Cartoons Get Women-Heavy Teams; Comics Are Still the Boys
I found these relatively recent announcements enlightening in their contrast, although I know why the differences exist: Comics are still considered the domain of young males, while cartoons have the potential for greater outreach (and are likely of more interest to Marvel’s corporate parent Disney). Plus, Marvel has probably noticed the success of DC’s Super Hero Girls franchise in sales and impact.
So, first, the new Avengers team was trickled out over a few days at the end of last week, culminating in this image and promo copy:
Avengers #1 will reunite the powerful Big Three, with Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man joining Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes), Hulk (Jennifer Walters), and Doctor Strange as they fight as one to save the world from one of their most powerful enemies yet.
Check out your first look at the new Avengers team, drawn by celebrated 2018 Young Gun Pepe Larraz! This art will be available as special character lithos starting this May [which is when the comic launches].
Let’s check some boxes, shall we? A new number one, to goose sales. A team mostly made up of movie-familiar characters. (Ghost Rider’s movies tanked, though, and there hasn’t been a Hulk movie with the female version.) Mostly guys, with the non-white characters sporting face-concealing masks so it’s not obvious. Two women out of eight; at 25% of the team, that’s high for superhero comics.
(Also remember, smart creators working on superhero teams want some lower-visibility characters included, so they have some cast members with more flexibility to work with for plotting reasons.)
Compare to the lineup for Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, which came out the week before.
I was pleasantly surprised to note that here, the guys are the tokens, with six out of the eight characters women. (And both guys are people of color, too.) Makes sense — the Marvel characters of most interest to younger, non-traditional readers are newer and more diverse. I’m getting excited for this upcoming cartoon movie, meant to be the cornerstone of a new franchise, while yet another Avengers team comic relaunch makes me say “meh”. If it’s good, I’ll read it, but it doesn’t bring the same level of excitement as the idea of seeing these new characters form a team.