It Is An Exciting Time To Be A Minority Canadian Comic Book Fan

As an Asian-Canadian who spends far more time on comic book news sites than actual news sites, this week has been all sorts of crazy. There’s been . . . a lot to take in.

Mighty Avengers

To begin with, next month heralds the first issue of Mighty Avengers. Take out the “gh” and add “nori” and you more or less have an understanding of what the book is all about.

I refuse to show any of the interior artwork, so this variant is all you’re going to get.

The fact that we have far too many titles featuring the word “Avengers” aside, this is a huge deal in that, of the nine heroes in the team, the majority are people of colour. Luke Cage, Falcon, Blue Marvel, and Monica Rambeau are African-American, White Tiger [Ava Alaya] is Hispanic, and Power Man [Victor Alvarez] is a mix of both. Rounding out the team are Spider-Man, She-Hulk, and a new Ronin whose identity is yet to be revealed.

With the very talented Al Ewing on writing, the only thing that would make this book perfect were if Ron Wimberly, who illustrated the variant cover on the left, were the actual artist on the book. Unfortunately, that job was given to Greg Land. I do not have anything civil to say about him. Just click the link.

Joseph Hughes, the editor of Comics Alliance, wrote an early review of the book, admitting that as a visual medium the art simply “[does] not work.” That being said, he summed up the title with the following paragraph:

“Mighty Avengers #1 is an auspicious debut for Al Ewing, an extremely capable writer whose work on 2000 AD has stood out for some time. His dialogue is clever and authentic, and he handles an important title, and significant moment for Marvel, incredibly well. Ewing is a welcome addition to super hero books in the U.S. Mighty Avengers is drawn by Greg Land.”

Thankfully all artists move on eventually, and one day Mighty Avengers will be free of that man’s presence. Until then, let’s just try to revel in the fact that this is a pretty significant step forward for Marvel and comic books in general.

Justice League of Canada

When I woke up and saw the above words in the comicbooks subreddit I refused to believe it. We’re pretty far from April, though, and when I saw that it was Canadian newspaper the Toronto Star that was reporting it I had to admit to myself that it was probably true.

Apparently next year will have the ongoing Justice League of America renamed Justice League of Canada, and with Canadian Jeff Lemire taking over writing duties. Born in Essex County, Ontario, Lemire states that although some of the action will take place in Toronto, most of it will be in Northern Ontario near James Bay and Moosonee.

While three of the book’s cast members will remain on the team, the roster will be rounded out with new members, one of whom will be Adam Strange, a Canadian in DC’s new universe. In addition there will be  a new Canadian hero who “reflects a real part of our cultural identity, who could be a real Canadian teenager.” I have no idea who this might be, but I know who I want it to be-

If you don’t know anything about Scott Pilgrim I feel sorry for you.

In response to potential comments comparing his Justice League of Canada to Marvel’s premier Canadian superhuman team Alpha Flight, Lemire said:

“It’s not really like Alpha Flight, as we’re not creating a bunch of very Canadian characters. Like those characters are all almost clichéd Canadian archetypes. This is still very much set in the regular Justice League universe and the team will still have some of the bigger named superheroes, but they will actually be located in Canada now, and there will be a couple of new members who are Canadian.”

While I can see what he’s saying about Alpha Flight [featuring characters like Shaman, a first nations mystic, and Sasquatch, no description needed], at the very least Marvel had the distinction of featuring a team that was fully Canadian. That being said, Lemire is one of DC’s hottest talents, and he appears to be very proud to be writing stories that take place in his home country.

 What Does This All Mean?

Both Marvel and DC appear to be taking very similar approaches here, sticking to what are very profitable brands [Avengers, Justice League] and using them to broaden their audiences. 
Mighty Avengers is doing a lot in proving that there are heroes out there who aren’t Caucasian, while Justice League of Canada is evidence that super heroes do exist outside of the United States. While unlikely to outright admit it, both publishers are hoping that these new titles will bring in new readers they were not reaching before.

The Big Two continue to primarily release titles about White superheroes doing what they can to keep the US safe, but here and there books are cropping up that seek to be the exception to the rule. Both companies have already made steps to put out more books starring female heroes [Fearless Defenders and X-Men for Marvel, World’s Finest for DC], and these two titles bring us just a little bit closer to comic book universes that more accurately reflect our own.


Bonus: Thoughts on Affleck as Batman
[Man of Steel spoilers]

In case you didn’t know, Ben Affleck will be playing the Caped Crusader opposite Henry Cavill’s Last son of Krypton in the currently untitled Batman/Superman film.

For the most part, I don’t really feel strongly one way or the other on this. I do tend to point back to another controversial casting decision from 2007. What I’m slightly more interested in, though, is director Zack Snyder’s reason for choosing Affleck:

“Ben provides an interesting counterbalance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”

An older, wiser Batman to an inexperienced Superman is not a dynamic we’ve really ever seen before, and means that their relationship will likely be vastly different from the mutual respect and friendship they’ve shown in the past. Webcomic artist Sam Logan points to an even more important issue, however:

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