Minorities in cartoons: Koi Boi

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Koi Boi, a Marvel Comics superhero. Koi Boi (real name: Ken Shiga) first appeared in “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #6 (August 2015). Ryan North and Erica Henderson created Ken.

Background

Ken’s a second-year computer science student and classmate of Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green. Both students attend New York City’s fictional Empire State University. ESU’s famously the alma mater of Peter Parker.

As a superhero, Koi Boi has the Aquaman-like ability to communicate with fish. Koi Boi’s also the sidekick of fellow superhero Chipmunk Hunk. CH’s powers are basically a chipmunk-themed version of Doreen’s. All of the above heroes, plus Doreen’s roommate Nancy, have had various adventures together.

It’s unknown if Ken’s a mutant, an Inhuman, or gained his powers through other means. (But given Marvel’s currently shying away from mutants, probably one of the latter two.) Either way, Ken’s shown taking his crime-fighting quite seriously, though in a Silver Age-like fashion (versus a grimdark modern fashion).

Some of this tone extends to other areas of Ken’s life. One example is the time he tried writing a dating profile for Doreen. Ken assumed she’d be dating as Squirrel Girl; thus, he placed emphasis on (and boasted about) her powers, track record fighting villains, and so on. His profile also stated how she’d “obliterate dating.” For the record, Ken mentioned to Doreen he already dates with “optimum efficiency.”

In “Squirrel Girl” #9 (August 2016), Ken’s seen wearing a binder. Artist Erica Henderson later confirmed on Twitter that Ken’s a transgender man.

(Updated 7/26/17)

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