Happy New Year!
By now, if you’re an avid Comicosity fan, you’ve seen our team’s choices for the Best of 2015. We want to throw out one last hurrah and kudos to the year that was, with a look at new characters added to the DC and Marvel sandbox in the last year who are persons of color.
The comic industry was decidedly built on a foundation of Caucasian heroes and heroines, so that even today, the vast majority of characters in starring roles are still overwhelmingly white.
Started last year, The Miles Morales Awards at Comicosity are just one way we could think of to bring attention to some of the new faces adorning our comics — with the goal not to overly pat backs, but to remind us (the fans) just how many cool new characters there are!
And, like anything else, if we love them, support them, and buy them, that’s the clearest way to ensure there will be more to come in 2016!
So, why Miles Morales?
To understand where we’re coming from, we need to jump into the wayback machine and set the dial furiously to our distant past — 2011. The long-running title Ultimate Spider-Man was coming to a close, and with it, the life of that universe’s Peter Parker at the hands of the Green Goblin.
Enter Miles Morales, 12 year-old biracial kid in New York City and the next inheritor of the mantle of Spider-Man! Introduced to immediate fan excitement by writer Brian Michael Bendis, Miles proved to capture the fans’ hearts and have — dare I say it — sticking power in the Marvel Universe. Now, in the wake of Secret Wars, Miles IS Spider-Man of the main Marvel Universe and has a new ongoing arriving next month.
Certainly, Miles wasn’t the first non-white character of prominence to hit the scene (obviously), but he signaled a new wave of energy and excitement among creators and fans to diversify the Marvel and DC Universe. And his importance to the fan community — especially those of African-American, Latino, or biracial backgrounds — cannot be overstated. The ability to see yourself reflected in the medium you love is so important.
And so, here we are again. Without further ado, the Second Annual Miles Morales Awards commence!
Think Peter Parker was the only one to get bitten by a radioactive spider that fateful day? Think again.
Only moments after the event that would spawn over 50 years of amazing fantasy, young Cindy Moon got bitten as well. The only difference? Cindy wasn’t old enough to protect herself from those who would come to destroy her, so she was locked away from her family and friends for a decade. Retrieved by Spider-Man himself, Cindy is now set to embark on a life of adventure and fun in the Big Apple.
Silk may be one of many Spider-Women gracing the pages of Marvel Comics these days in her own title by writer Robbie Thompson and artist Stacey Lee, but she remains one of a very few women of Asian descent to have her own ongoing series at any comic company.
Alter Egos: Duke Thomas, Riko Sheridan, Dre Cipriani, Isabella Ortiz, and Daxton Chill
First Appearance: Batman #21 (Duke Thomas); DC Sneak Peek: We Are… Robin! #1 (remainder)
Star Monthly in: We Are… Robin!
For seven decades, Batman has put teenage avengers out onto the street to fight crime, but in Bruce Wayne’s absence this year, that phenomenon took on a life of its own. A band of teenagers of all races and backgrounds, the Robins have taken on the responsibility of on-the-ground vigilantism — and not everyone is happy about it. In fact, almost no one is. Especially the new Batman.
Joined by Wayne aficionado Duke Thomas, who had occasion to assist the Dark Knight during the event known as Zero Year, the Robins are more than a gang, but not exactly the next Teen Titans. But this modern portrayal of teen heroism by writer Lee Bermejo and artist Jorge Corona has caught fire with fans, and we’re left with more new, diverse characters to populate Batman’s world than ever.
Everyone needs a best friend. So, when Doreen Green, the young woman otherwise known as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, arrived for her first day at college, we got to meet the only character who might be able to rival Doreen for absolute hilarity and awesomeness.
Armed with a dry sense of humor and her cat “Mew” (named for Mjolnir), Nancy is Squirrel Girl’s right hand lady, easily deducing her secret identity, and coming along for whatever adventures seem moderately safe and/or fascinating. Just don’t ask her to wear that suit of squirrels again. Creators Ryan North and Erica Henderson might get a talking to.
Alter Ego: Reiser
First Appearance: DC Sneak Peek: Doomed #1
Starred Monthly in: Doomed
His ongoing may only have lasted six issues, but new Metropolis University student Reiser made a pretty strong impression. Part of a string of non-white/straight/male characters writer Scott Lobdell has introduced to the DC Universe since 2011 (Bunker, Skitter, Alpha Centurion, Shay Veritas), Reiser spun out of the recent Superman: Doomed storyline, albeit in a completely new way with artist Javier Fernandez.
Infected by the Doomsday virus, Doomed is a classic misunderstood monster in the tradition of the Hulk or Frankenstein. But it is his everyday life as Reiser, roommate to fellow tragic hero Roman, and lab assistant for S.T.A.R. Labs, that made his story interesting to follow.
One of Marvel Comics’ newest heroes, Blindspot made his debut only last month in the first issue of Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s Daredevil relaunch for All-New, All-Different Marvel.
A young Chinese immigrant to New York City — and having arrived illegally with his sister — Samuel Chung is a technological genius, left to sweep floors, clean toilets, and audit classes on the down low. Having created his own invisibility suit, Chung runs afoul of Daredevil (the only hero who could “see” him) in the course of fighting crime in his neighborhood of Chinatown. Soule and Garney are tackling a hot topic with Sam’s illegal status, and the idea of his invisibility to the culture around him — until someone is needed to be a scapegoat, that is — is pretty damn right on.
Gang of Harleys
When Batman needed to up the ante on his crime-fighting regimen, he brought on Robin. And Batgirl. The original Batwoman. Even an international League of Batmen. So, why should it be any different for Harley Quinn?
With the DCYou storyarc debuting in June, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Chad Hardin brought in an entirely new cast of characters to the Clown Princess’s book. And some of them are easily as wacky as Harley herself. Coming from different boroughs all around New York City, the Gang of Harleys represents the city’s diversity in a way we rarely see in super-hero books set in the fictional (i.e. primarily white) Big Apple. And puns on the names make for some of the best introductions. Hanuquinn, the (other) Jewish Harley? C’mon. That rocks.
Having just lost her mother and in the process of bringing her ashes back to Mexico, teenager Becca Rodriguez found her airplane crossing over into the Bermuda Triangle and from there, everything in her world got weird.
Quickly becoming integral to the battle between Goleta and any number of enemies in the Weirdworld — The Ogeode, Arkon, Witch Queen Le Fay, and the Catbeast — Becca is now squire to the Wizardslayer. Where writer Sam Humphries and artist Mike del Mundo take the young, out-of-her-element, Latina woman next is anyone’s guess!
Old friend and even older enemy to John Constantine, Georgiana Snow is everything the Hellblazer isn’t. So much so, she’s even earned the moniker “Heckblazer.” Civilized, above board, and responsible with her magic use, Georgiana is every bit as talented as John, if not more, going to show that how Constantine comports himself is a choice, and not one necessitated by the magic he wields.
As a pleasant and interesting foil to John, Georgiana’s shared past with the magician (not to mention shared friends and lovers) brings a brand new element to the anti-hero’s ongoing story, recently relaunched by James Tynion IV, Ming Doyle, and Riley Rossmo. John may be young all over again, and it’s Georgiana Snow who gets to be the responsible, yet powerful, adult cleaning up after the messes John leaves behind. Here’s hoping Georgiana’s role continues on in perpetuity in the book. She’s too great a character to fade into the background.
Alter Ego: Lunella Lafayette
First Appearance: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Stars Monthly in: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Girl genius, young woman of color, and exciting adventurer all rolled into one? With a dinosaur?!?! How can you miss?
Moon Girl may be Marvel’s newest female hero — with her ongoing book only debuting at the end of 2015 by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos — but she’s already a force to be reckoned with. Encountering all sorts of weird stuff in New York City (monsters, anyone?) is only the beginning. And the best part? Totally kid-friendly. This is something we need more of.
Alter Ego: Khalid Nassour
First Appearance: DC Sneak Peek: Doctor Fate #1
Stars Monthly in: Doctor Fate
And here Khalid “Kent” Nassour thought medical school was going to be the hardest challenge he would face this year. But when the gods of Egypt decide to flood New York City and destroy the world (and Khalid’s family), something has to be done. And accepting the helm of fate that is presented to the young, first generation Egyptian-American is just the start.
Set in Brooklyn and featuring a Dikto/Eisner-inspired storytelling style by writer Paul Levitz and artist Sonny Liew, Doctor Fate is one of the most unique DC You launches, and the company’s first ongoing solo starring a Muslim character. And, after 75 years, it’s refreshing to finally see an individual of Egyptian descent manning the robes and helm of one of the most Egyptian concepts super-hero comics have ever developed. As Earth 2 had briefly featured a Khalid of their own as Doctor Fate (but also undoubtedly inspired by the success of Ms. Marvel), this new series finally finds its new focus character to deal in magic, mythology, and urban life, all through the lens of a Muslim character.
Few characters in Marvel’s stable right now are as complex and rich as Sera, created by Marguerite Bennett, Kieron Gillen, Phil Jimenez, and Stephanie Hans for Angela’s premier Marvel title. Now the consort of Angela, Queen of Hel, Sera began life as an Angel of Heven, living among the male angels (and assigned as such at birth), until being rescued by her partner to be. Fiercely devoted to her, even after death, Angela conquered Hel itself in order to reign alongside Sera, whose bravery and intelligence makes her every bit the warrior Angela is.
A major milestone for Marvel Comics as their first truly transgender (i.e. not a shapeshifter) major character, a lesbian, and a woman of color, Sera stands out as one of the two most incredible women with rich intersectional identity in 2016 at Marvel and DC.
Who would have guessed upon reading the first issue of Barbara Gordon’s new life in Burnside that new roommate Frankie Charles would be so important months later? Just one of many new characters of color introduced by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr in the Batgirl title, Frankie is not just one of the crowd, however. She is bisexual, African-American, and lives with a significant disability, introducing an intersection of identity in a major character for the first time in a long while.
Computer programmer and all around smart and savvy young woman, Frankie was instrumental in defeating the AI that was set to kill Batgirl and all of her friends. Fired up by the experience and the revelation that her old friend was a super-hero, Frankie insisted on becoming Barbara’s new partner in fighting crime.
Ultimately, Frankie is mostly working behind the scenes as chief information provider for both Batgirl and Black Canary, taking on the role of Oracle that once upon a time — in another reality — belonged to Barbara herself. Despite her Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis, Frankie has been known to throw herself into the thick of action, even donning the Batgirl mask and ultimately bonding herself with an augmentation device. The results of that decision are yet to be seen.
Inevitably, we’ve left out some awesome, new character or overlooked someone you think deserves a shout-out! So do it! We want to hear about any other characters of color introduced to the DC or Marvel Universe in 2015! Shout out your picks to our Twitter account at @Comicosity!
And here’s to an even better 2016!