FCBD FLASHPOINT Coloring Error Sparks Diversity Debate

FCBD FLASHPOINT Error Sparks Debate

Flashpoint starts tomorrow, but its kick-off in Saturday's Free Comic Book Day has people talking about diversity.

And it's not just because of the story.

On Saturday, comic shops across the country gave away free copies of a 40-page Green Lantern edition as part of Free Comic Book Day. The issue included a "sneak peek" of Flashpoint, DC's summer event that starts this week.

There were a few surprises in the preview, including Captain Cold as a hero and a missing Bart Allen. Other things were expected, like Andy Kubert's stunning art.

But the surprise most people are talking about is an issue of color. It's not uncommon for a comic to have coloring mistakes. But it gets a little more interesting when it involves a person's skin color.

Included in the FCBD issue was an image of the Flash family, with many familiar characters running behind Barry Allen, the Flash character that stars in Flashpoint.

But one character wasn't so familiar: A mysterious white, female blonde with a ponytail, complete with a red and gold, Flash-style costume.

Some comic book fans were wondering if there was a new speedster being introduced within the pages of Flashpoint, but a later post by USA Today showed it was apparently a coloring error.

A DC spokesperson confirmed to Newsarama that it was, indeed, a coloring error. He also said the error will be corrected in tomorrow's Flashpoint #1.

And by the looks of it, the colorist merely believed it was Jesse Quick, another DC character in the Flash family.

But what has comic fans talking is that the character was supposed to be a woman of color: Jenni Ognats, the mixed-race character known as XS, granddaughter of Barry Allen. (She's also Bart Allen's cousin, but as we mentioned, Bart is conspicuously absent from this Flash family spread -- maybe because he's "lost?")

The coloring mistake has sparked conversation on Twitter about the ongoing concerns some fans have expressed about the lack of diversity in superhero comics (something Newsarama explored earlier this year).

"A mistake that changes one of the few women of color in the Flash family, one of the few women of color in the Legion, one of the few women of color in comics is more than a mistake," a post on the dcwomenkickingass blog said. "It’s a painful reminder that in comics, white is the default. White is the majority. White is the easy choice because you have, according to Marvel’s Tom Brevoort, only a 1 percent chance of being wrong."

"Getting the character’s race wrong is a pretty big error," said another poster on speedforce.org.

To be fair, the color error on XS isn't the only thing DC is correcting before tomorrow's big launch of Flashpoint, including a much less noticeable mistake on a different person of color -- the African-American Green Lantern John Stewart -- whose skin was just fine but his costume was colored wrong.

And as another blogger noticed, the image in the preview had Dick Grayson as Batman, which will be switched to Bruce Wayne. So it's not like this error was the only one.

The preview issue was solicited (and presumably, printed) long before other comics being released this month, which points toward the possibility of a rush job. And as DC told Newsarama, all will be corrected in the final issue, turning those all-white faces in the Flash family to a little more diversity.

DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio recently told Newsarama that the company is still attempting to add diversity to its superhero universe, pointing toward the successful introduction of an African-American Aqualad last year in Brightest Day and TV's Young Justice cartoon, and the integration of a Hispanic Blue Beetle into the DCU and on TV's Smallville.

"As with every effort, it's moving well, but in some cases maybe not well enough," DiDio told Newsarama about the company's efforts to add diversity. "But then, what we've always said is that we don't want to push this in. We want to do something that feels organic to grow the DC Universe, so that it feels natural and the fans come on board if it's part of the overarching story — not a 'program.'"

But with fans still questioning DC's decision to portray the recent death of Asian-American character Ryan Choi, the ongoing debate about diversity in comics just got a new life, thanks to a coloring error.

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