kingrockwell: he's a sexy (Ferdinand)
Kingston C. Rockwell ([personal profile] kingrockwell) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2010-05-07 05:50 pm

Brightest Day and Racism

Brightest Day #1 is out this week, and while the jokes have already been made about the White Power rings supposedly shipped with it, the book itself displays some very troubling racial politics.

This is about four pages out of thirty.
Writers are Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi.
These scenes are, I think, penciled by Ivan Reis and Patrick Gleason (they don't really credit any of the beats individually).

The second beat picks up off the coast of Somalia, where Deadman's found himself on a boat of slavers herding abducted children. But let's take a look here.


Now isn't that nice? The slavers are all black while every one of their captives is white. What is that supposed to say?
The children are saved by the mighty-whitey team of Aquaman and Mera, as has been posted already, but a scene from the aftermath is also worth examining.


Can you guess who this guy is?


If you hadn't figured it out yet, this guy returns to the ocean to resume his criminal career as Black Manta at the end of the issue. Now, the Aquaman/Black Manta relationship is problematic on its own, but Black Manta's history only makes it moreso (especially given that he doesn't even get a real name). Bringing him back in a book called Brightest Day that already has a mark against it is just...inadvisable.

Also, note the black woman among the victims. So far, if you're black in this comic, you can only be a villain or a victim. And what if you try to be a hero?

Well, dear readers, that's where Jason Rusch comes in.
If you'll recall, in Brightest Day #0, Jason tried punching Ronnie Raymond (who's apparently a complete tool now, thanks Geoff Johns!), only to have the two of them merge into Firestorm.
I don't even have to tell you which one's the floating head.


"Someone like you"? And just what is that supposed to mean, Ronnie?


So, Jason's not only had his role stolen by the white guy who used to have it (which is already a disturbing trend throughout the DCU, especially in Johns' work, as Chris Sims at Comics Alliance has also observed), but now he's trapped in that guy's head? Classy!

Any one of these would be problematic in itself, but all three together in the same issue adds up to a tone deaf and racist mess. A kick-off like this does not bode well for where Brightest Day is going.

Ookay, technically there was one black guy who got to be the hero in BD 1.
...The guy in the Colgate ad. He aced it!
valtyr: (Default)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 04:28 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't see how that compels him to give the drugs storyline to the one black kid in the YA.
queenursula: (Default)

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 04:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Because he couldn't have inherited his powers from his grandfather, who got them after he was born.

That leaves Hawkeye, who's a normal human, Wiccan and Speed, who are the children of Scarlet Witch, Hulkling, who's the son of Captain Marvel, and the Vision, who's a robot. Why would anyone else need to take the drug?

And it's not like was snorting crack; he was taking something to give him powers so he could fight crime.
valtyr: (Default)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 04:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Because he couldn't have inherited his powers from his grandfather, who got them after he was born.

Yeah, you do realise he never claimed that? He said he got them from a blood tranfusion. Which he then really got after the drugs storyline. So the original story of how he got his powers was fine and did not need to be replaced with 'drugs'.

And why did it have to be power-feigning drugs? Why not Kate abusing painkillers to cope with injuries? Billy using amphetamines to cope with all the things going on in his life, or to aid the concentration that makes his magic?

And Young Avengers isn't the only story he's written; he could have decided to save writing a drugs storyline for a different character that wouldn't have been Yet Another Black Character Involved In Drugs/Gangs/Pimping.

He chose to give a black character a drugs storyline. He was not forced to do so.

queenursula: (Default)

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 04:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Because then we wouldn't have gotten the heartwarming moment when his grandfather gave him the blood transfusion in #12 to save his life, after he was injured trying to save Captain America.
valtyr: (Default)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 04:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Holy shit, you mean you can only get a blood transfusion once in your life?

Or do you mean that is the only heartwarming scene Heinberg is capable of writing? IF ELI HAD NOT TAKEN DRUGS THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO HEARTWARMING, PEOPLE!

"But it allowed for a heartwarming moment" is really not sufficient to justify "making yet another black character a druggie/gang member/pimp".
queenursula: (Default)

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 06:15 pm (UTC)(link)
What are you talking about? It's more than just the transfusion; Eli was willing to sacrifice himself to save Cap.
valtyr: (Default)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 06:26 pm (UTC)(link)
And... Eli would not have sacrificed himself to save Cap unless he had previously taken drugs? The super soldier serum does not render one immune to bullets, the effect would have been the same.
queenursula: (Default)

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 06:36 pm (UTC)(link)
But then he got his grandfather's powers for real when he got the transfusion.
valtyr: (Default)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, I KNOW. How would it not have been heart-warming if powered-Eli took the hit for Cap and then just got a blood transfusion from his granddad?

And are you really suggesting that the writer is so limited he couldn't have come up with a different heartwarming scene?

And again, a "heartwarming scene" doesn't make it absolutely fine to have yet another black character fall into problematic stereotypes!
queenursula: (Default)

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 07:04 pm (UTC)(link)
It wouldn't have been as powerful if Eli already had his powers when he got the transfusion.
valtyr: (Default)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 07:05 pm (UTC)(link)
That's your theory. As he didn't write it, we'll never know if Heinberg could have found other ways to add weight to that scene - or write a different one, just as good and better because it didn't rely on problematic stereotypes.
skalja: Ultimate Spider-Woman posing like a BAMF (Default)

[personal profile] skalja 2010-05-09 09:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I have to say, I think either of your alternate ideas -- Kate+painkillers or Billy+amphetamines (ahaha, Billy on speed) a lot better than Eli+MGH. I'd probably prefer Billy just because Kate doesn't need TWO superheroic angst backstory plotlines, but either one would avoid reinforcing a negative stereotype the way "black kid does drugs" does.

Either one would have been a fantastic rebuttal to the "what you really want is for NO BAD THINGS to happen to minorities EVER!" strawman, too.
valtyr: (happy cap)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 09:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Billy on speed

ahaha

Yeah, people don't seem to get that non-stereotypical writing is usually better writing. Less lazy.
queenursula: (Default)

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 09:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Why is it better to have gay Jews do drugs?
queenursula: (Default)

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 09:43 pm (UTC)(link)
So you haven't heard about the stereotypes involving gays and crystal meth?
skalja: Ultimate Spider-Woman posing like a BAMF (Default)

[personal profile] skalja 2010-05-09 09:55 pm (UTC)(link)
It's not "better" for anyone to do drugs. But if Heinberg wanted to do a storyline about one of the YA on drugs, well, neither rich, (presumed) white girls nor middle-class, gay Jewish boys are associated with specific negative stereotypes about drugs the way working-class, inner city black boys are. So writing a drug storyline about either the rich, white girl or the middle-class, gay Jewish boy wouldn't be reinforcing discriminatory stereotypes.

ETA: Okay, fair enough about the crystal meth stereotype. I wasn't really aware of that.

Sorry, Kate, guess it's down to you! Or alternately, as another poster pointed out, Heinberg could have saved that story for another title.
Edited 2010-05-09 22:07 (UTC)
muccamukk: Kate looking like she's going to shoot someone (Marvel: I Will Shoot You)

[personal profile] muccamukk 2010-05-09 11:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Actually, I always saw Cassie as the logical choice for that one. If he HAD to do the drug story, why not have Cassie, who was desperate to be on the team, be the one taking the power mimicking drugs. She already admitted to stealing Pym particles. You could use Marvel Science to give her real powers later.
valtyr: (Default)

[personal profile] valtyr 2010-05-09 11:29 pm (UTC)(link)
That would have been pretty good, I don't remember Cassie getting much of a story of her own.
skalja: Ultimate Spider-Woman posing like a BAMF (Default)

[personal profile] skalja 2010-05-09 11:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Duh, that's a good point. Plus extra tragedy given her age.

Tommy is another option. I mean he was in JAIL at one point, so drugs aren't that much of a stretch.
jazzypom: pilsbury doughboy (FAIL)

O.o

[personal profile] jazzypom 2010-05-09 05:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Because then we wouldn't have gotten the heartwarming moment when his grandfather gave him the blood transfusion in #12 to save his life, after he was injured trying to save Captain America.

But Eli could have gotten the transfusion any other way. He could have been involved in a car accident, etc. The problem is, the story is pretty much a lazy trope told by a white person - black kid, must have drug problems - despite the fact that growing up with a granddad who pretty much lost his mind over the US sanctioned drug stuff might have pushed Eli to go another way.

The problem with this aspect of Eli's character is that the white writer couldn't see the story as any different from teh stereotypes that are put out there with regards to people who aren't white.

queenursula: (Default)

Re: O.o

[personal profile] queenursula 2010-05-09 06:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Because getting in a car accident isn't as dramatic as getting injured jumping in front of a blast meant for Captain America.
jazzypom: (Default)

Re: O.o

[personal profile] jazzypom 2010-05-09 06:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Because getting in a car accident isn't as dramatic as getting injured jumping in front of a blast meant for Captain America.

And again, you're missing the point.