Why doesn’t it matter that Wally West is now black?

So, normally on this blog I respond to question posed directly to me or posted around the web. Today’s post is a little different as I’ll be covering, on a point-by-point basis, all the arguments for why changing Wally West’s ethnicity in the New 52. Also, why most of them are ridiculous at best and racist at worst.

The-Flash-TV-Show-Wally-West

I think it’s important to note: I’m not a DC apologist, nor am I, by pointing out why some arguments are wrong, saying that everything DC does is right. Twisting the argument to this, as people often seem to do, is ridiculous and it’s perfectly possible to admit that a company like DC has a long way to go and that people opposing them starting to make those changes are wrong.

Furthermore, Wally West is my Flash. Yes, I’m a Golden Age nerd and love Jay Garrick, along with Barry Allen, Bart Allen and all the rest in the Flash Family Tree. However, I was born in the same year Crisis on Infinite Earths hit the stands and Wally will always be the true scarlet speedster – so this is not coming from a place of someone who doesn’t care, deeply, about the character.


Important Edit

People have claimed I’ve been dismissive of others opinions about this topic, so I wrote the following to better explain my point:

This isn’t about personal preferences but about something more, and I don’t have a lot of patience to debate nuances of if something is racist against the argument of “I don’t think it is” – I made my points in the post and people are free to agree, disagree or whatever.

Yes, I think some people are overreacting with judging the new iteration of the character with the pre-Flashpoint version – especially when people throw around about how we’ll never see Linda return etc etc etc – but there are many reasons to be unhappy.

  • I miss Linda and the kids, and I’m disappointed in many ways that Wally was deaged while others got to keep their history.
  • I think that the current writing team have been consistently disappointing – the current Future Barry arc has been called a pretty crappy ripoff of the Dark Flash Saga which I agree with wholeheartedly
  • As I’ve said in the post and elsewhere, the characterisation of Wally when combined with his new race is cliched and problematic.

The thing is though, these are criticisms of the book, not of him being black.

The entire point of my post and the argument I made in it are about his skin colour and the reactions to it. That’s the thing that drove me to spend the time writing that piece and publishing it on Reddit, knowing the shitstorm it could create.

You can hate the book, you can hate the character. You can say he’s badly written, badly handled, mistreated by the Continuity Gods and more. What is inherently bullshit however is saying that the colour of his skin, and therefore anyone who is black, is a reason to dislike the character or that he’s not, or won’t be, a hero. There’s a lot of “I’m not racist but” style conversations which are just awful and ignore the reality of what those type of arguments mean for people of colour – this is the bullshit and that’s why I wrote that post.

As for the rest of the criticism about the book/character, I don’t take the doom and gloom approach. I know reboots/retcons are always hard – hell, it wasn’t smooth sailing for Wally taking over as the Flash after Crisis even though fans had less technology to complain about it on – but I do think it’s premature to judge a character who’s had a small handful of cameos so far. I do have hopes that (especially with a better writer) we’ll have a long history to look forward to with Wally’s personality and characterisation improving.

The visceral reaction people have had to this did put me on a rather defensive footing, but I do actually dislike the idea that people feel I’ve been condescending to their opinions or tastes. I’m not that kind of person. That said, I don’t have a lot of tolerance for racism – whether the person is overtly racist or doesn’t think of themselves that way but hasn’t realised the implication of their words – and by the time someone’s old enough to sign up for Reddit they shouldn’t need to be handheld through such issues.

There’s plenty to complain about with Wally and The Flash without using Wally’s skin colour in an offensive manner.


In this post I’ll cover each of the arguments below. You can click on each to be taken straight to the response or simply scroll down to read the whole thing:

Finally, here are two arguments and discussions actually worth having:

In addition, one of the reasons I’m writing this is so that I don’t have to keep reiterating these points across the internet. Frankly it’s both exhausting and depressing. Now I can just link to this post – and now you can too!

JJXX1hCBelow I’ve included some ready to go Reddit friendly markdown code that you can use as a copypaste reply. Simply replace the _ between the brackets with X’s for arguments they’ve made that you’re responding to and you’re ready to go! Best of all, a bunch can be used for other silly conversations like “why include Cyborg in the Justice League?? It’s just forced diversity!”

<<BEGIN AUTOMATED REPLY>>

Hi there. It looks like you’ve said something ridiculous about the race of Wally West. Luckily, /u/Warlach has already [created this primer for why this thinking isn’t helping anyone](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/). Simply follow the links below:

* **[X]** – [“It’s just forced diversity!”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#forced)
* **[_]** – [“Race swapping sucks – why change existing characters?”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#raceswapping)
* **[_]** – [“Why change everything about him? He’s not even the same character anymore!”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#whychange)
* **[_]** – [“But Wally’s red hair and freckles are so iconic!”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#ginger)
* **[_]** – [“Why not create a wholly new character instead?”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#newcharacter)
* **[_]** – [“Being black is different from being white, though!”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#beingblack)
* **[_]** – [“Oh, well how would you feel if they made John Stewart/Cyborg/Static etc white?!”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#whitecyborg)
* **[_]** – [“Why remove his Korean wife and kids? It’s an net loss so that means it’s completely wrong!”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#wifeandkids)
* **[_]** – [“If this was *really* about diversity wouldn’t they change a main character or Justice Leaguer like Barry instead?”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#diversity)

Finally, here are two arguments and discussions actually worth having:

* **[_]** – [“Isn’t it dodgy the way his backstory has been changed along with his race?”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#backstory)
* **[_]** – [“How can you say DC is doing this for good reasons when the New 52 reboot removed so many female characters and People of Colour?”](https://dcmultiversehistorian.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/why-doesnt-it-matter-that-wally-west-is-now-black/#femaleandPOC)

<<END AUTOMATED REPLY>>


“It’s just forced diversity!”

jla

Well, I mean, J’onn isn’t white..?

What does this even mean? Yes, it’s a company taking a proactive stance at correcting the race imbalance which, along with a gender imbalance, had been a problem since comics first appeared. Clearly all the decades, and all the strides for equality, since haven’t seen the problem self correct so there is nothing wrong with actively trying to correct it.

America is made up of a diverse range of backgrounds – white, black, Latino, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and more – and stories about America should reflect this. Anyone picking up a DC comic book should, in the cast of characters, see the real world reflected there and be able to identify with those who share their backgrounds, experiences and cultures.

People want all their classic characters – and that’s fine and understandable – but that roster is a product of it’s time and predominantly white and male. It’s now the 21st century and we can do a lot better. When Marv Wolfman wrote Crisis on Infinite Earths he wanted to update the Justice League to feature a team showing the ethnic diversity of America – something that was rejected, and revisited when he penned the tie-in story in 2009 that introduced Earth-D (D for Diversity).

We can do better than the Golden Age in the 40s. We can do better than the Silver Age in the 60s. We can do better than the post-Crisis DC Universe.

Simply put, we can do better.


“Race swapping sucks – why change existing characters?”

Wally_West_031The problem with arguing against changing existing characters is because what it’s actually arguing for is a continuation of the status quo.

When we look at the 75 or so years of DC’s publishing history, and the most prominent heroes that it has featured, what we see is a history of white, male characters. Now it’s understandable to want the characters we grew up with – the nature of comics as an ongoing, ‘rolling’ medium means that unlike films and books we can have them there for us, with new stories every month – but if we leave these characters in the forms they were first introduced in we’re just perpetuating a roster that doesn’t reflect modern America. Hell, it didn’t reflect America when they were first written.

Imagine you have in front of you fifty (hell, it’s DC – let’s say 52) white Mentos laid out on a table. Even if you introduce a few Skittles to the assortment, the overall impression is still going to be of a bunch of white candy – especially if the demands of the audience decree that most of those Mentos retain their original positions.

Now, instead imagine that we swapped some of those races instead of simply adding. Everything else about the characters can stay the same – or not, as comics, and DC comics especially, are the history of evolving and changing characters, whether due to the way different writers write them or cosmic events which change their history – but the landscape changes much more dramatically. With only a little effort we can make a DC Universe that reflects our own.


“Why change everything about him? He’s not even the same character anymore!”

Kid_Flash_Wally_West_005

Compare and contrast with New 52 Wally and Barry below…

Well, firstly, comics aren’t about static characters and never have been. Yes, we’ve had over 75 years of Bruce Wayne avenging the deaths of his parents but every new writer and decade has brought new approaches to the character. Similarly, we’ve had multiple backgrounds given for heaps of different characters over the years – whether because the cosmic waves of retrocontinuity washed over them in Crisis on Infinite EarthsZero HourInfinite Crisis or whatever or simply because a writer/team had a new take on them.

Sometimes these are drastic and not received well by fans – like the changing of Jason Todd from a Dick Grayson clone to an angry, troubled street kid – and sometimes they grow on people over time, with Jason Todd being another good example with his popularity as the Red Hood. Remember when Barry had two loving and supporting parents, and not one found guilty of murdering the other? Hell, even Wally has gone through changes over the decades.

It’s important to remember though that we will always have the stories we loved even if we don’t like the direction characters go in. Nobody can take away your past experiences, even when it’s really frustrating because the new team/version just doesn’t seem to understand what made the character great (see the New 52 versions of Static, Blue Beetle, Green Arrow before Lemire took over and Catwoman.)

Secondly, and specifically to Wally, we have to remember that the New 52 is a heavy reset, and this Wally is a kid who currently has no powers. Regardless of whether you think DC had it in for the character when his continuity wasn’t carried over there are plenty of writers, artists and management who love the character and he’s already been reintroduced. It’s also unreasonable to expect a younger, depowered version to be the same hero you looked up to yet but it also means that you’ll get to experience that journey with him all over again.

Yes, his background has changed – and I discuss that more below – but there’s nothing to say that he is not destined to be every bit the hero the version of him that existed pre-Flashpoint was. He’s only currently appeared in a few scenes, and while yes he’s been angry and troubled, there are scenes like the following that really emphasise the happy Wally we all remember and love is still in there:

Flash-32-Spoilers-DC-Comics-New-52-Future-Flash-Wally-West-9

It’s early days. Let’s see who he truly is before you declare who he isn’t simply because of the colour of his skin.


“But Wally’s red hair and freckles are so iconic!”

Wally_West_005Yep, they are. Red hair is a rarer colour and the fact that the character has for so long sported the carrot top and cheek constellations is something that comes to mind.

So what?

His hair does not define who he is, and nor do his freckles. Yes, it helped you pick him out of a crowd but it is a physical feature rather than something that actually reflects who he is. I am always really surprised when I hear people who supposedly love Wally say things like this direct quote from Reddit:

“What makes him Wally is the way he looks, red hair and freckles has always been tied to Wally.”

What makes him Wally? Really? What absolute arse. That’s offensive – it’s like saying the only thing that separates Wallay from the legacy of Barry’s Flash is the fact his suit is slightly darker red. What makes him Wally is, but is not limited to:

030 - WjivGxl

Seriously, the guy made a suit out of Speed Force…

  • Curing Bart of his accelerated ageing.
  • His relationship with his wife, Linda, and later his kids.
  • Creating a new suit out of pure Speed Force when his legs were broken!
  • Rescuing half a million people from a nuclear explosion in 100 picoseconds.
  • Rebuilding the bridge between Central City and Keystone City by himself in 30 seconds.
  • Not to mention all the crazy Speed Force stunts and victories he’s won over the many decades.

Judging a person or a character on their physical qualities is ridiculous. Yes, it can be a little jarring for you but this is no argument for not making him black. If he’d dyed his hair black and cut it like an emo it would reflect on him and his values, possibly, but despite the issues with his new portrayal – and I discuss that more below – genetic qualities have no bearing on your worth as a person or character.

Red hair doesn’t make you a hero. Freckles don’t make you a hero. Being a hero makes you a hero, and that’s what – I guarantee you – Wally is going to be.


“Why not create a wholly new character instead?”

Flash_Wally_West_0046The simplest answer is because of the very reason we’re having this debate – people love Wally, he has a super long history as Barry’s sidekick and as the Flash himself, and any new character would always be second fiddle to that.

As I mentioned above in the section about “why change existing characters?”, one of the problems is that people don’t want to accept a whole new cast. The DC Universe is filled with characters who have been around and beloved for decades and people, understandably, want to read about them.

The problem is that they’re the product of their time and the vast majority, certainly the ones given the most limelight historically, were white men.

Yes, it is possible to introduce new People/Characters of Colour who work and will be embraced by the community – Marvel’s recent work with Kamala and Miles are great, and often cited examples – but anyone who’s read comics for awhile knows these are the exceptions. Finding love and acceptance for new character takes a long time and is fraught with constant hurdles.

It’s certainly not to say that that shouldn’t also be done but rather that a more effective way is to update characters and worlds to better reflect diversity. Above I used a metaphor but it’s as simple as the fact that we have heroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash celebrating 75 years of stories and their world is still drastically unrepresentative of the diversity of experiences and backgrounds that their readers live in.

It’s not enough to slowly chip away and hope that eventually things will change when it hasn’t dramatically improved in the many decades during which it has had every opportunity to do so. Direct action is needed and sooner rather than later.


“Being black is different from being white, though!”

4176359-5725610346-tumbl

Wally (in the future) still being a hero

Yep, your background will shape many experiences you have in life. No shit.

When I mentioned in a recent discussion on this topic that the colour of Wally’s skin had no bearing to me on the kind of person he would be, I was rewarded with this:

“If you don’t think being black is different from being white then you have a really narrow outlook on the world.”

Of course there are differences but these are:

  1. Based on culture and experience and not at all tied to genetics or anything ridiculous like that, if that is the argument being made
  2. In no way informative on whether someone is a good person or not, and;
  3. Opens up heaps of new storylines and experiences for Wally and writers to explore in the many decades to come.

My point is not that being black will be inconsequential to the character – I’d be highly disappointed if it was – but that it is absolutely ridiculous to say that because his race has changed that he will no longer be the hero and lovable character we all remember and love.

Yes, his new race will play a part in shaping the character, and this is crucial to why it’s important to have characters of colour who people can relate to their own experiences – but that doesn’t mean it has be, should be or will be the defining element of his personality or characterisation.


“Oh, well how would you feel if they made John Stewart/Cyborg/Static etc white?!”

03_jon stewart_1

The only white Jon Stewart I want to see appear in DC Comics…

Oh man, I love this one.

If you don’t understand the difference between updating one of many white characters to be a different race and changing one of the few black characters to white, then I think you probably need more help than this blog post can give you.

White, and male, privilege involves not experiencing the reality of looking at mass media – books, movies and comic books – and not seeing characters and heroes there that look like you. Not seeing people who share your skin pigment or cultural or ethnic background constantly used as caricatures or antagonists in other people’s stories.

That’s not what it’s like for minorities and because of this we should only ever be helping to correct the problem rather than adding to it.

This argument is so ridiculous it doesn’t deserve any more time.


“Why remove his Korean wife and kids? It’s an net loss so that means it’s completely wrong!”

LindaParkWest

Linda and the kids

Well, that’s an interesting point.

Yes, it is unfortunate that some of the casualties of the New 52 reboot were Wally’s family, and, yes, this is unfortunate for a number of reasons:

      1. Linda and the twins, Jai and Iris, were great characters.
      2. It involved the removal of two female characters, including Iris who was on her journey to being hero in her own right as the new Impulse.
      3. It involved the removal of a Korean American character in Linda and her and Wally’s biracial kids.

So yes, that is unfortunate. Who got to keep their histories and continuities with the New 52 reboot was a bit of an omni-shambles, and it can be frustrating when you look at the relatively intact backgrounds of the Bat family and the Green Lanterns.

However!

This is no reason for not making Wally black! Yes, it would have been neat if we could have had an older Wally who still had his family however this is a strawman argument for not changing Wally’s race. It does play into the below section, about representation of women and minorities in the New 52, sure, but it is in no way an argument for not having a black Wally West.


“If this was really about diversity wouldn’t they change a main character or Justice Leaguer like Barry instead?”

earth-d

Tanaka Rei, the asian Flash from Earth-D

Yep, that would be even better! I’d be totally excited about that!

It’s a good time actually to link to another post of mine on this blog which explains the world and history of Earth-D. Go check it out if you want and come back – it’s not long. :)

As it says:

The story goes that Crisis on Infinite Earths writer Marv Wolfman believed that [Earth D] is what the DC Universe should have been after the Crisis, with the heroes becoming much more culturally diverse and multi-racial, but that, as we know, didn’t happen. Flash forward to February 1999, 14 years later, and we get a special called Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 written, you guessed it, by Marv Wolfman, set during the original crisis but taking place on Earth-D. From the wiki:

Earth-D was the designation for an Earth, and the Universe it inhabited, that existed prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Earth-D was very similar to Earth-One and had a Silver Age “feel”. This universe have its own super-hero analogues to Earth-One, only except they are more ethnically diverse. For example an Asian version of the Flash, a black Superman, and an Native American Green Arrow. This universe have its preeminent super-team, the Justice Alliance of America.

I stand completely with Marv Wolfman on this. They had a good moment to change the status quo in 1985 – in a way that, if they had, no one would be, hopefully, even needing this blog post in 2015 – and I wish they had done it.

1938279-flash___justice_alliance

The Earth-D Justice Alliance

Yes, for now, Wally is a minor character so it has less impact than if they changed Barry’s background. However, just because this particular change doesn’t go far enough and hasn’t fixed everything doesn’t mean that the change is wrong

DC definitely could, and should, be doing more however that’s not a good reason, at all, for why Wally shouldn’t be black.


“Isn’t it dodgy the way his backstory has been changed along with his race?”

Wally-1Finally, an argument that makes some sense! The answer is yes, it’s problematic.

Now, it’s not inherently dodgy that when rebooting the character – hell, they were rebooting the entire universe – that Wally’s background changed. It happens semi-regularly in comics, after all.

However, it has been pointed out by a number of black creators, and commentators online, that the fact that at the same time as Wally becoming black that he’s also become a bit of a delinquent who is caught spray painting and who, seemingly, has a deadbeat dad. This seems supremely lazy at best and actually rather racist characterisation at worst.

FLSANN_3_3-610x938

Wally-2

There are other problems as well: like the fact that he no longer has a close relationship with Iris, or the troubling structure that it seems that they’re setting it up that the only person who can save a young black boy is a white man like Barry.

However, while the writing may have issues and I really hope it will improve and correct these troubling elements as the books go forward, these aren’t arguments for Wally not being black but rather that he simply should be better written.


“How can you say DC is doing this for good reasons when the New 52 reboot removed so many female characters and People of Colour?”

228 - KUmt3Aa

New 52 Static didn’t exactly get a good showing

Because simply because a company like DC still has a long way to go, or makes mistakes, doesn’t mean that steps they do take in the right direction are inherently wrong.

Yes, for a reboot that was advertised as making DC more accessible – especially to women and minorities – there were heaps of women and Characters of Colour who ended up on the cutting room floor.

While we saw Cyborg promoted to the role as a founding member of the Justice League we also lost a history of Leaguers like Vixen et al. While the Batman books introduced a new black hero in Batwing we also lost Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain leaving the Batfamily with fewer women and one minority down. I could go on and on.

BLUEBEETLE1page20_sample_jpeg_rev_jdshfklasudfy92

The third Blue Beetle, Jamie Reyes, who is Mexican

There were also lots of other troubling moments too – the runs of the New 52 versions of Green ArrowCatwoman and The Savage Hawkman were almost universally panned when they started in 2011 but given plenty of time to find their feet and only the last one was cancelled. Titles starring minorities, however, seemed to be given much less of a chance: Static Shock only made it to 8 issues, as did Mister Terrific and O.M.A.C. starring the new Cambodian American hero, Kevin Kho. Mexican hero Jaime Reyes lasted a bit longer with his solo series, Blue Beetle, but it too met it’s end with #15. Now, I’m not saying these books were well written – Static Shock and O.M.A.C. were awful, and Blue Beetle had none of the heart of the pre-Flashpoint series. The point is that there were plenty of other badly written series that were given far more of a chance than any starring someone who wasn’t white seemed to get.

This is a very short break down on lots of the problems that the New 52 had in it’s early days, many of which have only just begun to be addressed now.

I started this saying that I’m not a DC apologist and I will repeat it here. As a company they make plenty of mistakes, especially when it comes to diversity. The debacle about Batwoman marrying her girlfriend and all the other issues mentioned above constantly show that they are far from deserving a reward for their efforts in the space.

However the fact that there’s a long road ahead doesn’t mean that taking a good step in the right direction is wrong. Changing Wally West’s race is exactly that step.


So there you have it. Not quite as long as the post on the Flash Family Tree that inspired this post, but there you go! I’ll add, and agree with or refute, any new arguments I come across in my travels but for now I hope this has made sense.

People who find themselves expressing the arguments covered above may not like to think of themselves as racists but they need to at least acknowledge that the language and attitudes they’re using often is racist.

I love Wally West. His original journey from inquisitive kid to sidekick to Flash is one I’ll always treasure. I too am excited for Convergence and getting to see that version of the character, in his full powered glory with his loving wife and kick-arse kids, again. However, the New 52 – and, in fact, any reboot in comics – doesn’t mean that that version is erased but simply that that chapter is closed. Now we get to follow a new version of Wally on his journey all over again – what could be more exciting or awesome to experience than that?

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37 thoughts on “Why doesn’t it matter that Wally West is now black?

    • warlach says:

      Thanks for the inclusion of my write up on Wally West in your article. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I thought I’d respond here as your blog doesn’t seem to want to let me sign up as a non-Georgetown person :)

      Oh, and there’ve been four main timeline Flashes – Jay, Barry, Wally and Bart – as you can see in this other post ;)

      As for your point about Watchmen being white, as Moore had originally wanted to use the Charlton Comics characters before he was denied and whom the characters were based on. Being a product of their time, just like DC was, they were all predominantly white men.

      The exclusion of Characters of Colour from the main group in this isn’t as much a reflections on Moore’s writing but a result of using these pulp style characters in a modern context. As you suggest, Watchmen is as much a critique on the medium as on society, so I feel it’s reasonably safe to say this was done consciously and deliberately to both homage and parody and not through passive racism.

      Once again, glad you enjoyed the piece!

      ~ Lachlan “Warlach” Hibbert-Wells

      Like

  1. La Nonymous says:

    It took me a while to finally get a hold of an opposing argument about the Wally West/ New 52 diversity change. I agree with most of the responses to the questions, but I have a couple problems with them as well, such as the one for the “Isn’t it dodgy the way his backstory has been changed along with his race?” question. You said that “these aren’t arguments for Wally not being black but rather that he simply should be better written.”
    I disagree. It might be just a small nit-pick, but the writing has everything to do with his race. Wally is so stereotypical, from the hoodie on his back to the spray can in his hand.

    I didn’t grow up with Wally in the comics. But I don’t correlate Wally solely to his freckled ginger appearance, but to his sweet personality. I watched the Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice growing up. I loved his quirky quips and constant need for food. He was the comic relief, and a kind-hearted hero in both shows, but he was killed off for no reason in Young Justice, and was then replaced, in a sense, by Bart. When I think of the unfair handling of his New 52 counterpart, it makes me angry every time I see him. I hate how much he hates the Flash at first, and his relationships with the other characters makes him feel so distanced at first. I suppose that is the point they are trying to make with this new “edgy” character, and it also connects to his stereotypical past. But it feels like they almost pushed him aside just to give his seat to Bart, or “Bar Torr”.

    I guess that bringing up the words “I’m not being racist”, or anything like it, into the conversation can make you think that a person is just typing out “conversations which are just awful and ignore the reality of what those type of arguments mean for people of colour.” In some scenarios, I agree with you, some people word or outright type down the most ridiculous and harmful things I’ve ever seen. I feel like it is a legitimate statement though, because race is a very hard topic to discuss, especially if you aren’t discussing the side most taken, you are assumed a racist. In thoughtless text, a person’s tone and intent can be lost to the reader. Again I’m not saying that all statement’s that people make claiming they are not racist are for the better, but not all statements like it should be labeled as “bullshit”.

    These are just really small nit-picks. For now, I don’t like this new Wally. I’m not gonna force myself to just so I won’t “look racist”. Race has nothing to do with it FOR ME. I just don’t see the sweet character embodied by this new thug. Just as if it were the same ginger spray painting, I would still not like him. I guess my main concern is that I miss that sweet kid, who I saw portrayed running across America delivering a heart to a dying little girl, not disrupting the peace. I hope he does become the hero that he needs to be. It all depends on how they write him though.

    Like

    • Lachlan "Warlach" Hibbert-Wells says:

      Thank you for your long response. I thought first I’d respond to some stuff about the character before getting into the race issues.

      So, here’s some points:

      • Wally wasn’t “pushed aside” for the, frankly bizarre, Bar Torr storyline as it seems actually that Lobdell wrote his ‘Bart’ out to make way for Wally.
      • In Young Justice his death was moving, sure, but he wasn’t killed off for ‘no reason’. Wally died saving the world in what was clearly a homage to how Barry Allen died saving the Universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths back in 1985. If Young Justice had continued I’d like to think that they would have found a way to bring him back.
      • While he has a fun personality in those shows, and certainly his personality in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, doesn’t actually align with the comics. Wally was played for comedic effect but while he had an optimistic world view this goofiness is much more a product of those shows than the comic books.

      Anyway, on to the characterisation stuff about Wally.

      The writing is cliched but the idea that he hates the Flash is at least founded in some legitimacy, especially towards his love for his uncle. If you read the issue where Daniel West and Wally talk in prison you’ll see this already softening. He’s a passionate, headstrong kid and just in case anybody actually thought he wouldn’t calm down and get over it we got, so soon after his first appearance in the New 52, a flash forward to a future version of him as a powerful, Flash loving hero. Hell, that scene of him and Barry at a game together is clearly an indicator of where the character is going, which shows him as a sweet kid.

      I do think it’s a separate issue from his race because people need to chill out from their knee jerk reactions and realise that nothing is set in stone in comics and that every character goes through periods of being written badly – that’s the nature of a collaborative medium with a shared roster of characters like comics. It would be like saying that Green Arrow or Catwoman are terrible because since Flashpoint they’ve been written badly by some writers.

      “These are just really small nit-picks. For now, I don’t like this new Wally. I’m not gonna force myself to just so I won’t “look racist”

      Nobody is saying you have to like bad writing or that not liking it makes you racist. In fact, I expressly said that not liking him is fine, because “there’s plenty to complain about with Wally and The Flash without using Wally’s skin colour in an offensive manner.” I’m not saying you’re doing this but I thought it good to reiterate seeing as people seem to keep missing this point. Not liking the writing or this period in the characters life is fine, it doesn’t make you a racist. Tying it to his race in a way that says he shouldn’t be black is as he could easily have been black and well written.

      He might not ever become the joke cracking kid from the cartoons as, as stated, that’s more a tradition in the animated universes than the comics but he will clearly become a hero. Hell, we’ve already seen a version of him from the future as a hero, so there’s no real doubt.

      What we get now is to enjoy that journey all over again. Thanks for reading :)

      Like

      • La Nonymous says:

        He did save the world in Young Justice, but I guess to me, his death just felt rushed. He is a speedster though, so any other death wouldn’t have suited him. I feel ashamed for not clarifying; it does seem like I said that him being black makes the writing terrible, and I apologize if it was offensive. I meant that since they are aiming to be more diverse, they should really try to avoid any stereotypes. My first impression of the new Wally was broody, troubled kid, and even if he does soften as his story progresses, it’ll be hard to shake that.

        Thank you for responding! I normally try to avoid topics like this because it can tend to something blowing up. I hope I didn’t sound like a racist asshole, and I really appreciate you catching me on the whole “writing” thing. I had the most trouble typing that paragraph, and I was worried I might have tripped over a few toes.

        On another note, your articles are very well-written, and I really enjoy reading them! Please keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lachlan "Warlach" Hibbert-Wells says:

          “I feel ashamed for not clarifying; it does seem like I said that him being black makes the writing terrible, and I apologize if it was offensive. I meant that since they are aiming to be more diverse, they should really try to avoid any stereotypes.”

          Oh, don’t worry – you didn’t come off as offensive! And yes, that would be best. It’s certainly not a slam dunk for DC in terms of doing things right.

          “My first impression of the new Wally was broody, troubled kid, and even if he does soften as his story progresses, it’ll be hard to shake that.”

          Wally has been a dick plenty of times in the comics, especially when we was younger – trust me, all it takes is a good writer to come along.

          “I hope I didn’t sound like a racist asshole”

          You didn’t, it’s cool :)

          “On another note, your articles are very well-written, and I really enjoy reading them! Please keep up the good work!”

          Cheers! Thank you :)

          Like

  2. Matteo says:

    Umh…nope. Sorry, but i don’y buy it.
    You can color me racist how much you want, but truth is that i don’t like racebending of iconic characters like Wally or Johnny Storm. One thing is to racebend a largely secondary character like Nick Fury, but a primary, very relevant character, is a whole different beast.
    I don’t like it and it has nothing to do with racism, as i would feel equally annoyed if they made Cyborg, Storm or War Machine caucasians. I hate silly retcons.
    Bullcrap like this is the reason why i’m not reading superhero comic books anymore.

    Like

  3. IGisBliss says:

    I understand this is an old article already but I just despise the race swapping of Wally West.

    I’ll start off that I am neither White or Black but I find it unnecessary and offensive in the character design approach. Wally West is supposed to be white. Some people may claim it’s racist but if we turned The Incredible Hulk into blue or purple or rainbow multicolored, is it racist now? It’s the same situation with Beast Boy turning red. It’s an insult to the character design people loved the character for.

    I don’t mind a black speedster but make him his own original character, why does this incarnation need to have his name? Look at Miles Morales and John Stewart. They are their own original character.

    While I understand the New 52 is a reboot, and changes ARE going to be apparent, this is one of those changes that feels disgustingly inappropriate. Not subtle at all. This New 52 Wally is a completely different character in design and “personality.” Giving him the name “Wally West” just feels slapped on, nothing more.

    I’d rather have Wally West retconned or dead in New 52 with this new guy having a different name.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tony says:

    After reading this, I really like this site (and its author). I’m a Humanist, feminist, and yes a Social Justice Warrior (I know it’s a term used derisively by retrograde supporters of the status quo, but given that I advocate for equality for all human beings, and I recognize the various forms of privilege and how they intersect to form the kyriarchy, I’m completely fine with the label). I wasn’t always though. For much of my life I was clueless about the racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, and ableism that pervades society (speaking here about the United States, although these social ills exist worldwide). So clueless that I helped perpetuate all that crap, both consciously and unconsciously. My eyes began to open roughly five years ago, and I haven’t been able to look at the world the same. Nor do I want to.

    One of the consequences of removing the blinders from my eyes is that I view everything differently and that includes comic books. I see the poor representation of women, People of Color, people outside the traditional gender binary, and people of non-traditional sexual orientations (or none) in the world of comics.

    So it warms my heart to find a site that marries my love of comics with my advocacy of social justice issues.

    ****
    More directly related to this post-
    As mentioned elsewhere, I haven’t bought any DC titles since 2011, but I’ve followed them. So I was aware of the new version of Wally. I don’t have a problem with him, and in fact I welcome the change. DC’s world should reflect the real world, which does not consist of solely (or even predominately) white, heterosexual, cisgender men. Kudos for DC making some much needed changes, rather than continuing their long, long history of bias in favor of white, heterosexual, cisgender men. One of the most amusing things to me about people who whine about diversity are the complaints about pandering–these people don’t realize that pandering to a specific demographic has gone on for most of the history of comic books! They don’t see it as pandering when the bulk of characters created by Marvel and DC for the last 75 years have been a very narrow slice of the rich diversity of humanity. They think of that as “normal”. So when efforts are made to include others-lesbians, transgender people, or people of color for instance-they see *that* as pandering. They really need to pull their heads out of their butts.

    Getting back to Wally, the only thing I have a problem with is that *my* Wally is gone. Since I got into comics around the time of the Crisis, Wally came to be my Flash. To this day, I’m bored to tears by Barry. I can’t really comment on the New 52 version, but pre-Flashpoint Barry never interested me as a character. I was pissed that Wally got sidelined when Barry returned since Geoff Johns wrote Barry’s return (and his short-lived series with Francis Manapul) and it was Geoff Johns who managed to keep Kyle Rayner around (as well as John and Guy) after he brought Hal back! I want DC to keep the modern version of Wally. But I *also* want my version back. Perhaps that will happen at some point in the near future, given the outcome of Convergence. Here’s hoping the 2-part Convergence tie-ins were testing the waters for future titles (or even mini-series). Because if I get a book with Wally as Flash (and a book with Superman in red trunks, married to Lois, and not wearing blasted armor), DC will have me back as a reader.

    ****

    To all those whining about diversity, there isn’t much to say. I doubt much will convince them that they need to adapt to the world around them. The world is changing. Businesses are changing. The status quo is shifting. In some areas the change is on a small scale, while in others change is coming more swiftly. Companies are realizing that their potential customer base is far greater than they thought. Those in charge of making movies, producing television shows, and writing SF/F or comics aren’t going to stop creating product with white, heterosexual, cisgender men in lead roles. But they will be expanding their horizons and producing more diverse products to appeal to a wide range of people.

    Personally I say bring it on. It’s about damn time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lachlan "Warlach" Hibbert-Wells says:

      “After reading this, I really like this site (and its author).”

      Awwww, shucks! Thanks man, glad you’re enjoying it. It was still early days even before I took the break I mentioned in my reply to your other comment but I love writing it so really get a kick out of it when someone else enjoys it too!

      Still need to post all the old answers, fix some links, hire and intern to run through and proofread and correct all my errors and then people keep asking me to do a YouTube series or podcast :P

      Like

    • Jamie Parsons says:

      ‘long, long history of bias in favor of white, heterosexual, cisgender men’

      Maybe because the majority of men in the USA are white, heterosexual and cisgender? Jesus Christ. 3/4 of America is white. 12% is black and 5% is Asian.
      Gay people are maybe 1% and transgender maybe 0.01% of people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lachlan "Warlach" Hibbert-Wells says:

        Your LGBT stats are off, even by the most conservative (no pun intended) estimates but it’s not really relevant as the argument homogenised majority are the only ones who should be represented and have people they can relate to and that look like them in comics is nonsense.

        Given your other comment I doubt there’s much to be said to change your mind though.

        Like

  5. AuldWolf says:

    I agree, for what it’s worth. I have a number of issues with Wally. Not least of which being that he’s now a hateful racist caricature. A hoodlum with a criminal dad that he admires, and 12 year old criminal who needs the pure, guiding hand of a white man to set him on the right path? Really, DC? In this, Didio’s shown how much of a racist prat he is.

    And on top of that, Wally is a gormless, humourless, dead-eyed, one-dimensional cardboard cut-out. That’s the opposite of the more casual, laid back,wisecracking yet quick-witted and intelligent Wally that I’d come to know and love.

    Oh, and now with him being criminal scum (at 12 years of age) and all, he’s not the genius chemist that Wally of yore was. Why? Didio thinks black people are stupid kids only good for street gangs, obviously. I can’t get over how racist Didio is in that Wally isn’t even allowed to have the intellect Wally did.

    Why isn’t a black person allowed to be funny, Didio? Why isn’t he allowed to be genuinely intelligent? Why is he a criminal at the age of 12? Why do black people need white men to fix and run their lives for them? Didio needs to give us answers to these questions. Honestly, the new Wally West is the most openly racist thing I’ve seen comics do in decades. It’s almost a hate crime.

    This isn’t empowering, this is damaging. It undermines and demeans black people. ‘Cause, hey, look at this upstanding white guy who’s helping out these stupid black kids who’re genetically predisposed to criminal activity in the DC Universe apparently. That’s screwed up on so many levels, and if any black people out there are feeling fed up with society and suicidal, what do you think gutter trash like DC (more Didio’s Crap then Detective Comics now) is going to do to them? It’s outrageous.

    Frankly, it makes my blood boil. I don’t like racism, I’m sorry.

    And what makes it so, so much worse is when you have witless, extraverted drones who talk about how great it is that Wally is now black. Yes, it would be great! If he wasn’t a criminal, and if he was intelligent and funny. That’d be fantastic! He could’ve been more like Virgil (Static Shock), but no. DC has to be the most racist there is.

    I’m sensitive to this because I’m disabled (and in the UK hate crimes against disabled people have risen by 41 per cent in the last year alone). And I know that disabled people are one of the most hated groups, we receive more prejudice than any other. It’s made me feel for other people, I have empathy for them, founded in my ethics. I understand their concerns and feelings. I just dislike bigots in every context, now. Including racism.

    And this is racism, this is the most insidious kind, too, the worst kind. It undermines the image of black people to young readers, it presents a notion of White Supremacy to young comic book readers everywhere.

    That’s sick. And not in the slang way. It’s just depraved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lachlan "Warlach" Hibbert-Wells says:

      As I said, I agree that the characterisation as part of the reboot was pretty problematic, however I will say that since then they seem to be moving the character away from these – and not simply through a ‘saved by the white man’ way – and bringing back what made the character great: fun, excitable, intelligent and talented.

      So yeah, hopefully we can put this poor writing of the character in the past and move on into a whole new age of watching this new version of Wally blossom into the hero he’s meant to be :)

      Like

      • TerminalSanity says:

        No this sort of creatively bankrupt approach to these sort of issues needs to stop. Create a new character wholesale and pass the mantle onto them. Don’t bother retaining just the name of a character and pretend like you didn’t just create a new character wholesale. You want Kid Flash in the New 52 to be half-black fine don’t bother calling him Wally West when for all intents and purposes he’s not the same character. What’s the point in doing so? Existing readers aren’t going to regard him as the same Wally because he isn’t because you’re fundamentally not writing him the same and new readers aren’t going to care about the Name Wally West to begin with so why bother? Don’t rationalize or excuse what is really a bad approach to creating more characters of color, demand better because the issue deserves better than a lazy and frankly arbitrary editorial mandate.

        Like

        • Brendoon says:

          “fine don’t bother calling him Wally West when for all intents and purposes he’s not the same character. What’s the point in doing so?”

          So good! I agree totally. That’s how Barry came about in the first place.

          Like

  6. Daniel says:

    Kind of ended up here randomly (the title’s kind of…clickbaity when I was reading the Shazam one, no offense intended, and I used to be a big Flash fan back before the Bart Allen run) but I’m not really following some of the logic. If a character looked the exact same for over 50 years then why isn’t it disconcerting to suddenly change them? Character design is kind of intrinsic to a character, after all. For instance, a LOT of people know what Wally looks like, or used to look like. If you say Wally West or Kid Flash to a random person who has been a casual comic or cartoon fan then they get an idea because the character was so prevalent. Justice League, Teen Titans and Young Justice being responsible for that as well as years of Wally in the comics. Kind of like Robin’s pixie shoes and tights, people can recognize what Kid Flash is just from his exposure in the Silver and Bronze Ages.

    But if you took the New 52 Wally and his new, kind of ugly, costume and showed it to any casual fans, normal folks, or any old Wally fans they’d never be able to guess that that’s Wally West without being one of the, what, 30k people who still read the disappointing comic?

    So you’re setting the character back in terms of visibility for many, many years (possibly irreproachably as comics themselves have lost social significance since the silver age) until you can supplant that image. Maybe the TV show will expedite that, but that’s only a guess as to how they handle Wally and how relevant he’ll be (it’s still a Barry Allen show, after all).

    You also get this awkward, terrible redesigning phase as the new african american look doesn’t go with the old Kid Flash costume (as seen by Booth getting rid of the open cowl because, go figure, Wally no longer has a ginger’s hair) in an attempt to match up with his new skin color and hair. He kind of looks like if you mixed The Flash and Cyborg together rather than Kid Flash, which is kind a long running problem they’ve had in minority character designs. Wally, outside of his costume, has the same hair and vague skin color that nearly every black DC male has (John Stewart and Cyborg, most notably, very similar hair and skin tone). I guess in the past he could’ve been compared to…Jimmy Olsen? As a bonafide Ginger. Maybe Guy but Guy’s hair was way different.

    Just imagine if they did something like this to Superman. They change him to, I dunno, middle eastern looking. His costume, to facilitate the new change, are completely redesigned in color scheme and even the iconic Yellow and Red S are now, I don’t know, Purple and Black or something. We saw this fall through immensely back in the Superman Blue phase, and that had no racial charge to it. There’s something to be said for an appearance being sacrosanct if it’s persisted so strongly and there is a reason why Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are all still white as bleached rice — their appearances are considered important whereas Wally’s probably isn’t (due to a clearly intentional dropping down the totem pole).

    Maybe some of the social visibility could be made up for with the new minority spotlight, but that seems to have instantly fizzled and it’s not like they accompanied the race change with any Wally West centric titles — atleast none I’m aware of (I might pick that off the shelf!). Without some actual backing from the company the race change, from a diversity standpoint, does nothing so long as he remains an unimportant character. It’s like how Marvel actually gave Kamala a book — this is visibility to a minority character. Wally West’s change does nothing of the sort and now any press from his change has completely petered out.

    Other than that, I wouldn’t disagree with you that more minority characters is a fine thing (though as someone of korean and laotian descent I’d like my asian representation in the Flash family back, and maybe bring back XS instead of trying to fit Wally into a different genre), though in that vein I fear this might relegate Wally as a token minority character in team books (as I doubt, after all this time, a Wally lead book is in the pipeline) instead of someone who relies on his own strengths as a character — strengths that he doesn’t have anymore, sadly.

    Like

  7. AwManUMurricans says:

    Why did they make the Flash black… they could have taken any other hero. But not the flash…. he has always been the ginger hottie. . . This new liberalism really sucks. Everything has to be made forcefully equal, reckless, just reckless. Most black people surely feel kind of expected to support this change, but what if they don’t, they could have made an entirely new character. Or a alternate universe. Seriously this just sucks. :( I miss my old flashes. That’s like making Son Goku black. Makes no sense.

    Like

  8. Keiran S-C says:

    yea its only considerd racist if its whitewashing, petitions are started and all sorts, but if you stick up for a white characters race then it doesnt matter your racist not matter what for not agreeing with blackwashing and we should just accept it apparently…

    iv commented on many disscusions for lots of race washed white characters and all you get are mainly black commenters saying “stop crying over it” after they realise its no differnt from whitewashing.
    The worst thing is they are all hypocrites they stick up for their characters but white ppl are not allowed to :/ its a double standard.
    If your born white then everyone assumes you are racist thats just how it is, theirs even a comic being made which features a world with only black heros, imagine if i did that as a white british male i would be on the news for producing racist material even though i live in a country with 86% white pop haha

    Like

  9. Brent says:

    I agree with many points and i get changing races, but Man growing up red hair always got us picked on it was nice to have people to identify with in the comics I mean honestly you could pry count the pro athletes in America on both hands who are red heads. I hate the term ginger by the way. Why take away from us when there are soooo many damn dark haired white dudes, like seriously why not Atom, Zatara, Robin\s. It actually hurt seeing a character we could identify with get changed. It sucked so much getting picked on that I started dying my hair.

    Like

  10. Brendoon says:

    Yup, redheads are totally marginalised, even here in New Zealand.
    When I draw a ginge into my posters the client always asks for it to be removed and replaced with a Pacific Islander! Happens again and again and again. Ginge is the new “nicotine addict” nobody talks to. (Here in NZ there was a pretty strong poster campaign against, get this, not tobacco, but against smokers!)

    As for “Judging a person or a character on their physical qualities is ridiculous. Yes, it can be a little jarring for you but this is no argument for not making him black.” ain’t that a spot of doubletalk? If it doesn’t matter WHAT a person looks like… why’s that proof he should then be black? Cast him for the best actor who brings the freshest angle on the character, regardless of what attributes people find attractive.
    Incidentally, race doesn’t exist at the DNA level, just a long series of attribute switches. P’raps we should all deliberately marry someone with different skin from us, and in a generation or ten we’ll have to find some other reason to feel marginalised.
    I’m not blessed with distinctive skin or hair, but I AM as boring as hell. Just try getting a job with THAT on your face!

    Like

    • Keiran S-C says:

      I get your point and iv heard bad stuff about new zealand before but this isnt really about judging a character on their phisical attributes or preffering one over another its about respecting the characters integrity and the person who created them, changing a characters race is the same as chaning their gender, sexuality or religion, even if they say all the same things theyre no longer the same character. By altering such features it completly changes the target audience and pisses off the ppl who have grown up with them. I wouldnt be so attached to Harry Potter if he wasnt a white british male the same as me, that made it a whole lot more relatable while i was growing up just like many ginger ppl will have enjoyed seeing a ginger superhero.
      If harry potter was about a biasexual, asian, christian who had all the same plot points and said all the same lines it would no longer be harry potter and wouldnt have appealed to me the same as it did.

      Thats not to say i dont like any superheros who arnt white i love GL John Stewart, Blade, Static Shock, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg, Aqualad, even Goliath from Gargoyles and part of what i like about them is that theyre differnt from the other heros i like in everything from personality to appearance or culture. By blackwashing iconic superheros now it undermines the importances characters like blade, black lightning, black panther had on the comic industry at the time of their release they played key roles in representing an underrepresented minority and showing they can be just as good and just as popular.

      Its important to mention that whitewashing receives a very differnt response to other forms of race washing even when the industry is based in a 60% – 85% + white populous. Actors like idris elbar receive glowing articles written about them and tons of support for blackwashing hiemdal while actors like rooney mara have petitions started against her and she is gulit tripped into making public appologies for her cast even though she made a great performance.

      Like

      • Brendoon says:

        Well, here in NZ like in the UK the ginges are the butt of a gentle jibe which isn’t REALLY the same as racism. I WAS surprised by my “Maori warrior” type friends who were upset that the hero of “Force Awakens” was a girl. She was (for the first time in the Star Wars Universe) well acted, therefore I found her easy to identify with, same as Finn. The new character I couldn’t place myself in the shoes of was Po… the white guy! There wasn’t enough of him to latch onto.

        Like

        • Keiran S-C says:

          Thats is really weird that ppl dislike gingers so much over there in the uk it doesnt go much further than a few years into secondary school then most ppl grow up a bit, personally i think a redhead woman is crazy attractive look at amy adams in BVS or jane levy :)

          Im not a fan of the old star wars franchise i watched them when i was older and just cant get into them, i thought the new one was great though rey & finn were brilliant and i felt similar about po it seemed like he was going to be a main character as he was so promminet in the opening scenes then he just trails off and isnt seen untill the end :S

          I always love a female lead in a narrative iv only been collecting comics for 3-4 years now and i have every issue of wonder woman since 1982 before i was even born lol, izombie is my current hook if you havnt seen it i reccomend it

          Like

  11. TerminalSanity says:

    Look let’s be real here: anyway you slice it you can’t really have New 52 Wally still be the same Wally West that longtime fans knew while at the sametime having the fact that he’s black actually mean something to people. New 52 Wally has to be a fundamentally different character otherwise he’s fundamentally only black in the most superficial (and thus meaningless) ways IE: he only resembles a black person his actual character and cultural depiction would be that of a white teen/young man (which not to say there is a great deal of overlap but I know first hand its not exactly the same in significant ways). So in effect as far as long time Flash readers are concerned or anyone who actually knew about the character retaining the mere name Wally means nothing to them as the 52 New Wally has to stand on his own so as a character you might as well have just created a wholly new character to begin with. The same holds true for prospective new readers because the name Wally west means nothing to them by definition. Basically you can’t have Wally being black matter from a storytelling/character perspective while on the one hand while at the sametime say that his race doesn’t matter on the other. You can’t have your cake and eat it too as it were.

    That’s why passing an existing heroes’ mantle to a minority character is a so very much more effective, progressive, credible, not to mention more successful than changing a hero character’s race when it comes to further diversity within the medium. Sorry but this was clumsy ill-conceived bad idea no matter how well intentioned it maybe it stinks of shallow tokenism and that just cut it we need and deserve better in this day and age.

    Like

  12. Brendoon says:

    I read somewhere else that changes made to superheroes need to be taken with the realisation that “But this isn’t YOUR […Kid Flash which you read in the seventies…],” he’s a new character for a new generation. This is wholly true.
    While I pretty much stopped reading comics around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths, I did like the way they powered down Superman (after he eventually was rewritten from the dead) he became much more human, could bleed and had to wear a mask in space. Sure, he wasn’t the same Superman I grew up with, but I HAD become tired of how (for example) no-one in the “DC Heroes” role playing game could lay a finger on him, his stats were so high you had to exclude him from any game. Not that I ever got around to PLAYING the damn thing, but it had nice pictures…
    While he wasn’t “MY” Superman, MY Superman had been all explored out and the new Kent/Kal brought a whole new realm to discover and explore.
    As I admitted in an earlier comment, if the character’s well written and/or acted you can fit right into their shoes and identify-with regardless of the externals.
    Having said that, their ARE things I would find hard to get past. If Wally was a cross dressing bar predator I would probably wonder about my loyalties.

    Like

  13. Rain in the Dark says:

    Even though I grew up in a country where 99% of people who surrounded me were caucasian and I hadn’t even seen a living black person until I was like sixteen, I watched plenty of foreign movies, especially Asian and from the US, and I don’t remember even questioning the race of the characters. It never mattered to me. Many of my childhood favorite characters were of different ethnicity, most notably Jay from Men in Black and Jackie Chan in all of his movies. John Stewart is in fact my favorite Green Lantern thanks to that JLU animated show. I remember getting weirded out by people in my school who made insults looking at pictures of people of different races, not understanding what their deal was.

    I now get weirded out by people who call me a racist when I say that I don’t like the idea of canon characters changing their iconic appearance. For me it isn’t as much about race as it is about appearance. For example, to me swapping a black-haired dark-eyed character into, say, an Asian doesn’t matter all that much. But for heaven’s sake, the blue-eyed blond Johnny Storm and the fair-skinned red-headed Wally West are as far from looking black as they could be.

    Why, why is it not racist of me to say that I want John Stewart to remain black, but it is racist if I say that I want Johnny and Wally to remain white? It makes zero sense. The world has officially gone absolutely nuts.

    Just write good stories with new characters! I understand that it’s hard, but it can be done and it is so much more rewarding. Finn is my favorite character from the new Star Wars. Jaime the Blue Beetle was awesome. I can’t wait for the new Black Panther movie. I’m disappointed that that obviously Asian chick in Doctor Strange trailer was white for some reason and that Hawkeye’s wife, a new character, was white too even though she could be anything they wanted her to be, but that’s the thing. If you want to introduce diverse characters, just use it when you introduce new or less well-known characters, don’t have them be white by default! It’s a lie that there is no way to do it. If they catch on, you’ll have a popular ethnic character that is his own thing, and everyone wins.

    And for the sake of everything that’s holy, stop pulling the ‘racist’ card to squash common sense. It’s NOT racist to want your favorite characters to keep their canon appearance, regardless of whether they are white, black, Asian, native American or whatever. Real people don’t suddenly wake up with a different skin or hair tone either. Stop being stupid.

    Like

  14. Daydreamer says:

    First of all, I know I’m late ;-) , despite that I wanna give you a different point of view why Wally’s colourwashing is simply stupid.

    Just like many others here I grew up with the gingerhead. Dued to my own childhood some of the DC Characters where more family to me then my own, and trust me I’m not alone with that. Wally was one of them. And even if I’m to old today to follow this sight any longer, it was a damn good time with “cousin Wally” and the other familymembers.
    People who say that Wally’s new ethnicity doesn’t matter are right, because his ethnicity never should have been changed; skincolour totally aside.
    The changes of the character should’ve been done slowly to convince readers like me of their nessecarity. But how it’s done, no way that I ever will accept this character.
    Beside that, i’ve not overread the request for more reflection of the changed reality we live in today. Fair point, but this reality not includes only black people or sexual diversity. It includes also all other skintones. So why they didn’t give us a new Windrunner with a background like in the movie “the jury” ??? Too sofisticated for us readers??? I don’t know…

    Beside my opnion how Wally’s character could’ve been changed better, this Wally hasn’t a bright future because of the timefactor. There has to grow a whole new audience for this Wally, and this takes more than a year. A timespan that the creatives in my eyes don’t have. Essentily this means that they have violated the Wally West character for less than nothing. In consequence that means that they will bring back the old Wally with the damage done and the helpless effort to give a plausible statement why they do it.
    Result: A good idea is burned to ashes even before someone could tell the creatives how stupid their handeling of this idea is.

    To make one thing very clear: I’m not against change, I advocate it. The only thing that I expect from people who want change is that they know how to do it.
    Just try to build a house from it’s roof on, you will find out that political correctness doesn’t help you to suceed. Even if some fancy guru may tell you so…

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