Marvel Comics has announced the superhero lineup for its New Warriors comic featuring characters named “Safe Space” and “Snowflake,” a tongue-in-cheek attempt to mock the terms often applied to leftists.
In a recent announcement on the Marvel website, the comic book giant announced a new lineup for its New Warriors team, a superhero comic that first appeared in the 90s. The New Warriors team has generally featured younger characters and while not part of Marvel’s main roster of superheroes, they have been featured in critical Marvel storylines. Notably, the team was the catalyst behind the extremely popular Marvel Civil War event.
Now, a new lineup of heroes has been added to the New Warriors roster and this team seems designed to mock those that are critical of social justice warriors. Most notable are the “psychic twins” named Snowflake and Safe Space. According to Marvel:
“Safespace is a big, burly, sort of stereotypical jock. He can create forcefields, but he can only trigger them if he’s protecting somebody else. Snowflake is non-binary and goes by they/them, and has the power to generate individual crystalized snowflake-shaped shurikens. The connotations of the word ‘snowflake’ in our culture right now are something fragile, and this is a character who is turning it into something sharp.
“Snowflake is the person who has the more offensive power, and Safespace is the person who has the more defensive power. The idea is that they would mirror each other and complement each other.”
Many social justice warriors aren’t happy with how the new characters have been portrayed. CBR.com outlines the backlash the new characters have received, writing:
However, the “New” New Warriors approach internet culture in a way that’s too much on the nose. Terms like “safe space” and “snowflake” are often thrown around as insults online, yet here we have two characters who embrace the names ironically. This isn’t uncommon — slurs and insults are reclaimed by minorities frequently — but it seems aggressively forced here.
Even beyond those two examples, the same too-on-the-nose trend holds true for the rest of the team as well. For instance, B-Negative is the superhero name of a vampire, and it’s an unsubtle reference to both a rare blood type and to life-draining and exhausting negativity on the internet.
But in regards to trying too hard to relate to the modern generation, there’s Screentime. Even ignoring the name — which, again, is another unsubtle internet reference — he gained his powers by being exposed to his grandfather’s “experimental Internet gas,” an objectively silly concept that seems at odds with the serious work of reclaiming words.
Comic book writer Kate Leth, who identifies as “nonbinary,” even called out the comic for its lack of tact in dealing with the new characters:
I know there’s more in the world to be mad at but this STINKS. It feels like a parody made by redpilled teens
— Kate Leth (@kateleth) March 18, 2020
CBR.com writes: “While Marvel has had gender-fluid characters like Loki for years, Snowflake is the first Marvel hero who’s been explicitly billed as being nonbinary. However, the name Snowflake seems exceedingly ill-advised here. While the intention may be to reclaim an insult, the effort comes across as an overly-patronizing attempt to reclaim something that some have no interest in reclaiming.”
Essentially it seems that even the online social justice warriors have found these characters far too stereotypical and generally ill-advised. Marvel has previously been criticized for changes to classic comic book characters that many felt were just an attempt to capitalize on the social justice movement, many suggested at the time that Marvel just create new diverse characters than simply changing the gender or race of existing characters. It seems, however, that creating characters focusing solely on their gender identity and race makes for an overall far less appealing character than focusing on actual storytelling and substance.