Let's face it - adding different races and cultural types to comic books is something that has the potential to pull in new readers. Many times it feels like the publishers are just doing things which some would consider “controversial” to gain more attention from media giants like USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, and other similar massive outlets. This feels like the case whether it be a Teen Titan, X-Man, or Green Lantern announcing to the world they’re gay or writers diversifying the super heroes by introducing a Muslim Ms. Marvel or DC’s Cree Indian female crime fighter Equinox. How about the excitement and controversy surrounding a female Thor and Shield?
One example of this type of attention-grabbing is when Bunker of the Teen Titans announced he was gay. He basically spouts it out in two panels and then the subject never comes up again throughout the rest of the "Teen Titans, Volume 1: It's Our Right to Fight" graphic novel. What was the point to this revelation really? Did it have any effect on the crime fighting skills of Bunker?
The question we should ask when it comes to Ms. Marvel is, "WHY is she Muslim?" Is it solely to draw in readers from that walk of life? How does her being a Muslim add anything to the story? She wears a more conservative costume, but what actual aspects of the Muslim faith is she presenting in the comic?
When DC announced Green Lantern was going to come out, the headlines didn't happen to mention the fact that it was a secondary version of the character from an alternate universe which wouldn't even affect the main continuity of the comic line. Instead of risking the fury of thousands of angry fans raining down upon them if they had made Hal Jordan or John Stewart gay, they took the safe route and went with a less important version of the super hero.
If I were part of a gay rights or racial diversity group, I'd be offended by what many comic book publishers have done. They've used these social issues to gain sales and draw attention to their books in order to make a buck off controversial themes. Do they really even care about the different issues they exploit when they put two male X-Men on the front cover of a comic getting married and kissing?
Writer's Note: I know I use a lot of examples from DC Comics. That's because I keep up with DC and rarely crack an issue of Marvel or any other publishers.
For more articles by Eric Shirey that don't fit on Moviepilot, check out his official website.