to know his sexual orientation to feel another layer/level of pride?

    As I mentioned in my post, Jim Rhodes was Iron Man, for a while. He replaced Tony Stark. If it ever bothered me, it was only in that I might have liked Tony Stark as the true original. But I never thought of or dwelled upon the issue of his race. He could have been caucasian and I would have felt no different one way or the other if his character was still written with the same personality traits. But what I don’t remember back then is anyone making a big issue of his blackness. Was he still a comic book sidekick? I suppose. But for a while, he was Iron Man and I don’t remember Iron Man’s “blackness” as an issue. Of course, this was 20 or 30 years ago, so it might have been a big deal then. I don’t remember. Back then, perhaps it did matter. Today? Such things should not matter, if we are to transcend race and move race relations to the next level.

    The ways in which race is still an issue in American life are more subtle, more varied and more nuanced than in times past but it is still an issue. There’s a difference between recognizing and trying to improve a situation and obsessing over it and making it a “big deal”. Right now there are little boys and girls out there who will be delighted to see that Miles Morales looks like what they see when they look in the mirror.

    If they are, it’s because they are being taught to pay attention to ethnicity and physical traits/skin-color as somehow more significant than what’s inside us.

    Little black/ethnic minority kids should not be celebrating Tiger Woods’ biracial identity because they look in the mirror and think he somehow looks like them, superficially. They should have wanted to be like him and be inspired by him because he is a great golfer.

    They will find as much joy in this new incarnation of Spiderman as you did in the white one. I am very happy for them. Through out American history there have always been those who felt too much fuss was made about racial issues, that it was talked about too much and that we have moved past it to the next level. They have usually been proven to be clinging to the past.

    Not I. I am opposed to diluting the past.

    Race was an issue 40 years ago. Racism will always be, in part, an issue. What some don’t seem to get is that we are now living 40 years later. The 60s are over. Some cling to the exact same struggles though, doing the exact opposite of what they are trying to do: End racism. They actually contribute to keeping race divisions alive.

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  10. John Cooper says: 10

    So the new Spiderman will be on welfare, of course, and spend his time dealing crack and hanging with his ho-s. Should be a great series!

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  11. johngalt says: 11

    I personally have no problem with the creators, or current writers, of the Spiderman comic using someone of another race to take the place of Spiderman since the death of Peter Parker. Unless, of course, it is done simply to satisfy some arbitrary feelings of ethnic diversity. That is what affirmative action does in real life, and it doesn’t work. Choosing someone based on race is just as bad as NOT choosing someone based on race.

    But the wider, and more intensive issue here is just how did this kid gain the powers of Spiderman? Was it another nuked spider-bite? What are the chances of that happening? And if it was a probable happening, wouldn’t the chances have been just as great that this kid gained those powers BEFORE Peter Parker died, leaving us with TWO entities holding the same, or similar powers? I haven’t read the Spiderman comics in decades now, so I don’t know, and since I won’t read them, I won’t know.

    Comic book characters were originally designed based on the current(then) feelings regarding what made up a “hero”. Yes, at the time, the ideal was of a ‘white’ character. However, simply changing a character’s race to keep up with the current feelings of what a “hero” is made of is wrong. Much better, in my opinion, to create NEW characters if one wants to inject diversity into the comic book realm. Blade, for example, is a very good character who just happens to be black, and is a fairly recent creation.

    Forced ethnic diversity simply for the sake of ethnic diversity is stupid. What’s next? Thor and all who dwell in Asgaard become hispanic?

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  12. EvilOtto says: 12

    Not really something to get worked up over, guys. This isn’t the “real” Spider-Man, the one created by Lee and Ditko back in the 1960s… this is the alternate “Ultimate” version, and the Ultimate universe is filled with stupid, brutal, and pointless death from which characters almost never return. They’ve killed off Professor X, Wolverine, Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, the Wasp, Cyclops, and a host of others.

    The Ultimate universe is just Marvel’s sad attempt to be edgy to drum up flagging readership with more sex, violence, and shock death. Replacing Spidey with a politically-correct new character is just another cynical move, but has no effect on the real Peter Parker/Spider-Man, who’s alive and well and still slinging web in the main universe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Marvel

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  13. Nan G says: 13

    Remakes (or spin-offs, as EvilOtto points out in #12) are never as good as the originals.
    (Well, hardly ever.)
    Conan, the Barbarian has just been remade, replacing Ahnold is a man who is an ethnic mix: Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa’s father was Native Hawaiian and his mother was of German, Irish and Native American ancestry.
    He seems a handsome blend.

    If young people are buying comics, then the creators of those comics do demographic studies to decide how to depict their characters so as to sell more comics.
    If they think it will sell more comics, they will try it.
    Too bad they shut the door on going back by killing off the original Spiderman.

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  14. Mr. Irons says: 14

    Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is only good for one thing: Zombie chow buffet line. When is Marvel going to do another Marvel Zombies? I don’t like the Ultimate line and what they’ve done to X-men with Wolverine going to Hell and the previous Civil War…

    Only thing I read now from Marvel is the Dead Pool and various Halo mini run series.

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  15. Rob in Katy says: 15

    He looks just like Barry, so you know that he will be just Super!

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  16. Wordsmith says: 16

    @Skookum: Thanks for the comment and the fashion advice. My earlier reply to L.T. used up my morning free time before work.

    @johngalt:

    I personally have no problem with the creators, or current writers, of the Spiderman comic using someone of another race to take the place of Spiderman since the death of Peter Parker. Unless, of course, it is done simply to satisfy some arbitrary feelings of ethnic diversity. That is what affirmative action does in real life, and it doesn’t work. Choosing someone based on race is just as bad as NOT choosing someone based on race.

    Agreed!

    @EvilOtto:

    Not really something to get worked up over, guys.

    Phew! Thanks for letting me know. I’m relieved about this, as a fan of Peter Parker, diversity issues aside.

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  17. SpySmasher says: 17

    Don’t get all worked up about this. It happens all the time in comics. Heroes and villains who have been killed and replaced with ethnic versions include Atom, Aqualad, Green Lantern, Robin, Goliath, Dr. Light, Manta, and many others. This is done for hype reasons, and sales reasons. It has nothing to do with ethnicity. It’s about what is perceived as being “in.” If tomatoes were “in,” they would make Spidey a tomato.

    Fairly quickly, the readers reject the new ethnic versions, and they are killed/disposed of and are replaced with the originals.

    Ethnic Spider-Man will not last. Thank God.

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  18. Nan G says: 18

    @SpySmasher:

    Sort of like how Superman would be ”dead,” but not REALLY dead?
    The original Spiderman will be back?

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  19. Ditto says: 19

    I shall now throw out the question that hasn’t been asked yet. In the interests of “fairness” and “diversity,” are they also replacing the standard comic Caucasian super-villains with new ethnic versions?

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  20. M. says: 20

    Whether or not this was just “for diversity,” we don’t live in a post-racial country. Racism still prevails in all corners of America, implicitly and explicitly. It’s glaringly obvious that white America holds a lot of privilege, and that it’s reflected in our popular culture and media. I’m a young woman of color and I absolutely love comics. But I never read DC or Marvel (with the exception of X-Men) because I never found characters I could relate to. To me it was just a bunch of young white guys who I couldn’t relate to. I never saw the appeal in reading those comics because I didn’t find any characters that I really liked (again, I read X-Men because of the diversity of characters). Even as a young kid I recognized that those comics were clearly meant for other demographics, so I didn’t enjoy them.

    I’m really pleased with Bendis’ choice to create a bi-racial character. It’s not like Peter Parker will disappear. You’ll still have decades of white guys in spandex; it’s just that now the comic world is becoming a little more inclusive, and for that I’m really happy. Even if it is “pandering,” you can’t say that other art forms don’t completely pander to white audiences. There’s a significant amount of “white-washing” in Hollywood and other media outlets that goes overlooked (eg. Avatar: The Last Airbender live action version; all the Asian characters were portrayed by white actors except for the villain who was played by an Indian actor). So it’s refreshing to see a historically white-only comic have some racial diversity for the main character.

    Oh, and real tactful to blame it on the “Democrats and liberals.” Excuse us for recognizing racial disparity in various aspects of American culture.

    Also:
    To that “diversity happens naturally,” and this bit about how various racial groups did not equally contribute to the founding of this country–

    First, I’m confused about what the founding of this country has to do with a popular comic book. Just like the founding of this country has nothing to do with films, TV shows, books, and other forms of popularized media.

    Second, actually, yes. Much of America was built and founded on the backs of black African slaves. So yeah, black folks have been around for a LONG time. And just because the white guys were the ones waving flags and making laws doesn’t mean there weren’t other racial groups who were also imperative in the creation of the country.

    Third, diversity does happen naturally in a geospatial context (that is to say, diversity occurs naturally in our world and our external living situations, etc.), but diversity in media has been policed for YEARS by directors, filmmakers, artists, etc. My prior note about the show Avatar: The Last Airbender exemplifies this pretty well. The show, which gained a pretty big following when it aired, contained characters who had mostly Asian features, and it was pretty clear that it drew heavily from East Asian art, style, and language. The fact that the show featured Asian/Inuit characters as the main character didn’t seem to deter people from watching it, regardless of the viewers’ racial identities. However, the live-action version of the film featured only white actors in the main characters roles, with the exception of the villain who was played by an actor of color. It’s no accident that they cast white actors when I’m certain there are many Asian-American actors who would have done just fine in those roles.

    I’m not denying that there is diversity in our media, but it’s only after years and years of pushing. But it still doesn’t reflect the diversity present in our country. When I turn on the TV I don’t see actors that look like me, or who share the same experiences as I do. And when I do find those shows, they might be on specialized channels like BET, or maybe they’re “indie” shows. Mainstream pop-culture isn’t as diverse as you’d like to think. It’s only been changing in recent years, and I hope it continues to do so.

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  21. John Cooper says: 21

    @M.:

    Racism still prevails in all corners of America, implicitly and explicitly.

    All my life I thought that black people pretty much had the same values as I do until Obama got elected. After seeing close to 95% of black people voting for the man because of the color of his skin, and seeing how that man is trying to ruin the Country, I have to believe that Richard Herrnstein was correct all along.

    When I see the highest law enforcement officer in the land refuse to prosecute “his people” when they clearly broke the law in Philadelphia, I know who the racists are and they aren’t us white folks.

    When I see Obama-supporters in a religious rapture because “Obama is going to give us free gasoline and pay off our mortgages”, I realize that my previous life-long assessment of the black race was mistaken.

    The real racists in America are the black people like Rev. Wright, Eric Holder, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and both Michelle and Barack Obama – not us white folks who just want to get along, provide for ourselves and our families by actually working, and treat everyone equally.

    You might want to engage in a little introspection before you start calling America racist, Lady M.

    ReplyReply
  22. GaffaUK says: 22

    @Wordsmith

    I wonder do you also get equally annoyed when icons such as Jesus gets portrayed as white? http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/faces_of_jesus/P3/

    ReplyReply
  23. Travis says: 23

    I was totally with you. Then you started with the stereotypes and politics. Now you sound like just another angry redneck. WTF, man?

    No need for all that. Your argument stands in its purest form: They screwed up an icon. Spiderman is Peter Parker, who is a white kid.

    ReplyReply
  24. Wordsmith says: 24

    @GaffaUK:

    I wonder do you also get equally annoyed when icons such as Jesus gets portrayed as white?

    Should I? (Hint: I ain’t Christian, nor white)

    I fail to see the analogical parallel between Spiderman and Jesus (although I know the one you are trying to draw).

    @Travis:

    Now you sound like just another angry redneck. WTF, man?

    Thanks. Loving the compliment.

    I guess this is one of those kinds of posts that is going to be discovered through search engines and commented on years after the post was created.

    Wonderful.

    ReplyReply
  25. Ben says: 25

    I started noticing the PC nonsense when they decided to take away Nick Fury, Ben Grimm, and Wolverine’s cigars. They didn’t care about the stories and cared more about the PC’ness. Which is weird I think old Pete and the relationship of the Fantastic Four said alot more than the contrived stuff they’re pushing now.

    ReplyReply
  26. anticsrocks says: 26

    @Ben: It’s not just in comics.

    The original Pep Boys logo had the little guy on the left with a cigar in his mouth…

    Manny, Moe & Jack 1 and Manny, Moe & Jack 2

    Their new logo loses the cigar…

    Manny, Moe, Jack and no cigar

    ReplyReply
  27. The wizzard of my house n_n says: 27

    @Wordsmith

    I’m totally agree with you, I just read your post when I saw about peter parker’s death :( and I felt the same as you when I discovered it.

    ReplyReply
  28. Marvelcomics says: 28

    This is a sad period in superhero comics!

    First Superman gives up his US citizenship and no long states “I fight for truth, justice and the AMERICAN way.”. Second, Spiderman dies and instead of bringing him back to life, similar to what they did with Uncle Ben. The writers create a half black and half Hispanic Spiderman, when they could have created a new superhero with the same background. Third, there is a rumor that Batman will be coming out of the closet soon. What is going on!!!
    During the Great Depression and World Wars, Americans depended on these comics to feel better about the country and the future. These writers are making the storylines so depressing and only for adults. What happened to comics for children?

    ReplyReply
  29. L. T .
    NO YOU DON’T CHANGE THE ETHNICITY OF A CARRACTER, ON THAT KIND OF GENERATION STORY,
    IT DOES LOOK MORE RACIST THAN NOT CHANGING IT,
    what you do is use your brain and create another story to identify with the color you want to bring
    AS ANOTHER SUPER HERO, THE FACT OF CHANGING THE CARACTER, DEMONSTRATE THE PRESSURE WAS GIVEN BIG TIME TO PROMOTE THE BLACKS AS HEROS, AND THERE ARE SOME YOU CAN FIND IN THE SOCIETY MANY OF THEM , IF YOUR NOT LAZY.

    ReplyReply
  30. TrueUnderDawg says: 30

    At least now we know why Mark Bagley left early. He was my favorite artist and honestly the main reason that I took interest in the series to begin with. I am not really upset about the whole, “racial diversity” thing. However, I do support the argument that there were other means to replace the role of Peter Parker besides killing him. At the very least, I’m glad that it was done tastefully and that he died being the hero we all knew he was. However, there are other Spider-Man(s) besides Peter Parker. Such as Miguel O’ Hara from Spider-Man 2099. So this isn’t that surprising.

    ReplyReply
  31. Kaye says: 31

    Hey. I’m totally late on this article, but I wanted to just say that you did a lovely writing job here. As someone who hates politics, I don’t care one way or another in terms of social issues or liberals or conservatives or blahblahblah…

    However, I am a comic book nerd. And this post is a little inaccurate. Passing a name on to a new character to carry the torch is comic book tradition! You don’t just retire a name. That’s not the way it works. Or how it should work.

    Heroes in the comic book world are immortal. They live on forever, in whichever hero decides to pick up the mantel next.

    Don’t believe me? Check out the two superheroes currently carrying the name of Hawkeye. One’s from the famous movie, and the other’s a woman. She picked it up while he was dead, and then he gave her his blessing once he came back to life. (Likelihood that Peter will remain dead? Probably slim.) How many people have carried the title of Captain Marvel? A ton. What about Captain America? Lots. Who’s been called Human Torch? Believe it’s only two, but I could be wrong.

    Point is, most of these had nothing to do with social issues. They just wanted to kill the character and that was that. But passing the name on? That’s comic book tradition! It’s what’s supposed to happen. You quoted the creators who said, “We decided to kill Spidey and THEN we decided who would take up his name next.” It wasn’t, “Oh, we should make Spiderman Black-Mexican! OKAY. LET’S KILL PETER!” You know? It’s not the same thing.

    So, no. There isn’t only one Spiderman. Not anymore. Not ever, actually. Did you forget that Peter’s clone was Spiderman for a while? Oh, wait, you haven’t read in a while, so maybe you didn’t know. But, yeah, that happened.

    Cheer up! Not every decision is made for social issues. Sometimes writers just want to kill their characters off. And sometimes, after they make this decision, they say, “Hm. He’s dead now. What shocking move should we make now?” and that’s how decisions are made.

    Anyway, great article. I hope I helped shine some light, even if you are still a little perturbed by this change in events.

    ReplyReply
  32. today I READ THIS POST AGAIN AND
    it reafirm my belief that indoctrination of the mass exist
    it reafirm me the intent behind killing those children and adult cartoon hero
    to promote the black power, only and it come from the WHITE HOUSE AGENDA,
    SHAME THAT THE INFLUENCE IS THERE TO KILL INSTEAD OF CREATE A NEW ONE,
    IT REAFIRM THE FACT THAT HOW FAR THEY WILL GO TO
    TEACH THEIR AGENDA TO THE CHILLDREN IN SCHOOL,
    and shape their future in a communist mindset which will make them the enemies of the CONSTITUTION,
    AND THE ADEPT OF THE GLOBAL UNION UN
    THIS IS SO DANGEROUS AND REPRESENT A REMOVAL OF AMERICA AND THE CONSTITITUTION IN A MINIATURE ACTION,
    AND NOW SEE WHAT IS AND HAS DEVELOPPED SINCE THAT DATE CITED ON THIS POST BEFORE US THURSDAY 7TH 2013
    GO BACK TO THEN,
    AUGUST 4TH 2011, AND READ THE NEW OTHER POST OF TODAY, IT’S SHOCKING TO REALIZE HOW VISIBLE IT IS,
    AND HOW THE BEAST HAD GROWN IN SIZE AND POWER,

    ReplyReply
  33. Matt says: 33

    I wonder how white kids feel about white characters being killed off and/or replaced just for being white.

    I guess nobody cares.

    ReplyReply
  34. Wordsmith says: 34

    @Kaye: I just now read your comment. Thank you for weighing in.

    Check out the two superheroes currently carrying the name of Hawkeye. One’s from the famous movie, and the other’s a woman. She picked it up while he was dead, and then he gave her his blessing once he came back to life. (Likelihood that Peter will remain dead? Probably slim.) How many people have carried the title of Captain Marvel? A ton. What about Captain America? Lots. Who’s been called Human Torch? Believe it’s only two, but I could be wrong.

    Yes, I’ve missed all of that.

    Did you forget that Peter’s clone was Spiderman for a while? Oh, wait, you haven’t read in a while, so maybe you didn’t know. But, yeah, that happened.

    That one I do remember (although I wouldn’t be able to recall the year(s) this storyline occurred in, nor details).

    @Marvelcomics:

    Third, there is a rumor that Batman will be coming out of the closet soon. What is going on!!!
    During the Great Depression and World Wars, Americans depended on these comics to feel better about the country and the future. These writers are making the storylines so depressing

    I suppose current writers are trying to keep the franchise fresh and relevant to the times. For some folk, Batman coming out of the closet would be a positive. Actually, hasn’t this already happened to a superhero character? Oh, yes…a Google search later and we have G-Lantern, from a year ago (and the article makes the point Kaye made, that multiple people filling a suit is not a unique decision):

    DC Comics announced on Friday that Green Lantern, a superhero staple for decades, is gay. (And all of this time, my money was on Wonder Woman or Aquaman.) When bigotry falls, it often falls fast — gay marriage, Barack Obama as the first gay president and now popular superheroes like Green Lantern.

    Green Lantern is the name of multiple superheroes who possess a green power ring. Over the past 70 years, there have been several Green Lanterns with various names. The original Green Lantern was Alan Scott who was introduced during World War II. The best-known Green Lantern is Hal Jordan, who was portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 movie. Jordan emerged in the late 1950s after DC Comics stopped publishing the original series about Scott.

    To be clear, because it matters to comic geeks, it’s Scott, not Jordan, a founding member of the Justice League, who is gay. In previous incarnations, Scott had a gay son. But in the new comic series, Green Lantern is young again, without children, and his past has been entirely rebooted. Yes, he has a boyfriend whom he greets with a welcome home kiss.

    The series writer, James Robinson, told the New York Post: “It’s a realistic depiction of society. You have to move with the times.”

    This doesn’t sit well with conservative groups. One Million Moms, a spinoff group of the American Family Association, has launched a petition to protest DC Comics, as well as Marvel, which has a gay character who is planning his wedding — to be featured in an upcoming X-Men issue.

    The group had previously protested the Archie comic series after it featured a gay wedding. That issue sold out.

    On Friday, One Million Moms tweeted, “WARNING: DC Comics has announced that the Green Lantern is gay.”

    The One Million Moms Web site states: “Children desire to be just like superheroes. Children mimic superhero actions and even dress up in costumes to resemble these characters as much as possible. Can you imagine little boys saying, ‘I want a boyfriend or husband like X-Men?’ ”

    Some critics on Twitter accused DC Comics of pushing a political agenda. One Green Lantern fan tweeted, “As a fan of The Green Lantern going back to ’65, I’m OUTRAGED that DC would destroy him this way, just to score PC points.”

    Some joked that Wonder Woman was probably busy flirting with Xena. Some wanted Obama to comment on Green Lantern’s sexuality. Others told horrendous gay jokes not worth repeating.

    Many comic fans had little problem with the news. Maybe that’s because Green Lantern is not the first gay superhero.

    Starman, an alien who came to Earth to conquer it, had a gay relationship. Kathy Kane, aka Batwoman — not to be confused with Batgirl — is a lesbian who came out in 2006 and was romantically involved with a female detective in Gotham.

    In 2001, an assistant to Kyle Rayner, then Green Lantern (there’s a bunch of these guys, so don’t be confused), was introduced to readers as gay. One story line featured the assistant brutally beaten in a homophobic attack. The writer of the series, Judd Winrick, won several GLAAD Media Awards.

    Imaginary worlds like Gotham and Metropolis are often very similar to real-life cities where the brave fight crime and people fall in love — regardless of their sexuality. That’s still hard for many to believe.

    ReplyReply

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