A-Force – Empowerment and Diversity?

a-force-cover-d34a8-720x1092I really like strong, kick-ass women in comics. So, it seems, do a lot of folk. Which makes it rather surprising that such characters are still so rare that new female lead titles get an extra little celebration. I understand the joy even if, as in this case I don’t necessarily agree with it. That’s right. I’m unsure about A-Force. Or at least, I’m not very excited about it.

Before I write anything else I do want to be clear that I have no insight into what is going on behind the scenes at Marvel. I don’t know what any future storylines will be. All I know is what has been written in a few articles at USA Today and Comic Book Resources. And wikipedia, which as any loyal interneter knows is never, ever wrong ever. Right? This is just my gut feelings on the subject know. This whole thing could turn out to be awesome. But, I’m not so sure.

First off, yeah, I do not think much of G. Willow Wilson’s writing. If you have read my four reviews of her Ms. Marvel you know that. Those issues gave me the impression that she is overly cliched and drags out an empty plot. So, make of that what you will. But I am not writing this to run her down. I’m only including that note so it is out there in the open. What I really want discuss comes next.

I like strong, empowered women. I like female characters who are equal to their male counterparts. So, yes, one of the reason that this comic worries me is that there are no men. This is a team book that from the get go was designed to have no men on the roster. Why not? It just seems that if you want to have a strong group of women, why not have them hold their own and excel working with men? Why not have them leading men? One of the reasons Wasp is awesome is that she was a capable leader of the Avengers. She commanded Gods, aliens, robots and super-soldiers without a thought for gender. I don’t think every comic book needs men; they don’t. But there is a underside to the message of this comic is that for women to excel, to be strong, men cannot be present. I certainly don’t agree with that statement. For a company that brings out phrases like “gender diversity” this feels more like “gender segregation.”

This story is said to take place in a plane called Arcadia (Secret Wars, Battleworld, stuff). Wilson describes it as “this feminist paradise.” I am curious what her version of such a paradise will be. Sadly, the USA Today article offers no context and even I only speculate so far.

Speaking of diversity, did any else notice anything interesting about the women on that cover? There are 26 women on that cover. 21 are white. Storm and Monica Rambeau are our two black characters and Jubilee and Nico are asian. Singularity is a wildcard not really human character. It will be curious what her powered down version, if there is one, will look like. Of the 6 characters only Nico (and Singularity, maybe?) can check the non-white section of the listed roster. This is just another aspect of diversity not really meaning diversity. Just off the top of my head, here are some non-white, female characters this series could use: Flamebird, Silhouette, Armor, Mantis, Silverclaw, Dani Moonstar, Echo, Karma, Cecelia Reyes, Feral, Tempo, lastly, and I can’t remember her name so maybe this doesn’t count, but the character who was revealed to be a welder of Excalibur in MI:13. (looked it up: Faiza Husssain and her codename became “Excalibur”).

These are the two main issues that give me pause about A-Force. Why do women need to segregated from men in order to show that they are powerful? And if we are going to celebrate diversity in comics why aren’t there more women of color on the cover/teaser image.

These are just my thoughts. I would like to hear what others are thinking.

2 thoughts on “A-Force – Empowerment and Diversity?

  1. I’ve been adoring Ms. Marvel, and I look at it as being what superhero comics should be. So I’ve excited to see more for Wilson. I like She-Hulk, Medusa, Nico and Dazzler, so I’m excited to see them, and Singularity actually seems like a really interesting idea for a character, so I’m interested in her.

    There actually have been quite a few team titles with female leaders over the past year. Unfortunately, many of those are either cancelled or changing. Monica Rambeau’s been the field leader for the Mighty Avengers, but we may end up seeing Captain Falcon taking a more active role there. Polaris was leading All-New X-Factor, but that book’s over. Storm had been taking a greater leadership role in the X-Men titles, but WatXM’s been replaced with Spider-Man and the X-Men, where Storm seems to be more a general snark character. There is still Amazing X-Men, I suppose. Jean Grey is unquestionably the leader of the All-New X-Men. Medusa is the Queen of the Inhumans, and the main character of the Inhuman title.

    It would still be nice to see more titles where women are in leadership roles, though.

    And I definitely agree with the lack of diversity here being unfortunate. I would’ve liked at least one more woman of colour on this team. Karma would be my first choice, but she usually is, so, you know.

    Nonetheless, I’m interested in this book, and will be pulling it.

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