The following is a response to Michel Faber’s article “Spider-Man’s lost lustre” in the Guardian.
1) The Ultimate series of books have been going for 11 years, so this isn’t something just created in order to shoehorn in a multiracial character.
2) The Ultimate version of Spider-Man, written by Brian Michael Bendis has been the most consistent comic in regards to quality of any of the books featuring the character. To state that the death of Peter Parker (he has died precisely once in this series) is meaningless after over 160 issues and 11 years is frankly ridiculous.
The sales of the Ultimate Spider-Man book have been, on average, favourable in comparison to the regular universe book. Therefore your statement that “his white counterpart continues to reign supreme” is also inaccurate, but let’s not allow reality to get in the way of your diatribe.
3) Storylines have been repeated, this is true, yet hardly surprising for a character that has had at least one monthly title released consistently for 49 years. The point of the Ultimate line is that the writers can do things that can’t be done in the regular title, hence Peter Parker can actually die. A new kid can take up the mantle, one with a different cultural background that might not only be appealing to a wider audience but also give fresh impetus to story ideas and characterisation. This is not a re-imagining of the character as being afro-hispanic, it is a new character following on in the legacy of the original. Peter Parker didn’t wake up suddenly as an Afro-Hispanic child.
4) You attribute the character of Miles Morales and the films you mention as evidence that these characters have no soul or worth. Apparently the characters have some inherent value due to their longevity (I’m sure you would be pleased to see your works as popular in 70 years). Are all of the stories interesting? No. Are all of the films successful. Absolutely not. But is that due to the character or due to bad writers, producers, directors and actors?
The Green Lantern film was bloody awful, does that mean that all Green Lantern stories are bad? If not then your generalisation seems ridiculously dismissive and inherently flawed.
5) The majority of the films produced by Marvel (Iron-Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Captain America) have been successful critically and at the box-office. Nolan’s take on Batman is seen as the standard that superhero films are set by and there is rampant anticipation for the third film next year. I would submit that using these examples as “dead horses shambling towards you” indicates that you need to find better evidence for your obviously biased and ill-thought out tirade.
6) What is the actual point of this article “New character isn’t white and so proves there are no ideas left in superheroes”? I’m sure that can’t be the case as that would mean any medium would be unable to introduce anyone of a minority background for surely it would be indicative of tokenism and creative impotence rather than a change in editorial outlook or a greater understanding of multiculturalism?
Perhaps you believe that the mask is the sum component of the character? Therefore any change underneath it is simply a cheap trick. Perhaps the Miles Morales example is just that, but as you haven’t read any of the stories that include the new Ultimate Spider-Man it’s doubtful you have the first clue of what you write outside 10 minutes of Wikipedia research.
But I am, of course, being disingenuous. You obviously aren’t interested in these characters at all. You are simply advocating that a genre of writing is without merit, that the storyline and character changes being discussed are only done by a distasteful adherence to a new cultural outlook. If the book is “all very Barack Obama” then I would understand that to be a bad thing in your eyes as it can only be a cynical ploy. Again, you know this without having read a single story involving the character.
Perhaps you could look at this in an alternative manner and still make your Obama link?
A non-white person achieving power (great power with quite a bit of commensurate responsibility) makes others with a similar background more acceptable to a modern society.
Well, to some members of it anyway.