Marvel Comics’ All-New All-Different relaunch is off to a rousing success, with their new series #1s debuting at enormous sales levels thanks in no small part to the presence of variants, including the Hip Hop covers that mashup heroes like Ant-Man with classic album covers such as that of Notorious BIG’s Ready to Die. To celebrate the success of the relaunch and the Hip Hop Variants, Marvel will print a 32-page comic that collects 14 of the covers. This comic will be distributed for free at participating retailers on January 6th, 2016.
When Marvel first announced their Hip Hop Variant program, response was decidedly mixed. While many fans and industry insiders were excited for the homages, others saw it as a decidedly blatant form of cultural appropriation, an act of taking from the culture of black Americans, who are underrepresented in the comics industry. Since the announcement, though, Marvel has taken steps to address the issue, hiring National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates to write Black Panther and filmmaker David Walker to take on Power Man and Iron Fist.
From the New York Times announcement:
“Whenever we do something that’s new or controversial, you can anticipate that there will be negative feedback first and foremost out of the gate,” Mr. Alonso said. “That’s what happens when you make Thor a woman, Ms. Marvel Pakistani or Captain America black. You can’t be deterred by that. All we can do is put our best foot forward and let the actual work speak for itself.”