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Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
In Reply To

Subj: Re: Cage, Storm and Minority Heroes
Posted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 03:50:39 pm EDT (Viewed 145 times)
Reply Subj: Cage, Storm and Minority Heroes
Posted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 08:46:52 am EDT (Viewed 11 times)

Previous Post

    You could, but at least two of those factions -- Wonder Man's and Cage's -- don't seem like they're going anywhere very interesting. I'm not entirely sure why Cage's team has friction with anyone else's...or why it would need to call itself the Avengers, either. It probably doesn't help that I find Bendis's Cage one of the most boring characters I've ever seen in a starring role. He's not really allowed to have any interesting flaws or shortcomings, at least not in the material I've read; he's rapidly becoming Bendis's equivalent of Claremont's Storm.

Claremont's Storm had plenty of shortcomings. The problem was that Claremont refused to acknowledge how serious they were. Take a look at some issues:
Uncanny 175- Storm almost drowns Scott and Maddie stopping Mastermind.
New Mutants 34- The Shadow King has taken over Doug's body. Storm wants to kill Doug without first exploring any other options... and Karma thinks of a way to free him a few pages later.
(Note: I'm not saying that killing Doug is wrong if Reed/ Tony/ Hank/ Hank/ Xavier/ Strange can't find a way to separate them... but killing him without checking is just monstrous.)
Uncanny 219- Havok comes to warn the X-Men about the Brood. Storm has Rogue absorb his mind without permission, and Betsy erase his memories.(Why?) When Alex returns and overhears the X-Men's plan to play dead, Storm seriously considers Betsy's suggestion to kill him... and Alex points out that she could have just asked him nicely to join them a few pages later.
Uncanny 224- Storm has been told by someone who appears to be Forge's friend Naze that Forge has turned evil and is working with demons. Storm decides to kill Forge without hearing his side of the story... because demons never try to trick heroes.
Uncanny 229- Gateway's just helped the Reavers massacre people at a bank and escape from the X-Men. Storm decides that he shouldn't be punished... because she has a feeling about him.
I could go on, but my point is that if you look at Claremont's Storm carefully, then you arguably have a dangerously unstable woman who doesn't deserve the responsibilities of leadership.
Cage, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have many flaws and shortcomings. My point is, this is the problem writers have with minority heroes: If they don't have enough flaws, then people complain that they're Model Minorities. If they have flaws and aren't punished for them, then people cry Karma Houdini. If they have flaws and are punished harshly for them, then people complain that they're being punished more severely than the white characters. (And this is sometimes true- Michael on Lost, who committed two murders to save his son, was punished more harshly than Sayid and Ben, who killed so many people the viewers stopped counting.) I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is.

Storm did things that you, me, and many readers saw as revealing deep character flaws, but I'm not sure Claremont intended or imagined them to be such. For one thing, other characters didn't seem to care much, and a few of them strike me as misguided attempts to present Storm as tough and decisive that went a bit too far. Alex, for example, joins the team in #219; Cyclops and Maddie don't behave as if Storm recklessly almost killed them in #175; and Strom's distrust of Forge was always treated as well-founded due to the Neutralizer thing. (There's an example of a character whose flaws were trated as far *more* serious than they sometimes were by several writers.)

As to Gateway...Dear lord, though, talk about a "magical minority" no matter how you feel about his morality. There's something really wrong with giving readers a mute Aborigine that everyone treated mostly as as a walking signpost/method of transportation rather than as a character. I find it hard to worry about whether Gateway was somehow "evil" or "good" when he was barely "a character" in most of his appearances. He was deliberately impenetrable, basically passive, and essentially insulting (albeit probably inadvertently so).

As to positive minority portrayals: I'd go with Priest's Black Panther, who was a hero who fell due to a flaw straight out of classical tragedy. Of course that didn't sell and he was rebooted as a bizarrely clumsy and wrongheaded attempt at writing a perfectly perfect flawless fantasy hero by Reignald Hudlin. (Apparently holding back a cancer cure was meant to be read as the *morally right* decision?) And more recently, I've very much enjoyed Fred van Lente's new Power Man, a master class in creating a character whose flaws and strengths balance one another rather well and who seems to go through the necessary illusion of personal development. Bendis's own creation, the female White Tiger, also worked well as a character with flaws and strengths. (Granted, a lot of that happened outside Bendis's writing...and was thrown away by Andy Diggle for a somewhat weak Daredevil crossover event.)

For whatever reason, it seems writers are more willing to write Latino characters as flawed-but-heroic like their white counterparts. The current Blue Beetle is another great example over at DC. African and African-American heroes, however, still become either model minorities or blaxploitation caricatures...or, like Bishop and Ultimate Nick Fury, they're written as stoic action-movie badasses and then turned into extremist-for-the-cause supervillains. Luke Cage seems to cycle from one to the other depending on the writer. (Oddly, John Ostrander fell into this with Cage despite writing Amanda Waller and Bronze Tiger brilliantly over at That Other Company. It helped immensely that they were in an anti-hero/villain book, of course.)

I suspect this is because few people are as knowledgeable or invested in Latino and Chicano rights and history than in the comparatively much better-known history of slavery and with the mid-20th-century Civil Rights movement identified primarily with African-Americans. Beyond that, we're getting into personal political opinions that don't belong on an Avengers Message Board.

- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."
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