Pop culture is currently besotted with fictional role models as demonstrated by box office ticket sales, shirts people wear, and social media post. One genre of fiction that has taken over the public imagination is comic books. As a form of entertainment, the industry has often appealed to a mass audience by embracing the spirit of the times and furtively held up a mirror to the public consciousness. Considering the fact that comic books gained steam back in the 1940’s, many of the views expressed from that time period are no longer socially acceptable to express in public. From reasons ranging from inclusion to the very noticeable financial concerns, the industry has changed quite a bit since those early days.
One noticeable change that has occurred in recent years is the inclusion of characters who no not straight white men. Noble efforts at inclusion aside, the industry is attempting to respond to the changing demographic changes is motivated by money. However, these efforts should be applauded not for pandering to an audience or to balance out an exclusionary past, but because what the representation means to those who are often marginalized. People, especially children, are affected by their environment and having characters who look like them reminds them that they are not invisible and ignored by society. One of, if not the most marginalized group of people in this country, are black women. Fortunately, they now being represented by characters headlining their own title.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a great book that is suitable for all ages starring a young black girl, Lunella Lafayette, and her pet dinosaur. The title is an updated version of the classic Jack Kirby creation Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur, which took place in prehistoric times. This updated version of the book stars a young girl who is part alien and has a psychic link with a dinosaur and they end up having wild adventures. In addition to the psychic link, Lunella is the smartest person in the Marvel Universe thanks to her alien DNA. The character is precocious which makes her endearing to an audience which is willing to accept characters who are not usually represented in comics.
Another recent entrant to the comic book world is the media sensation Riri Williams, otherwise known as Ironheart. Headlining the title, Invincible Iron Man, the character made national headlines when it was revealed that she would replace Tony Stark as the title character. She is a 15-year-old student at M.I.T. who created a crude, but effective, version of the Iron Man armor. This attracted the attention of the original Iron Man who has taken it upon himself to train her as a replacement.
The World of Wakanda is a mini-series that takes place in a fictionalized African country that is on the verge of war. This series follows two female member of the royal guard and their journey of how they joined the royal guard. The quest of the protagonist is to keep the country from descending into chaos due to the actions of foreign invaders. The great news is that the series listed above are currently in production and can use all of the support that can be mustered. You can call a local comic shop or order the trade paperback when they come out. These books align quite nicely with Making It to The Finish Lines original mission of female empowerment which is crucial to making a stronger, sustainable community.