[Using this week’s Discover Challenge from The Daily Post to explore a couple minor themes in my novel]
“What you reading there, son?” Jimmy had walked behind Butch, was now peering over the shoulder of the teen sitting on the cafeteria floor, legs crossed, a comic book folded open before him.
“Oh!” Butch flipped the comic book closed, then held it up to his coach as if he’d asked to borrow it.
Jimmy nodded. “Huh. ‘member reading that one, back in the day.” His face contorted in surprise, as he tapped the cover with the knuckle of his index finger. “Recognize the costume, but I thought that character was white, though.”
Butch’s attempt at explanation was cut off by Rune, coming back from his practice bout with Juan. “He was, but they changed him, couple years back.” The greasy-haired teen lay his fencing mask and foil on the tiled floor; the sound of thin metal colliding resumed from the center of the large room. “They’ve been changing a lot of characters lately, making them women 0r — ” Rune looked at Jimmy, blinked — “minorities.”
“That a fact?” Jimmy rubbed his chin, and laughed as he glared at the comic’s cover. “Well at least they kept the name the same. Back in the day, I remember all the black characters, their names, they all had the word black in it. You know, Black Lightning, Black Panther, Black Goliath. Like they was so pleased with themselves, for having a black guy with superpowers, they had to make sure we all knew about it.”
Rune’s face erupted into a hyperbolic grin, his voice comically lilting — “Well, that must mean we’re making progress towards racial harmony!”
The shake of Jimmy’s head had the dismissive force of a caustic rejection letter. “It’s a comic book, son.” He knuckled the cover again — “Ain’t got time for kid stuff no more.”
“Oh!” Butch pulled the comic book back down, away from Jimmy, who with fists propped on hips pointed his chin at a suddenly uncertain Rune. “How’d your bout with Juan go, son?”