Paul Meets Reaction

Everyone knows that the internet is full of opinion, opinion that is unique to each individual and is always perfectly valid to that persons beliefs, but maybe there are days that opinions shouldn’t be shared because they are so insensitive and outdated that it makes you want to cringe.

You may ask, ‘Why Paul what has ruffled your feathers?’, to which I would characteristically respond ‘Humans’ to avoid an argument, I’m not the argumentative sorted, I’ve had that beaten out of me over the years. But today I will say that I my feathers have been ruffled by such negative responses to many things over the past couple of days.

One of these negatives is how negative some people on the Internet have been towards the upcoming change to the ‘Invincible Iron-Man’ comic which will see a new character to take over the mantle of the titular character – what could be so bad about this change I hear you say – well, it is because the new character is a Teenager (Shock! Horror!), the new character is also a female (How could such a thing happen!) and the cherry on the cake is that she is of African-American descent! (Outrageous how could such a thing happen in the 21st Century)

All credit to Marvel for the image above

Firstly let me clear something up, I am all in favour of the introduction of this new character, we have not got any of the traditional stereotypes (thus far) and so far the character of Riri Williams has already built herself a prototype Iron Man armour (see Invincible Iron-Man #6 for her first introduction) and shown she is confident enough to stop criminals, as well as show her own genius level IQ in building an Iron Man armour at a younger age than Tony Stark himself.

My issue is with those who are against the natural progression of characters and companies like Marvel or DC opening their characters up to more diverse and interesting characters.

If I were asked who my favourite characters in comics of recent years were, my answer would be simple – Jane Foster’s Thor, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel (big shout out to Adam for introducing me to this character), Spider-Gwen, Batgirl (particularly handled by the dream team of Cameron Stewart & Babs Tarr) and the Guardians of the Galaxy. But the one character I have been most fond of since his introduction in 2011 has been Miles Morales.

Once more – all credit to Marvel for the image above.

When Miles Morales was first announced as the replacement to Peter Parker in Marvel’s Ultimate imprint, the reaction was diverse, with some commentators classing the introduction of a new character an act of Political Correctness and a publicity stunt, while others, including Stan Lee, quite rightly presented this new change as the introduction of a role model for non-white children. This in-depth article from the Washington Post highlights how much this negative reaction that Miles Morales originally received proves it was time for then change and I could agree more with Alexandri Petri’s words.

I will be the first to admit I was initially sceptical about the idea of replacing Peter Parker in the Ultimate imprint, but then again, why should I or anyone have been sceptical. It was not a publicity stunt, it was not political correctness gone mad, it was a natural evolution to the story and ultimately introduce us to a character born from the 21st century which can speak directly to us.

Tampering with the old, time-tested formulas is always risky, but to judge them before they have even hit the shelves is pretty steep. I always remained with my original thought which was ‘O.K. so they have killed Peter off, and are replacing him with a new character… right read the first issues and see what happens before making a decision, it’s going to be new and different but that can be good.’ And let me tell you that six years down the line, I have never felt sour over the decision, I have never become enraged at Marvel or Brian Michael Bendis for introducing the character, I have discovered that the true Ultimate Spider-Man was Miles Morales just waiting for his chance to shine.

Maybe a lot of the negative reaction that Riri Williams has reaction has seen is due to the fact that a previously male role has been passed to a women? But then again why shouldn’t the mantle of Iron Man, or rather Ironheart as she has been christened, matter? Female characters in comics have traditionally been treated appallingly over the course of the history of comic books, most early comics saw the male heroes rescuing the damsel in distress from the clutches of the villain of the week, admittedly it was a formula that worked, but why couldn’t the female character rescue the male superhero from the villains clutches more often.

Some of the most horrific treatment to female characters in comic books have happened over the last 30 years, the Black Cat was raped in the aptly titled ‘The Evil Men That Do’ considering the appalling scripting and character treatment from Kevin Smith, Barbara Gordon was shot and paralysed in the otherwise terrific story ‘The Killing Joke’ and this even led to the legendary writer Alan Moore apologising for his ‘Shallow and Ill-Conceived‘ character treatment. There has been speculation over the circumstances of the shooting in the original scripting with Alan Moore recalling that when he originally raised the suggestion of shooting the character the response was ‘Yeah, okay, shoot the bitch’ and whether DC has intended for this to be a permanent retirement for the character.

The group ‘Women in Refrigerators‘ was set up in response to these appalling treatments of character and women in comics, and more particularly the infamous scene in the Green Lantern #54 (published 1994) which saw Kyle Rayner’s character return home to find his girlfriend Alexandra De-Witt brutally murdered and her body stuffed into a refrigerator.

The infamous discovery of Alexandra De-Witt’s body – credit to DC comics

9 times out of 10, we find that male characters are treated better in the comic book world, I mean we can list countless times a male character has been maimed or killed onto to be restored to full mobility or life a few years later or even a few issues. Barbara Gordon didn’t regain mobility until the New 52 re-launch over 20 years later, which gave us back a much-loved interpretation of Batgirl, Black Cat and her rape in the story-line ‘The Evil That Men Do’ was never explicitly dealt with and Alexandra De-Witt has been given infamy as the girlfriend murdered and stuffed into a fridge.

The negative reaction that Riri Williams has received with commentators claiming that it is once again political correctness gone mad, arguing that Iron-Man can not be a women and boldly stating that they will never read another comic with her image on the cover for as long as they may live, shows just how much we need more characters like Riri Williams, Miles Morales, Kamala Khan and Jane Foster’s Thor. The comic world is expanding into modern society with great speed, bringing characters that reflect both this modern world and those who live within it.

I for one am eagerly looking forward to the new Invincible Iron-Man series when it launches and I will judge it on the story-lines it produces, not the main character alone. But I challenge you now to look at the comment section of articles announcing Ironheart, Riri Williams, Jane Foster’s Thor and Miles Morales and see for yourself the amount of crude negative responses that positive change brings about. Here below is one to view for example.

Screenshot 2016-08-22 at 19.07.05

Why should positive steps forward in a world which should allow everyone to be equal see such appalling responses from people who can’t learn to give new changes a try? This my friends is the real question.

As I said at the start of this post, I was not one for sharing my thoughts on an argument, but I have stepped into the fray. Please let me know your thoughts and comments below if you feel you would like to share them even if you may think I am wrong. But as the title of this post states ‘Paul Meets Reaction’, I have shared my reaction to this and I’m eager to hear yours.

See Ya’

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