Recently it was announced that IDW Comics would be publishing new Big Hero 6 comics to tie in with the TV show (x). My first thought was “finally, after three years of nothing, we get spoiled with new BH6 content!”.
But for some people, their first thought was “Wait, wasn’t Big Hero 6 originally a MARVEL comic? Why isn’t MARVEL making new BH6 stuff?”
And that is true. Big Hero 6 first appeared as an obscure comic book series in 1998 created by the team of Man of Action (who you may recognize as the creators of Ben 10). They resurfaced again in a miniseries in 2008 (which the movie takes most of its inspiration from) and once more in a Spider Man crossover comic in 2012. And…that’s about it. They were not very popular or successful.
Why is that?
Well, probably because the comics were fucking terrible.
To help you get an idea of what we’re into, just take a look at the cover page of the 2008 run:
Let’s see, we got the Rising Sun (the symbol of Japanese Imperialism that devastated countless other Asians) emblazoned in the back to show “LOOK HOW JAPANESE WE ARE”, we got not one but TWO hypersexualized female characters, a Godzilla expy, a scary robot (yes that is supposed to be Baymax), and a guy who’s just…Asian. We’re off to a great start!
You know how in the movie Honey Lemon was a sweet, intelligent young woman who had a passion for chemistry, photography, and making friends? Well too bad because in the comic THIS Honey Lemon is nothing but fanservice, constantly contorted into ‘sexy’ poses and obsessed with making herself look white.
But it’s not just sexism, oh no, there’s plenty of RACISM to go along too! Not only is the Rising Sun flag used flippantly and trivially, but Wasabi’s counterpart is a complete Asian stereotype, dressing up as a samurai in modern times, making sushi, and speaking in a heavy accent, and whose full name is fucking Wasabi-no-Ginger. But that’s all fine and dandy compared to a charming villain called Everwraith, who is literally the embodiment of all the Japanese people who died during the bombing of Hiroshima. No, I am not making that up.
On top of all that, the artwork is shit (the only character that doesn’t look half bad is the original Fred) and the story just makes absolutely no sense. I could not get past the first three pages of the first 2008 issue, I literally had no idea what was going on. But for all the people who HAVE read the comic (and don’t have nostalgia filters on), it’s pretty obviously not about Japanese people, but about Japanese caricatures written by people who watched a lot of anime without researching the damn country.
When Don Hall was looking through Marvel material to make into an animated Disney movie, he chose Big Hero 6 because of the characters of Hiro and Baymax, and the bond they shared. Movies naturally change a lot from the source material, but Marvel let him and his team have complete creative control. They kept the spirit of the comic and the most basic elements of the characters: Hiro is a genius boy who experienced loss, Honey Lemon is cheerful and friendly and has a purse for a weapon, Gogo is a no-nonsense speedster, Fred has monster powers, and Wasabi uses green knives. You can read more about the changes HERE. As a result, Big Hero 6 has become MUCH more accessible and appealing to a wider audience, becoming a huge critical and box office success and a huge following.
So with all that, is it any real surprise that Marvel probably wants nothing to do with the original comics anymore?
I can understand some of the confusion, but it’s safe to say that Marvel has moved on from a weird and rather offensive comic that no one liked and would rather focus on their more bankable properties. Any new BH6 comics made by Marvel (based on the film or not) would just be confusing and probably not very successful. Honestly, I think it worked for the best.
The new Big Hero 6 IDW comics is set to be released sometime in 2018. The series will first debut with a pilot movie, Baymax Returns, sometime in November.