Chris (90scartoonman) wrote,

Black Avengers vs. Girls of Prey

It's Double Standard Night Thursday, woo-hoo! Tonight I'll be discussing the merits of Luke Cage's "Black Avengers" and Barbara Gordon's "Just-Us Girls Unlimited". Why do I like the idea of one and not the other? Is it all in the execution? Can I get through this without being racist/sexist/offensive?

I dunno, but sorta spoilers for Birds of Prey #100, but not really.

A few months back, Storm married Black Panther in the BP title. I don't normally read Black Panther because even though I love the character, Reginald Hudlin just isn't a good writer. Or maybe he is, but he's not my cup of tea (and when you try to make Wakandas act like contemporary African Americans, you're missing something there).

So anyway, in that issue, Jessica Jones (Luke Cage's wife) made some comment about Cage wanting to start an Avengers team consisting of black members. I figure he'd probably recruit Falcon, Goliath, Monica, Triathalon, and Black Panther and Storm if they're not too busy (which they are). Maybe Jim Rhodes (also too busy with O*N*E), Patriot when he turns 18 (you don't have to be a Young Avenger anymore, you can be a BLACK Avenger!), and Blade because Hudlin insists Blade is so buddy-buddy with black heroes.

The problem is, well, it's a dumb idea, but it wouldn't work for those characters. Like I said, T'Challa and Ororo are too busy being royalty, and even though it somewhat makes sense for Cage to think about this, who's going to join? Triathalon, sure, and Goliath if he wasn't dead, but Monica is leading Nextwave, I doubt she'd do it. And why would Falcon join an Avengers team when he can join one Cap is on? The best analogy I have for this is that episode of the Simpsons where Carl, Dr. Hibbert, Drederick Tatum, and I think Lou are all in a car would just look awkward.

And did I mention it's dumb? I mean, really, Cage would deny other people membership and hog the black heroes for himself? It's segregation, is what it is (and not the kind that makes sense like the X-Men). What specifically would they do as a team that any other team wouldn't do? Fight crime in New Orleans? Attack Michael Richards? Pfft. You wouldn't see a White Avengers team, so there shouldn't be a Black Avengers. Thanks a lot, Hudlin (I'm pretty sure it won't happen, but sheesh).

I guess what I'm wondering is, is it right to segregate heroes like that? In Birds of Prey #99, Black Canary left the team, and Oracle decided to expand the roster. So in Birds of Prey #100, we see her sending out a message to a bunch of heroines to recruit them as her operatives. Huntress, Zinda, and Gypsy were part of the organization before, but in that issue we saw Manhunter, Judomaster, and Barda. Babs also gave invitations to Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, Power Girl, Supergirl, Hawkgirl, Bulleteer, Thorn, and pretty much every active DC heroine.

It's kind of weird. I mean, I like the way it all played out, but it felt weird. Why would Babara want to work with someone she barely knows (like Manhunter) as opposed to someone she trusts more than anyone else (Nightwing). Just because Manhunter is female? I've sort of rationalized this as Barbara wanting to have something apart from the Batfamily. There's no way she'd make Bruce her operative, or anyone he works close with, and in no part of the issue does she mention Batwoman or Batgirl.

So I say it's in line with Barbara's personality. She knows what it's like to be the female sidekick sharing her name with a male counterpart, and this is like her way of showing she's become more than that. She's a leader now, and a pretty effective crime fighter. But at the same time, I don't want to see her trying to work with someone who doesn't like her (like Power Girl) all in the name of "sisterhood" or whatever. Just because Birds of Prey started out as a team-up of two female heroes doesn't mean it should be a team-up of ALL female heroes.

Gail Simone's goals for doing this may not be any different than Reginald Hudlin's for tossing in the idea of a group of Black Avengers. I mean, he's a black man, Simone is a female man, I can see where they're both coming from. I think, to me, it boils down to two things 1) Execution. So far, Gail Simone has been great on Birds of Prey, she knows what she's doing (whereas Hudlin's BP hasn't won any favorable words from me) and 2) If it's true to the characters. Seeing Manhunter work with Oracle and the others felt natural, so I want to see more. Having Blade team up with other black heroes just feels forced.

So there you have it, my two cents.
Tags: avengers, birds of prey, black characters, dc comics, gail simone, marvel comics

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