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The Outrage Over Marvel's Controversial New Superheroes

Marvel's got a new batch of superheroes to introduce, but unfortunately, they're gaining attention for all the wrong reasons.

The House of Heroes recently unveiled the latest suite of Gen-Z heroes to join its comic roster: a novel line-up of the New Warriors team, trained and educated by the super-powered squad comprised of Firestar, Namorita, Night Trasher, Rage, and Silhouette. In the announcement post, published on Marvel's website, it's detailed that the older New Warriors will teach a group of teens "the ins and outs of surviving as a hero in the Marvel Universe."

These newcomers include the a gender non-binary crimefighter, questionably named Snowflake, and their brother, the equally poorly-named Safespace. The psychic twin siblings are blessed with complementary superpowers: Snowflake has the ability to materialize crystalline, snowflake-shaped throwing stars, while Safespace creates pink forcefields to defend the duo and others. Emmy-nominated writer Daniel Kibblesmith, one of the creators of the fresh New Warriors characters, described Safespace as "a big, burly, sort of stereotypical jock," and Snowflake as having "the more offensive power" rather than a defensive one.

While the inclusion of a genderqueer character in Marvel comics is a clear win for inclusivity and representation, some people are seriously unhappy about the nomenclature behind both Snowflake and Safespace. 

Writer and cartoonist Kate Leth wrote on Twitter, "I personally love to see two white cis men at Marvel create a black nonbinary character named 'Snowflake' in the year of our lord 2020." Another user said of the creative moves, "It was so obviously mean spirited I'm shocked they didn't go further and make them a special superhero team called Triggered and they ride around in an attack helicopter." Elsewhere, one individual described the names as "so offensive" and "unbelievable."

"I thought this was a joke but it's real?? I don't think this is the progressive move Marvel thinks it is," one Twitter user wrote, adding with an eye-rolling emoji, "They said the characters are reclaiming the terms."

The creators are standing by their decision

Colloquially, the term "snowflake" is often deployed as a pejorative to describe millennials allegedly overly concerned with their perceived identities as special individuals who each offer unique contributions to society to "be able (or bothered) to handle the normal trials and travails of regular adult life." Safe spaces, on the other hand, are actual tools implemented to help people cope with psychologically stressful situations, though they have been widely mocked by opponents of political correctness and the social justice movement in general. The President of Northwestern University and the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago each wrote competing opinions on the merits of safe spaces for those interested in further investigation.

The New Warriors writer Daniel Kibblesmith explained the eyebrow-raising names, noting that he and his creative team (including artist artist Luciano Vecchio) set out to change public perception of the terms "snowflake" and "safespace." In other words, Marvel and Kibblesmith are taking the words back.

"It's the idea that these are terms that get thrown around on the internet that they don't see as derogatory," Kibblesmith argued. "The connotations of the word 'snowflake' in our culture right now are something fragile, and this is a character who is turning it into something sharp."

Per Marvel's official announcement of The New Warriors, Snowflake and Safespace will join other dubiously-named characters from this new generation — including a "group home and foster kid" named Trailblazer, who appears to have Native American heritage; a meme-addicted super teen named Screentime; and a vampiric super-goth named B-Negative. (Get it? Be negative.) While The New Warriors are far from the first Marvel superheroes to be saddled with punny monikers, Kibblesmith's names certainly push the line between corny and downright offensive.

These latest heroes seem destined to join the list of Marvel comic movies that no one will ever be able to make. We'll have to wait and see if the outrage in the Twitterverse is enough to force a change.