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Comic Countdown #73: A Step Forward

Posted on June 9, 2013 AT 04:22pm

It’s that time once again for the Comic Countdown! This week will be a bit of a touchy subject for a lot of folks, as there will be some discussion about some of the biggest superhero teams in comics and their contributions to diversity in all forms throughout the medium. With the announcement of Marvel’s The Mighty Avengers, which is the first major Marvel team to really hit a good dynamic of people of color and the representation of the two common genders. While not hitting all the major diversity requirements (gender identity, sexual orientation, size, disability, etc.), this is a major step forward for Marvel, who usually cast the typical white male or female into a major heroic role. Along with them, DC’s The Movement has been incredibly powerful with this, including a favored female ratio, members of the disabled community and people of color, and these two teams are prime examples of doing this properly. While not every team hits every requirement (and not every team could), there are steps that all could make to better represent the entire fan community of comic books, many of which aren’t being represented with the current roster. With that, let’s take a look at ten comic book teams that could be a bit more progressive in their representations.

#10: Alpha Flight (Marvel Comics)

This Canada-based superteam is really known for their original incarnation of Guardian, Sasquatch, Shaman, Aurora, Northstar and Snowbird, but their other incarnations haven’t really been much better. They have made a major step by revealing the sexual orientation of Northstar, but other than that, there is very little in the ways of diversity.  Shaman, Northstar and Puck all represent a piece of the diverse crowd, and Aurora and Snowbird both fill a gender role, but with amount of members there are on the team, there could have been a bit more in terms of diversity used in the roster of the team.

#9: The Authority (DC Comics/Wildstorm)

This little known superhero team took on some darker moral tales, not really handling things like the Avengers or the JLA would. That being said, the members of the team weren’t too diverse. There were a few, but one or two out of a long standing team just doesn’t cut it, especially in the modern age. The series is to be commended for having a woman as the team leader, however, which was at least a good step towards becoming a diverse team. With its rotating roster, however, there is less than ideal diversity throughout the roster.

#8: The Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants (Marvel Comics)

Magneto’s force of opposition against the X-Men featured some of the biggest story lines in the history of the X-Men universe. That being said, the only person of color was Mystique, who is blue. Other than that, she, the Scarlet Witch, Lady Mastermind (in the newest incarnation) and a few others were in the group as part of the female demographic, but rarely at the same time. They may be a “Brotherhood”, but having more than a blue woman, a few other females and an overweight man as parts of diversity would have been nice.

#7: Teen Titans (DC Comics)

The young heroes that comprise the Teen Titans are a who’s who of young sidekicks/relations to the major heroes of the Justice League an the big guns of DC continuity. That being said, it’s also a bunch of Caucasian young men and women fighting crime. Superboy, Wonder Girl, Raven, Red Robin and several others fit this dynamic, and while having a good gender ratio is nice, no other requirements are really met by the team.

#6: X-Force (Marvel Comics)

While this team has gone through several roster shake ups, one thing has been consistent: the lack of diversity. While having Storm, a woman of color as the team leader of the new roster, as well as the kind-of woman of color Psylocke (see her history for that bit of confusions) is great and this team is better than any others, the former incarnations of the team really needed some help. Adding in the height-challenged Puck was also a good move on their part.

#5: Defenders (Marvel Comics)

This cosmic-based team has a lot of great members in its roster, but very little in the way of diversity. With Doctor Strange, Red She-Hulk, Hulk, Silver Surfer and others on the roster, having a few women and absolutely ZERO people of color is a problem (red and green don’t count when their non-Hulked form is Caucasian). The newest offshoot Fearless Defenders does a much better job, but this original Defenders crew had it’s drawbacks.

#4: Thunderbolts (Marvel Comics)

Once again, a Hulked out color doesn’t count. The newest team of T-Bolts runs into a plethora of red coloring, but not much else as all of the characters are Caucasian, and most of them are men. Mercy, the only other woman on the team aside from Elektra, is barely even part of the team, and with that, it makes it even more of an Caucasian male team.

#3: X-Men (Marvel Comics)

The X-Men may be a curious choice, considering the amount of members the team has. And yes, while there are a lot of great characters and lots of diversity throughout the entirety of the roster, with so many team and so many books, this rotating cast is rarely used with the main team. The new all-female X-team is a HUGE step in the right direction, but how long that book will last is anyone’s guess. Though there is plenty of diversity in the entirety of the X-Men canon, using more of them on the primary team is one of the things that could really push the X-Men.

#2: The Justice League (DC Comics)

One of the biggest teams in all of comics has some problems of its own on its core roster. While the team has changed here and there throughout the years, the core team of heroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, The Green Lantern and more have saved the world multiple times, but have wilted to the challenge of diversity on many occasions. Their off-shoot teams have done pretty well with diversity, but the core team has done little in the way of changing the world. With the addition of Cyborg from his young roots to the big leagues was helpful, but other than the aforementioned Victor Stone and the iconic Wonder Woman, there is nothing the way of any kind of diversity on this main roster.

#1: Uncanny Avengers (Marvel Comics)

The combined team of the Uncanny X-Men and the Avengers should lead to a team of very diverse and opposing types of team members. This is not the case, as the team of Havok, Captain America, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Wolverine, Sunfire, Wasp and Wonder Man make up a pretty standard roster of (save for Sunfire) Caucasian heroes. The 2:1 male to female roster isn’t too bad, but the complete lack of diversity in just about every other area, especially with so many wonderful characters, makes for a bit of a frustrating experience.

That’s it for this week, be sure to check back next week for another Comic Countdown!

Russ Pirozek, known as "Noobcrawler" to some, is a gamer and comic book fan who sometimes gets around to writing for He's also awesome. If someone looked up "awesome" in the dictionary, his picture wouldn't be there, but that's because he's too busy being awesome to pose for a photo.

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