comics

If you've stepped foot in a comic book store in the past few years, you'll have noticed a distinct shift. Superheroes, once almost entirely white men, have become more diverse.

There's been a biracial Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, and just last week, Marvel announced that the new Iron Man will be a teenage African-American girl.

Joining this lineup today is Kong Kenan, a Chinese boy who, as part of a reboot of the DC comics universe, is one of four characters taking up Superman's mantle.

Her name is Riri Williams. She reverse-engineered her own version of the Iron Man battlesuit in her MIT dorm room, got kicked out, and struck out on her own to do the superhero thing. Clumsily at first, but she's learning fast. So fast she's impressing Tony Stark, who's questioning his status as the Marvel Universe's go-to, super-powered Campbell's soup can. Readers first met her in the March issue of Invincible Iron Man.

X-Men: Apocalypse, the sixth X-movie in 16 years (give or take a couple of Wolverine solo flicks and the breakout spinoff Deadpool) begins and ends with wearying campaigns of computer-animated mayhem. Pyramids, then skyscrapers dissolve. The body count must be high, but the stakes feel low.

If you haven't heard of the Marvel superhero Black Panther, that's going to change very soon.

Marvel Studios

With its gothic-inspired Gotham sets and brooding hero, Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) may have been the first modern superhero film, but really the current tidal wave we’ve been riding didn’t get started until after the advent of CGI special effects. By the time the 2000 film “X-Men” came out, filmmakers had the visual tools needed to create mass destruction onscreen, and with few exceptions they’ve been going to town ever since.

Pages