With More Color Comes More Responsibility
For those that don’t know, in one of Marvel’s most famous comics, White Peter Parker has died and now an interracial male will be Spider-Man. Of course, popular talk about the new Spidey, Miles Morales (a combination of traditional Black and Latino names), yields more props to Obama. In order to do right by colored peoples’ voices there must be a distinction between governmental agendas and the liberating actions of the oppressed. The new Spider-Man series is not a government-issued reparation, but a takeover of meaning and race by racialized people.
A couple of articles that covered the release of Ultimate Fallout’s issue #4 were slick in making this seem like a cultural consequence of Obama’s presidency. The Palm Beach Post got the closest to correctly describing the context of the dramatic change to an American hero. “American”, before Wednesday (the day issue #4 was released), implied righteous, supernatural White men. Although Axel Alonso—Marvel’s editor in chief—is an English-Mexican, he can relate to the documentary of about Black inferiority, A Girl Like Me. Alonso considered the trouble his son had with being in a Spider-Man costume, as a colored child, unable to embody the positive values of White culture:
“Spider-Man is arguably the most recognizable superhero on the planet and little kids like my son Tito can relate to him because of the red-and-blue tights…But when [Miles Morales] peels off his mask now, he’s going to have a very different look and he’s going to resonate emotionally with all sorts of new readers.”
Obama’s reign didn’t contribute to the revolution of culture as USA Today would like to claim. A black president is not an automatic ally to people of color, especially when that president does not critically engage his colonial foreign policy. We can celebrate Obama as the change in imagery of American power, but we can’t allow that small transformation to overshadow a true agenda for the people. Ultimate Spider-Man reflects a disturbance in euro-centric discourse; in other words, a more powerful clamor by colonized subjects than the one that we are used to.