So, it's a new year and as we all know, when there is a new year people often make resolutions as to what positive changes they are going to make over the coming year. And as What Were They Thinking is all about the worst things in the history of comics, I thought a good resolution would be to be more positive, not to focus on the negative so much. Unfortunately, I then remembered that Marvel Comics exist and, as much as I love them, they are the best at being the worst. So, with that in mind, I'd like to talk to you all about equality in comics, through the medium of The Mighty Thor.
So, let me start off by saying that I have absolutely no problem with Jane Foster being Thor. I think it's a bit stupid and a bit pander-y, but the hammer has an inscription that says "whom so ever holds this hammer, should they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor" and if Storm can have it why can't Jane Foster. I would also like to take a moment to lay out my political views because that is also relevant. I am a liberal, I support equal rights for everyone; man or woman, straight/ gay/ transgender/ asexual etc., Christian/ Muslim/ Hindu/ Jewish/ Bhuddist/ Atheist/ Jedi, Black/ White/ Brown/ Yellow/ Green/ Blue. I love seeing strong female characters in comics, films, TV and games and agree with the sentiment that we need more strong female role models that aren't just characterised by their looks.
So with that all said, WHAT IN ODIN'S NAME IS THIS BULL****
For those of you with poor sight, what you have here is the super-villainess Titania KO-ing her husband the Absorbing Man (who'd spent the last couple of panels making misogynistic remarks that weren't entirely out of character but are made in this comic purely because he's facing off against a female superhero) and laying down without a fight just because the new Thor has a vagina and some breasts. She says "This is a one time Girl-Power pass" for crying out loud.
Right, so, Titania, how many times have you fought She-Hulk? It's in the dozens at least. Is Jen disqualified from this Girl-Power pass because she's green? That's racist against green people I'll have you know. Or is it just because the writers wanted to make the new Thor being female more of a big deal than it actually is? Like she was the first female superhero to hold such a prominent role in a comics universe (forgetting about Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Supergirl, Storm, Wasp, Jean Grey, Sue Richards, hell even all of the great work they've done to make Carol Danvers more than just relevant but a stone cold classic character). I have a feeling it's the later. It doesn't come across as being important, it comes across as being freaking patronizing. Let's make our new female Thor, which is controversial to begin with, look really strong by having the only female supervillain we have who could be a legitimate match for her in a fight just go "nah, neither of us have penises, so I'll let you win". Just imagine that scenario with two male characters or a male and a female character.
Speaking of patronizing, let me talk to you about Mockingbird's feminist agenda for a second.
Ok, bear in mind everything I said in my opening paragraph when I say, **** this cover. What was the feminist agenda, I hear you ask? The feminist agenda was that this comic was solely trying to sell its self on the fact that it had a female lead and a female writer but wasn't selling well. And the apparent reason why it wasn't selling well was because neckbeard nerds didn't want a comic written about a female character by a female writer to succeed, according to the writers twitter, which she quit because she was being trolled for making such stupid claims. Oh and this was the last issue before the comic got cancelled for poor sales.
Let's get one thing straight here. A solo Mockingbird comic was never going to sell well. Mockingbird is a very very niche character and new comics for niche characters don't historically sell well. Hell newly numbered comics don't sell as well as they used to (just ask DC, cancelling 65% of their comics over the last 5 years. And DC are washing Marvel in the sales at the moment, with Marvel only having 2 titles in the top 10 best-selling of last month, one of which was a Star Wars title (the other being Civil War, so not even Spider-Man or X-Men got in the top 10 which is embarrassing), with DC taking 7 of the remaining places and the last place being take by Image). So when you combine that with writing that is at best decent but mostly out-of-character and gimmicky that was sold basically on the premise that buying it was a victory for feminism, that's appalling. That isn't a victory for feminism. A victory for feminism would be to have a good comic, not one that needs to be sold on an agenda. I mean, it's not like there weren't 8 Marvel published titles with female leads that sold more than Mockingbird during it's run (the a-thor-mentioned Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Ms. Marvel, Captian Marvel, A-Force, Spider-Woman, Scarlet Witch, freaking Gwenpool for crying out loud) and that's not even taking into account DC's contributions with Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Superwoman and Batgirl. So, what exactly is your feminist agenda Mockingbird? Because it looks to me like you're just being salty for not selling well.
Anyway, I promised to be more positive, so let's look at the counterpoint to all of this, a female character who is done right. And sorry, I'm being a broken record here, but we have to talk about this amazing, adorable, certified best character:
So Kamala Khan aka Ms Marvel. She is a female character. She is also a Muslim, so double tick on the Social Justice Warrior checklist. She's also been used in (what can only be described as an in-character but some what ill-advised) democratic campaign. However, is she defined by an SJW agenda. No. She's defined by being a well-rounded character. She's relatable (even coming from a non-Muslim family everyone can relate to teen troubles and pushy parents, and I'm sure everyone here can relate to being a total dork) and she's fun to read. And that's because she's well written by a writing team that have a clear idea who the character is and what she's supposed to be. Her being a female Muslim character taking up the mantel of an established hero may have got her the buzz and attention when the series started, but buzz can only sustain a series so long. She's kept going because she's written well and her stories are good. She doesn't need a feminist agenda to sell, just good characterisation. She doesn't need supervillains laying down for her to feel important, she's got good writing. That's why the first volume of Ms Marvel won a Hugo Award and, as far as I'm aware, The Mighty Thor hasn't.
The point I'm trying to make is, inclusivity is a good thing. We need more of it. But doing it the wrong way is as bad as not doing it at all. To actually properly be inclusive you need to treat your characters the same. Oh wait, actually this is Marvel we're talking about, bad writing/ no direction/ too many character deaths and crossovers/ meaningless storylines that are forgotten about on a whim. Yeah, they're definitely being inclusive, because they're treating all their characters like ****.
Anyway, back to the point I was trying to make. If you're trying to make a great female character, or any character for that matter (male/ female, black/ white/ Asian etc. etc. etc.), make them a great character first before focusing on whether or not they have a sausage or the bun in their spandex.
And with that
Well put. Frankly I’d be interested in hearing which failed inclusivities most offended each group they were supposed to represent, so I might have a jumping off point for checking any subconscious stereotypes I might not know I have. Might be a good way to reduce incorrect thinking for those of us who can learn by counterexample. (My older brother was an endless source of what not to do.)
For the fem-Thor bit, Marvel and their writers think that what they did was really something special and they want their creative work to show that, as well. It doesn’t have to be good writing, as long as the execs, editor and the team can all pat themselves on the back about how wonderfully inclusive and non-misogynist they all are. After all, it’s not like there has ever been a female lead character in comics, right? -_- IF sales do poorly (and that’s not guaranteed to happen), then they will probably do something very similar to DC’s Mockingbird bit, if not quite as in-your-face as that (Marvel watched DC flounder on that one, after all).
@Dark Vatican- Mockingbird is Marvel, not DC.
I just mentioned DC to compare how DC are doing to how Marvel are doing, considering that DC by all accounts has a terrible backroom problem and basically sunk its self with the New 52 (see WWTT: It Appears We’ve DC-ed) but is now getting somewhat back on track with Rebirth, whilst Marvel mostly weathered the storm by not rebooting everything every 5 years but is being sunk by bad storytelling, bad decision making, a self congratulatory attitude towards its pseudo-inclusive patronisation and practically coasting off the success of the MCU that has seen Marvel Now! sink like a stone.
Now both companies have floundered in recent years and are trying to do things to save sales. DC reboot and Marvel go for shock value (changing up classic characters to make them fit with the times, see Fem-Thor, Fem-Wolverine, Asian-Hulk, Miles Morales Spider-Man and 2 new Iron Man variants, 1 being a black female and the other being Doctor Doom. Some of these are good and work, some need work to be good). Both also are trying to be more inclusive, certainly with female characters. DC had the upper hand from the get go with that one considering they had Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl plus Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, but their backroom problems have done a bit of damage (certainly to characters like Batgirl, Batwoman, Starfire and Catwoman), which should have given Marvel an opening, but Marvel botched it by, as you said, having that “pat on the back” culture rather than trying to make good stories. As I said in the article, they need tohave a mentality of “don’t go out of your way to make a good female character for the sake of them being a female character, make a good character who just happens to be female for the sake of making a good character”. DC have been doing it since the 40’s, back when sexism was a good thing, so how come Marvel can’t do it consistently almost 70 years afterwards?
For what it’s worth, I believe the bit with Absorbing Man and Titania was made deliberately just to piss of the trolls who were campaining against the “new” thor, which explains why it was so hamfisted and artificial.