r.i.p. ryan choi, aka the atom

They've killed Ryan Choi! For those who don't regularly follow comic books, he's the character who was introduced just four years ago as DC Comics' shrinking powered superhero The Atom. The comic book world was recently rocked when the character was unceremoniously killed off, with some fans saying the death was racially motivated.

Titans: Villains for Hire #1, in which Deathstroke was introduced as the new leader of the Titans, now a superpowered team of mercenaries featuring Ink, Cheshire, Osiris and Cinder. First order of business: killing Ryan Choi, aka The Atom, as part of some kind of broader master plan.

That might not mean anything to you, but it means a meanstream Asian American comic book superhero -- one of very few -- just bit the dust. Some are calling the death racially motivated, with Ryan Choi being knocked off to make room for the return of the original (and Caucasian) Atom, Ray Palmer.

It's a bummer. Say what you will about The Atom's power to shrink. Ryan Choi wielded a power that had nothing to do with being a master of kung fu or turning into a Chinese dragon. He got to step into the boots of one of the classic Silver Age superheroes. But I guess that doesn't matter any more.

Here's an interview with writer Eric Wallace, on why Ryan Choi had to die: Wallace Responds to Hero's Death in "Titans: Villains for Hire." And here are some recent articles about diversity (and the lack thereof) in the DC universe and comic books at large:
The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Much ado about regression
It IS Pretty Funny How That Sims' "Racial Regression" Thing Worked Out...

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