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What a Trans Sensitivity Reader Would Have Said to the Writers of New Warriors

New Warriors

When I saw that a non-binary character was being introduced by Marvel in the upcoming New Warriors  I was elated. When I saw that they were panderingly color-swapped with their sibling, playing on conservative gender coding between pink and blue, I was trepidatiously excited. Sure, they meant well. They didn’t realize that by engaging in the semiotics of gender and color; boy=blue and pink=girl that their subsequent inversion of these semiotics may implicitly unravel the work being done in representing a non-binary character. Then I got to their names and assumed that it was all some kind of fever dream.

I think it’s admirable that a cis white writer wanted to create a trans character, specifically a trans person of color. So much of our current comics status quo is cisnormative. Especially House of X, Powers of X, and Dawn of X; runs known for incorporating big status quo shifts and radical ideation. On that note, it’s admirable again to not consistently force writers like Leah Williams and Vita Ayala to become these monolithic creators, tasked with making up for the lack of trans representation that has gone on for over 30 years. Daniel Kibblesmith’s attempt to take on some of this responsibility is definitely commendable, though ultimately doesn’t deliver on the promise.

The characters’ names and their origin in New Warriors fails to hit the mark in so many ways. But it’s also important to recognize that they’re really the first to give us a character who is canonically trans at launch, rather than making it subtext or speculative, or read it post facto. Largely trans representation in comics has been within margins of magical transitions, post-facto applications, shapeshifters, fan theory, and subtext. It’s commendable for a writer to come out of the gate with a character who is unquestionably trans before the first issue even drops.

Snowflake and Safespace

To write characters with names like Snowflake and Safespace is being pitched to us as attempts at reclamation. That’s definitely ground to stand on, but more akin to a thin layer of ice, in early April; destabilizing by the second. The trouble here is that it’s not reclamation really. Reclamation is a matter of an autonomous and informed contingent or individual who sets about to take a slur used against them and to recontextualize it. A common use example is “queer”, which has risen to occlude terms like ” gay” “lesbian” and “bi”, for a variety of equally complex and valid reasons. But these characters [ Snowflake and Safespace] are not autonomous individuals. They are specifically constructed characters, that serve as an extension of the writer’s biases and ideas. They can’t reclaim anything, because they are not autonomous. They are in a sense puppets for the creative team. A puppet cannot reclaim a slur. Nor is that slur one that the creators own and hold. From the use of the two terms as names, in the context that they’re used, it’s also clear they don’t understand the terms and their impact. So the reclamation just falls apart on contact with any level of scrutiny. Constructed characters cannot make autonomous decisions, therefore they cannot reclaim anything.

In confluence with all of this, I put my sensitivity reader hat on and ask the litmus test question, 

If this was the first time a person heard of  “non-binary” as a gender experience, is this what you would want them to see. The reason that I ask this question of writers, is because in a drought of positive representation (specifically in a conservative proving grounds like marvel comics ) it very well may be. It takes so much contextualization for even Marvel insiders and long time fans to even give those name choices the benefit of the doubt, so imagine what outsiders will think about it.

There is something to be observed that nearly all the NB folks I know think this was a bad idea.

And then there’s the Comicsgate crew, who will absolutely use this as ammunition in their campaign of regressive and oppressive ideology through comics and comic adjacent spaces.

It ultimately could go wrong in thousands of ways, and really does not good. So with no benefits to the community, it really comes down to the writer thought it would be cool, and either didn’t hire a sensitivity reader or did, and ignored their feedback.

When taking these two names “ Snowflake” and “Safespace” on their own, it’s an incredibly insensitive and insulting decision. When you combine these names tertiary issues like their peer, Screentime’s power coming from “internet gas, it sounds as if Vox Day or EVS wrote the characters, not “a progressive” comics writer. Trans folks already are constantly having their immersion in social media and online communities by conservatives a way to “explain “ their trans identity. Gen Z and Millennials in particular face the invalidating and bigoted idea that “the internet made them trans”. So, what good does “ experimental internet gas” do for the trans community that Snowflake should represent?

And that’s the big question, what good does this do? As a sensitivity reader, a question I always ask of writers in this position; “What good does this do?” especially in contrast to potential harm. In this case, I see no potential for good, but plenty of potential for harm. 

For those watching, this not how you create positive and empowering representation. Creators who want to represent underserved communities should know better than to try to “reclaim” harmful terms that have been used against those very communities. I think it’s important to celebrate the attempt being made but to also have an honest conversation about the missteps. It does no good for us to excuse this by saying that since “Kibblesmith is a progressive and an ally” we should just appreciate the attempt. We have to recognize that future creators will follow the example set here, and this will continue to be used against trans and non-binary folks, rather than making us feel seen.

I wish I could feel optimistic. I wish that a new non-binary character in a Marvel book was something I was eagerly writing about in joy, rather than trying to channel my disappointment and rage.

A New Team Comes Together in the New Warriors #1 Trailer

When Kamala’s Law goes into effect in the highly anticipated one-shot Outlawed this week, the former teen vigilantes Night Thrasher, Firestar, Rage, Speedball, Namorita, and Silhouette will need to step up to lead the next generation of the Marvel Universe. But will they be able to make them into heroes?

Created by Emmy-nominated writer Daniel Kibblesmith and rising superstar artist Luciano Vecchio, the classic New Warriors of the 90s will reunite to introduce the New Warriors of 2020!

Meet the all-new team launching in New Warriors #1, on sale April 15!:

TRAILBLAZER: A regular kid scooped up into the world of teenage Super Heroing. Her “magic backpack” is actually a pocket dimension with seemingly infinite space, from which she can pull out useful or random objects—it’s not always under her control. She claims to get her power from god, but “not the god you’re thinking of.”

SCREENTIME: A Meme-Obsessed super teen whose brain became connected to the internet after becoming exposed to his grandfather’s “experimental internet gas.” Now he can see augmented reality and real-time maps, and can instantly Google any fact. Does this make him effectively a genius? He sure acts like it does.

SNOWFLAKE AND SAFESPACE: As psychic twins, Snowflake, a cryokinetic, can materialize snowflake-shaped shuriken projectiles for throwing. Safespace can materialize pink forcefields, but he can’t inhabit them himself, the reflex only works if he’s protecting others. They’re hyper aware of modern culture and optics, and they see their Super Heroics as “a post-ironic meditation on using violence to combat bullying.”

B-NEGATIVE: A teen “living vampire” exposed to Michael Morbius’s blood as a child in a rogue, but life-saving medical procedure. He still ages like a regular kid, but has all the abilities of Morbius. He’s also obsessed with all the music and attitude of a “classic” long-past decades like the ’90s, and the ’00s. “The world is a vampire…and so am I.”

Check out the NEW WARRIORS #1 trailer for Vecchio’s designs along with Kibblesmith’s inspirations behind this one-of-a-kind team of young heroes!

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It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

CBR – Marvel’s New Warriors Stars Want Their Show to Replace Roseanne on ABC – Yes please!

Newsarama – ‘I Have No Immediate Plans’ Says Stuart Immonen on ‘Retirement’ – Not rumors or hearsay, Journalism!!!

The Comichron – Infinity War, Batman’s wedding, Sonic box set see reorder action in last week of May – Not too surprising.

 

Review

The Beat – Blackwood #1

Marvel and Freeform Find Their New Warriors

One of the announcements I had predicted for San Diego Comic-Con was the unveiling of the cast for Marvel and Freeform‘s New Warriors television show. A week early the information has dropped with some fantastic additions and what looks to be a solid group.

Comedian and actress Milana Vayntrub has landed one of the most coveted roles out there as she steps into the tail of Squirrel Girl. There’s been lots of speculation as to who would play the lead character with some pretty high profile actresses publically vying for the spot.

Joining Vayntrub is Derek Theler as Mister Immortal, Jeremy Tardy as Night Thrasher, Calum Worthy as Speedball, Matthew Moy as Microbe, and Kate Comer as Debrii.

The series is Marvel’s first live action comedy and one of two live action series to debut on the channel from the multimedia company, the other being Cloak & Dagger. The show was picked up straight to series and will launch in 2018.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

And the Cast of FreeForm & Marvel’s New Warriors Are? Plus Art!

Marvel and Freeform are bringing the New Warriors to live-action television with ten 30-minute episodes that will debut in 2018. The comedy series was announced not too long ago but everyone has been wondering who will make the team?

The team will consist of Zack Smith (Microbe), Dwayne Taylor (Night Thrasher), Craig Hollis (Mister Immortal), Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl), Deborah Fields (Debrii) and Robbie Baldwin (Speedball). A mix of new and classic members of the team as well as mixing in superheroes from other teams.

The New Warriors debuted in 1989 and were created by Tom DeFalco. A year later that got their own series by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley and since then the roster has changed through numerous volumes.

The series “is about six young people with powers living and working together. With powers and abilities on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Avengers, the New Warriors want to make a difference in the world … even if the world isn’t ready. Not quite super, not yet heroes, “Marvel’s New Warriors” is about that time in your life when you first enter adulthood and feel like you can do everything and nothing at once – except in this world, bad guys can be as terrifying as bad dates.”

If you’re wondering who these heroes are, Marvel has put out this handy guide for you:

Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl)
Superpower: “The powers of a squirrel, the powers of a girl” (is acrobatic, strong, can fight, can talk to squirrels)
Doreen is a totally empowered fangirl. She is a natural leader—confident and tough, but not innocent. Doreen is bouncy and energetic and her greatest quality is her optimism… She has faith in others and inspires people to believe in themselves. She also takes her pet squirrel, Tippy Toe, everywhere.

Craig Hollis (Mister Immortal)
Superpower: Cannot die.  Ever.  Maybe.  So he says.
The team troublemaker and lothario… Craig is kind of like “The Most Interesting Man Alive,” except he’s more cocky than confident and at times, charmingly grumpy. Although Craig’s superpower seems amazing, he hasn’t made use of it at all—he’s lazy and figures if he has all the time in the world to learn how to fight, what’s the rush?

Dwayne Taylor (Night Thrasher)
Superpower: None
Dwayne is a local celebrity “hero” with his very own YouTube channel.  Brilliant, strong, noble, and maybe a bit full of himself, Dwayne is a shameless self-promoter and entrepreneur.  But he also deeply believes in justice — at least his version of it. Dwayne hides the fact that he comes from a really rich family because he’s afraid he’ll lose his street cred.

Robbie Baldwin (Speedball)
Superpower: Can launch kinetic balls of energy
Robbie grew up watching Quinjets take off from Avengers Tower and loves the idea of being a hero. He’s an impulsive and immature people-pleaser with a misplaced sense of confidence. Although you would think throwing kinetic balls of energy would be awesome and effective – his are completely out of control.

Zack Smith (Microbe)
Superpower: Can talk to germs
Zack is a shy hypochondriac whose ability nearly makes him a telepath — the germs tell him where you’ve been, what you ate and who you hung out with.  It’s impossible to keep secrets around him.  He’s a big sweet guy the team takes under their wing, and they help him find and grow his own confidence.

Deborah Fields (Debrii)
Superpower: Low level telekinetic; trickster
Deborah is proud, funny and quick witted.  Confidently out as a lesbian, Deborah has experienced deep loss in her personal life as a direct result of super “heroics.” She can take care of herself, or at least says she can.  She’s the one who calls people on their BS and has no fear of putting her opinions out there.

Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors Come to Freeform in a New Live-Action Comedy

Freeform, Marvel, and ABC (all are owned by Disney) have announced a new television project, Marvel’s New Warriors. The television series is the second Marvel project for the television and is a comedic live-action adaptation, the first comedy for Marvel on television. The series has been picked up for ten 30-minute episodes and will debut in 2018.

Marvel’s New Warriors is about six young people with powers living and working together. With powers and abilities on the opposite end of the spectrum of The Avengers, the New Warriors want to make a difference in the world … even if the world isn’t ready. Not quite super, not yet heroes, Marvel’s New Warriors is about that time in your life when you first enter adulthood and feel like you can do everything and nothing at once – except in this world, bad guys can be as terrifying as bad dates.

The series will feature fan-favorite “Squirrel Girl” (Doreen Green) as a totally empowering fan girl— tough, optimistic and a natural leader. Doreen is confident and has the powers of a squirrel … She’s acrobatic, can fight and talk to other squirrels. Her most important trait is that she has faith in people and teaches them to believe in themselves. Additional cast to be announced.

Freeform also has Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger underway at the network. Can a crossover be far behind?

The series is co-produced by Marvel Television and ABC Signature Studios. Marvel’s Jeph Loeb, and Jim Chory serve as executive producers on the series.

The New Warriors debuted in 1989 in The Mighty Thor #411 and Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz are created with their creation. The team has numerous versions with a rotating roster. It’s unknown who will be a part of this version. While Squirrel Girl hasn’t been on the team she was a part of a version of the team that appeared on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series.

Flashback Friday Review: The New Warriors Vol. 1 #1

Nova, Namorita, Marvel Boy, Speedball, Firestar and the mysterious Night Thrasher are the New Warriors! New Warriors Vol. 1 #1 features the origin of the New Warriors and an incredible battle against the Fantastic Four’s enemy, Terrax and is a self-contained issue that’s pretty fun and holds up after 27 years!

It’s been 27 years since this issue was released and I don’t think I’ve ever read this issue. I vaguely remember it being released by a new team featuring characters I didn’t know didn’t really interest me at the time. Ironically I became a fan of the New Warriors decades later in some of their more recent incarnations that have been released.

This comic really is the origin of the group, not the characters. Written by Fabian Nicieza very little is explained as to who these characters are and why we should care about them. Instead, it mostly revolves around Night Trasher being a dick to recruit folks he thinks he needs to be a part of his attempt to “wage his war” against crime. It’s pretty basic in all of that and each character’s motivations to join him seems to consist of “I’ve got nothing to do” and “you’re an ass but…,” though none of that really makes sense. Night Trasher recruits Nova by throwing him off the roof (his powers were suppressed and that unlocked them). Marvel Boy is recruited when the Avengers say they don’t want them. Firestar is threatened over the phone. Speedball and Namorita join after the battle with Terrax and never really formally asked. It’s weird.

The comic is entertaining though. There’s surprising little that feels weird today or has aged horribly (maybe some stilted dialogue). There’s some sexist comments, but from “kids” it doesn’t feel quite as bad. Speedball for example is interested in getting into the fight to meet “babes.” A male teenager saying that? Feels right. The battle with Terrax too is fun with good action and how he’s defeated feels original as two characters’ powers play off of each other well. The comic as a whole has good pacing, a good mix of action and humor and sets things up well for the future. By the time the comic is over you get a good sense of the team, though not of its individuals. Personalities are clear in how they’ll work together. Motivations have generally been set for the team as a whole as to their rivalry with older superhero teams and being “kids.” And their general dynamic is laid out well.

The most impressive thing to me is that this is all one issue. No one character an issue. No spreading it out over a trade. They all come together and do battle in one comic that you can pick up, enjoy, and not have to read anything else. It feels special in a weird way because of that. And that fact it’s a one and day may be the most dated thing about it.

The art by Mark Bagley with ink by Al Williamson and color by Michael Rockwitz is good and though looks of the time you can see Bagley’s style that I’ve come to love with his more recent work (I really got to know his art when he returned to Marvel in 2011). There’s some of the flow and character design that he still uses today, but styles have changed since this was published so while it’s familiar, Bagley’s work today is very different from this. Still, it’s great to look at and both the action sequences and more chill scenes all work well and flow.

27 years later, the comic is still entertaining and a solid read. It’s not too expensive to pick up either and it feels like the timing is right for these characters to be seeing a revival some time soon, so check it out before they become a “thing” again.

Story: Fabian Nicieza Art: Mark Bagley Ink: Al Williamson
Letter: Michael Hegler Color: Michael Rockwitz
Story: 8.35 Art: 8.35 Overall: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy

Unboxing: March’s Comic of the Month Club

Comic of the Month Club is a new monthly comic subscription box for comic book fans everywhere. Subscribers receive 8-9 personally curated comics every month and fill out a preference form as to what they’re interested in.

There’s five different types of boxes ranging in cost from $9.99 on up to about $30. This is the high end “Collector’s Edition x2” version of the box.

You can subscribe now. Please include “Graphic Policy” in the referral space. You as a subscriber receive an extra bonus and we do get something in return.

This month’s comics with “rough value.”
New Warriors #1 – $5
Marvel Comics Presents #72 – $6
Detective Comics #18 – $3
Batman Blackgate Isle of Men #1 – $2
Batwing #16 – $2.50
Adventure Comics #397 – $4
Fantastic Four #248 – $3
Fantastic Four #249 – $2
Fantastic Four #250 – $4

Total: ~$31.50

 

 

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.

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It was new comic book yesterday! What’d everyone get?

Around the Tubes

Kotaku – I’d Take This Fan Animation Over Transformers 4 Any Day – Hells yes.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Action Comics #33

The Fandom Post – Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1: Escape From Riverdale

Comic Vine – All-New X-Factor #10

Comic Vine – Big Trouble in Little China #2

Comic Vine – Black Widow #8

Comic Vine – Deadpool Vs. X-Force #1

Comic Vine – Earth 2 #25

Nerdly – Extinction Parade Vol. 1

Comic Vine – Green Arrow #33

Comic Vine – Injustice: Year Two #13

The Beat – Legendary Star Lord #1

Comic Vine – Magneto #6

Comic Vine – Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #3

Comic Vine – Moon Knight #5

Comic Vine – Nailbiter #3

Comic Vine – New Warriors #7

Comic Vine – Original Sin #5

The Beat – Original Sin #5

Comic Vine – The Punisher #8

The Beat – Rocket Raccoon #1

Talking Comics – Rocket Raccoon #1

Comic Vine – Superman Unchained #7

Talking Comics – Thor: God of Thunder #24

Comic Vine – Thor: God of Thunder #24

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday with quite a few debuts including Marvel and DC’s next big events. What did you get and enjoy?

Around the Tubes

Boing Boing – Molly Crabapple paintings in Pen charity action – Give people!

CBLDF – IRONY ALERT: Would-be Censor Arrested at School Board Meeting, Claims Violation of His First Amendment Rights – Ha!

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – All-New X-Factor #7

Comic Vine – The Amazing Spider-Man #1.1

Comic Vine – Batman Eternal #5

Comic Vine – Black Widow #6

Comic Vine – Cyclops #1

Comic Vine – Deadpool vs. Carnage #3

Comic Vine – Green Arrow #31

Comic Vine – Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #2

The Nerdy Girlie – Ley Lines Volume 1

Comic Vine – Moon Knight #3

Comic Vine – Nailbiter #1

Comic Vine – New Warriors #4

Comic Vine – The New 52: Futures End #1

Comic Vine – The Punisher #5

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