Monday, February 18, 2008

What the fuck is up with this picture?

Who is that behind Wonder Woman?

Is that Vixen?

The yellow jumpsuit looks like it belongs to Vixen, if slightly the wrong colour. As do the bangles on the wrist and the belt on the waist.

But last I checked, Vixen was not a white woman.


Vixen, Vixen, Vixen, Vixen.

Nope, not a white woman.

And while she obviously uses relaxer on her hair, I've never heard of the chemicals automatically bleaching skin. So no plot or reasoning will be coming from that direction.

Seriously, what the hell is up with that? You know there is no way that from writer to printing press Superman could suddenly show up in a series that's part of current continuity, sporting braids and a darker skin tone.

Because people would call you on that!


And in all honesty, as cool as the idea would be to randomly show the heroes as different ethnicities and cultural identities to show how universal they truly are;

Today Superman is Black.

Today Batman is Korean.

Today Wonder Woman is Latina

Today Flash is Indigenous Australian...

You aren't that cool, DC.

You just aren't that cool.

Instead it all comes across very much like:

"We've secretly switched the usual black superheroine, for a white chick. Let's see if anyone notices."

There are only a handful of minority characters, in your universe DC. And while yes, said characters totally kick ass, that is no excuse for you to be cavalier. There's no reason for this not to have been caught.

What? Were you all mesmerized by Wonder Ass and the Astounding FF Breasts that somehow managed not to droop?

Stop fucking things up DC.

Stop fucking things up.

And oh yes, caption box, it is indeed CRAZY.

[ETA: Edited Feb 2011 - Update lost images]


  1. I do not follow comics really, mostly because doing so when you have little pocket money as a teenager, living down in latin america, where your really big introduction to comics was Xmen, I don't really have a lot of reasons to get that dedicated. Instead, I read blogs like yours.

    I have no idea who Vixen is. Never saw her. But I would have never known she was originally black from that picture. Not color, or features- or well, anything. And although my first thought when I saw this cover on Karen's GRC was "OMFG, Whats up with the POSE!" by which I mean, the women's pose, my mind is buzzing right now with the fact that I wouldn't recognize Vixen's ethnicity as different from... well, a random caucasian women down the street (In the US).

    If ever I needed proof to what you've pointed out on racism in comics (I secretly have read your blog for a month or so now) its here.

    Pray ignore me as I thunk my head against my desk and ask myself why I am blind, and proceed to hunt down a site that will tell me a bit about this since I have no right to participate in any discussion as ignorant as I stand right now. (I guess I'm looking for an equivalent of Feminism 101 ^^; since I don't think you really want to tutor people on the whole issue.)

  2. Thanks, I'll be sure to look into those links!

  3. *facepalm*

    Someone on my flist today referenced the Dunning-Kruger effect, "which is that study about how the incompetent don't know they're incompetent because they can't in fact judge the competency of either themselves or others..."


  4. seriously i barely noticed this as i read the issue. as soon as i saw the pic on your blog i thought it was going to be an objection to wonder woman's wedgie. you picked a page where she's standing next to uber white superman and wonder woman. if you look at the connecting page she's the same skin color as as black lightning, the tatooed man(idk if he's suppose to be black, and some other balck girl bad guy that has a robot eye(sorry idk who she is). also waller who is black and bronze tiger who is black are all the same shade as vixen. i think she looks odd due to her a hair being a little to bright and off but her skin color isn't wrong. granted her features aren't stero typicall black but hey she's had the same face she's had since issue one benes hasn't changed the way he's drawn her. to me this seems to be much ado about nothing.

    also i've seen several artists draw superman making him look a little asian.

  5. Stephen:

    Seeing your comment makes me think it's not enough to have a descriptive bit in the title of the last link to an image of Vixen that states I find that Benes representation of her to be nothing more than Tanner Than You Caucasian.

    You've stated using the phrase "much ado about nothing" that how the black characters look in this issue of JLA is not important to you. Your priorities are your priorties and that's fine.

    But I think I make it pretty damn clear what my priorties are, here in this blog especially.

    For those of us for whom it is important to see images of ourselves/our culture/our ethnicity reflected in this media we enjoy - how Vixen and the other African Descended characters are drawn (lips and mouth) and shaded, shown here wonderfully by Scans_Daily, is a big deal.

    I am no longer five years old and able to believe that Batman is a black man but it's not always clear because the colourist doesn't know how to use "the crayons" properly. I would like to see the characters that are my power fantasies looking like my power fantasies.

    As for Superman being drawn Asian, I would greatly enjoy seeing those and know several Asian Descended who would as well. Do you have links? Or series name and issue number?

  6. In saying "much ado about nothing" I meant no disrespect to your blog I just think that the slight you say that dc is supposedly making is not true.

    "We've secretly switched the usual black superheroine, for a white chick. Let's see if anyone notices."

    My point is there is a consistency in the coloring of the black characters in this comic. Right?

    Also in defense of Ed Benes and why he doesn't draw his black characters with stero typical black features. Perhaps his race and culture come into play. Ed Benes is a brazillian born comic book artist in Brazil the mixing of races is not a big deal. Perhaps his Version of Vixen is based on a Mulato girl he knows. I don't know, maybe for him the way black people and white people look it is not a big deal to him to ditinguish them.

    I've always found Jim Lee's Superman to look a lil asian to me and artist Carlos Pacheco who did Superman 654 linked below seems to draw at least in this issue an asian looking superman.

    this is an interrior

    (sorry i'm new at this and not familiar with streamlined html linking.)

  7. Stephen:

    I appreciate you meant no disrespect towards my blog. But as my blog also represents me is it fair to say you meant no disrespect towards me?

    The colouring of the issue may be internally consistent, but that does not mean there isn't a slight. Someone looked at the internally consistent colour and decided it was ok for those characters to seem that lightly toned.

    I have been in love with DC characters ever since I was a little girl and fell in love with Batman and I would strongly appreciate more than lip service to 'diversity'. Every issue is a PR campaign and this one says that "Making sure People of Colour appear AS People of Colour is not important to us here at DC".

    As for Ed Benes, your defense of him suggests you like his art; buttocks and all. But were you trying to bring up Brazil's history of racism towards traditionally African looking women? (Google Brazil + racism for more)

    Thank you sincerely for your links to Asian Seeming Superman. I may use them for a post later on in the week.

  8. Wasn't that just an ink error on one page? Or was it through the issue?

  9. Avalon's Willow:

    I meant no slight or direspect towards you, in any of my comments. Although Brazil doesn't have a spotless record on racism. I could easily google any country and racism and get at least a hundred hits. I'm cuban american and I have several friends who are Brazillian and from what I've learned first hand through their culture I've found it to be very tolerant and very diverse.

    I have a question for you, in your opinion is this JLA run positve for African-american's over all from issue 1-18? I would say yes. Considering that John Stewart seems to be an awesome and competent guest member and that Firestorm is going to join up with the squad eventually.

  10. Stephen's point on Brazilian upbringing is somewhat validated. Brazil in general is a much more tolerant place then say, Peru. Let me give an example- advertising in Brazil (first hand experience) tends to include a lot more diverse people. On the other hand, Peru's advertisements are nearly always white people. And white people are an extremely small percentage of the population, who incidentally are full of rampant racism... which includes wealth discrimination (but no matter how wealthy, if you are dark skinned, you are a cholo (generally a derogatory term for indian in andean countries, often used to indicate bad taste) forever)Here's some personal experience on how bad things can get- one lady told my mom she didn't care if the maid died crossing a very trafficked avenue to go to the supermarket because there are hundreds more poor who would fill her place. Citizens to that woman were disposable human beings for her use.

    But I don't think that his more tolerant upbringing excuses making an african american character that has also been depicted better in the past look either tanned or of mixed heritage, and all the other black characters in the issue either. (Which are... uh, one more?)

  11. I'm cuban american and I have several friends who are Brazillian and from what I've learned first hand through their culture I've found it to be very tolerant and very diverse.

    Which side of the fence are they speaking from? From a White Brazilian perspective or from a Black Brazilian perpective?

    I have a question for you, in your opinion is this JLA run positve for African-american's over all from issue 1-18?

    Sooo...are you saying that one should overlook such an obvious gaffe ( <-- to say the least) relative to JLA's past treatment of African-Americans?

    If so, we've heard it before. It didn't fly then; it won't fly now.

    ***gone to compose complaint letter to DC.

  12. Stephen:

    I walked away from the conversation, to take a break, and try and figure out how to explain things in a way that wouldn't piss me off to be explaining it.

    But I haven't come up with anything besides:

    If someone comes to invite me to a party and steps on my foot as they're doing it. And they don't say sorry, or excuse me or 'my bad' and present themselves as if I should be so grateful for the invitation to the party that I should ignore the heavy weight on my foot and the pain it is causing me - then is that party really a place I want to go?


    Cami mentions in her following comment about individuals being seen as disposable and not human and not precious.

    I want my superheroes to be precious. I want the same concern over features and skin tone as happened over Citizen's Steel's crotch.

    There are too many other places where I'm expected to be grateful despite the heavy weight on my foot; we let you into the country, there's affirmative action, hey we don't make you ride in the back of the bus.

    I don't want to have to deal with that sense of not mattering in my escapist power fantasies.

    Not paying attention to the representation of its PoC characters may not be the same as; Hey, we let you into the country so what if we lied to the women of your country and sterilized them.

    And it may not be the same as; It's only a little continuous surveillance, a little restrictions cause you have a few of the same genotypes as a possible terrorist.

    But it comes from the same place. A place where it's ok for these things not to be important, for them to slide, for someone to shrug and say 'printer/colourist error big deal'. It's a place where they DON'T have to give a damn. It's a place of privilege.

    And screw the fact that someone somewhere who's never seen a black person outside of on tv now thinking that one of my heroes are simply one of theirs who 'suns' a lot and doesn't have to think about skin cancer.

    The US isn't at a place where being multi-racial isn't a big deal. In the Caribbean, even in Brazil it's not too uncommon to have had parents who're multiracial/bi-racial and grandparents also the same.

    Think of the conflict Barak Obama has been going through because he calls himself a black man, and people want to claim he isn't, because one of his parents is white.

    These seeming slip ups aren't done in a vacuum. They're done on the tail end of some pretty effed up history. And it's damning and empty and full of privilege to try and marginalize that history and how it affects things as 'wanting people to be pc and making much ado about nothing' etc.

    Especially in a comics company where the HISTORY OF THE CHARACTERS is part of the draw. These aren't individuals who're incapable of acknowledging that a sequence of events in the past can have crushing weight and bearing on the present.

    So to answer your question at last, no, John Stewart's marvelous current usage does not detract from this cock-up. Because it's not about throwing out bits/characters/samples of appeasement.

  13. Man, yeah. I'm right there with you. Gross OUT. Wait, were people talking about wanting Wonder Woman to be darker? I'm for that. I think she should be darker than Greek, even. Libyan. Isn't Libya the place where historians think the "Amazons" might actually have been?

  14. Hey,

    I peeked at some of the other pages posted from this issue, and (while Benes' art is one of the reasons I don't read this title) man that skin tone colouring (someone else is responsible for that, I presume) is terrible, across the board. I never would have recognized Vixen by sight, nor Waller.

    I still get the feeling from stuff like this, and stuff like the illustrations of the initial attack of the Hood on Tigra in Avengers, and from a whole bunch of story stuff in various comics that doesn't touch on any gender or race issues, that mainstream superhero comics just are not sufficiently well edited.

    I often feel like comics need to be gone over by a powerful copy editor or proof reader, who can say "You know, these words and images don't communicate what you're going for, or are likely to be read differently from how you intend. Take them back and try again."

    Also, not that I buy the Brazilian theory as the cause for this, but hypothetically, a Brazilian producing work for a US audience should figure our what US people look like, and an editor should help him or her do this.

  15. Also, I just reread the issue, and either Lex Luthor is trying to infiltrate the JLA disguised as Black Lightning or BL's hue got screwed up as well, because he's even lighter than Vixen on the other half of that double-page spread.

    God, I miss (former colorist) Alex Sinclair!

  16. Mordicai: First off, that's a strong name / web pseud you've got there.

    Second - Who's talking about making WW darker? I've always just accepted the fact that she doesn't look Greek with the traditional olive tone skin. Most of the time I just want her to look regal and warrior majestic.

    If you mean the image shown above, the woman in yellow behind WW is Vixen and should have the darker pigmentation of a woman of near African Descent. (Near as opposed to the rest of the human race that got a bit paler due to climate change, geography and millenia).

    Third of all - checked out your lj and saw you enjoyed The Cell's cinematography and are looking forward to The Fall by the same director. So I'm curious as to your thoughts on 300 and if you also enjoy Zhang Yimou's films: Raise The Red Lantern, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles, Curse of the Golden Flower.

    I'm always interested in meeting fellow comic readers who are drawn to movies as much for cinematagraphy as for plot. Maybe more sometimes.

  17. Notintheface:
    Apparently black people in DC verse spend a lot of money on skin bleaching creams. Or at least this issue would have us think along those lines.

    Do you really think that the change that needs to happen with The Big Two and maybe others is to change who edits? This is not me being facetious, please don't take it that way.

    I'm seriously curious as to if the best solution is to have well, mini versions of Amanda Waller looking over the semi-final drafts and saying "Yes, yes, no, wtf were you thinking - do it over, no no , she's chinese, no, why did you make her breasts so big? Are your balls inflamed? No. Yes. Yes. You have a week."

    Ok, maybe I want the editors to be meaner than you do. But the thought of the change starting from an editiorial front, where people can recognize privilege, tropes and just 'Oh hells no' incidents and cut them off at the knees before they get further; it intrigues.

    Unfortunately my impression of the comics industry is that there is no way in hell such positions of power are going to be handed over to people who'd call their current mistakes, mistakes.

    And given the experiences (published in her blog) and subsequent industry bashing (also done on her blog) by Valerie D'orazio, I highly doubt they'll let people who don't think they way they do - who aren't also talent in the form of writers and/or artists into those hallowed halls again.

    It's a good thought for a newer, smaller press though - that the real talent to cultivate are the editors.

    Of course that could also be said of non graphic novel publishing - that editors are overworked, some are under paid, and then you have certain stars who get contracts that state they go without editing or significant editing and the result is what gets published today.

    I'd need to do some research on it though, as this is all impressionistic or based on things I looked into at least 6 months ago.

    Long story short - I don't think you're wrong.

  18. What I find amusing is I'm currently reading Shawn Martinbrough's book on illustrating comics noir -- and there's a section where he explains to aspiring artists that they have to be ready, when dealing with established heroes like, oh say, DC's Batman, to toe the line with the approved designs and not make more than the most subtle personal inflections on them.

    But apparently one can change the race of a character without getting the stark fist of editorial removal? There is no way looking at that picture that one would ever guess that character is supposed to be black. Oy.