Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Ultimate Spider Man: Miles Morales
The news hit the interwebs hard on 08/02/2011. I got the word straight from Brian Michael Bendis himself on twitter that morning. A picture was released later in the afternoon. I have to give it up to Marvel Comics for using the interwebs to build up hype for it. I called my usual comic book haunt and requested 2 but was advised that I could only get one when I arrived.
Why is it important?
In Tony Browder's "Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization," there is a picture of a little black boy looking into the bathroom mirror. He is wearing a towel with a cap. In the reflection is a broad shouldered white man as a superhero. That picture says it all when it comes to people of color and comic books in America. We have a love/hate relationship with comic books. It reminds me of the same relationship women of color have with hip hop culture. There are so many things to love about comic books: the stories, the artwork, the team ups, the characters, etc. However, most of it not all of the stories aren't about us. If we are shown, it is in a demeaning manner.
It is important to note, and this is something that many historians, culture critics, artists, and sociologists have pointed out, that comic books are America's mythology. Unlike places in Europe, Africa, or Asia, we don't have legends that are part of our cultural landscape. Christianity insured that we were not isolators in the literal sense. Sure we have stories of Paul Bunyan but they are not valiant stories of fighting monsters. The settlers all but destroyed much of the Native culture and to be honest, none of their mythology is taught in schools. African Americans have John De High Conqueror but his story has been watered down or quickly eroded from the landscape as well.
If you listen to any politician, artists, or person of influence, he or she makes several references to comic book heroes whether he or she talks about Spider Man, Superman, Batman (remember Morgan Freeman in "Lean on Me?"), or many others. Even J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI published comic strip and a comic book series called "G Men," to help propagandize the FBI's influence. Even people of influence understood that importance. Heck, librarians have been telling us for decades that comic books are literature.
Many of us grew to enjoy reading through comic books. While to many, comic books may seem juvenile but many of us were able to get into philosophy, literature, and science because so much of it was used in comic books. For us to understand those concepts, we had to learn a least a little bit of those things.
So wouldn't it be important for the people who read and spend good money on those comics see people who look like them in those pages? Shouldn't a nation's mythology be made of up of people who make up said nation? Ask any psychologist about the damage people of color have when worshiping a white Jesus. Deep, right?
Did I like the intro to Miles Morales?
To be honest, the only thing I expected was a full length story. I forgot that issue 4 of the Ultimate Fallout was really about how people reacted to Peter Parker's death. The reader will get about 9 pages of the new Ultimate Spider Man in action. On the last panel, he takes off his mask. It could have been better but to be honest, I don't know how Bendis could have introduced Miles Morales to us without a back story.