FREE PRINCELESS COMIC
Now that I have your attention, this is a repost for all of you who don’t read a post unless it has a picture attached to let you know that Bleeding Cool currently has the entire first issue of Princeless up for you to read for free!
All we ask is that you reblog, retweet, repost, and otherwise pass it on. If you enjoy the book, you can pick up the first collection in only a few short weeks. And, of course, if you’re eligible vote at http://www.eisnervote.com
I (who is Asian American) have been having this frustrating and longstanding debate with my boyfriend (who is white) about Danny Rand aka Marvel’s superhero the Iron Fist. This argument comes up every time there are rumors about a Heroes for Hire movie or more recently with Ultimate Spider-man (featuring Iron Fist and Luke Cage, too.)
Here is my (admittedly biased) recap of Iron Fist’s origin story:
Wendell Rand “discovered” the mystical city of K’un-L’un when he was exploring the Himalayas as a young man. (Well, technically the people living in K’un-Lun ‘discovered’ it first, but it only counted when Rand discovered it, I guess, thanks Marvel.)
After he saved the life of Lord Tuan, the ruler of K’un-L’un (what is with the apostrophes?), Lord Tuan adopted Wendell as his adopted son. Wendell had to contend with Lord Tuan’s jealous biological son, Davos, who was not happy with this interloper.
Wendell eventually decided to leave K’un-L’un, go back to New York City, and marry a wealthy socialite, Heather Duncan. (Wendell and Duncan are both white Americans.) They had a son, Daniel “Danny” Rand.
When Danny was around 10, his dad decided to visit K’un-L’un. During the mountain climb, Danny slipped and he and his parents end up hanging off a cliff held up only by their gear. One of the members of their party (Wendell’s business partner and secretly in love with Danny’s mom) decides to ensure that Wendell dies during this accident. Danny’s mom, not down with what happened, decides that she and Danny will journey on alone; she is eaten by wolves, Danny is rescuted by the people of the mystical hidden city of K’un L’un.
True to the mighty whitey trope, Danny is the most gifted student of the martial arts in K’un L’un ever. After killing a big serpent and plunging his hands into its heart he becomes the 66th Iron Fist (a generational mantle conferred on the champion of K’un L’un, like the “Avatar” from the Avatar: The Last Airbender series.)
Essentially, like Snake Eyes from GI-Joe, both generations of Rands (the sole white guy who is completely new to the culture) easily surpass the (Asian) K’un L’un residents who have been spending their entire lives developing their talent, like eventual supervillain Davos the Steel Serpent.
Danny returns to New York where he has a lot of money (think Bruce Wayne) from his parent’s company, Rand International. He eventually works with Luke Cage and starts to date Misty Knight.
The with my boyfriend argument goes like this: I argue that the story would be sooo much better and more compelling and diverse and less “culturally appropriative” if Danny Rand were hapa or Asian American…actually related to or even from Kun Lun. My boyfriend argues that this would fundamentally change the story of Iron Fist in a way that is different from black Nick Fury or black Heimdall, doorman to the Asgardians, and that it would make Iron Fist simply a rip off of Shang-Chi The Master of Kung Fu
Here’s my head canon for an “Ultimates” Danny Rand, though…and one that I hope comes to be if there is ever a Marvel Heroes for Hire movie. It’s my attempt to maintain some of the generic fish-out of the water stuff that would come into play with a white Iron Fist while avoiding some of the crappy “resentful Asians can’t handle white man being better than them at stuff” villain motivations.
[The images are of Irish/Chinese actor John Foo]
Daniel “Danny” Rand is the Asian American son of millionaires Wendell (a white American) and Heather (an Asian American immigrant) Rand of Rand International. Before becoming CEO of Rand International, rich playboy Wendell explored the world and almost perished while scaling the Himalayan Mountains. There he discovered K’un L’un, a hidden city deep in the Himalayas (not in random dimensional space world) and started to learn more about the people who lived there. In this head-canon, K’un L’un is hidden for political reasons.
It was there that he met “Heather” (insert generic Asian-ish Marvel name, I guess) who is the daughter of one of the leaders of K’un L’un and also one of the best martial artists of K’un L’un. Eventually, Heather and Wendell fall in love and they decide to move back to the United States, in part because of the turbulent situation in Kun Lun. Together, Wendell and Heather build Rand Industries and they have a son, Daniel.
Young Danny studies martial arts with his mother and other teachers. He grows up learning about her homeland and learning the language from her and other refugees. However, like many Asian parents who have fled from a war torn homeland, Heather is reluctant to bring Danny to visit Kun Lun and Wendell defers to her wishes. Eventually, they decide to charter a small plane out of Hong Kong, but this plane is sabotaged by a rival company (none of this fighting over ownership of Danny’s mom bullshit) and crashes.
Danny is the sole survivor and taken in by the people of Kun Lun. While he is a competent martial artist, it is because he has studied martial arts his entire life under the best teachers with all the money in the world. While the other students resent him, it is not strictly because he is “white” or better than them but because he thinks he is better than them and is clueless about the amount of privilege he has as a millionaire and American, etc.
It’s late and I’m running out of steam so maybe I’ll expand on this tomorrow. I know I would find it exceedingly hilarious, though, if in this alternate universe Davos really was instead the “mighty whitey” trope, as in, he was a white guy with this savior mentality (think Invisible Children/KONY) who stumbled upon Kun Lun and then expected to be the best at everything, and his grudge was based on that instead.
What do you think? Is there a way to salvage Iron Fist? Because I think it’s a damn shame that one of the most Asian-ish heroes in the Marvel pantheon is actually just another white American 1%er. And honestly, who’s heard of poor Shang-Chi.
So I read about Rand’s backstory about two weeks ago and I kept trying to come up with a way to, well. Save it! This is an awesome salvage, and I especially love delusions-of-Mighty-Whitey-grandeur Davos.
First of all, as a student of culture and popular culture and the impact that it has on us all, I know this to be true: Seeing yourself represented in the popular culture is really critical in terms of forming your own self image.
I’m old enough to have been around before seeing black people represented in the popular culture in diverse ways. When I was a kid, it was a big deal to see a black person on television. So that’s why it was important in a science fiction thing — in “Star Trek” — it was huge. I read a lot of science fiction books as a kid. As a kid of science fiction, “Star Trek” was important to me and seeing a person of color in a command position was hugely important to me."
Archie Comics responds to the American Family Association:
“We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday.
We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.”
— Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater
That is an awesome response to homophobes.
I would like to say, however, that it’d be awesome if the “idealized version of America” were a lot more diverse and less white and heteronormative. Don’t get me wrong, I love their response to those homophobic creeps! And that they’re giving us a gay military character who’s getting married (and in an interracial marriage, too), that’s amazing. But it’s still side-eye-y that the “idealized America” is really really white (and straight and cisgender and pretty monoculture and overall just not very diverse!).
So Archie comics, this is awesome! Please continue to give us more main characters who aren’t just white, ablebodied straight folks! You guys are really awesome for saying, “he’s here, he’s queer, we’re used to it”, it would be more awesome if you could give us more main characters of colour and disability and visible religion (and visible LACK of religion, too!) and queerness of all types!
I grew up reading these comics and I would seriously pick them up again for more diversity.
Princeless came from a confluence of issues I had. I’ve always had a lot of close geek girl friends and I’m always looking for strong female characters in comics to share with them. I think there just aren’t enough. When I married my wife, I got to know her younger sisters and some of her cousins. As young girls of color none of them had ever picked up a comic book (except my wife) and why should they? I can count on one hand the number of black women you can find on your comic book stand right now, not to mention the number who are positive portrayals. The same holds true for women of color in fantasy stories. I wanted my daughter to have comic books she could love the same way I’ve loved mine. Not to mention, I’m a little leery about the princess culture and what it actually teaches girls.
-Princeless creator Jeremy Whitley x
Okay, I’m going to ask you to vote for Cass Cain in the Kick Ass tournament today. I’m going to ask you to vote, and I’m going to ask you to get your friends to vote. DCWKA is a major comics blog, and one which has gotten a lot of attention over the past year. So why not use this time to show just how unhappy we are with the state of current comics? This was already partially achieved when last year’s winner, Barbara Gordon, lost to Big Barda, in part because fans are unhappy with the editorial (and ableist) decision to make Barbara Batgirl again. What better way to show DC how unhappy we are with the current status quo than to rally behind Cass Cain? Cass Cain is Asian American, she’s a person with disabilities, and she is the character most likely to be forgotten and ignored by DC.
Don’t get me wrong, Kate Kane is important too! But it’s possible to support Kate Kane by buying her current title. Cassandra hasn’t had a title of her own in years. Cassandra Cain has effectively been forgotten by DC, despite the fact that her father is one of it’s flagship characters. Her character has repeatedly been shuffled aside in favor of her adopted siblings (the majority of whom are white, and all of whom are presented as male) and DC has done nothing to show us that they still care about the character.
Let’s remind DC how much we care.
TALIA WHAT DID THEY DO
WHAT DID THEY DO TO YOU
WHY ARE YOU WHITE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE A STRONG WILLED MIDDLE EASTERN WOMAN WHO TAKES SHIT FROM NO ONE
YOU WERE RACEBENT
THEY RACEBENT TALIA AL GHUL
Oh, fuck you, DC.
First you make Amanda Waller Skinny and now you make Taila Al Ghul white?
Not to mention Rose Wilson finds Superboy unattractive mainly because he’s a Kryptonian. Seems like a running trend with them recently. Doing fucked up things that they shouldn’t be doing. They should put them back the way they were. They were perfect they way they were. >.>
Not that I think this makes it okay, but Talia has been getting white-washed for a LONG TIME NOW.
This was not at all a case of the reboot trying to make her white. It was a dumbass artist/colorist not doing research.
In general, Talia seems to look paler when she’s less antagonistic.
DC comics, everybody!
(And, you know, if the reboot is supposed to have a “commitment to diversity” and “tighter continuity” I’d expect better about this kind of thing.)
Wow, that is the whitest Talia I’ve seen yet.
For those of you who don’t know: Talia is mixed-race Arab and Chinese. Ra’s Al-Ghul (Arab) and Damian Wayne (Arab/Chinese/European), her father and son respectively, also seem to be drawn pretty white a lot of the time. And Ra’s is constantly played by white white whiiiiite Europeans.