Earlier this week, Marvel Comics introduced its first-ever non-binary superhero, a person of color named Snowflake. Snowflake and their twin brother, Safespace, will appear in Volume 6 of The New Warriors, a series about a young superhero team with an ever-changing roster.
But while Snowflake’s creators intended the character’s name as a way to show “teens fighting against labels that have been put on them,” because “snowflake” is right-wing web-slang for an over-sensitive person, some fans have criticized Snowflake as a misguided attempt at inclusivity.
Snowflake and their twin are just two of The New Warriors’ five newest members: there’s also Trailblazer, a large-bodied young woman with a magical backpack; Screentime, a teenager whose eyes and brain remain perpetually connected to the internet; and B-Negative, a “living vampire” with a goth style and a love for turn-of-the-century music.
Snowflake has the power to create crystallized snowflake-shaped shurikens (ninja throwing stars), and Snowflake’s twin brother, Safespace is a “stereotypical jock” in a pink costume who can create force fields to protect others.
In a press release, Marvel writer Daniel Kibblesmith said that Snowflake and Safespace’s names are a “post-ironic meditation on using violence to combat bullying,” adding, “These are terms that get thrown around on the internet [but] that they don’t see as derogatory, to take those words and kind of wear them as badges of honor.”
Here’s a video of Kibblesmith discussing Snowflake and Safespace:
I thought this was a parody at first, but Marvel is introducing two social justice characters named Snowflake and Safespace. Snowflake is non-binary. They are part of Marvel's "The New Warriors." pic.twitter.com/dYr7iW7ZcT
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) March 18, 2020
But the name Snowflake plays into a stereotype of non-binary people as over-sensitive. Their relation to Safespace, a term for places where marginalized people can meet and share their experiences without fear of being silenced, plays into the stigmatizing idea that non-binary people and people of color need to be protected and sheltered from a hostile world because they’re weak.
The idea is hardly flattering or super-empowering, as some fans on Twitter attest:
as a black nonbinary creator this is extremely tone deaf and ugly. "Snowflake" "safespace" are you deadass
Hire black nonbinary creators instead of cis white folks thanks https://t.co/NXFuToiOt1
— commissions in progress 💖 (@yakfrost) March 18, 2020
Why on EARTH would you name Marvel's first non-binary characters 'Snowflake' and 'Safespace'? Not sure if purposeful but this reads like a pisstake. At a glance I genuinely thought this was a CG project. https://t.co/baGY0auKFm
— Zoe Thorogood (@zoethorogood) March 18, 2020
If Comicsgate put out a book called "Snowflake and Safespace" the comics media would probably call it a hate crime or something.
Just putting that out there. pic.twitter.com/HapkyJKIUp
— Clownfish TV (@RealClownfishTV) March 19, 2020
Look, I’m sure everyone at Marvel has the best of intentions but by god read the room on naming two black NB characters Snowflake and Safespace
— Justin Carter (@GigawattConduit) March 18, 2020
Marvel wants to "reclaim derogatory names" and went with calling their new teen heroes "Snowflake" and "Safespace" when Soy-boy was right there.
Give me a soy based super hero Marvel you cowards.
— Empress Jay Exci (@JayExci) March 19, 2020
I am not against politics in media, Marvel was always social commentary;
but naming your new characters 'Snowflake' and 'Safespace' shows a level of tone-defness that only modern Marvel comics could acheive.
This is not how you reach people. This is pandering to the enth degree https://t.co/FxpoWDaffD
— Skepticᵀᴹ (@ArmouredSkeptic) March 18, 2020
heres to snowflake and safespace and their long and illustrious career of appearing in like the first four issues of this event comic, then being relegated to background characters, and then reappearing in 15 years time on a "marvels top ten dumbest characters" listicle
— Richie Tozier's PR manager (@rorschachisgay) March 18, 2020
The thing that gets me the most about Snowflake and Safespace is that this book will be canceled, it's a New Warriors book, they never last. And that means we'll have years of "Haha SJW Marvel, get woke go broke." Uh, hey, big liberal hippy over here, we hate this too pic.twitter.com/s6YOAJhunL
— Aaron Bishop (@ProfessorThorgi) March 18, 2020
The new Marvel characters "Snowflake and Safespace" can bring us all together in hating equally! pic.twitter.com/iyFGqQBdSX
— Chad Hutsebaut (@ChadHutsee) March 18, 2020
Some of the Twitter commenters have mistakenly said that both Snowflake and Safespace are non-binary when only Snowflake is.
Also, seeing as most of The New Warriors superheroes exist only for a short time in each volume before disappearing into obscurity, the same is likely to happen to these super twins, no matter how groundbreaking they’re meant to be.