Earlier this month, creators Tim Seeley and Tom King announced that a New 52 version of Helena Bertinelli would be debuting in the new series, Grayson, which would see Dick Grayson rebuilding his life as a spy after the events of Forever Evil outed him as Nightwing.This week saw the official first appearance of Helena Bertinelli as both an agent of Spyral and as woman of colour in the final pages of Nightwing #30.
As was to be expected in this situation, the change to Helena Bertinelli’s appearance in the New 52 didn’t go unnoticed. Many people supported the change and there were just as many who didn’t. Those who supported the change saw this as a positive development for the character, and those who didn’t complained about the change for all of the wrong reasons. Unsurprisingly, most of the complaints were, at best, deeply rooted in ignorance over the diversity of people that exist in Italy, and, at worst, rife with racist rhetoric.
Given the mixed bag of reactions the new Helena Bertinelli got, I decided to compile my own list of reasons for why this change actually works in her favour. Not just to enlighten the unenlightened, but also to express my own excitement for this development as well as address any concerns about where this could go given DC’s awful track record with women in the New 52. But first, the positives!
So. I had stuff to say. Namely in favour of rebooting Helena Bertinelli as a woman of colour, which I think is a good idea. I also address concerns that could potentially come from this, namely in terms of character development since DC’s track record with women in the New 52 is horrendous. Their track record with women of colour in particular isn’t any better.
Before any of you click this link or even reblog this, let me be absolutely clear about something: This is a post that discusses FIVE reasons why Helena Bertinelli as a woman of colour is a positive development for her, and what it means for the representation of Italians of colour. YES, contrary to popular fan opinion, Italians of colour DO exist in Italy!
I completely understand if you’re concerned about how the character will be developed within the context of the New 52. That is a legitimate concern taking into account just how many women have been rewritten and completely repurposed so that their personalities and narratives are BARELY recognisable for the people we like them for.
But if you’re in that corner of fandom that thinks Helena Bertinelli can’t still be the character you know and love because she has darker skin now, or if you’re of the position that ‘Italians are white not black,’ GET THE FUCK OUT. Don’t even bother reblogging this post just to counter-argue that because it’s not an argument you are going to win with me—I’ll tell you that now. Don’t even bother hitting my inbox either, because I’m not going to have this conversation with you either. I will instead link to this video to shut you up. I hope your Italian is good cause you’re going to need it to comprehend the discussion that is being had in this video, including about inclusivity and racism in Italy!
That being said, happy reading. therearecertainshadesoflimelight, I hope you don’t mind that I linked three of your tweets in this post!