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Press Pause: Embrace diversity, change in comic books

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The Peter Parker Spider-Man fights with the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

“Embrace Change” was the tagline for the 2008 Marvel Comics event “Secret Invasion,” where the shape-shifting alien Skrulls tried to infiltrate and take over the Earth.

As a comic book reader, I am used to change.

The first major change to comic books was the 1985 DC event “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” During this time, DC merged its multiverse into one singular universe.

Characters’ histories were changed and some characters like Supergirl and The Flash died in the crisis. During this period, Marvel only had small changes such as having Spider-Man in a black costume and She-Hulk in the Fantastic Four. For awhile things stayed the same — until Superman died.

Lois Lane holds a dying Superman in her arms as Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen struggles to capture a picture. Courtesy of DC Comics Inc.

In 1992, Superman died battling the Kryptonian monster Doomsday. A year later, Bruce Wayne would have his spine broken by Bane. Both of these characters were replaced in their series. Four people were flying around claiming they were Superman, and Bruce Wayne chose a man by the name of Jean Paul Valley as his replacement for Batman.

Eventually Superman was resurrected and Bruce Wayne was back in the Batman costume fighting crime in Gotham. Marvel tried to alter its universe in the ’90s with “The Clone Saga” and “Heroes Reborn.” Both stories were rejected by fans, and Marvel quickly went back to normal.

The early 2000s were a busy decade for comics. Marvel launched the Ultimate comics line, took power away from 91.4 percent of its mutants, had a civil war among its heroes and put Norman Osborn in charge of world security in the aftermath of “Secret Invasion.”

DC brought Supergirl and The Flash back to life, Batman was given a son and had two more crisis story line events.

Two major changes have come about recently, which made the early 2000s look quiet. DC rebooted its whole line and Marvel “killed” Ultimate Peter Parker. “The New 52” as DC called it, wiped the slates clean.

All characters received a fresh new history, look, and number one book. Marvel had Peter Parker die heroically fighting the Green Goblin in the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic book series.

The entire Marvel universe mourned the loss. But with Parker gone, New York City was left without a Spider-Man. Miles Morales, an African and Hispanic teenager, replaced Parker.

Unlike most changes to comics, Morales replacing Parker as Spider-Man received national attention.

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck went on his show to criticize Morales’ Spider-Man as Marvel’s attempt to be more politically correct. Keith Olbermann, former MSNBC anchor, then came out and defended Morales on his show.

Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would later on make fun of both of Beck and Olbermann on their Comedy Central satire shows for arguing about the new Spider-Man.

When major changes are made in comics, it is usually met with anger in some form or another. People tweet nasty things about writers and artists. Some writers and artist have even abandoned social media altogether because of the venom coming their way.

The funny thing about this anger is that changes in comics are like a rubber band — it will always snap back. Everything goes back to where it once was.

Peter Parker and Miles Morales chilling out and eating lunch together. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

It should be noted that nobody stays dead for too long except for Uncle Ben and Bruce Wayne’s parents. Almost every character has died and come back, from Captain America to Ambush Bug. Wolverine recently died in “The Death of Wolverine” story arc and most comic readers, especially X-Men readers, are just waiting for his return. Nobody is dead forever.

Character’s races and genders are constantly shifting as well.

Captain America, like Ultimate Spider-Man, is African-American now. The Falcon was given the role of Captain America after Steve Rogers, the original captain, aged to 90 years old. The title of Thor was passed to a woman because Thor became unworthy to wield his hammer. We can only predict that Rogers will be back as Captain America and Thor will be reunited with his hammer.

Changes are meant to keep the books alive.

Thor can be a woman and Spider-Man an African and Hispanic kid from Brooklyn. Superman can be dead and some random guy could be running around as Batman.

These changes are cool, and if they are well-received by everybody, these changes can stick. But for the most part, things snap back to what they once were.

Embrace change because even if the change is awful, like Daredevil’s Shadowland costume, it can always circle back around with time.

George Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or @gjohnston786 on Twitter.

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George Johnston
George Johnston, Breaking News Editor

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