March 29, 2014

Equinox the Cree superhero

Equinox, new Cree teen superhero, joins DC Comics lineup

Justice League Canada's new heroine created by comic artist Jeff LemireAn interest in Canada's First Nations stories and a desire to share a different perspective than typically shared in general society and the media played a major part in Lemire's vision.

The result: along with the Justice League's Canadian relocation comes the brand-new heroine Equinox: a 16-year-old Cree teen from Moose Factory named Miiyahbin, whose power stems from the Earth and changes with the seasons.

"Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males. We need diversity and we need different personalities," Lemire said.

"You need very distinct voices for personalities on the team or else you just start writing the same character in a different costume."

Multiple research trips north proved illuminating and rewarding for Lemire. He spent time in grade school classrooms, soaked up the local scene (including an abandoned NORAD base and trap-line visits) in Moosonee and Moose Factory and got feedback on his ideas from residents.

Moose Factory musician and comic fan Nathan Cheechoo, for instance, advised Lemire to “take away all that stereotypical imagery and get down to basic principles” in his depictions.

Teenage Cree Superhero Makes DC Comics Debut in AprilEquinox, a superhero modeled on real-life First Nation teens, is set to make her debut in the DC Comics publication Justice League United.

Comic creator Jeff Lemire said in October that he was inspired by the legacy of the late Shannen Koostachin, of the Attawapiskat First Nation, who advocated for improved education for Aboriginal youth. Koostachin was killed in a car accident in 2010 at age 15.
And:If the art released by DC Comics is any indicator, Lemire is on the right track. As one ICTMN reader wrote on Facebook, "I love it--no buckskin or feathers necessary!"

Lemire also told CBC that he's not sure what will happen to Equinox after her five-issue stint in Justice League comes to an end, but that his visits with Aboriginal communities have given him a larger perspective: "If I end up going [north] a few times and teaching kids how to draw or about comics, and 10 years from now some kid from James Bay ends up writing or drawing [his or her] own comics, then none of that other stuff will matter because the project was worth it."
Meet JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED's EQUINOX--DC's New Teenage Cree Superhero

By Lucas SiegelEquinox is a 16-year-old Cree whose civilian name is Miiyahbin. Her powers are seasonally based and connected to the Earth (though CBC naturally didn’t get into exactly how/what they’ll do), and Lemire hopes to use her stories to share the world of the Cree. He took multiple trips to Moosonee and Moose Factory and enlisted the help of actual Cree people to help him get away from stereotypes and into the real heart of the people. The ultimate goal? “We need diversity and we need different personalities,” Lemire said. “Creating a teenage female superhero was interesting to me because, generally, most superheroes are white males.”

Equinox comes on the heels of Marvel Comics releasing the new Ms. Marvel, starring a Pakistani-American girl named Kamala Khan. That series’ first two issues have charted at #1 on digital comics distributor comiXology in the US and several international markets.
Comment:  Equinox looks like a great creation: 1) Good costume. 2) Powers (perhaps heat and cold) could be interesting if they vary by season. 3) Based on a real person, well-researched, with care and respect.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Personally, I think her creators had good intentions, but a flawed execution. Her powers put her firmly in the Magical Native American trope. Also, the colouring of her skin on the covers is the same shade of red that DC uses for their villain Sinestro.