Dc comics has failed to support black voices and people of color consistently over the past 3 years. Classic black characters are pushed to the side and new black characters are ignored after their mini-series is over. On top of that, DC has been too hesitant to focus on characters of color because they are convinced fans don’t want diversity. There is a systemic problem with the editorial staff at DC that leads me to have little faith in their ability to produce any real change.
Remember when Cyborg became a founding member of the Justice League? Following the first arc of Justice League (2011) fans thought DC was ready to diversify and really celebrate their black characters. A black character founded the justice league and despite some fan backlash, Cyborgs inclusion made big headlines. But what happened since then with Cyborg? Cyborg’s impact in Justice League waned over time, Cyborgs solo series have consistently been critically panned, and the Justice League movie severely mishandled Cyborgs storyline. By all accounts, Cyborg is just a token black character. He is a character who gets included for the appearance of diversity. Originally, this wasn’t the case, with Cyborg’s story having deeper meaning. However lately in the comics, Cyborg’s only significant change is him becoming a super powerful police officer and oppressor of the lost sector with no free will under the reign of darkseid. While Justice League Odyssey has been a strong comic for a Jessica Cruz, DC’s highest profile black character has been repeatedly ignored.
On screen, DC has been very supportive of African Americans. Black lightning fully embraces the struggles and triumph of black communities and deals with the topic of police brutality in disheartening and terrifying ways. Black Lightning is the Black Panther of TV. A critically acclaimed show that embraces the struggles and hardships consistent with the black lives matter movement. Doom Patrol handles Cyborg wonderfully, telling a nuanced tale of Cyborg’s story as he figures out who he is and comes to terms with his father. The arrow verse created new characters like Diggle and included black heroes and characters like Wild dog, Mr. Terrific, Martian Manhunter, Iris, Luke fox, and more. While some of these characters aren’t traditionally black, these race-bender characters have still tackled and shown of issues of white privilege, and even simple things like letting Iris wear her natural hair style. The TV shows have done an excellent job handling people of color, but the comics are still sorely lacking.
Not one character I’ve mentioned in this article has a solo title. Cyborg only has presence in a Justice League story where the name of the title can boost sales. Black lighting leads a team in a comic, but Batman is the first word in the title. In all of DC Comics line-up only one superhero solo comic focuses on a black character: Far Sector which is currently may be cancelled as it hasn’t been resolicited (I’m pretty sure).
DC has also struggled to support and keep building up new black characters. Naomi: Season 2 only exists because Bendis claims it will happen someday. Naomi only exists in a team comic. Simon Baz who’s whole backstory deals with religious persecution and being accused and punished because of the color of his skin, and yet Simon Baz doesn’t even have a comic anymore. Static shock hasn’t been in a comic since early New 52. Duke Thomas has barely existed and never had a significant story. Batman and the Signal which was supposed to explain Duke’s powers was a bad comic that has never been referenced again. Given this, does anyone have any faith that Far Sector will be continued?
Meanwhile at Marvel, minority characters make up about ⅓ of all solo titles. Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, Sword Master, Black Panther, Aero, etc. While most of these stories haven’t sold well, Marvel continues to support them. Sword Master sells less than 4000 issues and yet, Marvel continues to support it and solicit it. (Since Covid-19 occurred, Marvel hasn’t resolicited it.) Black characters also feature heavily in the team titles, but unlike DC, black characters have significant support in solo-titles.
So DC has a serious problem that it needs to fix. They need to support black characters more, but it’s clear that DC doesn’t have faith that black comics can sell well as evidenced by the high numbers of cancellations, yet there is hope that DC comics will support more characters of color. DC’s 5G movement which was supposed to be happening in November, was supposed to pass on the mantle of iconic heroes in newer voices, many of them were people of color. Bruce Wayne was supposed to be replaced by Luke Fox and James Tynion IV was supposed to be replaced by critically acclaimed writer John Ridley IV (12 years a slave). Hal Jordan was supposed to be replaced by the main character of Far Sector. 5G was supposed to be Marvel’s equivalent of All-new All-different which saw Marvel having iconic characters passing on the mantle to non-white male characters. Unfortunately, All-New All-Different was replaced because of massive fan backlash. Similarly, 5G has received massive fan backlash before its even officially started or happened. In fact, it’s possible that it has completely been canceled as Bleeding Cool has said it has been put on hold. It’s quite likely that fan backlash made DC hesitant and worried about 5g, and that Covid-19 gave DC an excuse to change their plans. I worry that DC comics will use this as an opportunity to reduce the plans of 5g and likely reduce their support of minorities.
This isn’t okay. Dc Comics needs to do more to focus on Black Characters, but it’s not just black characters. DC Comics have been abysmal at supporting LGBTQ characters and other ethnicities. On this website, every discussion on diversity and inclusivity has led to mass chaos. There is a problem in the comics community and with DC comics that can’t be ignored any longer. If DC wants to support the Black Lives Matter Movement, then they need to diversify their comics, staff, and give minorities within their staff more of a voice. DC Universe needs to make more effort to highlight black minority voices and this is hard. It’s not an easy thing to fix. If it was easy, the problem would be fixed. DC needs to give us minority-led comics and be willing to take financial losses in order to let a new fan base build. This is not an easy thing to fix. Please share your thoughts below.