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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wally West and the Huntress are Black…What’chu Talkin Bout Didio?

After three years of wondering what happened to Wally West, Flash fans finally got their question answered. And with this being Dan Didio’s DC Universe most fans didn’t get what they wanted.

In the New 52, Wally West is back. Only he’s a not the friendly red-headed kid we all knew and loved for over 50 years. You know the boy who idolized his Uncle Barry and wanted to be a hero just like him. The boy who on getting powers like his uncle took up the name Kid Flash and became a founding member of the Teen Titans. The boy who grew into manhood in the aftermath of the Crisis of Infinite Earths by taking on the costume and codename of the uncle he loved on his passing and became The Flash. The man who after mourning his uncle honored him by building on his legacy and became a hero for another generation of comic fans.

No, we don’t get to find out what happened to that Wally West, the one everyone had been asking questions about for three straight years since this hot mess called the New 52 started. Instead DC Comics presents us with Wally West, a troubled inner city Black kid from the ghettos of Central City. A Kid who gets powers and will probably mentored by Barry Allen his Great White Hope. A tired trope straight out of a WACK 1970’s television show like Diff’rent Strokes or The White Shadow.

What’chu talkin’ bout Didio?”

Then there’s DC’s new Black Huntress that’ll be appearing in DC’s New “Grayson” comic. I’d take a minute to rant about how Dick Grayson having his identity blown puts Batman and the Batman family in danger, because Dick Grayson is Bruce Wayne’s Ward and anyone who has critical thinking skills can figure out Nightwing used to be Robin would put two and two together like oh Tim Drake did back in the day, but that’s another blog. Anyway, like Wally West The Huntress is Black now…Just because.

Seems like Mr. Didio was probably watching Scandal and came up with this stupid-ass idea. Grayson will be like Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character and the Huntress will be like Oliva Pope. Scandal meets Mission Impossible. Yeah, Hollywood people like Didio think like this when it’s time to create a concept for a story. And this is why DC Comics are so fucked up today.

Now I know there aren’t many Black female superheroes. And while I’d like to see more Black female heroines, there’s no need to shoehorn a sista into the name and role of a well established White female heroine. Especially when the REAL Helena Bertinelli has such a rich history and is such a fascinating character.

I’ll say this. Dan Didio finds new and exciting ways to fist fuck comic fans in the ass and show his utter contempt for them. Looking at his track record, I truly believe Dan Didio truly hates superheroes and he hates comic fans. Seriously I wonder why the hell is he in the comic book business in the first place? What? Men’s Wearhouse isn’t hiring? Seriously, Didio needs to find a job greeting at Wal-Mart or picking up cans on the side of the road. I’d rather see Warner Brothers STOP publishing DC Comics altogether than continue to desecrate its characters this way.

The more DC’s New 52 Universe changes, the more it mirrors Dan Didio’s dysfunctional vision for the DC Universe that started with Identity Crisis and before he imploded it in 2011 with Flashpoint. No creativity, no artistry, and no direction. A shock and awe story model featuring, death, gore, and more death and stuff just happening not for a concrete reason but just because he wants it to happen without a regard for a characters’ history or even continuity’s sake.

I believe a legion of fourth graders with crayons could publish better comics than he does right now.

Black Wally West hearkens back to his plans to kill off popular White characters like Firestorm and Blue Beetle and replace them with “diversity legacy” versions. Because comics need more heroes of color…Just because. Basically it’s a lazy ass way to half- ass things and create the semblance of diversity instead of taking the time to work towards real diversity in comics.

Seriously, how many Black people work in comics right now? And how many more like myself waited for years outside the door trying to get into the field before moving on?

I’ll say this: Comic publishers like DC and Marvel are run by a bunch of White male PUSSIES. They’re so AFRAID of creating a new original Black or minority character they go the coward route and give them the name of an existing White character and then in the shadows hope, wish, and pray that character fails to catch on so they can say…. “Well, we gave you a character of color, but they didn’t sell X amount of units”.

When it wasn’t the Black character that failed. It was the half-assed cowardly way they created a Black character that caused them to fail to catch on with readers.

And in those rare cases when said “diversity legacy” character actually catches on like Mr. Terrific, Aqualad, or Ryan Choi, and starts surpassing their White counterparts in popularity, those same cowardly White male publishers make efforts to sabotage them by not pushing them, not merchandising them, or just killing them.

Because at the end of the day the status quo of all-white male has to remain the standard for comic book superheroes at the Big Two.

No wonder comic book sales have been in a decline for the last 21 years.

Seriously, that’s not what art is about. And it’s not what the comic book business should be about. In the art world either you have the BALLS to take REAL RISKS to CREATE SOMETHING NEW and ORIGINAL or you get the hell out of the business.

This is why Dan Didio needs to be filling out a Men’s Wearhouse application and not working at DC Comics. He knows how to sell controversy, but he knows NOTHING about telling stories. And in the comic book business, readers buy comics for the STORIES not the SHOCK associated with them.

Guys like Didio follow the old adage “People pay for sizzle, not steak.” However what they don’t understand is that if the steak tastes like shit, people don’t come back to the restaurant for another bite. A master writer like a master chef can create sizzle with an opening scene through ACTION because they have to have the skills to craft a great story from first page to last. Unfortunately, DC doesn’t have craftspeople who take their work seriously anymore, just a bunch of jokers looking to half-ass their way to a paycheck. This is why they need to create cheesy Black knock-off versions of Wally West and the Huntress to create controversy instead of producing quality stories with their Caucasian originals.

DC Comics doesn’t need a Black Wally West. DC Comics doesn’t need a Black Huntress. What comic publishers need to do is utilize the existing characters in their catalogs. You know guys like Static, Icon, Black Lightning, Vixen and Bronze Tiger Who are all sitting around waiting for a writer to get creative enough to use them effectively.

But companies like DC and to an extent Marvel (Looking at their new Ms. Marvel) would rather slap an ethnic label on an existing character name instead of taking the time to create a brand new minority character that could possibly stand on their own two feet and allow Black readers to discover what’s great about comics.

If DC would embrace diversity the way the producers on Young Justice did, they’d have legions of new readers. Young Justice was right in line with other diverse concepts most kids have been buying for over TWO DECADES like Monster High, High School Musical and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. But instead of embracing that kind of multicultural concept, the suits at Warner continue to show they’re still stuck in the 1960s.

Still trying to create “Black” characters instead of creating interesting, multidimensional characters with a “voice” that are Black. It’s the content of the characters’ character that makes them a fan favorite, not the color of their skin.

As a Black comic fan I can’t get behind this trend of new “diversity legacy” characters at DC and Marvel. It’s tokeninsm plain and simple.

Moreover it’s a slap in the face to the creators of those existing characters and that characters’ history. I don’t believe it’s right for any writer or artist to take someone elses’ longstanding character with a history and then just change to another ethnicity for the sake of so called “diversity”.

Personally I believe in applying the Christian tenet of do unto others as they’d do unto you when it comes to creative property. As a creator, I wouldn’t want to radically change my characters, so I wouldn’t make serious efforts to change someone elses’. For me, it’s just a matter of RESPECT to those creators and their work. As a writer, it’s my job to BUILD on what they established, not change it to reflect my views.

If I want to write Wally West stories, I write them about the red-headed kid who grew up to follow in his uncle’s footsteps become the Flash. And if I want to write Huntress stories I write them about the Italian White woman named Helena Bertinelli. I don’t go and shoehorn some Black woman or some Black man in that role and give them the exact same name of that character.

I wouldn’t want some writer or artist to go and take one of my characters like Isis and make her White or Asian, so I would NEVER go and change the ethnicity of someone elses’ character. Again, it’s just a matter of RESPECT.

As a professional I know if I want to write about a Black character in a DC’s catalog, I either use one of the existing ones like Cyborg, Vixen or Static or I go out and create my own original Black character like Isis and E’steem.

Then again, there’s nothing professional about DC’s New 52. It’s just Dan Didio pulling a Jim Henson with the feelings of comic fans.

I’d like to think the so-called professionals at DC can definitely do better than the half-assed job they’ve been doing for the past decade or so. I’d like to think the company that gave us great African-American characters like Vixen, Cyborg, and John Stewart could take the time to create a new unique superhero of color instead of sticking the established name of a White Superhero on a Black guy and calling it a day. If a small independent writer like myself can take the time to create interesting, multidimensional African-American characters that can stand on their own two feet and find an audience of readers, then I’d like to think all the so-called professionals at the subsidiary of multibillion dollar conglomerate like DC Comics can do the exact same thing.


  1. I've written about the problem with those kinds of makeovers too. Sadly some comics fans think it's progressive whilst I think it kind of cuts out the ability to take inspiration from one character and make a new one out of that. And there was a brief vogue for original ethnic characters in superhero comics. With X-Men, there's Kenya's Storm, Ireland's Banshee, Japan's Sunfire and Russia's Colossus. In Justice League International, you have Brazil's Fire, Norway's Ice, Japan's Rising Sun and Doom Patrol has Celsius and Tempest. But for some reason it became more commonplace to see and have derivative ethnic characters with ethnic makeovers of existing white characters being the logical conclusion of this trend.

  2. The last thing I liked that DC did was Emperor Joker. I'm glad I didn't read much after that. Wally's Black? That's lamer than Hal Jordan turning into Parralax. When do they let the hacks go? It is Time Warner so we shouldn't be too surprised.


  3. Ad, What I loved about JLI and the All New-X-men were how they were sensitive to the cultures of the characters. That really made them into multidimensional people readers could relate to.

    With these new Legacy diversity characters, they're just "Black" with no sense of depth or sensitivity to the culture of Black people.

    Vic, Yep Wally's Black and so is The Huntress. I didn't think DC could do any worse, but just when you thing DC hits bottom....They find a shovel.

    On another note I thought turning Hal into Parallax was the only way to save him from that HORRIBLE Gerard Jones run of GL in the early 90s. Hal just acting like an old fart talking about how he used to do shit in the old days. The rest of the DC Universe was in Post Crisis and Hal was stuck in Pre-Crisis mode being soft and lame.

  4. I have a blog post that explores this subject and my opinion on why this doesn't work well.

  5. I have a blog post that explores this subject and my opinion on why this doesn't work well.

  6. Read your blog Ad. And I agree with all your points. Good read.

    1. This is a little late, but I'm going back and reading some of your old posts. Instead of making characters like the Huntress or Wally West black, why not just use the black characters you already have? If they took Steel, Bronze Tiger, Vixen, John Steward, Black Lightning, Aqualad (the son of Black Manta version), and Cyborg you would have a pretty good team of heroes. Why not have this team be the new Outsiders or (wishful thinking) the Justice League.