By Aaron Collier
When the announcement of Marvel making Thor a woman and Captain America a black man came across my newsfeed the other day, my first reaction was: “Cool.”
I didn’t freak out. My eyeballs didn’t leap from my skull. I didn’t go into a geek rage.
I thought it was cool.
Though I didn’t think it was cool just because Thor is now a female and Cap is now an African American. These changes shouldn’t be deemed a success or failure because of either of those aspects. What will ultimately decide if these changes work and stay around is going to be the stories that are told with the characters. Both Jason Aaron and Rick Reminder are highly regarded writers that Marvel feels can craft new stories, with these two characters.
Aaron is a former Eisner nominee for his work on Vertigo’s Vietnam themed The Other Side, but made a name for himself with his critically acclaimed, creator owned, and Vertigo published Scalped series. Aaron has been working on Thor for the better part of two years on the title Thor: God of Thunder and one of the marquee X-Men titles, Wolverine and the X-Men, for close to three now.
Same goes for Reminder who cut his teeth with his creator owned sci-fi romp, Fear Agent. He has written Captain America for almost as long as Aaron has written Thor, along with launching the Uncanny Avengers title, which he is currently approaching the two year mark at the helm of.
In short, both of these guys are more than talented enough to construct great stories around this shift in the status quo.
As comic book fans, we look at status quo changes as a personal attack against ancient geek history, but then we complain when we read the same old stories month after month. We want change in our comics, but when it comes we complain about it. We comic fans aren’t the only ones to shake our fists in anger when something we hold dear is changed, but we can be the most perplexing at times. We rally for change, get it, and then rally for it to go back to normal.
I used to be this way myself, but at some point I started focusing on the stories that came from those changes. If the change was purely for press attention, then the story usually showed a lack of guidance and more bravado than substance (pretty much every change in the 90’s comic landscape). If the change was well thought out by a competent creative team and process, it usually resulted in the change bringing about a great story to back up the attention (see the critically acclaimed Superior Spider-Man).
I’m ok with people being hesitant with changes, especially one that takes comic book continuity ,the life blood of the medium at times, and turns it upside down. All comic book fans have been burned by a change that resulted in a bad stories and mucked up continuity even more. I could name more stories that had major changes go terribly wrong than I can major changes that actually made sense and worked. But we jump to the conclusion way too quickly, that a big change to a character is going to make the comic book universe fall around us in a heap of panels and thought balloons.
Can we just take a “wait and see” approach this time? Can we not blow a collective gasket and see what Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, Aaron, and Reminder have planned before we throw them to radioactive infused cyber-dogs?!
Marvel is doing something we all want our comics to do: take risks. I like Marvel trying to shake things up and see what stories grow from it. I like the idea of Thor being a woman and the stories that could be told from the change. Of all the heroes that could change gender and it not be a problem, Thor is one of them. Men, women, and children can pick up Mjolnir as long as they’re deemed worthy, so why not explore that plot point. And this isn’t the first Asgardian to become a woman when the character was predominately a male. Loki was a woman for a large portion of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the title (highly recommended by the way).
As for Sam Wilson, it is a logical replacement for Steve Rogers. I felt Bucky was a rush change and Rogers quickly returned to the red, white, and blue. And lets be honest, Bucky as the Winter Soldier is a better and more interesting character. Wilson is Rogers’ best friend, not Tony Stark, and has been a big part of the Captain America title for years. Is it really that unbelievable that Wilson would take up the mantle of Captain America in place of Steve Rogers? The answer to that should be no.
If we, as comic book fans, want to continue to be entertained by the medium, we have to give change a bit more of a chance. Comics need to be allowed to evolve like film, video games, and television. Does it look like Marvel is just trying to get media coverage? Sure. But give them a chance to tell a good story.
In short, let the story decide.