Diversity and Goliath.

“With respect to Black Goliath, I had some readers protest the fact that a black character was killed off. In Young Avengers/Runaways the complaint came in from some readers who were upset that some of the gay characters were put into torturous peril by the villain of the story. In Marvel Team-Up, Freedom Ring, the lead of the story, who happens to be gay, dies in the series. Let me also add that the majority of those complaints came in from black and gay readers respectfully.

“Now here’s the way I see it. I’m Hispanic, and there is a serious lack of Hispanic representation in comics today, so I’d personally love to see more Hispanics as lead characters or heroes in the future. However, by me asking for and desiring that kind of inclusion into the world of mainstream comics, I have to accept all that comes with that. Heroes are placed into dangerous situations, sometimes heroes get killed, sometimes they get placed into torturous peril and yes, sometimes they get attacked by the Brood. For me to ask for inclusion and then to find exception to the things that come with that inclusion is then in effect me asking for special treatment and exclusion from the process.”

Joe Quesada

Last hired, first fired. Listen up, people. Someone needs to be killed every once in a while—and it needs to be a permanent death. Why? So that death remains meaningful in mainstream comics. So that all of the major heroes can have a panel or two where they get pained looks on their faces, but gather up strength when they remember who they’re fighting for. The dead guy. The one who stays dead. The one who is a minority.

Actually, considering how old the character Goliath is, I suppose my “last hired, first fired” argument doesn’t stand. And I can’t even say that only icons are resurrected, because there certainly are a great deal of second-stringers running around with a new lease on life. I guess I don’t really have an explanation as to why minority characters are killed permanently with greater frequency than straight white characters even though there are fewer of them. That’s special treatment—and it’s not the good kind. Heroes are going to get beaten up, tied up, and killed. That’s just the nature of the job. But why are so many minority characters still worm food while straight, white characters are popping out of coffins on a regular basis? I have to ask this question, because those permanent deaths are what prevents those minority characters from ever reaching icon status—and icons are the only characters that are guaranteed to enjoy immortality (and top billing). After all, we all know that Storm’s never getting knocked off for good. But someone had to keep that character off the chopping block or out of a coffin long enough for her to reach that point.

Still, I must give DC a hand. Apparently they’ve recently recognized this troublesome problem and have fixed it by brutally and permanently killing off second-tier characters of all backgrounds in proportionate amounts. It might not be fair, but it is equal. Bullet holes and alligator bites for all! Yes, I’m being silly, but it’s true. Equality isn’t always sunshine and roses.

Both DC and Marvel should be commended for recently creating some wonderful minority characters. Let’s hope that some of those characters will be able to enjoy long and prosperous lives–or at least a series of short and eventful ones. Because those characters have to stick around and remain visible if they are ever going to truly become an integral part of the universes they reside in. Marvel and DC must make a commitment to those characters and give them time and promotion. An effort must be made to achieve true diversity. If not, you end up with only long-term heroes who are straight and white, and minority characters who are nothing more than an endlessly recyclable source of filler for those heroes to react to. And readers who are looking for true diversity will eventually get fed up and take their business elsewhere.

But perhaps that is a good thing? It would lead to different companies entering the marketplace to provide for those readers, which would lead to even greater variety.