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The Totally Awesome Hulk

Marvel has done it again.  Spider-Man is half Hispanic, half African-American.  Thor is a woman.  Ms. Marvel is a Muslim teenager.  And now the Incredible Hulk is an Asian teenager.

The right wingers are going 'splody head.  I'm eating popcorn and thinking this is pretty cool.  I've seen some sample pages, and the new character looks interesting.

Why are they doing all this?  Two reasons:

First, the original characters are over fifty years old.  Fifty!  That's over 600 issues of stories, not counting cross-overs, annuals, special releases, and other extras.  (Not only that, Spider-Man has three different comics all to himself, tripling the amount of writing.)  After fifty years of this, you start to run out of stuff to do.  The trouble with a comic book super-hero is that you can't change the character every issue, or even every year.  If you do, you and your successors have to live with those changes forever.  If Spider-Man's strength increases to the point where he can lift a tank, three issues later, you can't show him trapped beneath a mere car.  Readers are also quick to point out repeated stories ("You did clones four years ago!  Why are you doing it again?"), so no sneaking repeated stuff!  What do you write about when you've already done it all?

Handing the character over to a new person gives the writer someone new to explore.  Amadeus Cho's Hulk isn't Bruce Banner's Hulk, and now we have a lot more to do.  Who is Amadeus?  How did he get his powers?  What can he do that the original Hulk couldn't, and vice-versa?  What villains will he face?  What personal demons?  Lots to check out.

Second, Marvel is trying to be more inclusive.  For decades, heroes have been straight, white, and mostly male.  This left out African-American, Hispanic, Asian, female, and LGBT readers.  Sure, you can still enjoy a story about a straight white dude if you're a gay Asian kid or a Muslim girl, but you do long for some stories about people who look like you or who have a life similar to yours.  I can tell you I really wished for some gay super-heroes when I was a kid and teenager and would have climbed over my own grandmother to get them.  And naturally, if a black kid can enjoy stories about a white super-hero, a white kid can enjoy stories about a black one!

The right-wing nutjobs always (ALWAYS) whine, "Why don't the comic book companies just create a NEW superhero instead of re-doing an old one?"

And the answer is simple: Nubia.

Remember Nubia?  Of course you don't.  No one does.  Nubia was created in 1973 to be a black version of Wonder Woman.  DC tried to promote her and use her, but no one cared.  Everyone wanted to read about Wonder Woman, and Nubia faded away.  In the 80s, DC renamed her Nu'Bia and tried again, but it still didn't work.  No one was interested.  New characters don't have the heft.

Thor, Hulk, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and other such characters have built up a long history and a long, solid readership.  Introducing a new character into readers' already busy reading lists is next to impossible, and such characters don't get any media attention.

Retooling an existing character, however, gets LOTS of media attention.  And current fans of the character are far more likely to accept the shift and keep reading.  After Jane Smith picked up Mjolnir, sales of THOR soared.  MS. MARVEL, featuring a teenaged Muslim, is the third-best selling comic at Marvel right now.  Clearly readers are happy to go along with all this.

Now we have an Asian Hulk.  Go Marvel!

DC, what are you doing to catch up?


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