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John Ridley and the Other History of the DC Universe

by Neil Bui

The DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse event hosted a panel focused on Oscar-winning writer John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), artist Giuseppe Camuncoli, and their upcoming 5-issue miniseries, The Other History of the DC Universe, which focuses on characters of color and marginalized backgrounds.

John Ridley explained that this series will be “looking at the DC Universe through the prism of individuals who were outside of the prevailing culture, who were there every step of the way but maybe they weren’t central to many of these stories.. maybe they weren’t at the heart of these stories, but they had a different perspective on events that happened in the DC Universe”

But not just that, the work will be taking these perspectives and treating it with a level of respect as though they were real and historical.

It will begin over 40 years ago as Black Lightning hit the superhero scene in the late 1970s.

As the first black superhero of DC Comics, the publication of Black Lightning gave Ridley, as a childhood, “the beginning of seeing characters that I could really relate to on a whole ‘nother level.” That added layer includes the fact that Black Lightning’s other identity was Jefferson Pierce, a teacher just like Ridley’s mother.

The Other History of the DC Universe by John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Andrea Cucchi.
The Other History of the DC Universe by John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Andrea Cucchi.

From there we also focus on Mal and Karen, two characters popularized in the ongoing Young Justice series which currently has the two of them happily married and with a daughter. Karen, codenamed Bumblebee, derives her size-changing abilities, flight, and stinger energy blasts from a suit she created. Ridley called her the Hidden Figures character of the DC Universe, as she was an early depiction of a person of color working in the STEM field.

The series will move onto the mid-1980s with the Japanese hero Katana, recruited by Batman for his Outsiders team. The story will take us to a time where people were fearful of the Japanese and will tie into the real world history of Vincent Chin and Executive Order 9066.

Then, there will be a focus on Renee Montoya in the 90s, a side character who became very essential to the Batman line of books. Montoya is Latina, openly gay, an alcoholic, a person with struggles, and she’s a police officer. Ridley is interested in sharing the perspective of not only a person of color but a person of color who is also in the role of a police officer since often the narrative places one against the other.

By the story’s end, we are brought full circle with Anissa Pierce, daughter of Black Lightning, in the late 90s and early 00s who must live with her decision to carry the mantle of her father.

All in all, it’s an incredibly exciting miniseries I can’t wait for. Each issue will be giving characters that I am very familiar with, the added opportunity to showcase major events of the DC Universe but from their unique perspectives. The Other History was originally announced back in 2018, but now stories like these are needed more than ever as we need to create and share stories of diverse backgrounds.

The first issue of The Other History of the DC Universe will be available November later this year.

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