As I sat down to write my recent posts on Buck Wild in Milestone Comics` Icon, I did not imagine that it would take four posts to discuss a character that appears in maybe four-five issues. Even with those posts, I did not get a chance to cover every aspect of the character. What arose, though, was an interest in a broader discussion around representation in comics that I started looking at with my first posts on Icon and specifically a focus on Luke Cage. Dwayne McDuffie and M.D. Bright created Buck Wild as a satire on Luke Cage, from his origin story to his costume and speech. After speaking with John Ira Jennings “Afrofuturism and Comics” class last week, I thought now may be the time to think a syllabus which would explore these issues in a broader manner. The result is a continuation of Tara Betts’ the #lukecagesyllabus that she started in 2016 after the first season of Luke Cage dropped on Netflix. Make sure to check out her two syllabi below.

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The Unattainable Past in Criminal: The Last of the Innocent

Nostalgia powerfully pulls at us, especially as we get older. Deriving from the Greek words nóstos (homecoming) and álgos (pain), nostalgia relates to a longing for the familiar that has passed away. However, the authenticity of that past is not reality. It exists as a mental construction, one that plays up the feelings of youth and innocence while hiding the realities of the past. This is what Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (2015) addresses. It plays with and satirizes readers’ nostalgic desires.

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The Death of Buck Wild

Over the past few posts, I have explored Buck Wild in Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright’s Icon. Today, I want to conclude that discussion by looking at Icon #30, the one with Buck Wild’s funeral. In many ways, Icon #30 sums up the discussions on the history of representation of Black superheroes that Buck Wild critiques. The entire issue takes place at Buck Wild’s funeral, and the eulogies all satirically comment on the history that Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Falcon, and Brother Voodoo embody, a history that while working to forward a more representative comics’ universe falls prey to cultural stereotypes that limited the overall impact of these characters and created tensions within fans about whether or not to accept or disregard these attempts.

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