Taking heroes from the colorful panels of comic books and placing them on the silver-screen in live-action movies has been a big trend for Hollywood, and now comics are making a trend of their own. Lately, comics have been making their world containing super-powered heroes more diverse by introducing characters with racial backgrounds and scenario more relatable to their readers.
While comics have always had character ranging from Latino, Black, Asian, and so on these characters have been generally minor characters. With comics gaining more interest and attracting readers of diverse backgrounds, the comic book industry has been attempting to change their roaster of heroes to please their growing readers. At the head of this diverse change is Marvel Comics.
Introducing new characters, while spotlighting ethnic characters of the past, Marvel is meeting the growing change in their readers market. Recently, there are new superheroes with a Latino background gracing the pages of Marvel comics. Last year, when the “Ultimate” version of Peter Parker a.k.a Spiderman was slain in action the spidey mantle was taken up by Miles Morales, a half-Black and half-Latino teenage boy.
“For us, [the decision to change the character] was about many things,” said Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. “One of the things was the joy of knowing that there would be a child out there who would see Spider-Man peel back that mask to see a different face and a face that resembled their own.”
And now, joining the changing line-up of diverse superheroes at Marvel is America Chavez a.k.a Miss America of the Young Avengers. But the move to introduce superheroes that fit and relates to their readers more isn’t just a ploy to gain more readers.
Meanwhile, at DC comics the recent young Latinos can look up to superheroes The Blue Beetle whose civilian identity is Jamie Reyes and The Question whose real name is Renee Montoya.
“If you took us back 10 years, you see that there has been a sea change,” said Frederick Aldama, an arts and humanities professor at Ohio State University. “These guys are smart. Yes, there are dollars involved but on the other hand they’re very attuned to the fact that the Latino demographic is larger.”
While becoming more diverse in depicting heroes with backgrounds relatable to their readers, Alonso and others in the industry aren’t forcing a character with a racial background.
“We ride the currents of time. We try to stay ahead of the curve as much as we can but we can’t force an audience for anything,” said Alonso. “You can’t go in and say ‘let’s create a great Mexican superhero.’ What you do is let that evolve naturally and when the window of opportunity opens, you strike.” An approach that provides readers with a more organic feel for the new or reintroduced superheroes rather than one that may feel like a marketing ploy.
Apart from introducing characters of race, Marvel has also been at the progressive forefront with gay characters.
Late last year, Marvel held an event where they married long running character and X-Men member, Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a Northstar with his partner. Also, acknowledging the growing trend of young gay teens coming out Marvel represents the group with openly gay characters and Young Avengers Theodore “Teddy” Altman a.k.a Hulking and Billy Kaplan a.k.a Wiccan who are also in a relationship. At DC, Renee Montoya is a Lesbian who was involved in a relationship with super heroine Batwoman.
“People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included,” said Alonso, “This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.”
To read more of these new heroes meeting the changes of this world, check out their stories in their comic titles.