Thursday, June 23, 2011

DC Comics nixes a potential Islamopandering story

In an update to this earlier post, it's reported that DC Comics has replaced that particular story by lefty J. Michael Stracynski with a previously unpublished story by Kurt Busiek. Comics Alliance, one of the most moonbatty sites owned by leftist AOL, has written their own take on this, predictably avoiding any challenging questions, and again failing to distinguish clearly between religion and race. First, here's what the company themselves told about why the switch:
"This fill in issue contains a lost classic, Lost Boy: A Tale of Krypto the Superdog, set shortly after Superboy died in Infinite Crisis and Superman went missing.

DC Comics determined that the previously solicited story did not work within the 'Grounded' storyline. However, Chris Roberson, will be back for the final two issues of Superman's year long walk across America. As we near the conclusion, catch up with Superman next month as he makes stops in Portland and Newberg, OR."
To this, the writer, Chris Sims, said in reply:
The statement that it "doesn't work within 'Grounded'" is vague enough to raise questions all by itself, because -- fittingly enough for a series about Superman walking across America -- that story has been all over the map in terms of tone. That's to be expected with a story that has two writers as different as J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Roberson (and a third if you count the fill-ins G. Willow Wilson did before Straczynski's official departure), but there's no getting around it. In the past year's worth of Superman comics, we've seen stories about Superman smugly lecturing passers-by about Thoreau, burning down drug dealers' houses with his heat vision, helping space aliens build a factory to revitalize the economy, visiting the extradimensional headquarters of a team of Superman-inspired heroes from the future and fighting an army in Tibet with Batman.
While it's true that "Grounded" is a very bad saga, what the company isn't telling - and Mr. Sims not speculating - is that DC decided to replace the earlier item because it could be seen as offensive to Americans, deriding them as one-dimensional racists, yet never actually calling them "anti-religious", something I've noticed does not exist within the vocabulary of many leftists. And given how leftist JMS' vision is (and presumably Roberson's too), that's why, contrary to DC's claims, the story would fit in easily enough within "Grounded".

And maybe Sims doesn't realize, but he's hinted at a very important point for why this could be seen as offensive - Americans don't like being lectured about what to think or believe, about Islam or anything else. This is exactly what's driven many away from CNN and New York Times, to name but some of the worst MSM outlets in the USA. And if this story came within even miles of being a lecture declaring that a religion that condones rape is solely peaceful and no arguments allowed to the contrary, then it's actually a good thing they dropped JMS and/or Roberson's story. Besides, following the Superman-forfeiting-citizenship controversy, they'd be doing themselves a favor by avoiding any more such nonsense. (As one of the commentors on this Hot Air entry says, what if there was also an attack on Tea Party in JMS' story? Another good reason to abandon it.)

Plus, take a look at the screenshot of the original solicit, which was still on the DC site: "prejudiced public"? Why don't they take a look at Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford's old bastion, where pastor Terry Jones was both discriminated against and later threatened, and where Pamela Geller's been having a hard time getting her Leave Islam Safely ads on buses? I'm not fond of Jones, whom Geller's said did a disservice to opponents of Islamofascism by burning a Koran, even if, provided that it's his own paid-for property, he has a right to, as Daniel Pipes notes, but aggravated assault and murder are a much worse offense.

I see there's also news here that George Perez, who drew a variant cover for the issue, is upset that the coverscan, if anything, was dropped too:
"I have just received word from my editor at DC that DC decided to pull the original story slated for issue #712 and replace everything with another story and replacement covers ALL WITHOUT EVEN HAVING THE COURTESY OF TELLING ME! Considering the personal nature of this cover, and their knowledge of its significance, I am both extremely upset and personally embarrassed. My deepest apologies especially to Scott Mills and all of Rob Morrisroe's friends and family and the Moonlight Players. I've been told that the cover has been rescheduled to appear as the cover for Issue 714 (the last of the classic SUPERMAN run, meaning that I draw the last of the old and the first of the new), but this doesn't assuage my consternation and disappointment at the way this has been handled. I'm awaiting a call back from my editor but please don't expect me to discuss any particulars about it on a public forum. Just know that I feel horrible about all this and and can only apologize to all those who may have been inconvenienced or disappointed by this unexpected (and totally preventable) turn of events."
I'll concur here that the coverscan he drew, if anything, didn't have to be bumped, and surely could've worked with the replacement story just as well. Even so, I think it's a shame Perez, an artist whom I do respect, would be willing to draw a cover specifically for when the issue would contain the Sharif story, and even continue to associate himself with a company that's ruined itself on monstrosities like Identity Crisis.

Sims goes to say:
It's worth noting that, as Roberson says above, the character that was to become Sharif in Superman #712 isn't a new character, which isn't a surprise. Throughout his run on the title, Roberson -- a lifelong Superman fan -- has been bringing back bits of the past to illustrate his points, ranging from the Superwoman of the '70s to the short-lived "Electric Blue" costume from 1997. Sharif, formerly known as Sinbad, is no exception.

Created by William Messner-Loebs and Curt Swan in 1990, Davood Nassur was an immigrant from the fictional Arab country of Qurac -- DC's go-to stand-in for the Middle East -- who came to America and discovered that he possessed super-powers. After meeting Superman, he was inspired to use those powers for good, to the point where even as a kid, he was one of the characters who stepped up to protect Metropolis in the aftermath of Superman's (temporary) death.
Challenging question: was it ever explicitly stated at the time that Sinbad's default religion was Islam? I would guess that no, it wasn't, so this isn't so much bringing back an old character as it is corrupting older works of yore. However, if he was explicitly identified as a Muslim, that was pretty awkward even then, because Islam isn't something you just deal with using kid gloves. And most importantly of all, if no questions are allowed about whether Islam condones jihad any more than if homosexuality is a bad example (it's worth noting simultaneously that many Muslims are violently hostile to gays and lesbians), and writers not allowed to depict a Muslim as a baddie, then truly, what are they achieving anyway? (Update: here's a posting on Fortress of Soliloquy that might give some insight to what the story was like.)
Sharif is an outsider in modern society who, despite having to deal with a mistrusting public, was inspired by Superman to help people. And "Grounded" has, since day one, been a story about Superman feeling like an outsider and wondering if he should continue helping people.

And according to DC comics, these two ideas do not work together.
Actually, maybe they do. If the former Sinbad is depicted as the noble one, and Superman the emasculated hand-wringer, then something is terribly wrong. There is a form of leftism at work in the background here.
As thoroughly documented by our own Andy Khouri, the Nightrunner story generated a certain amount of controversy in the media - controversy to which DC Comics remained startlingly silent. Consequently, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was forced to interview someone from outside the DC organization (namely me!) for a defense against the insane claim that Nightrunner was a potential terrorist duping Batman into enforcing a right-wing notion of "Sharia Law." But DC seemed to support the character implicitly, featuring Nightrunner in the pages of the popular Batman Incorporated series.
Um, just how popular is it, really? The book sold pretty low, around 35,000 at best, hardly what I'd call a boom.

And Sims unsurprisingly takes things out of context. It's not so much whether Batman is being goaded into enforcing sharia - he and Nightrunner are both fictional characters, of course, but whether DC's publishers are depicting Islam in an otherwise whitewashed, apologist light, as though Muslims are literally victims in almost every way, and shariah doesn't exist. Oh, and does the story contain any authentic verses from the Koran like Sura 4:23-24? If not, then that's cheating and insulting the readers even more, just as it is insulting to the French. And seeing his use of quotations, I'd suggest Sims read this item about sharia and how it works (via Creeping Sharia, who also have a post about the same topic here).

Seeing how he mentions young Mr. Khouri, the man who signaled hostility to Israel even as he reads the works of its descendents like Siegel and Shuster, I gotta say, young Mr. Khouri sure is providing plenty of comedy so long as he continues to support Jewish creations (Bob Kane was Jewish too) even as he harbors hate for their homeland. I'm actually rather hoping he continues his show of support; it'll only make him all the more funnier. Even so, if I were Siegel, Shuster, Kane or Kirby, I'd be really horrified to see someone like him reading my creations yet showing no gratitude beyond that.

As we also learn in the same posting, there's another story from DC recently that pulls this leftist apologia:
And even more recently, Judd Winick and Hendry Pasetya have featured a Muslim character from Qurac called Rayhan Mazin in the pages of Power Girl back in April. The character may have nominally been a villain -- in that he has super-powers and gets into a conflict with the heroes -- but the story is of an Arab labeled a terrorist after using his powers to save an airplane from crashing, and being detained in the DC Universe version of Guantanamo Bay, held without trial and cut off from the outside world until he finally breaks out to visit his dying father.

The subtext there is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. There's even a scene during an interrogation where a clean-cut blonde military man responds to a question about Mazin's father with "you whining about your civil liberties?" It's a pretty clear metaphorical criticism of U.S. foreign policy towards terrorism suspects that's directly based on the idea that detention of innocent people does nothing but drive them to commit crimes.
Whoa baby, looks like Winick, already one of their most wretched hack writers, has made his own moonbattery even clearer now, with an anti-war statement and victimology tactics. And all this in a comic (issue 24) starring one of my favorite femmes. Booooooo, BOOOOOOOOO! If there's any story about "misunderstood" that insults the intellect, this would be it. (Picture via Scans Daily.)
And yet, it made it to the shelves of your local store without any problem whatsoever. So even in the current political climate, there's no reason to think that DC would can an issue for featuring a Muslim character working alongside Superman.
I'm not sure when that Power Girl issue came out, but I would wager that DC thought since that title is pretty minor and far less popular than the Man of Steel's own book, they could get away with that. They shouldn't, of course, and should be reprimanded for it. Since Superman is far more famous, that's why, following the giving-up-citizenship story Comics Alliance themselves acted as apologist for, DC must've felt they couldn't get away with it as easily.

There may be moderate Muslims, but there's no moderate Islam, and if the religion, in and of itself, is excused lightly, that if anything is definitely reason for concern.

Sims then goes on to say:
After ComicsAlliance covered the story, it made headlines in the national media. CA Editor-in-Chief Laura Hudson was interviewed about it on FOX News, and references to it are still cropping up in mainstream articles on comic books. I have to imagine that the attention to the panel above took DC by surprise; I can't imagine that anyone was prepared for one line in a backup story to be picked up by national media outlets and blown up into something capital-R Relevant, especially in a conversation that had less to do with the actual context of the story than with the sexy soundbite of "SUPERMAN HATES AMERICA!"

But whether they were prepared or not, the outcome was the same: there was now attention focused at DC, rooted in a desire to catch the publisher in activities so un-American that Glenn Beck would have to wheel out another chalkboard. As much as I don't buy the "it doesn't work with Grounded" explanation, it's far easier to believe that after Nightrunner and Action #900, DC didn't want the hassle of dealing with an anchor leading off the news with "Superman renounced his American citizenship -- and you won't believe his new terrorist sidekick!" Not that Sharif is actually a terrorist, but the accurate description doesn't spike ratings.
Look who's talking, and seeking an opportunity for attacking Glenn Beck for the wrong reasons! Dear dear.

If you want to know what kind of characters populate their comments listings, here's one example:
If Superman straight-up converted to Islam and announced his allegiance to the United States Socialist Party... I'd be okay with that, it sounds fun.
Ugh! With such unpleasant marxists like those on this AOL owned site, no wonder I've had to write them off as a failed experiment. And what of Mr. Sims himself? Last year, he wrote the following in reply to a question about Fables:
Take "Fables," for instance. I'm a pretty liberal guy, and I understand that Bill Willingham is a lot more conservative than I am -- he was, after all, the "right wing" creator involved in that flawed-from-the-moment-of-conception "DCU Decisions" book from a few years back -- but that knowledge doesn't keep me from enjoying "Fables." In fact, it's one of my favorite books, and while the idea of Fabletown as a metaphor for Israel has been explicitly stated in the text itself, I don't feel like he puts so much of his personal politics into it that the story itself is obscured. There are a variety of characters with a variety of viewpoints, and even if the whole thing is a grand political metaphor (which, beyond the premise, I don't think it is), it's a very entertaining one.
What's he saying, that he's negative to Israel? Gasp! And yet he reads the creations of Jewish comics writers! If I had a POV like his and definitely Khouri's, I don't think I'd be as inclined to bother. That's why it's mysterious how people with otherwise hostile views to Israel and Jewish society remain some of the most stalwartly reliable supporters of their comics creations. Again, if I were any of the aforementioned Jewish comics writers, I'd be stupefied and disgusted.

It's worth noting that I have reasons for being angry at Willingham, but for reasons far different than what Sims might - because of Willingham's involvement in what followed Identity Crisis, something I'll try to explain further some other time.

While they may have shown some sense and backed away from the Sharif story, it's a shame if DC is still allowing Geoff Johns to sink comics into sensationalized violence, and another shame that Marvel is keeping on with some of their own insults to the American public.

Lastly, I feel compelled to add at least one more something that apologists for propaganda published in comics might want to ponder:
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Via Ban Koran's video library. And I also ask: would any mainstream comics writer/artist be willing to introduce an Arab who's explicitly defined as Christian or an apostate from Islam? And maybe an Armenian protagonist as well? I think it could do a lot of good in restoring some trust from the public.

Update: one of the other reports about this subject notes that DC's claim for why they replaced the story is because of - are you ready? - a kitten-rescuing scene! Honestly, does anyone really believe that? Not for a second. They just don't have the courage to say that they're pulling the story because it could be offensive to Americans. If DC's smart, they'll avoid politically charged stories like this for the forseeable future. They'll also reverse stories with too much death, demonization and destruction.

1 comment:

Brooke said...

Oh. I don't even know what to say! How did this even make it past the smell test?!?