DC’s Power Girl Introduces New Muslim Character. Right Rages In 3….2….1…
MTV Geek broke news that DC comics Power Girl #24 sees the introduction of a new character Ahmad, who happens to also be a Muslim American. The character is forced to use his metahuman abilities for the first time on a crashing plane, I imagine that’ll go over swell with conservatives who raise a stink any time a Muslim is depicted in comic books. Writer Judd Winick is the one who gets the fun honor of being the target of pissed off bloggers this time. But in his interview with MTV Geek, he actually seems like he’s handling a Muslim with super powers in an interesting way.
Winick is intelligently playing off the plane scenario. The character hasn’t wanted to use his powers, but in this scenario he needs to in an attempt to save the plane and those on board. This of course isn’t interpreted in the best ways.
He’s going to try and save everyone, but he knows it’s going to look like he’s taking the airplane down. And he’s hoping that afterwards he can explain, and everyone will see… And of course, Power Girl and Batman guide the plane down instead of him.
So he looks guilty, which is sort of where that’s where our story takes off, based on someone who suddenly looks like a super-powered terrorist; when he’s just a regular citizen who wanted to be left alone. Who didn’t want anything to do with any of this, and has now been imprisoned in a Guantanamo Bay like prison for about six months.
Winick has taken the interesting narrative choice of depicting the story from Ahmad’s perspective and thinks a good story will trump coming off as a preachy soapbox. But it’s this answer in his interview that makes me think we’re in for another shitstorm.
He’s just a simple man who wanted to be left alone, and live his life. Things happen around him that make that impossible. So is he a villain? I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone feels more sick about it than him. As people read this story, I think they’ll see he has reasons for doing what he has to do – or thinks he has reasons for doing what he has to do. He doesn’t feel he’s asking too much.
He’s a man with a lot of ability, who really just wants this one thing. He’s asked for nothing, and he’s been persecuted unjustly… And when that one thing is denied him, then he’s gonna fight.
And I see this getting quoted a lot:
Geek: It does seem like the actual villain here is the American government in the issue. Or is it more complicated?
JW: I think it’s more complicated than that. I think this is a massive, massive misunderstanding. So many people are wrong on so many levels. The bottom line that mistakes were made. I don’t agree that the American government is the bad guy. If you’re a terrorist, yeah, we’re the bad guys. [Laughs] That’s where you’re coming from. But it turns out, this guy is not. He’s just being perceived as one. Those in control are not necessarily going about things the wrong way? They just have their suspicions.
Do I think that some people are being wrongly detained? Yeah, that’s been documented. Lots and lots of men and women have been wrongly detained. Those are the ones we hear about. Are there actual bad guys? Yeah, there are actual terrorists who are being justly detained. In this case, it’s an innocent man.
But it’s clear Winick’s goal is to tell a good story, not a perspective:
This is the era we’re living in right now, since 9/11. Arabs around the world, and Muslims, and Arab-Americans, and Muslim-Americans are people who are under a lot of scrutiny, victims of a lot of racism and prejudice. It makes it topical, it makes it something we want to discuss. Every decade, every era has their stories of people who are persecuted, and right now, there are a lot of American citizens who are taking a lot of crap for being born one way, for being born in another country, and that’s hard.
I mean… I’m not stupid. I’m perfectly aware there’s a war going on, and there are thousands of people who would like nothing better than to kill millions of us. I’m aware of that. And that’s not really the side I’m taking… This is a story about one perspective. The other one gets told a lot. This one just seems more interesting to me.
It’s a good interview where you get a good sense of what’s going on in the story teller’s head. Head over to MTV Geek and read the full interview.