More than three years after the untimely death of comics legend Dwayne McDuffie — the man who can be rightfully pointed to as the pioneer of today’s diversity efforts in mainstream comics — Washington Post is exclusively reporting that McDuffie’s Milestone Media may rise again.
McDuffie, who died suddenly at the height of his career, is credited for co-founding Milestone Media, the parent company of Milestone Comics, in 1993 during a boom in the comic book industry. However, unlike other independent comic book studios started in the era (such as Top Cow and Image), Milestone was started with a very specific and political purpose: to promote a broader racial diversity within the comic book medium. Recruiting top minority writing and artist talent, launched with a slate of comic titles focused on minority superheroes, including Static and Icon which introduced characters Static Shock, Icon and Rocket; all are now characters in the DC Comics mainstream pantheon.
Although many of Milestone’s earliest characters were Black, Milestone supported efforts to bring all forms of racial and sexual diversity to comics, which included the introduction of several Asian American superheroes. In 1994, Milestone launched Xombi, written by John Rozum and illustrated by Denys Cowan. The title focused on Korean American hero David Kim who becomes a technologically-advanced “xombi” after his body is infused with nanites; it remains one of the only comic book titles to ever focus on an Asian American male superhero protagonist.
That same year, Milestone also launched Shadow Cabinet, an Outsiders-esque team of covert superheroes. The team included several characters within the Middle Eastern, Asian and Asian American diaspora including: Blitzen, a Japanese speedster in a lesbian relationship with fellow Shadow Cabinet member Donner; Iron Butterfly, a Palestinian ferrokinetic; and the powerful and mysterious precog Dharma, leader of the Shadow Cabinet who appears to be of South Asian American descent.