The Los Angeles Times spoke with former Marvel EIC Alonso, who together with Bill Jemas founded a new outfit called AWA after the former was replaced by C.B. Cebulski at Marvel, and while it’s fine to create Latino heroes, as they’re doing with a new book called Primos, they still insist upon relying almost entirely on the superhero theme. And look how the paper brings up some of Alonso’s previous efforts at social justice pandering:
Former Marvel Comics editor in chief Axel Alonso is not one to hold his tongue when discussing the comic book industry’s problems diversifying characters and creators. “Ultimately,” he says, it “comes down to the cowardice of the big companies.”
The man who helped make it possible for a biracial character named Miles Morales to wear the Spider-Man suit and Muslim teen Kamala Khan to become Ms. Marvel continues to support new voices and characters after leaving Marvel to form Artists, Writers & Artisans, or AWA Studios. The media company, which he co-founded in 2018 with fellow former Marvel Comics executive Bill Jemas and Fandom culture platform co-chairman Jon Miller, is launching a comic book centered on Latinx superheroes and created by actor Al Madrigal, former correspondent of “The Daily Show.”
I get the feeling Alonso’s resentful at being fired from his prior job at Marvel, where he did a very bad job at marketing and artistry, something the LAT won’t mention clearly, though it’s obvious at this point the upper echelons didn’t really get rid of him because he proved catastrophous as EIC. Rather, they got rid of him at the time because his mismanagement at the time was drawing critical backlash, something Cebulski’s been able to avoid up to a point because unlike most prominent editors of yesteryear, he largely avoids making public appearances for interviews or acting as company spokesperson. Let’s consider that the damage Alonso wrought has already been done, right down to his own role in getting rid of the Spider-marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson (he was one of the leading editors for Spidey years before), which these press sources make sure to obscure so the narrative won’t be disrupted. I notice this is the umpteenth article to employ the “latinx” slang, which, as I’d noted before, is not popular, despite how the MSM insist on using it at the expense of everybody’s intellect. Now about that new project he’s got:
“Primos,” written by Madrigal and drawn by Carlo Barberi, brings together three distant cousins, bound together by their ancient space-faring Maya lineage to the historical King Janaab. Their mission, of course, is to save the world. In introducing three Latinx superheroes, Madrigal and AWA Studios are venturing into territory that has been shunned by most of the big comic book companies. But comic book fan culture is just as big in the Latinx community as it is anywhere else, and Madrigal hopes to capitalize on and honor the culture.
Of course there’s always room for heroic characters of Latino descent, but why should we believe a guy who went out of his way to destroy Marvel’s artistic value is selling these new creations on merit? If it turns out AWA’s offerings are lacking, who’ll truly care? And why keep relying on superheroes as protagonists? Why not just simply adventurers and crimefighters? They could build up the premises AWA is going for far better if they didn’t turn to such an obvious cliche almost immediately out of the gate. And then:
For Alonso, it is another example of his ongoing mission to try to introduce characters who look more like him. He and Madrigal are of Mexican heritage and, as Alonso points out, there are very few prominent Latinx, especially Mexican, superheroes.
“While there are [popular] Black and Asian superheroes, Hispanic superheroes are very, very few. And let’s look at Mexicans — the two [most prominent] Mexican superheroes are Blue Beetle at DC and White Tiger at Marvel. Who? Exactly,” says Alonso. “It’s been very important to me for a long time to do Latino characters because they’re not represented well in comics at all.”
There are a few other major Latinx characters like Robbie Reyes (Ghost Rider), America Chavez and Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern), but not many. Which raises the question: Why haven’t there been more? Alonso believes there are many reasons, but two stand out.
“It starts with a company’s conservatism in terms of getting behind new content. They back the biggest characters for the most part. Batman, Superman, X-Men, Avengers — at the expense of new stuff,” Alonso says. “And it’s also about the talent pool. Who’s out there? What do they want to do? So many people, when I came up in this, aspire to do Batman or Spider-Man. Not a small character or something new.”
It’s no surprise Alonso wouldn’t see anything wrong with forced replacement for the sake of publicity stunts, which did begin mostly with DC in the mid-2000s, and Marvel actually rode the coattails of that previous botch. If he thinks there’s not enough Latino characters in the medium, that’s one thing, but his failure to recognize that deliberately replacing established white characters with POC in the same costumes gives away his whole laughable act. He’s clearly not disturbed at how DC killed off Ted Kord in 2005 at the hands of Max Lord, in one of the most offensive characterizations around. He’s also oblivious to how DC/Marvel are coming close to doing what he talks about, when they start promoting a bisexual son for Superman, among other regrettable stunts.
Interestingly, Rayner being established as half-Latino came almost a decade after his introduction, in one of the earliest examples of social justice pandering. But did that change how terrible the circumstances leading to his ascension as a new GL were, with Hal Jordan subject to such a monstrosity as Emerald Twlight was? Nope. The following is even more eyebrow raising:
Alonso made sure to reach out to writers and artists of diverse backgrounds while at Marvel, and continues that practice in his role at AWA Studios. With an emphasis on diverse faces coming into view the last few years, especially at Marvel and DC, there is more of a sense of purpose in reaching out to all parts of their audiences — the people who read and buy their product.
“I feel great [now] because as a Hispanic kid, I grew up reading comic books and looking at characters like Shang-Chi and Black Panther who were all left of center as my heroes. Because I felt ‘other,’ you know what I’m saying? And I didn’t relate to Captain America and the Hulk,” says Alonso.
This is definitely illuminating. No wonder Jack Kirby’s famous superhero patriot fell victim to wokeness nearly 2 decades ago. Steve Rogers is tragically hostage, much like the rest of the MCU, to people with no love for earlier creations or the people who brought them about. Don’t be shocked if Alonso and others like him had no love for Superman either. The part about “left of center” is strange, suggesting Alonso viewed them through a political lens of projection. The writer of Primos also had an eyebrow raising statement to make:
With characters from Mexico to South L.A., Madrigal also believes that the time is right for “Primos.” His earliest foray into comics was “The West Coast Avengers,” a Marvel comic that ran roughly from 1985-94. It was easy for him to get into because it was a new book, without all of the daunting history behind it that others had. It also featured Jim Rhodes as Iron Man, a definite draw for Madrigal. But, again, there wasn’t much in the way of Mexican or Mexican American characters. He believes that the fandom across the border is just as fervent and deserving as any other.
Does that mean he didn’t care about Tony Stark? No wonder the billionaire scientist got subject to a retcon at the time Alonso was still at Marvel, where Shell-head’s biological parents were retconned out of that role, and a poseur was put into the heir’s role at Tony’s expense. What kind of people just go ahead and read items of the past they never cared for, yet continue to associate with them instead of work hard at developing challenging competition? I notice there’s no mention of Vibe, the Puerto Rican superhero from the last few years of Justice League of America from 1960-87, who was originally killed off along with the 1st Steel, all because George Perez didn’t like the accent applied to the character, even though that, along with any characterization flaws, could’ve been fixed in a jiffy, and they didn’t need to go some cheapskate route that led to a bad influence. But that just shows how un-dedicated the news propagandists really are to the art. It’s such an embarrassment.
If I were a writer, I’d want to create some Latino/Mexican/Peruvian characters, but as their very own agencies if creating them for mainstream. AWA is decidedly going about all this the wrong way with how they’re promoting the products, and their approach is so laughably cliched. Above all, there remains what should be an obvious question: will there be any merit in the finished product from AWA? If not, what’s the use of this puff piece?
Originally published here.