My Problem With Rick Remender


It started with Rick Remender’s UNCANNY AVENGERS #3. A clone of the Red Skull is using the power of Professor X to turn humans against mutants. As the Skull turned his power onto Thor to use the Thunder God’s Aryan features to inspire his new Reich, I realized that there were two other members of the Avengers with Aryan appeal: Havok and Captain America. Then remembered the rest of the team (Wolverine, Rogue, and Scarlet Witch) wouldn’t get kicked out of a country club either.

The Uncanny Avengers were all white, a dynamic not seen in an Avengers or X-Men comic since the 70’s.

It didn’t register when the book started. A near lifelong fan of Havok and half life fan of John Cassaday, I was too invested in those elements being in the same book to be distracted by the homogeneous nature of the cast. And it would have been simple to write it off as just a temporary lineup oversight (the team expands in #5) or something like that, but I began to think back to other books by series writer Rick Remender. The results are problematic, to say the least.

Secret Avengers

SECRET AVENGERS, created by Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato, included War Machine James Rhodes and Master of Kung Fu Shang Chi. When Remender took over the book, both of those characters were inexplicably gone, replaced by the blonde quartet of Captain Britain, Hawkeye, Hank Pym, and Venom.

Uncanny X-ForceUNCANNY X-FORCE, the followup series to X-FORCE by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Clayton Crain, featured an all white team comprised of Wolverine, Fantomex, Deadpool, Archangel, and Psylocke. It should be noted that though she is Asian in outward appearance, Psylocke is actually British and full blood sister to blonde haired, blue eyed, previously mentioned Captain Britain. Even later member Deathlok is the reinanimated body of a blonde serial killer.

Venom-CoverVENOM (Remender placed him in the Secret Avengers while writing both series), starring ex-Peter Parker bully/Spider-Man’s #1 supporter Flash Thompson, had no people of color in any supporting role.

franken punisherPUNISHER, though I checked out of that series when he became Frankencastle, had no people of color in any supporting role, unless the Living Mummy was in there somewhere and really, he’s not repping for anyone.

I don’t want to make any assumptions about Rick Remender’s character but his storytelling choices leave me wondering where his head is at. Does he not feel comfortable writing a character that isn’t white? Does the lack of diversity even register to him? This is only his Marvel output, but it is also his most high profile work. It is highly problematic that someone would be so exclusionary, even unintentionally.

It may be a long time before I pick up any book written by Rick Remender ever again.

15 thoughts to “My Problem With Rick Remender”

  1. Hmm yeah Marvels been dropping the Ball as it were. Black characters are either over looked “see Blue Marvel” their Heritage is destroyed “see Black Panther/Wakanda” or kinda a bystander see Luke Cage & Storm a little bit. I get it Comics are generally the province of the Teenage White Male Geek so it’s primary audience or perceived Target demographic . K I’m stopping here I was going to go into this long diatribe, but I’m going to cut it short. People need to question convention (which you’ve done” and point out things that seem weird (you again, kudos) and create your own series with Characters you want to see (just please no Nubia Man some all powerful all knowing benevolent infallible character we have two of those and surprise both are white looking at you Superman & Captain America LOL

  2. You’re essentially implying that a writer whose current arc explores the evils of racism is himself racist, because of the characters he’s included in his books. Sounds like kind of a reach to me.

    1. I’m not accusing him of racism. He wrote a story about the evils of racism with no people of color in any of the main roles. That’s problematic.

      1. Well, considering the main villain was a Nazi and one of the team members was Jewish, I don’t think thats quite accurate.

        And on top of that, there is another non-aryan character joining the team (Sunfire) in the very next issue.

  3. I have to admit, that list is troubling. He did write a Doctor Voodoo series for a little while, though, so it’s not like he’s never written a person of color.

  4. I completely forgot that he was the writer for what I used to jokingly call the “Aryan Avengers”. TBH, it probably doesn’t register for him. He’s probably just picking characters that he likes and they all happen to be white. It’s not surprising, really. A lot of white people don’t seem to be able to identify with non-white characters. Maybe he should put Falcon or Storm on the team.

  5. So, if he did write a ethnic character and totally slaughtered the development, that would be better?
    Centipede Damascus is right, he did write Doctor Voodoo, and why would you attack Remender for working with pre-established characters. What, you want him to write a new origin story for Wolverine where he was Trinidadian? He’s working with the characters he has. If you have a problem with the lack of cultural, ethnic or female representation in comics, take it up with Marvel, not the writers. And seriously, Marvel is doing a hell of a lot better with their diversity of characters than DC does. When is the last time DC wrote a strong person of colour or a Muslim character?
    If you the reader want more diversity in comics, than when comics come out with black protagonists, READ THEM. The only person who is missing out by not reading Rick Remender is you because he is a phenomenal writer, both with his own stories and writing for Marvel. What, he didn’t add enough token black characters for you to feel satisfied as a white reader that you were adding some culture to your life? I understand the points you’re trying to make, but if you’re not reading series like Doctor Voodoo yet complaining about a lack of diversity, I’m failing to see your point.

    1. Jon isn’t asking to retcon the race of any characters and he isn’t asking someone to slaughter the development of the stories to shoehorn in ethnic diversity.
      Jon is stating a pattern that he saw within Remender’s recent works where there was no diversity in the books that he wrote. 5 titles in a row with no ethnic diversity is really problematic, especially since almost all of them are team books. Adding in 1 non-white member could be easily done – hell, since writing this article, Sunfire was added to the Uncanny Avengers
      I have looked it up and Remender is a big fan of Brother Voodoo and his miniseries, which I missed out on despite working in a comic shop around that time, was also well reviewed. Remender had also said in 1 interview that he wanted Storm and Voodoo in the Uncanny Avenger but he was turned down because they didn’t want to overuse the characters (which is dumb because how many books are Captain America and Wolverine in?).
      So please dude, slow down your white privileged defense. Remender is a solid writer. There is an inherently racially biased system behind comics and it is undeniable. Don’t start treating someone calling out the flaws of the system as a personal attack on your comics and established continuity.

      1. Jon may be stating a pattern, but he’s also targeting Remender. I think you and I have a lot of similar points, as you state, “flaws of the system”, which Jon Hex isn’t doing. If he’s going to do that, discuss Marvel’s lack of representation as a whole. He can’t pick and choose Remenders comics he wants to critique without sparking some discussion. I understand where he’s coming from, but as I mentioned before, rather than add a token character, wouldn’t it be better to push for substantially developed characters? And the comic industry isn’t just racially biased, but it typically excludes all marginalized groups.

        1. I didn’t know about Remender’s Voodoo series and only have his most recent string of books.
          Marvel has many POC characters and there would be no need to “shoehorn” them in since a few are either Avengers or X-Men.
          Also since writers are the ones writing the stories and co-designing the characters, I can attribute at least 75% of the blame for lack of diversity on Remender’s shoulders, whether he does it intentionally or not. Am I to assume because one book starring a fairly obscure character didn’t work, no writer should feel the need to demonstrate diversity? That’s weak.
          And just for the record, I am Black.

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