Black girl geeks rejoice! A new variant cover for “Invincible Iron Man #1” will feature an image of Ariell Johnson, the first ever black woman comics store owner, enjoying a coffee break in her Philly shop, Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse, with character RiRi Williams, the 15-year-old black girl MIT-enrolled genius and Tony Stark successor. The cover is a step in the right direction for Marvel, whose representation issues have been well–documented.
Johnson, now 33, had been an avid superhero fan since she discovered Storm from the X-Men series at age 10. Johnson says that Storm was “the bridge” that got her into comics, as she explains to ABC: “Being introduced to Storm was a pivotal moment for me because had I not come across her, I might have grown out of my love for [comics].”(Eternal reminder that representation matters!)“Little white boys have so many [superheroes with whom they identify]: ‘I want to be Iron Man!’ ‘I want to be Batman!’ ‘I want to be Superman.’ ‘I want to be Han Solo!’ When you are a person of color, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to find someone you can identify with. I always felt like I was watching other people’s adventures.” Johnson also told ABC that she wants her shop to be “an inclusive geek space,” and that she’s thrilled by the enthusiastic response she’s been getting from lady geeks: “Women exist in this space! We’ve always been reading comic books, we just may not have been as open about it. I definitely get very positive feedback from not just little girls, but grown women too.”
If you weren’t convinced yet that Ariell is a dope queen (as if): she posted a rap on Instagram repping geek girls everywhere that includes mic-drop-worthy lines like: “I’m lookin’ for my ladies/so we can do it big/unlocking potential/like Buffy did.”
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