So often we praise and celebrate the work of groups like Milestone comics and people like Dwayne McDuffie, while lamenting the lack of current movements to create a stronger representation of race and gender diversity in comics. So… Because it’s Wednesday. Because it’s Ship Day. Because I just read a backlog of some 35 comics or so. I thought today was a good day to celebrate the awesome current (as in coming out by the issue, from major publishers, right now!) comics who are putting brownfolk and queerfolk front and center. Because, why not celebrate? It’s Wednesday!
Michael Oemig, Nick Falardi, Aaron Walker (Dark Horse)
Michael Avon Oeming, of Powers fame, put out the first issue of The Victories back in August of last year. It was a limited series, running only 5 issues, but he’s been continuing the story in Dark Horse Presents every month. The story follows six hardcore heroes, calling themselves The Victories, who mercilessly protect their city with superpowers and hardpacked punches. Oeming deftly
draws out distinct and dynamic personalities in each of his heroes, among whom are…
Faustus – our main character, who we first meet in a particularly ruthless justice-dealing. Faustus fights with a mouthful of wise-cracks and ruthless martial arts, and he’s got zero-tolerance for baddies. Faustus’ mask covers his whole face, revealing only a mean set of eyes that should make his foes piss themselves. When he finally does take of the mask, we discover that he’s a Black guy with a troubled past, his confrontation with which is the focus of the 5-issue mini-series, and which accounts for his serious drinking problem. The mini-series is mostly about Faustus, but we get a closer look at the other heroes in the stories Dark Horse Presents run…
D.D. Mau is my personal favorite. Endowed with superspeed and strength, she’s an arrogant show-off and she’s loud about it, but it’s totally fine cause she’s also that good. No matter her mouthy cockiness is seated in deep insecurity… she’ll still dominate you, with a running commentary on her badassery, and look good doin’ it. As a busty Vietnamese woman, she sports a Power Girl boob window and uses her (kiinda racist) superhero name ironically and she’d laugh in your face at your discomfort with either.
Lady Dragon (aka Lady D) is the more mature of her teammates. Her mild manner contrasts to her eager use of her fire powers that earned her name Lady Dragon. As far as I understand it there’s not official leader of the group, but she’s the one who steps up when a little leadership is needed
Metatron is kinda boring so far. He flies around and comes to the assist when needed, and I think he spends a lot of time in space… Sai doesn’t say much, but he named himself after the two weapons he fights expertly with and perhaps that’s all we need to know. Well, that and why he wears a conical hat in combat… Sleeper might as well be called Mr. Mystery. His face is mysteriously covered in mysterious wrappings. He’s mysteriously calm and mysteriously wise. But not to be fooled, he also packs a not so mysterious powerful punch.
Briank K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples (Image)
First of all, this comic is amazing! Seriously, I go all giddy inside every time it shows up on the weekly ship list. If you aren’t already one of its many fans, pick it up. The world-building work of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is simply masterful and wildly imaginative. Now, all of their characters might be aliens from various non-Earth planets out in the imaginary galaxy, but a ton of them are brown, including the lead characters. It’s only in issue #12, so pick up the first trade and catch up!
Alana is our brown-skinned leading lady. She curses like a sailor, but made a terrible soldier, and though her pacifist husband sacrificed his sword, she packs something called a heartbreaker gun to defend her family from hordes of imperial forces and their hired assassins hunting the galaxy for them.
Marko is the leading guy. He’s olive-skinned and bushy-browed and his horns have really grown on me. He sweet, and he may be a pacifist but he’s no pushover and will defend his family to the death even if he’s only got his bare hands and horns to do so.
Gwendolyn used to be the dark-skinned leading lady in Marko‘s life, but things probably won’t work out now that he’s dumped his beloved horned Gwendolyn for the winged enemy-race Alana. But she’s not done with him. She’s got an assassin and a psychic on her side to hunt them down and deliver the ultimate ex-girlfriend revenge.
Brian Wood, Gary Erskine, Jordie Bellaire (Dark Horse)
The Massive follows a multinational team of (more or less) pacifist environmentalists called The Ninth Wave, on a mission to find their sister ship “The Massive”, which has gone missing in this new post-crash world… where the seas have risen and violence and environmental disaster have broken down the fabric of society as we know it.
Callum (Cal) Israel leads the team, and he’s got quite an interesting background. Born in Bangladesh, he’s been continent hopping for ages, first as part of a secret mercenary group, and now sea-bound in his own employ on The Kapital. We don’t know much else about him, but he inspires loyalty in his friends and he leads with compassion.
Mag Nagendra on the other hand, hardly meets Ninth Wave’s pacifism requirements. Originally from Sri Lanka, and a former member of the Tamil Tigers as well as serving under Callum Isreal for the mercenary group Blackbell, Mag holds firm that in this post-crash world, the best negotiations take place with your finger at the trigger. However, he is fiercely loyal to Cal, and will protect him even if he doesn’t always agree with him.
Mary…is interesting. I sat down to write something about her and realized I don’t think we know her last name yet, or where she’s actually from, aside from East Africa somewhere. Second-in-command on The Kapital, and Cal’s lover, Mary is a stealthy, badass mystery. She can sneak out of a room with no windows when you’re looking right at her, she can take on armed men with nothing but her fists, and she’s always got a plan. She’s been in a lot of hairy situations and they barely faze her, unless it’s Cal that’s in trouble.
John Byrne (IDW)
The Highways is one of the lesser-known comics on this list, and that’s a shame, cause it’s basically awesome. John Byrne does an incredible job creating a space scenario where you can actually imagine folk going about their everyday business, rather than the super exclusive, high-tech space scene we usually get, and he gets down to the details. The story follows the accidental adventures of the spacesuit-clad crew of a shipping freighter.
Eddie Wallace, lovingly called “Sprout” by the co-captain of the freighter, is a new recruit to Jack Cagney’s ship, but he quickly learns the ropes with the mentorship of the smart and ever-capable Marilyn Jones. Soon after Eddie joins the crew, they fall into a bit of an adventure, and it looks like there might be more to Eddie than it seems…
Marilyn Jones seems to be the one in command on the ship. Though Jack Cagney is technically the “captain” (he doesn’t like to be called that though), the two are business partners. Jones basically runs things and makes the tough calls. Her vibrantly colored spacesuit speaks to her colorful personality, but the fact that she’s able to pulloff a colorful suit without anyone questioning her authority is testament to her badassery.
And in on the more mainstream side of things…
Samuel Humphries, Danny K. Miki, Chris Eliopo
Starting with a new issue #1 in January 2013, Uncanny X-force has been following the team-up of Storm and Psylocke for only 3 issues so far. The two took to the road to stop a drug-dealing mutant and to let Psylocke get some time away from the confines of the school, where she doesn’t quite fit in.
Psylocke joined the school after the Uncanny X-force team was disbanded. But with her shady past and short temper, she’s not exactly made to be a schoolteacher. Seeing her struggles, Wolverine sent her out with Storm to let off some steam and figure things out.
Storm is sporting a mohawk these days and is battling her own demons after the unexpected divorce from hubby T’challa (Black Panther).
And recently, in their somewhat noir-like investigation, Storm and Psylocke ran into the long-missing Bishop, who isn’t quite himself…
This new Uncanny X-force is still young, so grab the first three issues to see two badass brown ladies laying down the law.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I’m thrilled to know that I could fairly easily come up with more comics with brown or queer leads! And I will… next week!