Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thor and Related Matters

I don't read Thor, just follow the character in the movies, so the announcement that Marvel was introducing a new Thor who is female because the son of Odin was no longer worthy didn't matter much to me as a reader. But as a comic book fan, I am interested in what it means. The Comics Beat looks at the announcement, how it was made and what it could mean in the long term, because odds are, this isn't a permanent change.

Let's face it, Superman didn't stay dead, nor did Batman. I don't follow Marvel all that much, but I believe a lot of changes were eventual undone, and the article points out a few of them, including Steve Rogers not being Captain America, then becoming him again. One change in gender that seems perfect to me is Carol Danvers taking over as Captain Marvel.

This article that looks at female readership of comics is also worth reading. A valid point is made that the move from newsstand to direct market sales cost a lot of comics, especially Archies, their female readers. I'm fortunate that I discovered a comic book convention in NY in the '70s, thanks to an editorial comment in a lettercol, and from a con, I eventually discovered a comic book store and started shopping there. I was one of a very few females who shopped there, but I was never made to feel I didn't belong, which apparently, is a rarity. My only break from comics was from the mid-'80s to the early-'90s, and that was due to DC killing off the original Supergirl and not anything to do with marketing.

But I do take a bit of exception from this sentiment, from the second article:
"I think it’s fine to have boy-focused material like Batman or Spider-Man or whatever, as long as you don’t use boy focused material as “proof” that women don’t read comics. It’s like saying that just because guys overwhelmingly like Transformers movies, women don’t like any movies. It’s exactly like that."

Because, see, I like those boy-focused books, too. I like Batman (well, I did before the reboot, but that's another issue). And I'll bet there are boys who enjoy or would enjoy female-centric comics, but are too embarrassed to admit it because they'd be teased unmercifully.

Sure, there are gender differences when it comes to reading, but a lot of that is imposed on kids when they're young, via parental attitudes, societal influence, etc. And even with that, there's a middle ground, an overlapping. I read romance comics, for instance, but gave them up when I hit puberty. I preferred action/adventure. I preferred superheroes. I don't tend to like reading about characters I can identify with as much as I enjoy reading about ones who are different than me. And I enjoy variety. Sure, I loved Supergirl. She was the closest to my age, as I've mentioned before, and we kind of grew up together, but I wouldn't want all the comics I read to be about characters like her. I want to read about all sorts of characters doing exciting things and it doesn't matter to me which sex they are or identify with. There are still newsstand comics, too; they're sold in the magazine section of Barnes & Noble (at least in NYC), though I agree with the article that digital comics serve well as a newsstand if you can read digitally (I can do text but reading comics on a screen bothers my eyes after too short a time). 

I think once we stop making distinctions of boy and girl comics or boy and girl pretty much everything considered entertainment or educational, we'll truly be making progress toward gender equality.


  1. Thor was my very first comic book that I bought with my hard-earned babysitting money...and my very first comic book crush. Having him be declared "unworthy" is absurd.

    I am not...happy.

    1. He was unworthy in the first Thor movie, too, so I doubt they'll let this be permanent. It's one thing to swap out Captain Marvel, but Thor is based on an actual mythological being. I do understand, though. There's a reason why I don't read more than a couple DC comics these days; they keep changing my favorite characters. I've read that Grayson is good, but I can't bring myself to buy it.