Marvel Q&A At New York Comic Con With Retailers Goes Bad

A closed Q&A between Marvel Comics and comic book retailers erupted at the New York Comic Con on Thursday after one retailer became vocally critical of the publisher’s decision to change the ethnicity, gender, and sexuality of some of the classic characters, Bleeding Cool reports.

The tensions began when an unnamed seller “specifically [expressed] his distaste for Iceman ‘kissing other men,’ and Thor ‘becoming a woman,'” Newsarama writes. “The retailer’s complaints sparked an outcry among the other retailers present in the room, some echoing his frustration, with multiple attendees raising their voices to speak over each other.”

As Marvel editor Nick Lowe attempted to calm tensions, the original retailer further complained that comic fans leave his store “when they see that Thor is a woman and Captain America is a black man,” and called for Marvel “creating new characters and not messing with the old guys. The old guys are solid.”

“The words ‘black,’ ‘homo,’ and ‘freaking females’ were used multiple times,” Bleeding Cool adds.

Marvel has been heavily criticized for a lack of diversity, although the publisher has experimented with a black, female Iron Man; a biracial Spiderman; a female Thor; and a Muslim Ms. Marvel. Still, the company’s vice president of sales, David Gabriel, recently blamed poor sales on the fact that “people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there.”

Many fans have dismissed such excuses, including comic book author G. Willow Wilson. “Who wants a legacy if the legacy is s—ty?” she wrote. “Let’s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is the world.” Jeva Lange

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I don’t know the true motives of the ones that objected about the direction that Marvel has gone but I will tell the reader what my favorite comic retailer told me recently; that he used to order Marvel books at a rate that was far greater than other comic book publishers in his store but now that is not the case. Marvel’s sales have gone down because people who read comics are not pleased with the product being produced.

Is it because Marvel does not care what the majority of readers want, perhaps? Or is it that they can rewrite the characters in a way that portrays how the world looks in their eyes and not the way Stan Lee and Jack Kirby saw things in the sixties? Maybe it would be better if they just killed off all the original heroes and created a new Marvel, some think that would be more honest. People are very emotionally attached to the comic heroes they like and want good stories they can read about them. Such is the anger of breaking up Peter Parker with Mary Jane and Marvel dissolving their marriage and also Clark Kent with Lois Lane which DC corrected in “Rebirth” by the way.

The defining moments of a hero are how he or she reacted in life’s circumstances and the people they love and care for. You can relate to that hero because he strikes a cord in your life and overcomes the odds to help the people that are in danger. Their life speaks to you and you don’t like it when the foundation status of the hero changes. While I wish the retailers in the story did not call the replacement heroes with such ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation slurs and disrespectful names, I understand their frustration especially from a monetary view.

Is this a battle they can win and influence the biggest comic book publisher in the world, probably not I think? I said once that comics and the related material reflect society itself and is ever changing. We are seeing the media in general change from the ideology of the past and develop into something else and some people don’t like it. Our understanding about science is changing which is the root of science fiction and the doorway to the comic superhero world and related movies and TV. Things in the world are in turmoil and many beliefs are changing and it has spilled its way into the entertainment world and comics.

The reality of this is it is just fiction and I think more people will be very selective about what they read and watch as entertainment. That is OK and should drive the market in the direction of quality and perhaps learning better to relate to the readers or they will lose their readership all together. Like my grandma used to say “it will all come out in the wash”. I still love comics and the creativity involved to bring it into my hands because sometimes we need to enjoy a good story and art and escape our trouble for a few minutes. Thanks for reading comic fans and stay tuned for more. 🙂 Walt

2 Thoughts to “Marvel Q&A At New York Comic Con With Retailers Goes Bad”

  1. Travis

    For me it is simple. If the writing is good and the Art is good I read the book. Marvel’s problem is not their diversity. It is simply bad story telling and an over abundance of mega cross over events. Let’s talk about legacy. I think they did the right thing with Iron Man, Iron Heart is awesome, but failed with Captain America after Secret Wars, perhaps I am just a huge fan of Rick Remender, but His Sam Wilson Cap rocked and what happened to Nomad. They should have used Nomad to beat Captain Hydra and Kobik should have restored old man Rogers, but I digress. I guess what it really comes down to for me is, these characters never seem to move forward or age and that is frustrating.

    I think Marvel’s Miles Morales was a great move for Spider-man’s legacy. I love the new Ms Marvel in fact, isn’t her book one of the best selling books. Captain Marvel written by Kelly Sue Deconnick created a movement. I think writing good stories first matters the most. I think Marvel should take some fan and retailer criticism and perhaps build a universe where you have a mix of new and old. One of my favorite comic books was James Robinson’s Starman. Why was that book so good. I think because it dealt with Legacy the book itself told the story of Fathers and Sons who all shared in the powers cosmic and then they handed it off to someone new. I think if Marvel let Legacy titles pay for new stories, like Spider-Gwen another great title, it could build a readership for new characters that it desires.

    Take a Captain America title keep let the Cosmic cube Powers wear off after a couple months and return Steve Rogers to being old and have Sam Wilson come back as Cap and circle back to the Nomad Story with the infinite elevator introduce Steve and Sharon’s daughter to the 626 universe that story alone could be a year long story with ties to Venom, Spider-man and perhaps Venomverse.

    Speaking to that let the legacy title sales pay for play in the multiverse a bit more. Be creative, bring back What if, Marvel Comics Presents or Marvel Fanfare, write new Multiverse stories there and see what comes out it. You want or think a character should be a female, non-binary, or LGBTQ then do a Spider-man Renew your Vows type book promote it and see if there is teeth in the readership for it. For that matter, like renew your vows comic which had a brilliant tie with a 90’s ish x-men team, allow yourself to expand the universe don’t hem yourself into a box. Let the stories have a natural evolution stop trying to force things and know your audience.

    Outside of these thoughts I have only one request would you please restore the proper names to the X-men books X-men Gold – Uncanny X-men and X-men Blue – X-men.


    1. Walt

      Good points now if we can get the Marvel Executives to read it and understand their audience they just might improve as a creative media. Well I hope it is not just wishful thinking.

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