DC has made a lot of attempts to create successful new characters of color, from introducing a new Green Lantern—the Lebanese-American Simon Baz—to giving Wildstorm transplant Voodoo her own solo series, to Gail Simone’s incredibly diverse superhero team in The Movement. Unfortunately, most of DC’s attempts thus far haven’t necessarily resonated with fans, and low sales have ultimately caused the cancellation of almost all the titles led by characters of color.
But DC continues to make attempts, and their latest character may be just what DC needs to succeed.
Justice League United, the upcoming retitling for Justice League America, is set to feature a “16-year-old Cree teen from Moose Factory[, Ontario] named Miiyahbin, whose power stems from the Earth and changes with the seasons.” Under the superhero name “Equinox,” Miiyahbin will join the (otherwise very white) ranks of the Justice League.
Artist Jeff Lemire, who has become a popular writer at DC, penning wildly successful titles like Animal Man and Justice League Dark, will be writing the five-issue introduction of the Canadian Justice League. “Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males. We need diversity and we need different personalities,” said Lemire of Equinox.
Hot on the heels of Marvel’s wildly successful woman of color led title Ms. Marvel, the introduction of Miiyahbin is a bold move, and one that could hopefully lead to her own solo series, or at least more characters of color in the DCU. But Miiyahbin is unique from Marvel’s Kamala Khan: Lemire models his new heroine after Shannen Koostachin, a Cree activist from Attawapiskat. The 15-year-old led her fellow students to Parliament Hill to lobby for a proper school for First Nations children. “There would be the cultural strengths. The family ties, the knowledge of the land, the rich, rich symbolism of the Cree on James Bay,” said Lemire, prior to the official announcement.
Koostachin, who died in a car accident in 2010, isn’t his only inspiration. Lemire has made multiple research trips to northern Canada, where he’s spoken directly with residents of Moosonee and Moose Factory. Listening to their advice, like that of Moose Factory’s Nathan Cheechoo, who advised that he “take away all that stereotypical imagery and get down to basic principles.” Lemiere also spoke with a number of Cree teens, who he cites as an inspiration in terms of Miiyahbin’s voice and personality.
Representation is incredibly important, and this is another huge step for DC Comics, and many hope that Equinox is just the start of a new wave of diverse and realistic heroes and heroines.