An Avengers roster with all-black membership, assembled in addition to other teams for the purpose of promoting Marvel's black characters.
The thought of a book/team like this hit me during this thread here, which was about creating a mostly POC Justice League. (Something like what Milestone did where they set out to create a very diverse group of heroes.) In that thread, the idea of an all POC super team was raised, and I argued that such a team would be justified and beneficial. I think there are more than enough POC comic book heroes, or even more specifically black heroes, to create a quality all-POC or all-black team. And I think that if people doubt that, then it might just be worth doing. I know not everyone will agree.
The point would be to show—not that you shouldn't have whites or that teams should be segregated by race—but that there are so many worthy black characters that you should have no problem putting such a team together. Too often we see limits on how many black characters you can have on page at one time lest it be deemed a "black book" or a "minoriteam". Or, when a traditionally white mantle or team-slot gets passed on to a POC character, we have to hear that such a character was added only because of their race (see: Cyborg forums). So why not just answer these objections head on?
This kind of book--highlighting a particular demographic--has already been done with some success with all-female books: AME-COMI GIRLS, HER-OES, BIRDS OF PREY, the pending FEARLESS DEFENDERS, and others. This just shifts the focus to combating racial disparity rather than gender disparity. As for "why Avengers?" I just chose Avengers because the previous thread was DC, so why not do Marvel? And any old name will do (as long as it's not some sort of pun) so I went with "Mighty Avengers" which isn't currently being used.
Finally, this book would not be "about" being black. Certainly the topic of race would and should come up, but the point is to show that you can create a great Avengers book that stands up alongside any other Avengers book, but with an all-black cast. And that doing so let's you showcase some of these characters that for whatever reason aren't normally put together in one room.
- Falcon (leader)
- War Machine
- Black Panther
- Misty Knight
- Power Man II (I figure it should have one younger character, and Luke Cage is on extended LoA for family time anyway)
I think the best way to do a book like this is to approach the reasons for getting such a book together directly. I don't think you gain anything by dancing around it or trying to think up a reason why a group of all-black superheroes would just happen to wind up working together. The fans would argue about such a book, so make the characters in the book mirror those arguments as well.
So, I would have Falcon and War Machine (prominent in past or upcoming Marvel films), set out to create a new roster of all-black heroes for the same reasons as the book would exist in the first place: to simply show these heroes in a context where they're working together instead of as members of other teams where they are almost always the minority.
In this book I'd make character development a priority, which is a good idea for any ensemble book, but especially for a book where the goal is to promote characters you don't want them to fall flat. I'd also take the opportunity to dig into the rogues galleries of the various characters and highlight some classic Avengers villains that we haven't seen as much of in a while.
For the opening scene, I'd do a televised interview with a conservative pundit or pundit stand-in. This would provide a context where it'd be appropriate to get any objections to the concept of such a book/team out in the open and provide opposing viewpoints, if not actual settling the matter.
- Q: Won't this just promote segregation? What's next, all-Latino? all-Asian? All-gay?
- Falcon: No, the point is to increase representation. As for similar teams, would that be a bad thing?
- Q: What about all-white? Wouldn't that be called racist?
- Falcon: We already have that in some places (make up some state-level initiative teams as examples maybe). This team is a response to the status quo which already provides imbalanced coverage and membership of black superheroes. If we were an all-white group and were forming a team, you wouldn't bother interviewing us about that.
- Q: I might if the point of the team was to be all white.
- Falcon: Well that's not—
- Q: Won't this decrease the effectiveness of the superhero community by taking time away from other teams? And War Machine, aren't you still active in some capacity with the military? Won't this take away from your commitments there?
- War Machine: This team is in addition to other duties, and those who were too busy to handle another commitment did not join.
- Q: Won't this put potentially under-qualified heroes on an Avengers team, reducing your effectiveness and possibly getting people killed? Shouldn't the Avengers be held to a strictly merit-based standard?
- Falcon: There are more than enough qualified black superheroes--and Avengers specifically--that we can create a rounded and effective team from just them. Nobody is on this team simply because they are black.
- War Machine: The military is also held to a merit-based standard, and yet we've had great success increasing opportunity for under-represented groups. They don't put people in the line of fire unless they're ready, and neither will we.
- Falcon: And, of course, we will work with anyone if a specific situation calls for it. If we really need Iron Man or Thor or Captain America for something, they're all just a phone call away.
- Q: Is this even necessary? Is anyone opposed to this?
- War Machine: No, it's not necessary.
- Falcon: *side-eyes*
- War Machine: And look, I took some convincing myself because I don't think it's necessary. But, I do think good can come from it. Another team of superheroes doing good isn't bad.
- Q: Doesn't this politicize superheroes? People want superheroes to be like first responders--police, fire fighters, EMTs--real heroes who are there to help with no political motivation. They don't necessarily want the NAACP to show up when a monster is attacking New York.
- Falcon: We can be just as effective at both. Our point is to do the job well, first and foremost, and the message comes from that. That's our 'political message', that we are here and we do the job well.
- Q: Doesn't this just give the impression that black superheroes need promotion? So doesn't this create the very problem it's supposedly trying to fix? We just re-elected the first black president, is focusing on race now really in anyone's best interest?
- Falcon: *eye roll*
- War Machine: *raised eyebrow*
- War Machine: Well that went...well?
- Falcon: What a jackass!
Possible story hooks:
- As Falcon and War Machine try to assert control of the team, tensions develop with other members who start to feel like the whole team is actually an attempt by SHIELD to bring unaffiliated heroes in line with their agenda. (Concern is especially voiced by Blade and Power Man.)
- Ex-spouses Storm and Black Panther deal with the very real frustrations of membership on the same team, but both are too proud to walk away and let the other "win". Frenzy starts hitting on BP to piss Storm off. Storm is pissed off.
- Power Man is also pissed off because he feels like people are treating him as an upstart wannabe and that they were really trying to recruit Luke Cage (which maybe they were). He's also being attacked by the media because he's young and brash and not as well known as the others.
- Storm's involvement in X-Force is revealed, at least within the team. Falcon and War Machine are conflicted as they view this as true vigilantism while the rest kinda shrug it off. Especially Blade who is basically like "Look, I kill vampires in my free time. I kill people for catching a disease. Why do you guys not think that's weird? If you walk into a room and you don't see me, you should probably assume I'm out murdering people for being vampires."
- A bloodied Captain Britain and Spitfire show up on their doorstep looking for Blade. Baron Blood is back again and making a nuisance. (I'll admit this is pretty much me just wanting MI:13 back.)
- Black Panther sees a chance to get revenge on Namor for the events of AvX and takes it. The team, and especially Storm, has to choose sides in a potential war between Atlantis and Wakanda.
- Doctor Doom. Because he's still pissed over what happened in DOOMWAR (which was awesome).
- Various classic Avengers villains that haven't been seen as much lately: Nightmare, Ultron, Kang, Count Nefaria, etc.
So, what does everyone think? Is this a good idea? Is this just tokenism writ large? Would this book sell? I just get frustrated with some elements of comic book fandom who cry foul at any attempt to increase diversity or showcase POC characters. I think a book like this would combat that mentality within the comic book community.