Thursday, September 15, 2016
@brothascomics, on our Thursday night comic book chat, have been walking through classic X-men stories. You can catch up here on soundcloud or ITunes
We had just finished the Dark Phoenix Saga and were about to head into Days of Future Past, but when I was reading ahead, issues 139 and 140 stuck out to me. After the death of Jean Grey, Cyclops leaves the X-men in issue 138 and the next two issues are a Wolverine story as he heads back to Canada to tie up loose ends with Department H from his days as Weapon X. If you remember, in Xmen issue 109, there was an attempt by Alpha Flight to bring Wolverine back to Canada but they were thwarted by the Xmen.
After all the craziness after Phoenix, Wolverine heads back and reunites with Alpha Flight to fight Wendigo. Two great stand alone issues sandwiched in between two huge classic stories and these books often get looked over. We get a new costume for Wolverine here and a battle with Wendigo. Also Coming out of these books, the new Alpha Flight comic is going to be launched. The book is going to be written and drawn by John Byrne, who is leaving his collaboration with Chris Claremont on X-men to plot/pencil Alpha Flight. Seemed like a match made in heaven to get the co-plotter of Xmen and one of the best artist at Marvel and a Canadian to start this book. But let me tell you something, Canada- you deserved so much better.
I had remembered these books much more fondly. Big Hutch had multiple copies of the books and seeing some newer mutants from a strange land( We love you Canada), I really enjoyed reading them.... in 1983. 2016 me read these and Alpha Flight is an absolute mess. Even tho the pencils are outstanding, The plots are awful,The villains are worse, and the character development is so convoluted- the books are almost unreadable! And if you don't believe me or have not read them in 20 years, I dare you to go back abd read them again. I double dog dare you!
Lets look at our main characters and I promise you, I am not making this stuff up.
We have Guardian who is not even a mutant leading the super mutant hero team. He is wrapped in a Maple Leaf on his costume like a north of the border Captain America and he was given all the angst and insecurities of Cyclops without any of the leadership skills and abilities. Vindicators powers are pretty nebulous too and seem to bend from issue to issue. On top of that, they kill him in issue 12 only to try and retcon in 2 years later with a convoluted story of clones and microverse and aliens that makes learning Chinese seem easy.
Snowbird is a goddess who can shape shift into any Canadian animal... seems cool but that power comes with the Curse of Canada as she is unable to actually LEAVE Canada. No, for real... she is super powerful but can't cross the border.
Shaman is probably the most powerful member of Alpha Flight. Yet, the Sarcee Indian, who left his tribe to practice the white mans medicine... I mention this because they mention him being Sarcee Indian in damn near every issue. His ability as a Shaman is kinda cool but he is mostly only called upon to conjure up a potion to fight off whatever mystical creature that Canada has thrown at Alpha Flight. And Canada throws many a mystic creature at Alpha Flight like Wendigo and Tundra.
Puck is a total Wolverine knock off all the way down to his hairy butt Of course he has no claws, but is a fierce fighter and is tough as nails, but he is also a midget. In one of the books, he is trying to heal from battle but stumbles onto a prescription drug ring in the hospital. Like a whole issue is devoted to this. Later, of course being a Wolverine clone, he tries to push up on Vindicators wife, Heather McDonald( a redhead).
Sasquatch is a Beast/Colossus Clone who can transform into a hairy strong monster but he cannot fight worth a damn and is often found transforming into his character, only to be knocked the fuck out very quickly in battle against just some awful villains. But he is smart tho and he is tapping one of the twins( not Northstar).
And lastly, the twin Northstar and Aurora. They are twins, but Aurora has dual personalities that come in and out based on situation which often makes her useless in battle. She is a weaker, but better looking version of Scarlett Witch. And Northstar is basically Quicksilver. He is brash and a dick and even when he comes out as gay later, he is still unlikable as he was day one. Their powers of super speed in flight and the ability to do flash powers are also pretty useless. Read the Whiteout issue and tell me that is a good comic book.
The original run of Alpha Flight is 130 issues and I was shocked it ran that long. There have been a few attempts to revive the Canadians but those runs have not come close to the original and to be honest, the quality was possibly worse.
I don't get it... I am confused as to why this team of mutants didn't work... Were people not ready for 2 mutant teams in 1983? was Byrne burned out doing Alpha Flight and Fantastic Four? Do people really just hate Canadians?
I'm not sure and most of our Alpha Flight members were killed off in House of M so I don't think a 5th run of these heroes is coming and that is probably a good thing. Lets just enjoy our fond Alpha Flight memories and if you do have great memories of that original run, I would highly suggest you do not go back and read it.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
I am paraphrasing one of my favorite lines from Blazing Saddles but I think it fits after that totally bullshit article in the New York Times about white men struggling to find themselves on television this fall. It was a total click bait article and I needed two showers after reading it.
Once out of the shower, it did have me thinking about television and the lack of POC on network television. Its always been a struggle to find quality tv with people of color on The Big 3 and even on the upstarts like Fox and CW. The shows usually range from cooning to higher forms of cooning. As the call for more diversity has come, tv has evolved into to using a loophole to get around the diversity issue by making many shows ensemble pieces. The show has multiple characters and every they throw in a Black or Brown or Asian face and call it diversity. That character often fills whatever stereotype of that particular ethnic group and is usually in a subservient role to the lead white character. Or TV, will lead shows with a white female lead and call that diversity. Either way, more often than not, the people of color are playing supporting roles. They are not leads and when you watch the show long enough, you figure this out quickly. The POC is never a fullu formed character- just the version of Blackness they deem appropriate for their show. These shows and their main plots always revolve around white males or females and their loves lives and/or their trials and tribulations. This is not up for debate. But because someone will jump in my mentions after I post this, I feel the need to list the limited amount of shows that are led by people of color. Sadly, some people will still argue that its an even playing field, because the new thing under Trump is that now, somehow, white people( especially white males) are oppressed in their ability to be the raging, hormonal, irrational, racist assholes that they are.
The New York Times article listed the new shows for fall of 2016 to show that white males are not being represented on television- leaving out the fact that they are already overly represented as a whole on tv shows as lead actors- even in ensembles. Taking out reality shows cartoons, and sports, lets look at the tv shows that actually are led by POC and the percentage of shows that are not on each network
Because of Shonda Rhimes, ABC is doing the best out of the Big 3. Shows like Scandal and How to get away with Murder lead the way and that is not counting Grey's Anatomy because it does not have a POC lead( sorry Meredith). ABC also gets props for Blackish, Fresh off The Boat, Dr. Ken and Quantico. Overall, they have seven shows out of their 19 shows this fall that are led by a POC for a whopping 36%.
NBC is awful in this. The channel that once gave us an hour of Black excellence with Cosby and a Different World could give a shit about people of color on television anymore unless they are on a reality show( we see you Nick Cannon shuckin and jivin). Marlon Wayans will front a mid season replacement and the fate of the Carmichael show is still up in the air. I am gonna stretch hard give them Grimm as a co-lead. So they go 2/11. 18%
Only the NCIS with noted thespian LL Cool J gives CBS 1 show with a POC lead( co -lead). The Training Day TV show- which will be an abject failure- will be on CBS. That's it. Their other shows are all fronted my white males or females- including their 3 new shows by tv retreads Kevin James, Matt LeBlanc, and Joel Mchale . Modern CBS tv has never been a friend to diversity in programming. It trends towards older, white viewers and that trend continues this fall. 2/22 shows for 9%.
Fox started off as an "urban" network, only to abandon those ideas much like the CW and UPN would do later in life. They will often take chances on shows with POC, only to cancel them after a view episodes. Fox recently has taken to having POC characters removed from popular shows like Sleepy Hollow to only replace them with another white character. This Fall, Fox has Pitch, Empire, Rosewood, Lethal Weapon( co lead)), and the relaunch of 24 on the roster. 5/25 shows for a overwhelming 20%.
Again, the CW used to love Black people, but has long since abandoned us for white, teenage angst or superheroes. Currently, the only show led by a person of color is Jane the Virgin. 1/10 shows for 10%.
So by my calculations and this is far from scientific, 18% of shows on network tv are fronted by or co led by POC. That means, 82% of shows are fronted or co -led by white people. 82%!! Let that sink in for a minute. Network tv has long abandoned people of color for viewership unless its reality tv. Cable TV does a little bit better of a job, but its kinda like being a little pregnant. Quality tv shows starring POC are still rare and even more rare when they are supported by the network that spawned them.
So please stop with the poor white man narrative. You are represented plenty on tv and in movies and you don't even have to work that hard to find yourself.
Monday, September 5, 2016
So our friends over at we got this covered published this article on the top 8 romances in comic book movies and I had to pause not to throw up for a minute.
Granted, these are "love" stories from the movies and some ripped straight from the pages of the comics that inspired them, but it made me pause because the list was whiter than Maine in December. All 8 couples from the movies were all white and not even a hint of love for people of color.
But this made me think even deeper and in the modern comic book universe in movies and on television, there is no real love interest for Black characters WITH another Black character. Storm and T'Challla had a storybook romance and wedding over 10 years ago now, but beyond that, finding a Black power couple in the world of comics and comic book movies is hard as fuck to find. Lets break this shit down for you!
Now we really only have Storm to go on here, right? That's a problem in and of itself, but Storm has been in 5 X-Men movies( 4 for Halle Berry and 1 for Alexandra Shipp) and Storm cannot find any love? They teased a romance with Nightcrawler in X2( but he ain't Black) and she found swirl love with Wolverine in a cut scene from Days of Future Past but beyond that- nothing. Yet we are burdened with the Cyclops- Jean Grey- Wolverine love triangle, along with Iceman-Rogue- and Kitty Pryde throughout these movies. In comics, Storm has been unlucky in love, too. Forge loved her, but took her powers and the marriage with T'Challa didn't exactly pan out but X movies have yet to focus on or create a credible Black, male character in comics beyond Bishop and Bishop appeared for all of 13 seconds in Days of Future Past. And never, ever bring up to me Darwin from First Class. EVER!
DC Movies and Television
Modern DC movies have only 1 Black "hero" to appear in them and that is Deadshot, played by Will Smith. In Suicide Squad, you see him with his daughter, who appears to be African-American, but we don't see head or tail of the mom. Amanda Waller also makes an appearance but there is no apparent man in her life and technically she is not a superhero.
Flash has Barry swirling with Iris and even the little tease Iris had with Tone Bell this year- you knew that shit was not gonna happen since they been teasing Barry and Iris season episode 1.
On Supergirl, James Olson was swirling with both and with Supergirl( Kara) and Lucy Lane. Even John Diggle on Arrow is swirling with Sarah.
Marvel Movies and Television
If we examine the heroes in Marvel movies, we see four Black heroes in Nick Fury, War Machine, Falcon, and most recently Black Panther. Fury is married to his job, I guess. War Machine has no romantic interest and neither does Falcon. Black Panther, as introduced in Civil War, was focused very much on his mission and seemed to not have anytime for romance. Yet, we get a full on love story with Captain America and Agent Carter AND Peggy Carter over the course of these movies. We get to see Tony Stark and Pepper Potts love story play out. Hawkeye has a secret family tucked away with a wife and kids. Thor has Jane Foster and Lady Sif he wanted. Hell even Black Widow and the Hulk have a romance in Age of Ultron. But the Black folks? Nah, Falcon and War Machine are too busy following orders from their white besties and getting paralyzed to have a romantic relationships. Hell, they can't even get their swirl on!
So why is Black love and romance so taboo in comic related properties? Even currently, before he was killed, War Machine was with Carol Danvers( Swirl) Luke Cage is with Jessica Jones( swirl), Black Panther is married to being the King of Wakanda, and Storm is single as single can be up in that X-Mansion. The only real Black romantic couple are Sam Wilson and Misty Knight and for how long will this last as most people ship for Iron Fist and Misty Knight.
This all comes down to lack of love interest/ options in both comics and movies for Black characters and the inability for white writers to see and write Black characters in love. The fact that there are so few Black characters is only part of the problem. The lack of representation in the writing room, leads white writers of books/movies/shows to put characters in relationships they feel comfortable with and wont offend their majority white audiences. Their inability to know/see/write Black characters in love and relationships leads to massive swirling on screen and in comics. And there is nothing wrong with the swirl. My wife is Puerto Rican and my kids look more like Miles Morales than T'Challa, but the void of Black characters in romantic relationships is troubling at best and disturbing at worst.
I truly believe Hollywood fears Black people in love and in unity more than they fear Black rage and anger. This lack of Black love on screen and the decolorization of Black women in particular is troubling and disheartening. I pray that Black Panther has a Black love interest in his movie and she is not the one light skinned sista in Wakanda. And for damn sure T'Challa best not be swirlin' or we gonna burn these theaters down!