Tag Archives: iron man

Listen to Regine L. Sawyer & the Blerdgurl Talk Riri Williams, James Rhodes, and Diversity in Comics with Graphic Policy Radio on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher

This past week Marvel announced that Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man will be replaced with a young African-American girl named Riri Williams. The announcement was met with both praise and criticism by the public. Graphic Policy Radio dives into the topic with guests Regine L. Sawyer and Karama Horne (a.k.a. the blerdgurl).

Riri Williams is a 15-year-old African American girl and will be taking over for Tony Stark in the fall, but while Marvel has upped diversity on the page, there are still major issues when it comes to the hiring of creators. We discuss this and more!

Regine L. Sawyer is the Owner/Writer at Lockett Down Productions Publications. She is also the Coordinator & Founder of Women in Comics Collective International.

Karama Horne (a.k.a. – “the blerdgurl”) is a freelance commercial video editor by day and comic book reading, anime watching, TV live tweeting, K-Pop listening, blog writing, superhero geek gurl by night. On a mission to shine a light on both characters and sequential artists of color, she provides commentary, reviews and interviews on her popular tumblr and official website theblerdgurl.com.

Talking Riri Williams, James Rhodes, and Diversity in Comics with Regine L. Sawyer & the Blerdgurl LIVE Tonight

Invincible_Iron_Man_1_by_Jeff_DekalThis past week Marvel announced that Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man will be replaced with a young African-American girl named Riri Williams. The announcement was met with both praise and criticism by the public. Graphic Policy Radio dives into the topic with guests Regine L. Sawyer and Karama Horne (a.k.a. the blerdgurl).

The episode airs LIVE tonight at 10pm ET.

Riri Williams is a 15-year-old African American girl and will be taking over for Tony Stark in the fall, but while Marvel has upped diversity on the page, there are still major issues when it comes to the hiring of creators. We discuss this and more!

Regine L. Sawyer is the Owner/Writer at Lockett Down Productions Publications. She is also the Coordinator & Founder of Women in Comics Collective International.

Karama Horne (a.k.a. – “the blerdgurl”) is a freelance commercial video editor by day and comic book reading, anime watching, TV live tweeting, K-Pop listening, blog writing, superhero geek gurl by night. On a mission to shine a light on both characters and sequential artists of color, she provides commentary, reviews and interviews on her popular tumblr and official website theblerdgurl.com.

Listen in tonight and lets us know your thoughts @graphicpolicy

Riri, Rhodey and Re-Skinning: How Marvel is Misunderstanding Diversity

(originally posted here)

As most of you in the comic book world know, this week Marvel announced that Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man will be replaced with a young African-American girl named Riri Williams. I applaud Marvel’s efforts to give another black female character her own comic. Riri joins the ranks of Lunella Lafayette of Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur and Anwen Bakian as Nova along with veteran Storm of the X-Men as black female characters recently having their own comic book series. However, I am not as excited as I originally was when I first heard the news, as there are no black women involved with the creation or shaping of this character.

This is going to be a bit long, but I ask you to hear me out.

theblerdgurl, riri williams, iron man, marvel, diversity

Riri Williams – Iron Man

Riri Williams’ turn as Iron Man will officially begin in October, but since May of this year, she has actually been featured in The Invincible Iron Man Vol 2 starting in Issue #7. She is a young genius attending MIT (just like Tony Stark was) and basically created her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room from scraps she pilfered from MIT’s labs and her own ingenuity. When security finds out what she’s up to she ends up making an escape in said suit. If it sounds familiar, that’s because part of Stark’s origin story is that he originally escaped from Wong-Chu forces in the Mark I made from scraps that he and fellow captive Ho Yinsen cobbled together. Only Riri did it alone, with more time, sans the heart condition and terrorist organization after her. She also manages to save a few lives in the process. (For a detailed explanation of Riri’s origins please see this article by Evan Narcisse).  Personally, I think it’s amazing that a little girl who looks like me can now read a comic with a genius, natural-haired, dark-skinned sister in it. That is definitely a step in the right direction for a mainstream company like Marvel, but, I have many questions:

Marvel, theblerdgurl, diversity, riri

Bill Foster – Goliath

Why does a black man always die or get maimed near the beginning of a Marvel Civil War? In the original Civil War comic it was Goliath (Bill Foster), and this time it’s War Machine (James “Rhodey” Rhodes) in CWII, and even in the MCU Rhodey’s paralyzed. Why was Riri the choice for the “new” Iron Man as opposed to Misty Knight, whose arm was personally created for her by Stark? Or even Rhodes’ genius niece Lila, (I’m referring to the Earth-616 version) who helped maintain Rhodey’s War Machine armor? Clearly she would know something about how the suit works, right?

Why does Marvel keep “re-skinning” original characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Thor? Why not just make new ones? Or at least bring back old ones (Isaiah Bradley, Josiah X or the Patriot?) And how come Riri won’t be called Iron Maiden, or Iron Girl or even Iron Woman (Earth-3490) like Natasha Stark was?

Hey, here’s a thought, call her War Machine. (Since Rhodey clearly won’t be needing the title.)

In addition, most of the current reiterations of characters were brought on when a mainstream character was either dead or depowered (Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, Wolverine), But now both “versions” of the characters are existing in the Marvel lineup. Are they just waiting for Trump to win office so that they can “Rhodey” the POC versions? (that’s a thing now). Or are trying to create multiple characters with the same titles and powers just different ethnicities, orientations and genders to keep everyone happy? Why are there now more black female characters in the Marvel universe than black male ones, but still no black female writers? Why did they go out of their way to include a Korean-American to write Amadeus Cho as the Hulk (Greg Pak), a Muslim woman to write for Muslim female character, Kamala Khan Ms Marvel (G. Willow Wilson) and black men to write both Black Panther (Ta-nehisi Coates) and Power Man and Iron Fist (David Walker) but they couldn’t find a single black woman to write Moongirl, Nova and now Iron Man?  While we’re on the subject, why has neither Marvel or DC EVER hired a black female staff writer?



Monica Rambeau – Spectrum

(DC hired freelance writer Felicia D. Henderson to write for several issues of Teen Titans during 2009 and Static Shock – 2011.) Yes, there have been black characters and POC characters in comics for a long time. All of which of which (with the exception of Milestone) were originally created by white men. Even the Black Panther that everyone is so excited about was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I don’t care how many of you were told that Magneto was inspired by Malcolm X, Magneto’s character was never black and neither were its creators (also Lee and Kirby). Social media banter and indie sales dictate that African Americans do buy a lot of comics, but we seem to have a hard time proving that because buyer fragmentation, comic book shop gatekeeping and uneven distribution don’t provide accurate numbers, and Diamond’s not sharing those numbers with us anyway.

And please don’t tell me that black women don’t read comics. Not only do we read them, I talk to fellow blerdgurls ALL THE TIME who are reading, reviewing, tweeting and BUYING them.

theblerdgurl, moongirl, marvel, diversity

Lunella Lafayette – Moon Girl

The interesting thing about “the whole diversity thing” in comics (and one of the reasons why I started this blog) is that there are plenty of indie artists out there that are creating some amazing diverse characters of color, and have been doing so for YEARS. And in addition to some mainstream titles, that is the work that I like to read and continue to support. What kind of indie comics am I referring to? Feel free to search the comics here on my site, my Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook or IG and you’ll find quite a few.

theblerdgurl, marvel, riri, diversity

“Norah” from Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis

Please do not take any part of this post as an attack on either Brian Michael Bendis or new Invincible Iron Man artist Stefano Caselli. Bendis might have created Riri’s story, but he is a staff writer, and that’s what he gets paid to do. He’s not in charge of hiring new writers or scouting out new talent. My issue is not with him. But Marvel (and DC) will continue to take our money because they know we’ll give it freely, especially if they create a character that looks like us, because they have the money and the resources to get the images out into the mainstream market faster and more efficiently than the indie comic book creator does. They also know, that the image of a smart black girl will sell as seen with the success of Moongirl and Nova.

Let’s be clear, my idea of diversity does NOT mean asking Marvel to hire black female writers to just write black female characters, just as I can’t expect Marvel to force all the white male writers to just write for white male characters. But there are NO BLACK WOMEN writing at Marvel right now, so that’s not even an issue until they hire some. My mother always used to tell me “When you ask for something, be specific.” So Marvel, listen up, I’m going to be VERY specific here:

Start hiring Black female writers to write for any and all characters at Marvel NOW*. And don’t just hire one either.

And for those of you who don’t believe that there are any black women out there actually writing comics, (I get this question at least once a week) I invite you to check out the list below.

I’ve got over 60 reasons why you’re out of excuses.

theblerdgurl,marvel,nova,diversity, riri

Eve Bakian – Nova


Current Indie Black Female Comic and Webcomic Writers

This list is comprised of Black women  that I am currently aware of have written comics or webcomics that were printed or released digitally within the past few years. This list does NOT include anyone that is currently working on their first project that is not out yet. I will be adding this list to a larger database that I am putting together so please let me know if I have missed anyone. A BIG thank you to Regine Sawyer of the Women in Comics Collective NY International and Lockett Down Productions Publications for help curating this list!

Alitha Martinez
Amandla Stenberg
Angela Robinson
Ashley A. Woods
Avy Jetter
Barbara Brandon-Croft
C. Spike Trotman
Che Grayson
Cheryl Lynn Eaton
Christina Steenz Stewart
Dana Mcknight
Dani Dixon
Donyale Walls
Dorphise Jean
Erika Alexander
Felicia Henderson
Gisele Jobateh
Jasmine Pinales
Jennifer Cruté
Jewels Smith
Joamette Gil
Juliana Smith
Julie Anderson
Kimberly Moseberry
KL Ricks
Lashawn Colvin
Leland Goodman
Marguerite Abouet
Marqueeda LaStar
Melanie Reim
Melissa DeJesus
Micheline Hess
Mikki Kendall
Mildred Louis
Myisha Haynes
Neeka Neeks (Taneka Stotts)
Ngozi Ukazu
Nilah Magruder
Nnedi Okorafor
Olivia Stephens
Regine Sawyer
Shauna J. Grant
Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs
Tee Franklin
Vita Ayala
Whit Taylor

*Pun intended

@theblerdgurlscreen-shot-2016-01-14-at-6-47-27-pm is a commercial film/video editor by day and comic book reading, anime watching, TV live tweeting,  K-Pop listening, blog writing, geek gurl by night. She is on a mission to shine a light on indie, female and comic artists of color and highlights them and their work on her blog theblerdgurl. She currently lives in a century old brownstone in Brooklyn with 2 cats who plot her demise daily. You can also find her on twitter, facebook, instagram,  tumblr and snapchat.

Elana Guests on Blastr’s Who Won the Week

This week, special guest Elana Levin joins Blastr for a discussion of a couple of big changes in the sci-fi canon: Riri Williams taking over for Tony Stark as Iron Man in Brian Michael Bendis’s post-Civil War II run, and the announcement that a well-known character would be written as gay in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. Are these good steps toward a more diverse and inclusive genre? They break it all down.


Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here! We’re gearing up for San Diego Comic-Con still… and then Gen Con! It’ll be a busy July and August!

While we hunker down, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

CBR – The Mission: Single Black Female Iron Man, and the Competing Narratives – As always, Joe’s a must read.

Funko – Funko at SDCC 2016 – Booth Procedures – Important info if you’re going to SDCC and want figures.

The Beat – SDCC ’16: lots o’ news about badges, Conan, Wifi, Lion Forge, $300K trolley wraps and more – More helpful info!

ICv2 – ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ Playing in Record Number of Theaters – Lots of anticipation for this. Will we see more DC animated films on the big screen?


Around the Tubes Reviews

ICv2 – Corpse Party: Blood Covered Vol. 1

Nothing But Comics – The Flintstones #1

Talking Comics – Kim & Kim #1

We’re Here: Black Women Working in Comics

Invincible_Iron_Man_1_by_Jeff_DekalI’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. My mother recalls me sitting quietly in the living room taking construction paper, a hole puncher, yarn, crayons and writing and illustrating my ‘first’ book at 6 years old. As I grew, the stories I wrote became more thoughtful, more complex and somehow I landed in the arena of comics. Comics became my refuge at an early age; granted I’ve always read different types of books and novels, but comics stole my heart. They combined art with the written word; I was just thunderstruck by the perfection of the blending of the two. Creating characters was an ongoing practice for me, at 10 years old I was certain that Marvel or DC would want to buy my characters. My mother even called the Marvel offices for me to see if they would be willing to. Now here I am several decades’ later, writing, creating and selling my very own line of comic books.

With all that said, in addition to being a writer and a business owner; I happen to be a Woman…a Black Woman, working in Comics. To some, that might seem like an anomaly, a fluke, a unicorn among purebred horses. But I am, none of these things, I’m just me; a person who loved comics so much that they wanted to write and create them. Nevertheless, there was some rigorous discussion this week about Marvel Comics introducing a new Iron Man; a 15-year-old black girl named Riri Williams. There was an overwhelming amount of support via social media, to see a young black woman take over the mantle of such an iconic character in the Marvel Universe. At the same token, there were equal concerns that the creative team did not include a woman, let alone a black woman, writer. To some, this fact doesn’t matter; the only thing that does is that the journey of Riri is done justice and that the story is thoughtful and engrossing. To others, they want the same exact thing from this revamped series, however, would like the addition of authenticity: a Black Woman telling the story of her fictional counterpart.

In a world whose history is filled with white, male writers who write or have written various books about multicultural people whose lives did not reflect their own; their perspectives, thoughts, and creativity is, (up until recent years), never questioned. However, when people of color question it or voice a desire to write their own narrative; it tends to fall on deaf, skeptical ears. As an Independent Comic Book Creator, I would be the first to tell you how important it is to create the books that you want to read; especially if you are writing books that marginalized audiences are hungry for. Before the massive amounts of revamps and reboots in mainstream comics that allowed the emergence of more visually diverse characters; there was and still is the indie comic book scene. We foresaw the need in the market for more characters representing marginalized communities- those characters reflected us; from our skin color, culture, gender, orientation and more. Our books and stories were a love letter to our communities simply saying ‘I see you’.

10891987_397898237042596_647221445357882096_nOn the flip side, as a Comic Book Professional, the most important factor for a company, in general, is to hire whoever is the best person to tackle the job. Storytelling both visually and written should hold precedent above all else and it is the fans whose opinion matters most because they are the ones that will keep the book going and on the shelves. This is all relative; all companies want to make money, expand their business, and work with talented people. There are certainly plenty of talented Comic Book Writers that happen to be Black Women. They exist; we are everywhere. Although it seems to some that we are hidden or are far and few in between, our numbers are larger than people think. A few names are:  Jewels Smith, Taneka Slotts, C. Spike Trotman, Micheline Hess, Shawnee & Shawnelle Gibson, Shauna J. Grant, Dani Dixon, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Nilah Magruder, Vita Ayala and the list continues. Many of us are making and selling our own comics and are happy with that, others are open to freelancing and working with other companies. Having choices is amazing, but only if one would can be afforded the opportunity. We can’t attempt to play on the field if we’re not even considered for the game. Until that happens, we will continue to journey through this industry; steadfast and unafraid, making a way for ourselves to hone and succeed in our craft. If anyone really wants to find us, they know where we are.

Regine Sawyer1Regine L. Sawyer is the Owner/Writer at Lockett Down Productions Publications. She is also the Coordinator & Founder of Women in Comics Collective International.


For more information about Women of Color working in the Comic Book Industry. Check out these websites:

Cartoonists of Color: http://cartoonistsofcolor.com/

Women in Comics Collective International: www.womenincomicscollective.org

Women in comics 1LOGO

Check Out this Iron Man Mark 39 Variant Cosplay

This Iron Man cosplay looks like it’s about to take off. Wayne Berendhuysen from EHV Props is the creator of this Mark 39 variant of Tony Stark’s suit. It uses gas particles and 10-watt floodlight LEDs to look like thrusters coming out of the hands and jetpack.

Unboxing: Loot Crate DX “Power”

Loot Crate DX is the next level of Loot Crate. Similar to to the basic Loot Crate each box follows a theme each month, but instead has over $100 value in every crate.

This month’s theme was “Power” with items to help you along your adventure.

We open up to show off the second box with lots of comic related items inside!

You can order the next Loot Crate DX now!




This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Sunday Roundtable: Team Cap or Team Iron Man and Why?

JLA Roundtable rawSundays are known for folks gathering around tables on television and pontificating about some of the hottest topics out there, offering their expertise. We bring that tradition to Graphic Policy as the team gathers to debate in our Sunday Roundtable.

On tap this week?

This week it’s a simple question, Team Cap or Team Iron Man? Most importantly, why?

Janine: Here’s my “review” which is obviously all wiseassery, but I stand by my final judgement #teamironman

“Captain America: World Police was pretty good. I don’t love that they let the third Olsen twin into the Justice League any more than I like Jeremy Re…See More

Brett: I saw you post that and was howling with laughter.

Janine: Lol, yay! I also feel like Captain is the superman of Marvel, and I’m not one for Superman.

Elana: Cap is not suposed to be Superman though. He’s a product of NYC and a specific left wing politics. Here’s my fave explanation (as explained by our guest this week, Steven Attewell)

PS I love your review Janine.

Troy: Team Cap. That the government would assume it has tactical or moral superiority to decide action on super natural and super human threats to me is a dangerous ignorance. To quote the impeccable Nick Fury . “I decided not to argue with the God who did.” When arguing about Thor’s decision to take the Tesseract. That to me encapsulates the folly of the Sokovia accords.

Ashley: I honestly came out of the movie down the middle. In the case of the MCU, the Avengers do need oversight, but the Sokovia Accords honestly did not seem to be the right way to go about it. Perhaps I should just say “Team Black Panther.”

Troy: I think a lot of the lingering questions left in Civil War set up Black Panther perfectly. I am very curious about how the insular Wakanda would deal with a super-powered incursion, proposed oversight, or even espionage. Politically BP’s involvement in the MCU conflict made me curious, as did his actions during AvX. “Not in my backyard” politics is always a one way, hyprocritical endeavour and when you tick off a country with as big of a stick as you yield, it always invites reprisal. But yes whatever side the movie made you land on….these themes may not be over just yet.

Ryan: Team neither one. I know I’m in a minority with this view, but I don’t feel like “Civil War” did much to address the underlying reasons behind the philosophical rift in any meaningful way. The differences played out like a plot device to separate the heroes into two “camps” for the purposes of fighting each other, which is fine as far as it goes, but didn’t give me enough by way of an emotional or intellectual reason to firmly side with either group.

Brett: I reread the comic after seeing the film and it completely changed my view of the comic, it actually was much more focused on the issue itself, unlike the film which I think is more like you describe. Plus, there’s a line about killing Goliath that is so dark and different reading it today versus 2006.

Elana: I think you are largely right Ryan. The movie was not about politics. The movie was about interpersonal relationships. I enjoyed it none the less. But it is not a political debate established in the movie. Since the debate in the comics wasn’t exactly well written I’m not sure how to think about that.

Ryan: Here’s my full review of the film for anyone even remotely interested.

Madison: I see both sides to the argument–while I get the desire for oversight, it would also, in theory, not work for a lot of the reasons Cap listed. What I’m more interested in are Tony’s motivations. I saw a post that slammed him for starting this whole fight over a child being killed in Sokovia and then dragging another child into the mix without telling him the hows or whys. I think this was more about Tony growing more and more desperate to find a fix for his grief and his guilt, because throwing money at things can work for so long. I’d like to propose that they postpone Infinity War so everyone can go to therapy and deal with their grief in a healthy way. (Because, arguably, that’s kind of what motivates Cap, too.)

I’m probably reading way too much into this, but I also don’t want to think that the Russos would be lazy enough to write Tony off as so “who gives a crap” about children.

Ashley: Tony’s obviously got some PTSD he’s not properly dealing with.

Steven: Although I may be bias since I write under the surname Steve Roger I am team Cap. Steve Roger’s is the ultimate do gooder, he won’t do something that’s not right. Unfortunately sometimes there are casualties that’s what happens in war ( which is very unfortunate). Hawkeye is the same way as is the falcon and scarlet witch…..ant-man is interesting since he is a former felon but has good ideals. The world is safer when super heroes are free to take care of any major threats that are out there. I think Tony stark is way out of line

Sarah: Team Bruce Banner: I’ll be in Madripoor doing something useful until all you idiots work out your issues.

Brett: And Thor is off getting drunk in Asgard.

Alex: I wouldn’t say no if Thor offered me some mead.

Brett: I would. I’ve read too many stories where that goes off the rails.

Alex: Touche

Elana: I’m sure we will dig in to this more on our next episode of the podcast with Amanda Marcott, but honestly I found the whole #TeamCap vs #TeamIronman to be insulting. It is good marketing. But it makes the fight trite. Either you believe its a debate between two serious political positions or it’s a debate that destroys a friendship and the lives of others (Rhodey!).

Alex: As a marketing tool, it’s great. But I agree with you when you say it reduces the impact of the choices within the movie. Both sides have their merits, and by suggesting a choice between either Cap or Iron Man you’re not acknowledging that.

Elana: But we really concluded that ultimately this movie is about a conflict between characters based on their relationships and not based on their ideologies. I’m not going to compare Cap’s pain to Tony’s pain. They all have pain. I just want everyone to hug it out now.

Madison: I totally agree! In the end it seemed like the Accord stuff was surface level, but in reality everyone was trying to figure out how to work out their grief, and doing it badly.

Elana: as someone who lives for politics it is disappointing that the movie refused to actually take politics seriously. Luckily I enjoy watching men work out their feelings — and that is largely what this movie delivered on beyond the wonderful set piece fight scenes. God the fight scenes were good!

Madison: Black Panther’s triple kick was one of my favorite things. I wish Supergirl had the budget for Civil War’s fight coordinators.

Elana: Of course in the comics its Team Cap all the way because Iron Man was freaking fascist and despicable. And the accords as written in the comics were way over the top beyond Sekovia Accords in the movies.

Alex: I felt that the movie did a better job making Tony’ pro-registration position more understandable than the comics. I found myself agreeing a lot with Black Widow when she said (paraphrased) “sign it, and then fight the good fight. Ignore them then.”

John: Oh man, I have so many feelings about this.

What I love about the comic version of the conflict (although I understand there’s a lot of critique), is that there’s many nuances, but one perspective is that it’s about ends and means. To be more than reductive, I (and many progressives) tend to reject the “ends justify the means” argument. But what Tony and Reed and others are trying to posit isn’t about process, it’s that they can all come to only one conclusion after the reality show disaster–terrible violence and horror.

To answer the question more directly, I remain Team Cap always and forever, but I can’t help but be troubled by the idea that it might be a principled but actually-heartless move–what if pursuing the “most free” choice also happens to ignore the actual safety and security of entire worlds?

Brett: There is something very “American foreign policy” about it when you put it that way.


But to be a little bit more apples to apples, I think the better analogy might be gun control, although that obviously grossly dehumanizes super- and metahumans.

Brett: Just invade Latveria after loose connections between Doom and Hydra are a slam dunk according to SHIELD.

John: Brett “Mission Accomplished!”

Brett: “You’re doing a heck of a job Fury.”


Brett: Fury Heck of a JobAnd with that, we wrap up this discussion! Sound off with what you think below in the comments readers.

How Many People Has Iron Man Killed?

The Iron man Movie Kill Count is in! Mr. Sunday Movies has the count of how many bodies Iron Man has on his hands in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

« Older Entries