Here cometh the haters.
Some of us can sit back and wait because we know it’s coming. That’s if it hasn’t happened already. Per the New York Times, Marvel has announced that after nearly 50 years, they will expand Wakanda in a book entitled World of Wakanda in November.
This simply means that there will be more to Wakanda than Black Panther, as he will not be the end-all, be-all Wakandan in the Marvel Universe. Newcomers Dr. Roxane Gay and another Howard University alumnus; poet Yona Harvey will write the new comic. This is unprecedented, as it’s the first time as far as I can remember, Marvel (and DC as far as I can tell) has never had any Black women ever to write for them. Furthermore, the book will follow Ayo and Aneka, formerly of the Dora Milaje, and are featuring in one of the storylines in the ongoing Black Panther series written by Ta-nehisi Coates.
Of Aneka and Ayo, Dr. Gay had this to say about writing their story:
“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way. The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that.”
Let this news sink in. If the hate that rose up wasn’t enough for closed-minded comic book fans when it came to Riri Williams, then the news of two strong black gay women featuring in a comic written by black women, may break them. Marvel is actually taking steps to bring in readers from all backgrounds, and there are going to be some mad people. There are going to be people upset, believing that Marvel is “pandering” to the Black crowd. There will be those who are upset at the idea that Marvel will have even MORE gay characters. Helllllooo!!! There have been gay characters in comics for a long while now. Get over yourselves!
I can hear it now, “I am so sick of all of the PC-ness of my comics.” or “These are not the comics I grew up on” or my favorite, “OMG Marvel is pulling another gimmick to get people to buy books!”. These are the things that critics have complained about for years, in that they are tired of having their favorite characters changed for change’s sake. Others have been angry that not enough black creators are tapped to do comics in the Big Two. Here they are now, tackling something new, and if you don’t like it, you can have all of the seats. If you are going to be a hater, we are not here for you, if you have thinly veiled racist and sexist remarks, we are not here for you. If you think that these are not ‘your comics’, then these haven’t been your comics for a long while and nobody is forcing you to buy these books when they his the shelves.
People out there will find a way to take this news and turn it into something negative. Many will miss the positive fact that Marvel is finally taking a long overdue step forward to create characters and stories that reflect the times we live in, with people whose voices are well versed in the work. Many will ignore the fact that some of the bestselling comics right now include Miles Morales, Kamala Khan and T’Challa. For once, there will be stories of black women not being written by white men.
With this news, once again, the complaints will come of people who refuse to acknowledge the one biggest constant in comics: Change. This change is good and long overdue. Many of us are tired of seeing characters of color who are stereotypically from poor backgrounds, struggled to get out of the ‘hood and so on, because it seems like that’s all the Big Two know. In this story, these women will hopefully have a voice that will resonate with a crowd that has gone virtually untouched by Marvel and DC.
I cannot wait for this book to come, as well at the critics’ tears. Let’s hope that Marvel doesn’t abandon this work and is smart with marketing it.