8. The Punisher Dons Blackface
If you’re one of those ‘fans’ who resents the current progressive trend for diversity in comics, consider some of the shameful ways that superhero comics have engaged with people of colour over the years.
Even setting aside the appalling bigger instances of racism – like the ethnic slurs superheroes used so casually in the unenlightened past – there are the abundant examples of white writers and artists hamfistedly appropriating black and latino culture they know nothing about, resulting in some of the most cringeworthy ‘street’ dialect imaginable.
And then there’s this moment that combines the worst of both worlds, from the horrific creativity vacuum that is 1990s Marvel Comics. His face cut to ribbons in a prison beating, the Punisher finds a doctor to fix the damage with an experimental procedure that turns him into a black man.
There’s no real rhyme or reason to it: it’s purely to allow Frank Castle – now calling himself Frank Rook – to team up with Luke Cage for some blaxploitation style street fighting. There’s no subtlety to Mike Baron’s astonishingly racist plot, and three issues later the effect simply wears off mid-fight to allow the ‘real’ Castle to come back. Horribly insensitive stuff.