Joe Bass of the Comic Book Hoedown blog decided to quantitatively examine character diversity in the Big Two and came up with a few interesting (albeit unsurprising) results. After examining gender, race and sexual preference, Bass determined that both Marvel and DC's superhero lines consisted of 20% minority characters, with Marvel beating DC on race, DC better on GLBT representation and both companies even on gender. However, here's why he gives Marvel the edge:
So that's the quantitative analysis, which seems to be pretty even on first glance: Marvel is better on race, DC is better on GLBT, they're even on gender. But then you get into the qualitative analysis, and the whole thing goes pear-shaped for DC. Let's be clear here: DC does do a lot of things right here. As noted before, it has Batwoman and Shining Knight, and it has Batwing, a black man, on a solo book. It has Birds of Prey, which, for a while, was the only all-female cast in comics, and it has Power Girl and Huntress on Worlds' Finest.
But then you look at the broader picture. DC does have Batwoman and Batwing, but it only feels safe putting the characters under the larger aegis of the Bat-family; it's uncomfortable making new IP that doesn't have Bat or Super as a prefix, and that includes diverse characters. The Justice League, its flagship team, has one woman and one black man and no GLBT characters. The GLBT characters that it does have, Batwoman and Shining Knight aside, mostly have that as part of their backstory or stories from back when they were on Vertigo titles; Constantine and Madame Xanadu both have same sex relationships in their past, but that's kind of the key word there: past. Removing those two characters from the list put DC and Marvel on a pretty close par with each other.
DC's sticking to the Batman and Superman franchises, you say? We're absolutely shocked.
While he's missed a few characteristics here and there (for instance, he counts Kitty Pryde as a racial minority due to her Jewish heritage, but doesn't do the same for Batwoman), it's a pretty simple and telling analysis, and one that provides a solid argument for where the industry needs to improve in the future. It's well worth the read.