May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, so perhaps it's fitting that yesterday, Marvel released the first issue of Prince of Power
, a new series starring (finally!) long-time fan favorite character Amadeus Cho.
Amadeus Cho is arguably one of the most popular Asian American characters in American pop culture.
I have a feeling Prince of Power
might be a litmus test and it's success might result in the introduction of more characters of color in leading roles, so if you're interested in comics, check it out. According to reviews
, Prince of Power #1 is a good starting point for the uninitiated!
And now, DC Comics. Last week, skemono
shared Chris Sim's editorial
on the way DC has been treating it's characters of color. Sims noted that DC has created "new" versions of old heroes who are people of color, but now, a worrying trend is to revert to the original (white) character and sideline the newer iteration of the character. For example, Sims wrote that the modern Atom, Asian American Ryan Choi was "shoved into limbo" to herald the return of the original Atom, Ray Palmer. Sims expressed disappointment in this decision, arguing that Choi was one of the most complex, non-stereotypical Asian American characters to be featured by DC in years.
Well, this week--on the same day Marvel's Amadeus Cho's star launched-- Ryan Choi's character was killed off
, unceremoniously, off-panel in Teen Titans, a book he's not actually in.
On Twitter, fans gave DC a hard time
, including accusing DC of having a racial motivation to killing off Choi. Teen Titans writer Eric Wallace spoke to CBR
about the decision to kill the character of Ryan Choi.
CBR: Do you have a message for the twitterati and fans of the character that are angered/saddened/upset by his death, because some are even saying this death was racially motivated?
Wallace: Only that I, too, will miss Ryan. He was a great hero all the way until the end, and that's how I'll always remember him. I hope others will, too.
Was the "killing" of the Choi comic book character "racially motivated"? Not in the traditional hate crime sense, not out of bigotry or an outright desire to wipe characters of color off the map--at least, I'd hope not. CBR's Bryan Cronin
speculates that "Wallace was simply given a list of heroes that were notable enough that their death would matter but NOT notable enough that they could be killed off without it being a major blow to the DC Universe." This is
likely the case, but we should finish that thought.
Killing characters off is a popular convention in comics, in movies, and in TV. (Fans of a certain television series with a diverse cast currently running up to it's final episodes know what I'm talking about.) As a storytelling device, it at once hooks the audience and lets the audience know the storyteller is serious. Stakes are raised and emotions run high.
Even so, it's important to note why
characters of color are frequently the ones who are considered the right "fit" to be selected to be killed off. Why are characters of color often the ones who are "notable enough that their death would matter but NOT notable enough that they could be killed off"?
It's not because creators are bigoted towards people of color, it's more that characters of color and actors of color are less likely to take precedence, be the main character, to be vital to the stories being told. This isn't a coincidence, it's an ongoing trend.