To be fair, he did clarify his statement later, but at the time, it might have been too late:
“Discussed candidly by some of the retailers at the summit, we heard that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes and, contrary to what some said about characters “not working,” the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl, continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes. And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes. – David Gabriel
I don’t know about you guys but Kamala Khan’s Ms Marvel, a Muslim-American of Pakistani descent, has been one of my favourite comic book characters since I read her story, as has been Miles Morales, a black Hispanic with an Asian best friend living as a biracial kid, Black Widow, Silk, an Asian woman just as kick-butt as her counterpart, and Moon Knight, who also suffers from mental health issues, and we cannot forget about the new protectors of Earth, a PTSD sufferer from a Hispanic background and an American-Lebanese Muslim, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. Now, could we say that these characters with high sales in comparison to other comics coming out at the same time are… DIVERSE? Yes, yes we can, and they have had no issue being at the forefront of comics due to their storytelling and art.
Now, there is only so much of Steve Roger’s Captain America fighting Nazi’s from his past that my heart can take, and I am definitely tired of Banner’s Hulk being the same instead of trying something cool, like Planet Hulk. And how much more of Spider-Man with the same “re-boots” that leave me angry can one truly be expected to take? I am hungry for new stories. Mostly, I am hungry for new stories with different characters that can more accurately represent the tales that are begin written. However, I don’t want these characters to simply be dropped onto our comics without any warm up, their sole role shouldn’t be to replace the original figures we loved so much. I have nothing against Riri Williams’ Ironheart, but I knew she was going to become the new “Iron Man” before her comic ever got released. Amadeus Cho seems interesting enough, but I know nothing of him and there is no emotional attachment. And they blame this “diversity” on low sales, putting in the same category as America Chavez.
If we recall a couple of years back, DC was having “similar issues”, their sales were low, and their comics sub-par, but instead of blaming the diversity they added, which by the way, wasn’t really diverse but just unrecognizable, they decided to change their format. The legacies they had abandoned or completely erased for their new characters were brought back, but instead of going backwards and eliminating the new ones, they slowly started to add them back. We still have a black Kid Flash, and Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the protectors of Earth, and Ryan might just take over Atom’s place. But it took time for these characters to become loved by the fans, to be worthy enough of taking the mantle, instead of quickly becoming a replacement within a year. Maybe Marvel should take a leaf out of DC’s comics.
Comics are literature, and as such, they shape how we see the world, sometimes, they might even be the only way certain people are able to see persons of different races in a way other than stereotypes. So it is vital that we offer nuanced characters form all backgrounds so that people can see themselves, and so others can see them as more than what stereotypes have taught them, these visuals and words have power, they shape who we are and what we will become. It is important we show it.
Diversity is still an issue, there is not enough of it, but we are doing better, we must do better.