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Updated: Writer David Hine Responds To Batman Outrage

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Batman and Robin on MuslimsI feel like today is Islam controversy day here at Graphic Policy.  Our friend Andrew Belonsky over at Death and Taxes has an article looking at writer David Hine‘s insight into the character surrounding the controversy of making an Algerian Muslim immigrant the French Batman franchisee.  He also gives some thoughts on the right-wing’s attacks as Hine’s comments put things in a better perspective.

In responding to leaked concept art, Hine felt going with the existing character, The Musketeer, for the latest Batman Inc. franchisee would be too cliche and bland.  Instead he, and his team wanted to create a character who tapped into France’s zeitgeist and current events.  Over at Emma Houxbois, Hine had this to say:

Rather than use the obvious choice of The Musketeer as the new French Batman, I wanted to come up with the kind of hero I would want to see in a comic book if I were French. The process of developing a story is complex and there are all kinds of things I looked at. The urban unrest and problems of the ethnic minorities under Sarkozy’s government dominate the news from France and it became inevitable that the hero should come from a French Algerian background. The Parkour element was maybe a little obvious, but it fitted very well with the concept of a hero from the streets. Clichy-Sous-Bois, as you point out, is the flashpoint for rioting in Paris, so again was the obvious location for Bilal.

The location chosen for the French Nightrunner to be based wasn’t a coincidence.  The Clichy-Sous-Bois, a neighborhood known for it’s riots, was an “obvious location.”

While Alvin Green at The Astute Blogger argued that a Muslim can’t be a hero Belonsky feels different.

Had these critics bothered to read Hine’s story, told in ‘Detective Comics Annual #12′ and ‘Batman Annual #28′ they would see that Nightrunner’s fits quite nicely into the archetypal “hero” format.

He goes on to dissect Nightrunner’s origin and his “hero cred.”  Belonsky further points out that:

Right-wing anger over Nightrunner’s introduction isn’t based solely in anti-Islam attitudes, nor is it only about how DC eschewed a native—read: white Frenchmen—Frenchman. It’s based in an increasingly firm belief that only natives know what’s best for their country. Outsiders, real or imagined, can’t uphold a nation’s particular ideals.

This idea that one must be “native” to defend one’s country is absurd.  But it’s manifested in the real world by the right’s opposition to the DREAM Act which would provide a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants by either enlisting in the military or enrolling in college.

As we’ve pointed out, this outrage is ludicrous.  Applying this same reasoning, the right should be getting the pitch forks out over Superman.  An illegal immigrant who defends his adopted nation and world.  The lack of outrage there shows this for what it really is, hatred towards the Islamic religion.


  • Hine’s quote, which was pulled from my blog, was not a response to the controversy. It was a response to my analysis of leaked concept art for the character a month before the issue was published. I’m certain that you’ve never actually read the original context of the quote and I really have to wonder if you know anything about Batman at all, seeing as though The Musketeer was a pre-existing character who most recently appeared in Grant Morrison’s Batman run.

    Thanks for continuing the misuse of the quote and giving more attention to racists than progressive voices interested in exploring the positive impact of the inclusion of diverse characters. You’re really doing a hero’s work.

    • I’ve updated the post to better reflect the context but what he said is what matters not when or in response to what. I don’t know Batman and looking at this website, you’d have known that due to my lack of reviews and general insight into DC as a whole.

      As for the quote, the context was bad, but again, what was said is what’s important. As far as giving racists coverage and doing “hero’s work” I come from the political arena where I see shit like this every day. It doesn’t go away and can’t be ignored. By doing so, they’d have the podium and drive the narrative unchallenged in their lies and outright hate. Someone needs to step up and writers, publishers and those inside of the industry aren’t doing it. It’s left to us bloggers to do so and challenge it.

      We do cover progressive causes and the good the industry is doing, but to do so without also looking at shit-storms like this is an injustice to history, facts and journalism as a whole.

      Until the industry stands up and responds regularly to hate like this, it’s up to myself and the few others who have to guts enough to do so.