Marvel Comics has been on a roll lately. They’ve been pumping out a more diverse array of titles than ever before. When I say diversity, I’m referring to comics that don’t just have lead characters who are white males. Before anyone cries foul, I don’t have a problem with white males. I’ve been reading comics since I was 5 years old, and I’m almost 39 now. I have upwards of 15,000 comics in my garage. I love Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Flash, and more. But growing up as a gay kid, I didn’t have any comics that reflected me. In 1988 I didn’t have any characters I could relate to with regard to my burgeoning sexuality; not as background characters, and certainly not as lead characters. That’s an important thing for people who are part of oppressed, marginalized groups. It is important for youth to see themselves represented in the media. Even today, in 2014, LGBTQI individuals face oppression and discrimination. They still face an uphill battle to see themselves represented in media. They’re not the only ones either. Hispanic and black people, as well as women are also not well represented in the media. Often when they are, they’re presented as stereotypes, and not written as well rounded characters who can stand shoulder to shoulder with the more established, white, male characters.
But Marvel Comics is slowly changing that.
They have Miles Morales (who is black and hispanic) who headlines his own title-Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man. Another title with a diverse cast is Mighty Avengers, a book with a largely black cast (Blue Marvel, Spectrum aka Monica/CaptainMarvel 2/Photon/Rambeau, the third Power Man, Blade, and Cage; also featuring the White Tiger, an Hispanic woman). They are also putting out critically acclaimed books headlined by women, such as Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers (and she who has a fabulous costume that is perfect for cosplay), Ms. Marvel (the first book Marvel has put out with a Muslim superhero as the lead character), Black Widow (yep, the same one as the blockbuster Avengers movie by Joss Whedon), Elektra, She-Hulk, Storm (who is arguably Marvel’s most widely recognized female character), and even an all female team of X-Men.
As of today, one more name is added to that list: Thor.
Yeah, Thor’s going to be seeing changes courtesy of ongoing writer Jason Aaaron:
This October, Marvel Comics evolves once again in one of the most shocking and exciting changes ever to shake one of Marvel’s “big three” – Captain America, Iron Man and Thor – Marvel Comics will be introducing an all-new THOR, GOD OF THUNDER. No longer is the classic male hero able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, a brand new female hero will emerge who will be worthy of the name THOR. Who is she? Where did she come from and what is her connection to Asgard and the Marvel Universe?
“The inscription on Thor’s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it’s time to update that inscription,” says Marvel editor Wil Moss. “The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!”
Series writer Jason Aaron emphasizes, “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”
This is good news to me. I’ve long gravitated to female characters. I’m one of the world’s biggest Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, I love Captain Monica Spectrum Rambeau, and Captain Carol Danvers Marvel is totes awesome. I appreciate the attempt to add further gender diversity to Marvel Comics. I also applaud the creation of another powerful female character. This is a woman who will be a powerhouse. There’s nothing wrong with characters with lower levels of power, or even no super powers, but I want to see more women standing toe to toe with the heavy hitters in the Marvel Universe and this Thor will definitely be able to do so.
There are issues I have with Marvel (and DC, and pretty much the entire comics industry), but that’s the subject of another post. This one is about congratulating Marvel and letting them know that their efforts are appreciated. I’ll add that I don’t want them to rest on their laurels though. They have more they can do. But at least they’re doing something.