The black-and-white footage shows the Queen, then aged six or seven, and her sister Margaret, around three, joining the Queen Mother and her uncle, Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, in raising an arm in the signature style of the German fascists.

Edward, who later became King Edward VIII and abdicated to marry the American socialite Wallis Simpson, faced numerous accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser. The couple were photographed meeting Hitler in Munich in October 1937, less than two years before the second world war broke out.

Can you explain why Marvel thinks that doing hip hop variants is a good idea, when absolutely no announced writers or artists on the new Marvel titles, as of now, are black? Wouldn’t correcting the latter be a much better idea than the former?



What does one have to do with the other, really?

Hi Tom! I hope you see this before it goes viral and you tune out the replies. I may be too late.

The short version is here, in Whit Taylor’s “The Fabric of Appropriation.” The long version:

Killer Mike, a rapper I grew up listening to and who Marvel recently paid homage to with the Run the Jewels variant covers, once said, “Closest I’ve ever come to seeing or feeling God is listening to rap music. Rap music is my religion.”

I can relate. A few years ago, I found myself in Tokyo for work. I don’t speak Japanese, but that didn’t stop me and my friends from running wild over the city for a few days. One of my favorite experiences—a cherished experience—was when I ended up in Shibuya looking at shops. I found a streetwear spot that was down some stairs and around the corner. It didn’t look like a streetwear shop from the outside, but the signage and windows had a vibe, so I stepped in.

Inside were a couple customers and two shop workers. I was the only black guy in the room, and it was small, so I shopped quickly and went to check out. The clerks didn’t speak English, but they definitely spoke hip-hop. They saw my shirt, a riff on Nas’s “Illmatic” cover, and we bonded over one of the greatest rap albums of all time, kicking favorite lines back and forth. I paid and left, richer for the experience. We connected because we’re part of the same culture.

I say this not to brag, but to emphasize this: I’m squarely in the target audience for the rap covers you’re homaging, and I know first-hand how incredible rap music actually is.

Rap is worldwide, but rap is black, too. There’s white in there, and where would rap music be without our latin brothers and sisters, but in terms of perception, coding, impact, and legacy: it’s a black art form. Undeniable, like saying “Midnight Marauders is the best A Tribe Called Quest album.” (That’s a rap joke, too.)

One issue with Marvel publishing hip-hop-themed covers in the wake of not hiring black creators is that…a dialogue goes two ways. Axel Alonso said Marvel has been in a long dialogue with rap music, but that isn’t true. It’s a long monologue, from rap to Marvel, with Marvel never really giving back like it should or could. Break the Chain was decades ago, you know? (I did appreciate the Aesop Rock shout-outs in Zeb Wells & Skottie Young’s fantastic New Warriors from way back, however!)

One has to do with the other because of optics. If you don’t employ black creators, and then you purport to celebrate a black art form for profit (and props on hiring a few ferociously talented black artists for the gig!), people are going to ask why that aspect of black culture is worth celebrating but black creatives aren’t worth hiring. I know how many black writers Marvel has hired and allowed to script more than two consecutive issues of a Marvel comic. Do you? Do you know how many black women have gotten to write for Marvel?

Or, more directly: Storm is the highest profile black character in comics. Which is great! But…she’s mostly been written by white men, and a very small fraternity of black men, throughout the decades. Imagine what a black woman could bring to the character. Shouldn’t a black lady get a chance at bat? I grew up on Alison Sealy-Smith, and I’ve got a soft spot for Halle, but there’s a gap there.

Back to optics: you can’t celebrate and profit off something without also including the group that you’re profiting off the back of. Marvel has made a lot of money off brown faces. A portion of X-Men’s juice is from the struggle for civil rights, and we all know what the phrase “black Spider-Man” has done for the perception of your company. (He’s Puerto Rican too, tho.) So to see Marvel continue to profit off something very dear to black people without actually giving black people a seat at the table…I was going to say it “stings,” but in actuality it sucks. It makes Marvel look clueless and it makes black people wonder why they bother with your comics.

Whit Taylor’s “The Fabric of Appropriation” went up this week. It’s a measured look at cultural appropriation, both why it happens and how. Her last point (which I’m going to spoil, forgive me) is that “maybe it’s not so much about who has control over a design, but whether the people it originates from feel in control of their identities.”

With these hip-hop covers? You’re in our house. (“Whose house?”) These albums changed lives, provided the soundtrack to our youth, or maybe just sounded really nice with the bass cranked and the treble at half on the EQ. To claim you’re paying homage (for profit, with no-doubt rare variant covers to be sold at a mark-up to an audience that often does not include the people these albums were created by) while simultaneously not being willing to hire the people who could bring those concepts to your comics in an authentic fashion…the optics are bad, man.

Jay-Z once said, “I came back and it’s plain, y’all niggas ain’t rappin the same. Fuck the flow, y’all jackin our slang. I seen the same shit happen to Kane.” He was talking about biters, aka shark biters, aka culture vultures, aka cultural appropriators.

If you’re going to homage hip-hop, do it in the best way possible: keep it real and put some people of color behind the pages in addition to on them.

“Protons Electrons Always Cause Explosions.” Thus spake the RZA, whose favorite Marvel superhero is the Silver Surfer.


Essential reading.