I think it’s safe to finally say that no-one at Marvel has remembered to care a whit about the fact that their audience does include groups other than white males. Similarly, the corporation has clearly succeeded in ignoring any responsibility to shape “Fear Itself” # 4 in a way that promotes anything other than a picture of America which would have been mostly comfortable to a died-in-the-wool social conservative of 40 and more years ago. In short, the evidence of this book, designed as it is to be read by pretty much everyone buying into the Marvel brand this month, shouts that it’s produced by folks who simply aren’t thinking too much about anything beyond those very big explosions and those costume money-shots and those Marvel-mythos moments.
Spoiler: Flashpoint doesn’t do much better, and Smith makes some great points about the perils of placing both Lois Lane and Cyborg in primary roles in the alternate universe (“Cyborg is the superhero who’s the best of what’s left when all the white folks have been removed from the equation, and his role is to support the white men who are trying to return the DCU to a state where he’ll no longer be the greatest of the heroic classes, because his betters will have returned to rightfully displace him,” for example). Really, really thought-provoking stuff – and particularly damning for both publishers, in different ways. Smith makes a point of saying that he doesn’t think there’s malice behind the decisions being made – If anything, I think the Flashpoint problems may stem from poorly-thought-out good intentions more than malice – but this really does illustrate the problems almost inherent in diminishing “secondary” characters to make your primary characters seem more heroic, especially when your primary characters all happen to be white men.