Batman & the Outsiders, Sentinels of the Multiverse and Superdiversity (image heavy)

So, I think I’ve got a fancrush on Halo. She loves video games and her favorite movie is Wrath of Khan*: she has made Katana take her to see it over and over to the point of exasperation.

out6-2-3

Her taste in sci-fi makes up for her taste in clothing.

One of the things that has been pretty cool about the Outsiders is it captures the kind of diversity that you hear people always asking for, but it never really makes a big deal out of it. It never smacks you in the face and is all “Look, this team has a black guy and women on it and one of the women is Asian!**” And this was over 30 years ago! If DC or Marvel did something like this now, you can bet you’d see a million PR stories out there about how finally comics were starting to show diversity, and “Hey, look at all these colored folk*** to make you white nerds feel better about yourselves!”

But anyway, I was thinking about that because I got to play Sentinels of the Multiverse over the weekend. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes in that it clicked in my mind that I’d heard of this before: some blog had been complaining about the racist and sexist character designs. If we lived in the real world, the game would be praised for its wide range of diverse characters who are an homage to comic book cheese; feminists would praise the fact that in this game several badass heroes are female and Wealthy-Stealth-Fighter-With-Computers-and-Gadgets-Who-Is-Legally-Distinct-From-Batman is a woman****. Unfortunately, since we live in the evil mirror universe (don’t try to tell me we don’t, I’ve seen the beards on you guys!) people complain that the ethnically diverse cast are stereotypical and that the women don’t represent a diverse enough range of body types (because they’re all variants of athletic and fit).

There are DOZENS of characters in SotM, but here are a few examples stolen from the wiki.

Black Iron Man isn't good enough for you people.

Black Iron Man isn’t good enough for you people.

Someone complained that Ra is a white guy, but with a name like Dr. Washington he's probably a lighter skinned black man.

Someone complained that Ra is a white guy, but with a name like Dr. Washington he’s probably a lighter skinned black man.

Redeemer Fanatic

Unacceptable body type!

And just to be clear, Fanatic is non-white.

And just to be clear, Fanatic is non-white.

Yay, Wraith!

Yay, Wraith!

Oh, noes! D:  #genderequalityisatwoedgedsword

Oh, noes! D:
#genderequalityisatwoedgedsword

Okay, Visionary IS kind of weird looking; you can make a character chesty or go for the Hartman Hips, but doing both just ends up looking kind of off.

Okay, Visionary IS kind of weird looking; you can make a character chesty or go for the Hartman Hips, but doing both just ends up looking kind of off.

So, in conclusion, check out Batman and the Outsiders and check out Sentinels of the Multiverse, because they are both awesome.

If people are serious about “improving” things, they ought to support stuff like this and say “look at all the things these did right; here are some things that can be done better next time.”  When all of the criticism comes out as “LOOK AT HOW BAD YOU’VE DONE!”, the message becomes that you shouldn’t even try.

*:Which Star Trek movie is not specified, but at the time, Search for Spock had not come out yet and Wrath of Khan had been out for a little over a year, but was almost certainly still showing in discount theaters.  Batman & the Outsiders issue 6 came out January 1984.

**: Sure it relevant in her origin story that Tatsu is from Japan, but I think that’s something that is sometime relevant for, y’know, most Japanese people.

***: Because what is ‘Persons of Color’ but a way to say ‘colored folk’ while trying to sound high fallutin’?

****: Wraith is seriously a pretty awesome character; I’d probably read comics starring her.

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4 responses to “Batman & the Outsiders, Sentinels of the Multiverse and Superdiversity (image heavy)

    • I got the black & white DC showcase collection of the 1st dozen or so issues from the library. Like I said, even though it’s a very super-heroey title and the villains are kinda wanting, Mike Barr does a fine job writing some nuanced characters that are fun to watch interacting with each other.

      Plus, how can you not love a comic where a fight between Geo-Force and Superman only ends because Batman shows up with a fist-full of affidavits that a professor was raping students? “I won’t let you kill this man, but he WILL go to JAIL!”

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