Q: Does fan reactions and comments factor into what you decide to do with the titles you are on?Now, he may have later had this Muslim woman (whose name was Ayisha), a possible allusion the Bosnian-Serbian war that was started by the former side against the latter, later become a criminal after she assaulted Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's onetime secretary, but that still doesn't clear away how it's an otherwise superficial depiction of Islam, and you can be sure the Religion of Rape would never be blamed, even remotely.
A: I think it effects the editors more than the writers, because when I have a character and story in mind--when I have formulated the plot and the relationships and decided the direction everything is going and begun that journey--by the time it gets to the fans I have already gone 5 steps beyond. My lead time on most of those stories was around 5 months. As a matter of fact issue 50, where I featured a Muslim woman as the primary romantic interest and made her into a reoccurring character, had nothing to do with 9-11. I had no political axe to grind whatsoever. In hindsight people would look at that and the timing- especially since the issue that followed that involved firefighters trapped in a burning building- and say, “It is all connected to 9-11”. Nothing could be further form the truth. It was a story line that was pursued for the drama of it and the development of the character. It had nothing to do with what was going on in the world because I was already so far ahead at that time. What the reader reaction does effect on a very quick ongoing basis is other directions publishing companies elect to take from the stand point of sales.
And while he may not have a political axe to grind, what insults the intellect was that he was basically pandering for all the wrong reasons. Even if it didn't come up after 9-11, it would not be acceptable at any time to deliver a whitewashed, superficial depiction of Islam given that long before, there was the Caliphate circa the 8th century, the murder of George Curtis Moore and Noel Cleo by the PLO in 1973 in the name of jihad, and even the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. It's also an insult to many Israelis whose lives were ruined by jihad. Oh, and it's even an insult to former Muslims too.
Grell was taken off the book after about a year, and it's just as well. I think it's really a shame since years ago, he did have some good items to offer as a storyteller, and so too did former DC comics publisher Paul Levitz, but both lost their way many years ago, and are really galling today. I'd like to hope that Grell - and Levitz, now that I mention him - have some regret for the bad ideas they partook in (in Levitz's case, it was approval of the DC project involving this Kuwaiti propaganda), but unfortunately, there's no telling if they will.
For now, one more comment that can be made about that Iron Man storyline is that if there's anything laughable about it, it's the "romance" between Muslim woman and non-Muslim man, notorious taboo in Islam, which is why you can be sure there's some Muslims out there who wouldn't approve of it, and would consider the whole notion an abomination no matter how tilted Grell could be in their favor.