Thread: Black April
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Old 07-11-2014, 02:21 PM   #98
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Frankly, I think it's generally best that they just come up with entirely new characters rather than "tweak" existing ones. If for no other reason than, someone always WILL complain and it's just safer. It always seems like a cheap attention-grab when they take a well-known character and do something they know for a fact will be controversial.

And it's not like they haven't tried, like how I referenced Milestone comics earlier (Which DC didn't actually create, they were simply licensing partners, although DC eventually did absorb pretty much the entire line later on). That was an honest, earnest attempt at creating a metric ton of black super-hero characters. In fact, there weren't a whole ton of Caucasians walking around Dakota City at all, if memory serves. That raises the question, why didn't the line survive? The reason most-often given is "Lack of consumer interest". So, why didn't anyone want to read the books, which were written, created and drawn by black creators, marketed to a black audience, and featuring an almost-entirely black cast of characters? In absolutely no way could that effort be called pandering, as so many other efforts to be "progressive" in comics have been. So why wasn't there more reader support? Honest question.

Honestly, I think *that* is more along the lines of what's needed to "diversify" comics. Organic progression, not controversial race-swapping. I find it funny and a little sad, that it's easier for us to accept a character we already knew, with a "fresh coat of paint" (as if that's all it would be - not an entirely different family background, upbringing, educational opportunities or lifestyle, just a simple coat of paint), than we would accept a brand new character. Create a rival reporter who works at Channel 6, give her her own fully-developed backstory, and have her role essentially be, "The Black April O'Neil"? Hey, that's great, and might actually make for some decent stories, too. Expand their universe, make some new friends/enemies, there's some mileage there. Take April herself, who MOST people readily identify as Caucasian, and make her black because "Why Not?" I think that's honestly a poor idea that still comes from a good place, but is not exactly the right way to move things forward.

It wasn't bad when they made Perry White a black guy in "Man of Steel". You know what I liked even *better*, though? When there was a multi-year storyline in the Superman comics where Perry and his wife, Alice, readily adopted a black child named Keith Parks, who was left an orphan after his mother died (I want to say of AIDS, but it's been a few years since I re-read it, and as I said, it went on for years). Keith himself had been well-established in the books for a long time by then (and had actually been occupying the "Jimmy Olsen" role far more frequently than Jimmy himself had been at that particular time, being of great help to Superman on numerous occasions), to the point where once he was adopted by Perry and Alice, it wasn't just accepted, it was *expected*, and it went over quite well with the readers. Probably because, Keith was his own character, they didn't just paint Jimmy Olsen black, or have Perry suddenly be black so his son (adopted or otherwise) could be, too. My memory is fuzzy, but it may have been the first (or at least among the first) examples of a mixed-race family in mainstream comic books. Talk about progressive! I really liked that whole arc; sadly, a few years later, some bored editors retconned the whole thing out so that it never happened. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

My point being, I'm all for fictional universes being more inclusive, but I think there's a right and wrong way to do it, and I think pallette-swapping is the wrong way. It's lazy and controversial for the sake of being controversial, most of the time. I'd prefer to see newer, fully-realized characters fit those roles. When someone at DC thought they needed more minorities in the Justice League, they created Vixen and Cyborg, both of whom turned out great. Much better, I say, than if they just decided to "paint" Wonder Woman or Aquaman, "just because".

To be fair, they also created Vibe at the exact same time, so obviously they were still trying to figure the whole thing out.

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