When Comics Get Political
In this column I will dive into times, throughout superhero history, that comics got political. There seems to be a constant debate if political discussion has a place in the medium. I hope to show that politics and superhero comics go together. This week The Avengers learn about affirmative action.
This issue kicks off the storyline where the readers will eventually discover the true parents of Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch, and is the thread most readers remember. However, it is the other plot line that really gets political. The Avengers are getting too large and the government is having a hard time managing everyone. The security system cannot handle clearance for that many members. So, it is decided to cut the group to only seven members. With Black Panther out, the government decides to force The Falcon on the team. If the Avengers want to remain sanctioned by the government, they have to have minority representation.
The Reaction to Affirmative Action
When Falcon is put on the team there are three members who stand against it; Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Quicksilver. Iron Man plays the card “aren’t we all minorities in some way?” Saying that having a robot and a mutant on the team should already “count” towards their minority quota. This coming from a privileged rich white character. He also claims putting Falcon on the team is a “risk” which is patently absurd and dismissive of Falcon’s achievements. Hawkeye’s statement is more problematic (pictured below)
It is ironic that Hawkeye is upset with Falcon inclusion on the team. Hawkeye also does not have any superpowers. He can be reduced to “man who shoots arrows” as Falcon can be, “flying and rapping with birds.” Adding a layer to his reaction is the fact that Hawkeye has now been removed from the team. It should be noted, the character was constantly quitting and joining the team on a regular basis. Quicksilver’s response is more measured, as he asks why The Avengers can’t be above government intervention. Finally, it is Captain America who stands up for Falcon. Often Captain America is used to stand for what the purest intentions are, and it should be taken that way here. He finds Falcon a rightful member of the team and immediately dismisses everyone’s objections with ease.
After this, Falcon is on the team for about a year’s worth of issues. He does bring up that he feels like a “token” yet still is an integral part of the team. Even though he leaves the team, this is just the nature of ensemble comics, and should not be strictly taken as a message to the reader on his failure. This article was even inspired by a friend of mine who told me to read this issue. He claims it taught him the importance of diversity, so Avengers 181 had a positive impact on at least one person.