Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I have liked comic book characters since I was a child watching Super Friends. I started buying comic books in college, and one of my first titles was a Marvel book (Spider-Man 2099). But Aquaman is my hero, and I'm mostly a DC gal. That's the background for you.

I have no interest in Black Panther.

And it bothers me.

Oh, the movie looks exciting, and I'll probably see it once it's out on home video. Hubby-Eric and I have watched many of the Marvel Universe movies, and will watch many more before were through. Heck, I haven't seen Justice League yet because we can't afford to see it right now (I should probably go put it on my Amazon Wish List) and I only HOPE we'll have enough cash to see Aquaman when it's out.

But here's the issue... I read up on Black Panther, and he seems like the kind of character who ought to appeal to me. He's from a technologically advanced nation which he rules as king, that's basically hidden from/disregarded by the outside world. He's a superhero and ruler and has to balance between different goals and accomplishments while still staying true to himself. I mean, that description could easily apply to Aquaman. Just make him breathe underwater, and you've got my guy.

So why am I not interested in him? My fear is that it's my innate racism kicking in. I want to say it isn't, but I'm not sure. Just because I love Cal Durham in the DCU Aquaman-family doesn't mean I don't have some bias against other black characters. Is it my lack of interest in Marvel Comics? Or do I have something against a fantasy country set in Africa? I like Storm. I like Vixen. I adore Black Lightning and Static. But I cannot rule out a hidden flaw in my character, hidden even from me.

Racism is something that every living soul in our country has thanks to being raised in a racist society. Whether we acknowledge it or not, all of us are racist in some ways. Some of those are overt, many are subtle and some never show at all. My goal is to be a good person, and that means understanding when I am being racist, acknowledging the flaw and trying my best to correct it. I have done this over and over and will have to continue to do it my entire life. You don't simply stop being racist because you don't want to be - it's a process instead of a one-and-done thing. I have failed. Many times. I sometimes curse my mind for thinking racist thoughts without my permission, and I sweep those thoughts off the stage of my brain whenever I can. But they still exist and I will never stop fighting them.

I'm really not sure if my disinterest in Black Panther is racism or not. I've been struggling with it, because if it is a symptom of something bigger and bitter in my heart, I want to figure it out and work through it. But perhaps I just don't have any interest. Perhaps I've never given the character enough time or effort. Perhaps the little bit of comic art I've seen and read just didn't hook me. I just don't know, and for the moment I'm stymied on how to figure it out.

My best option, I think, is to read as much Black Panther as I can find to see what it does to me. Sadly, with finances what they are, that will have to wait. If anyone can recommend a jumping on point, I'll put it on my list of to-reads and someday get to it.

In the meantime, the worry will unsettle my mind. I hope the movie is fantastic and does well at the box office. And I hope I can see it soon. Maybe I'll fall in love with this character too.


Elayne said...

I think it's almost certainly a Marvel vs. DC thing. We have a weird dynamic in our house where Robin likes most if not all of the shows based on Marvel characters, and I feel the same way about the DC-based shows (except for Arrow, too grim-n-gritty despite Felicity). I think it has a lot to do with which of the Big Two we first imprint on.

Tegan said...

I hope that's it, Elayne. I just find it disturbing that I really don't know why I'm not interested in the character.