If you can stand to go to MySpace, longtime Beat commenter Cary Coatney has a nice write-up of Wedneday’s event at the Golden Apple which started as a launch party for Reggie Hudlin’s new website but ended as a memorial gathering for McDuffie.
McDuffie’s sudden death has prompted a lot of very good writing and introspection — he stood for a lot, not least of all stories that touched people where they lived. I’ll just link to a few: on Popmatters, shathley Q looks back at the launch of the Milestone line:
2.27.93 felt like Chicago blues guitar. It felt like Muddy Waters, like Howlin’ Wolf. Like Chuck Berry birthing rock ‘n’ roll, like all of Chess Records squeezed into a single day. In the space of just one generation since the Civil Rights movement, the idea of African-American culture had seized the high-ground in popculture. In the space of just one generation, popular images of African-American culture would be steered away from images of Dr. King leading civil protest marches, away from Malcolm X behind a podium wielding hope like a weapon. Instead, Milestone offered us all an opportunity to share in the move from history to mythography. The company offered us what the very first superheroes stories did. Simple, elegant, enduring memes that offered a larger, simpler way to speak about our lives and world.
Tim O’Neill has a long piece which really should be read in full but here’s an excerpt on DAMAGE CONTROL, which he admits is one of his favorite comics:
Watchmen suspends the rule about heroes being ethically uncompromised; Squadron Supreme suspends the rule about superheroes always maintaining the status quo in contemporary society; Marvels suspends the rule about actually following the heroes on their adventures and instead leaves the viewer on the outside looking in, receiving only partial glimpses of what would, in reality, be far more bewildering phenomena than most superhero comics ever acknowledge. Damage Control suspends a seemingly trivial rule, but an important one: what happens to the damage that gets left behind in the wake of superhero fights? Wouldn’t it make more sense if, instead of being handled politely off-panel, there was an entire mini-industry of specialized construction and demolition experts devoted specifically to cleaning up the messes left behind by superhero fights and other superhuman events? McDuffie followed the repercussions of the change with deadpan rigor: of course you’re going to have problems with specialty contractors, super-villain collection officers (When Doom Defaults!), labor disputes, and government procurement scandals. Sometimes the Punisher shoots up your offices because he thinks the Kingpin is on your board of directors – and sometimes the Kingpin is on your board of directors.
Finally, Hannibal Tabu had a summation of what he meant to many people:
In Dwayne McDuffie’s passing, Black geeks in particular lost our hero, a larger-than-life combination of intelligence and savvy, accomplishing a great deal on merit alone in an industry built to ignore and marginalize a tall, gruff, Black man like him.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.