A couple of weeks ago I wrote about cancel culture in the context of comic book culture (see "Confession Of A Comic Book Guy -- Cancel In Context") but I had barely scratched the surface when it came to comic cancelations. I didn’t have the room to mention Marvel's history of canceling their 'diverse' comics, something that didn’t start a couple of years ago when titles featuring female, POC, or LGBTQ+ characters (America, Iceman, The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat, and Mockingbird) got canceled.
It’s a phenomenon going back to 1972 when sales of superhero comics were in a serious slump, the Women’s Liberation Movement was in the news, and Marvel decided to create a line featuring female-led titles such as The Claws Of The Cat, Night Nurse, and Shanna the She-Devil. In a conversation between Roy Thomas and Stan Lee published in the magazine Comic Book Artist #2, Thomas asked if the line was an attempt "to woo" female readers back, and Lee replied, "Yes, and also to appeal to the male readers who liked looking at pretty girls.” All of these comics were unfortunately very short-lived.
It wasn’t the premise that had the original New Warriors (Firestar, Namorita, Night Trasher, Rage, and Silhouette) mentoring a group of new would-be heroes. Basically, it was Teen Titans Academy minus the "Academy". Although never published, the title generated an impressive amount of outrage on social media because of the new characters, Screentime, Snowflake, Safespace, B-Negative, and Trailblazer. Especially Snowflake, a black teen who had been intended to be Marvel’s first non-binary superhero.
As you’re probably undoubtedly already aware, back in the 2010s, certain people just loved using words like "snowflake" and "safespace" to heap scorn and ridicule on younger generations. This is something Kibblesmith was also well aware of, having said that “the idea was to take those words and wear them as badges of honor.”
I’m a fan of Kibblesmith’s work (Black Panther Vs. Deadpool, Loki, Lockjaw, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert) but I have to confess that I found all the names of his New Warriors to be the very embodiment of the concept of being “too on the nose”. One of them was a “Living Vampire” (Teen Mobius, basically) named B-Negative for heaven’s sake.
Along with outrage one of the most common reactions to the new New Warriors line-up was “Is this joke?” and I have to confess, that was my reaction too. Not about Snowflake; the team member that got me thinking “this has to be a parody” was Screentime, “a meme-obsessed super teen whose brain became connected to the internet after becoming exposed to his grandfather’s experimental internet gas.”
Experimental. Internet. Gas. Look, I know all too well superheroes are inherently silly, and I’m always willing to bend my suspension of disbelief into pretzels when it comes to them, but "internet gas"? We may have found a superhero origin sillier than the Golden Age Whizzer’s, who gained his super-speed after receiving a transfusion of mongoose blood.
So, will we ever see this version of New Warriors? I kind of doubt it, but if we do, I hope Marvel decides to workshop the character’s names, or maybe just do a simple Google search. I realize it’s no longer common knowledge, but for the record, “Snowflake” was also the stage name of comedian and actor Fred Toones, who appeared in the 30s and 40s in 200 films playing stereotypical black servants.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.