Tag Archives: 9/11

Remembering 9/11

Superman 911Today is a day for remembrance. I don’t care what your political affiliation may be, I want you to think back to that infamous day. For on that day we were not rich or poor, defined by any color or even good or bad people. We were simply just Americans. Americans who were trying to deal with an injustice that many of us until then thought only existed in the pages of comic books. We were wrong.

Evil didn’t just exist in a comic book, no. Luckily for us, neither did heroes. I will never forget what real heroes did for us that day. How they put their bodies and lives on the line without even a second thought. I often wonder could I summon such courage had I have been in their shoes. I’d like to think I could, but thanks to these spectacularly selfless people I may never have to.

So I ask any of you who reads this today, to take a moment of your time and remember them. Remember those brave souls who lost and gave their lives, so that we may live a better one when we wake each morning. Please remember that spirit and fire you felt when you witnessed this unfathomable tragedy. Though fourteen long years have passed, it is so easy to have a short memory. Don’t. Today when you bow your head in silence, pay homage to those who had the courage to do whatever needed to be done. They don’t need medals or awards or parades. They simply need your thanks. Remember their loss was our loss. I’m not interested in theories or conspiracies. No, not today.

Today just give them what they eternally deserve. Today we grieve for only one day, and for one cause. Today we are One America. God bless us all. May we never forget. May we never surrender, and thank God for heroes.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here! We’re spending it resting up for SPX and NYCC (plus playing a little D&D too). Hope everyone has a good one!

While you count down the hours, here’s some news and reviews to keep you busy from around the web.

Around the Tubes

The Outhousers – Leaked Photo of Apocalypse from ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ Confirms Hell has Frozen Over and Fox is Listening to Fans – A lesson in not releasing images/video too soon?

The Outhousers – Cultural Stereotypes in Comics: Fluxing Between The Negative vs The Positive – Another great read from the Outhouse team.

ICv2 – Firefly Fluxx – Yes please!

CBLDF – UNC Freshman Alleges ‘Literature of 9/11’ Course Sympathizes With Terrorists – Sigh.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Outhousers – Atomic Robo and Ring of Fire #1

CBR – Batman #44

Talking Comics – Quake #1

Talking Comics – Tet #1

ICv2 – Ultraman Vol. 1

CBR – The Wicked + The Divine #1

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fails Marketing 101

When you’ve got a big budget movie coming out aimed at kids, reminding folks of 9/11 probably isn’t the best marketing movie. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens August 8 here in the US, but it opens September 11 in Australia. To promote the movie, Paramount Pictures’ Australia branch released a poster. Unfortunately that poster features an exploding building, people (in this case turtles) falling out of it, and September 11 clear as day.

tmnt sept 11 posterThe image appeared on the official Twitter account of Paramount Pictures Australia. It has since been deleted. Back to the drawing board I think.

(via Kotaku)

Diversity in Comics? Rethinking Green Lantern #0

This is an adapted version of an article published on Reading with Pictures.

GL_Cv0_dsIn September 2011 DC Comics attempted to create their first major Arab Muslim American superhero, a new rendition of the Green Lantern, a staple character in the DC lineup dating to 1940. This new superhero, Simon Baz, made his appearance in Green Lantern #0, written by Geoff Johns with art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy, and added a spark of diversity to the publisher’s largely white cast.

Unfortunately, they did so with a deeply troubling origin story in which Simon Baz stole a van that, unbeknownst to him, had a bomb in it. He was quickly arrested, taken to Guantanamo Bay and tortured. He was saved by the Green Lantern ring, which chose him as the world’s next protector. The ring allowed him to escape, whereafter he was pursued as a dangerous terrorist by the Justice League. All of this was published under the guise of authentically narrating the experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans.

Newspapers as respected as The New York Times reported on the Arab Muslim addition to the DC comic book universe, and interviews with writer Geoff Johns revealed his Lebanese ancestry — this, it was made to seem, gave him the credibility to write about Arab and Muslim American experiences.

Indeed, while it is critical that the experiences of racial prejudice, harassment, suspicion, and violence perpetrated almost daily against Arab and Muslim Americans be represented, there remains the damming potential for such representations to be the only way in which media consumers come to know Arab and Muslim characters. By default, these representations become the lens through which they come to view not only fictional people, but real lives.

The problem is one of character design: how the characters are created to be. This is a problem for all media, though it is particularly crucial for comics, since the industry is currently undergoing a push from fans and new creators to be more representative.

What this often means, as Green Lantern #0 shows, is checking off identities on a list of non-white/non-male categories, with the aim to please by name and number. Companies like Marvel Comics can now say, “Yep, we’ve got an Afro-Puerto Rican Spider-Man” and DC can say, “Yep, we’ve got an Arab Muslim.” But DC’s 2011 attempt at diversification also shows that diversity is limited, often to aggrandized stereotypical stories that, say, frame Arabs and Muslims as terrorists (even if by accident). So how about a little background on this issue.

To say that life has not been easy for Arab and Muslim Americans after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001 would be farce. As literary critic and self-identified Arab American Stephen Salaita pointed out in his fantastic study of Arab American literature, Arab American Literary Fictions, the concept of Arab or Muslim Americans as a unified, racially distinct segment of the population emerged in response to fears of foreign Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and the need to control potential threats at home.

Even before 9/11, Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism — that brand of racial ideology that fetishizes the Arab world, the East as a whole, and its cultural products as an exotic, mysterious, and must-have Other (i.e. “not us”) — had long structured America’s view of Arab and Muslim immigrants to the U.S. In the 1950s-1970s they were regarded as a model minority alongside Indians and Eastern Asians. Regardless, they were not considered a distinct group with identifiable and discernible characteristics.

In other words, unlike Blacks and Latina/os, Arabs and Muslims didn’t bother white middle-class suburbia. You know, those gl0so-called “average Americans.” Arab and Muslim Americans were not disruptive enough to white society to need designating as a specific racial group.  This is in part because before 9/11 “The Arab” and “The Muslim” were doofy Ottoman costumery, children’s parodies (Aladdin), and occasional bad guys (Indiana Jones).

In the wake of 9/11, violence against Arabs and Muslims, whether American or not, increased exponentially and was governmentally sanctioned via the stripping of Constitutional rights for the purpose of national security. Arabs and Muslims were widely depicted in film and on television as the enemy. Scholarship on the issue of Arab and Muslim representation has finally reached a headway, a result of the growth of Arab American Studies as a discipline emerging out of the long-established field of American Studies, and is best exemplified in Evelyn Alsultany’s Arabs and Muslims in the Media (NYU, 2012).

The violence, in many cases, is often spurred by the inability to read beyond media representations and to think critically about the plurality of Arab and Muslim lived experiences. Sikhs, non-Muslim Arabs, non-Arab Muslims, Muslim Arabs, and sometimes Jews are conflated with the identity of the singular, Otherized muslimarab-arabmuslim, a seemingly insoluble identity that is, according to government policy and popular belief, potentially engaged in fundamentalist Islamic activity or at least aware of such activity.

Not all Arabs are Muslim, not all Muslims are Arab. The United States hosts some 3.5 million Arab Americans, whose group identity is based largely in shared cultural and linguistic traditions which hail largely from the twenty-two members states of the Arab League.

Some are Christian, Jewish, atheist, Baha’i, etc. Muslims, on the other hand, number roughly 2.6 million, only 26% of which are of Arab descent. Many are from South(east) Asia, are black Muslims, white, or Hispanic, according to the 2006 American Community Survey, and in 2009 and 2011 they made up the largest percentage of immigrants to the U.S.

So where does this information, a context which we can use to critically read Green Lantern #0, leave us? Ultimately, it reminds us as readers who have market influence in comics more so than in almost any other format of Nerd media, that we need to demand more than stereotypes. I have not read Ultimate Spider-Man, but I have heard many fans attest to the sincerity with which Bendis writes Miles Morales. Gail Simone, likewise, writes female characters with an eye to their long history of being sexualized, fetishized, and abused by creators and fans.

We have to demand more than a story that, by all means, breaks boundaries but which simultaneously places other barriers to diversification. When “terrorist” and “Arab” or “hijab” and “Muslim (woman)” are binaries used to define an entire population of radically diverse lived experiences, we have to be willing to call bullshit. We have to be willing to exert the same kind of buying and petitioning power as when we got Orson Scott Card kicked off Adventures of Superman.

If anything good came out of Green Lantern #0, it’s the possibility to learn from a company’s mistakes and do “diversity” better. We’ll see how Marvel does with Ms. Marvel, and hope a lesson was learned.

Catching Up on Reviews, Part 12 — Wolverine & Family

Sorry about the delays, but I’m still trying to get caught up on reviews for the last few months…

Daken – Dark Wolverine #6 (Marvel) – This is a consistently well-made comic. Daken isn’t my favorite character, but he is always interesting and there is a lot of room for good writers to explore him. Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu tell a good tale here.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

Daken – Dark Wolverine #7 (Marvel) – I’m not a big fan of Madripoor stories and have never really liked them, but if a character more fits into the setting than Daken, I’m not sure who it is.

Story: 8 Art: 7 Overall: 7.5

Daken – Dark Wolverine #8 (Marvel) – For me the jury is still out on whether or not X-23 is a good character, but I definitely do not like Gambit. It makes sense to have Daken and X-23 interact, though, so this storyline isn’t without merit.

Story: 7 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.75

Daken – Dark Wolverine #9 (Marvel) – Not sure I’m fully on board with this Daken-X-23 crossover, but there is a lot of great art in this issue from Marco Checchetto.

Story: 7 Art: 9 Overall: 8

Daken – Dark Wolverine #9.1 (Marvel) – There is still a lot of room to explore the relationship between Daken and Wolverine and this is a good entry into the ongoing story.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

Daken – Dark Wolverine #10 (Marvel) – The execution here isn’t perfect, but there are a lot of things to like in this issue. Rob Williams introduces Daken to a drug addiction that is brilliantly shown by artists Matteo Buffagni and Riley Rossmo. The issue also introduces a great new female character, Donna Kiel, an FBI agent on Daken’s trail. I’d like to see her used a lot more.

Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8

Daken – Dark Wolverine #11 (Marvel) – Basically following up on all the elements of the previous issue, this one executes them a bit better and adds Taskmaster, one of my favorite Marvel characters of late, to the mix. I’m a fan.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

Daken – Dark Wolverine #12 (Marvel) – Buffagni and Rossmo’s art is adequate during the regular story, but stellar during the scenes where Daken is on heat. Williams story continues to get even better, with Daken setting up a complex heist plan that is very original and then has Donna Kiel figure it out.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

Daken – Dark Wolverine #13 (Marvel) – Adding Moon Night and the questionable portrayal of his mental illness to the mix doesn’t really help, but it doesn’t really hurt, either.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.25

Daken – Dark Wolverine #14 (Marvel) – This is a complex and entertaining story and I can’t wait until the next issue comes out so I can figure out what the hell is happening.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 8.5

Wolverine – Deadpool: The Decoy #1 (Marvel) – I’m trying to figure out a reason this story was published and I’m drawing a blank. The main story, meant, I guess, to reinforce all the same qualities of Wolverine and Deadpool we’ve seen a million times. The back-up story with the Great Lakes Initiative is designed, I think, to make you feel less crappy about wasting money on this comic. It doesn’t work.

Story: 6 Art: 6.5 Overall: 6.25

Wolverine: Debt of Death #1 (Marvel) – This isn’t a bad story, but it doesn’t really add anything new to the long tale of Wolverine and it seems overly familiar, as if we’ve read this story before. David Aja’s art is very nice, though, and it’s worth a look.

Story: 7 Art: 9 Overall: 8

Wolverine: The Best There Is # (Marvel) – I’m not sure why they don’t just call this Wolverine MAX, since that’s what it is. Which means pointless and excessive violence, sexual references and bad jokes. Juan Jose Ryp’s art is way too busy and cartoonish for me and it seems out of sync with the story.

Story: 6 Art: 5 Overall: 5.5

Wolverine: The Best There Is #5 (Marvel) – This one is a little better than the previous Contagion chapters, but not by much.

Story: 7 Art: 5 Overall: 6

Wolverine: The Best There Is #6 (Marvel) – If this series didn’t star Wolverine, one of my all-time favorite characters, I would’ve stopped reading it long ago, since the quality is poor and the intent behind that low quality isn’t that great in the first place.

Story: 6 Art: 5 Overall: 5.5

Wolverine: The Best There Is #7 (Marvel) – This is probably Ryp’s best art in the series to date and now that the story is moving away from Contagion, it’s much better. Wolverine’s recovery from his full range of diseases is the best the series has been to date.

Story: 9 Art: 7 Overall: 8

Wolverine: The Best There Is #8 (Marvel) – Ryp’s art continues to improve and there are a lot of good panels in this comic, despite much of it still being too cluttered and busy. The story isn’t bad, but I’m not sure it’s holding my interest.

Story: 6 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.75

Wolverine: The Best There Is #9 (Marvel) – Whatever momentum the series had been gaining in recent issues, this is a setback for it. It looks bad and the story is dull and offensive

Story: 5 Art: 6 Overall: 5.5

Wolverine #5.1 (Marvel) – Pretty creative tale here, as you have all of Wolverine’s friends getting together for a suprise birthday party that Logan, of course, can’t make it to because he’s caught up in a Wrong Turn-style story. Very entertaining tale from Jason Aaron.

Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall: 17

Wolverine #6 (Marvel) – The aftermath of the “Logan Goes to Hell” story is interesting, particularly with the look into Scott Summers’ brain and the heavy load he carries in terms of having to plan to take out all of the members of his race if they were to get too powerful and go down the wrong track. The “Wolverine Protocols” is an idea that is traceable back to the Dark Phoenix saga and is good writing again from Aaron.

Story: 9 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.75

Wolverine #7 (Marvel) – Daniel Acuna’s art is at its best here and Aaron continues to show he’s a name that should be quickly rising up the ranks of comic book writers. Logan’s internal battle here is as well-done as the external combat against his teammates.

Story: 9.5 Art: 9 Overall: 9.25

Wolverine #8 (Marvel) – Another great issue, this one has some of the funniest moments in Wolverine history and it’s great to see characters like Nightcrawler and Phoenix back, even if they are only in Logan’s head. The ending is also a pretty chilling moment.

Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5

Wolverine #9 (Marvel) – Wolverine vs. Mystique seems a story we’ve seen enough times already that we don’t need to really see it again. That being said, the creative team on this comic is good enough to make any tale, even one retold this often, fresh enough.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

Wolverine #10 (Marvel) – The art isn’t as good this time around, but this is an intriguing opening chapter to a good Wolverine story.

Story: 8.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8.25

Wolverine #11 (Marvel) – Some of the characters here are not my favorites, but the story structure is good and gets you a lot of information that will pay off later.

Story: 8.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8.25

Wolverine #12 (Marvel) – This series is very consistent at this point, with great writing, art that is good enough and beautiful covers by Jae Lee et al.

Story: 8.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8.25

Wolverine #13 (Marvel) – This story keeps getting better and better. It’s a revenge tale aimed at Wolverine for his past sins. The mystery is that there is something bigger going on here than what we know at this point and the cliffhanger ending here leaves you very intrigued.

Story: 9.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.5

Wolverine #14 (Marvel) – If the art was a bit better here, I’d consider this a perfect comic. That being said it’s still one of the most shocking endings to a Wolverine story ever, and that’s saying a lot. No one could’ve predicted where this tale was headed.

Story: 10 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.75

Wolverine #15 (Marvel) – It’s hard to follow up a shocking story like the previous issue and not have a let down, but Aaron manages to pull it off. The art doesn’t measure up, though. Kevin Smith and John Romita Jr.’s 9/11 back-up story is amazing.

Story: 9.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.5

X-23 #6 (Marvel) – X-23, Gambit, Mr./Miss Sinister, art that is pretty good, story that isn’t groundbreaking. Meh.

Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7

X-23 #7 (Marvel) – The art here is a bit better, even if it is too anime for my tastes. The story has Gambit and pirates, so, in other words, not much going for it.

Story: 6 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.75

X-23 #8 (Marvel) – This one looks a lot better and bringing in Daken is a good idea, but it still seems like the series isn’t really exploring the character the way it should and could.

Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5

X-23 #9 (Marvel) – Marjorie Liu’s best writing in this series to date is matched up with continually improving art. Now if they’d just get rid of Gambit.

Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25

X-23 #10 (Marvel) – Back to Sana Takeda’s anime-style art and an appearance by Wolverine and vampire Jubilee make this issue passable, but not great.

Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.25

X-23 #11 (Marvel) – Takeda’s art is a bit better here and the vampire-themed tale is mildly interesting.

Story: 7.5 Art: 8 Overall: 7.75

X-23 #12 (Marvel) – This is Takeda’s best art on the series and the vampire story really kicks it up a notch here. This is the best issue of the series to date.

Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.75

X-23 #13 (Marvel) – Phil Noto brings a pretty different style to the issue’s look and Liu brings in more guest stars, this time Spider-Man and the FF. I’d like to see some of these issues get rid of the crossovers and focus on developing X-23 on her own.

Story: 8 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.75

X-23 #14 (Marvel) – This really much more of an FF issue than an X-23 issue and taken that way, it’s not bad. The final panel is awe-inspiring. I’m still disappointed that we aren’t getting enough X-23 in her own comic.

Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8

Review – 9/11 Heartbreaker


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9/11 Heartbreaker9/11 Heartbreaker is about as “indie” as you can get when it comes to comic books.  Written and illustrated by Craig Staufenberg the short comic reads more like an illustrated personal journal than a comic driven by plot.  Driven by his memories of 9/11, Staufenberg set out on a journey to see what others his age remember about that day, and how it’s impacted him since.

What could have been exploitative or overtly cheesy and sentimental instead comes off as personal.  This are memories and views that aren’t forced upon the reader.  The rough art ads to that personal touch.  This really feels like an illustrated journal entry.  The writer has something to say, and needed to get it off his chest.

More of a long form poem than story it’s focus is on loss.  Focusing on the good instead of the bad, it shows how people have moved on in their own ways.  This is about how we remember the moment and the history of the world around us.

This is rough, but in the end that’s what makes it so charming.

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WisCon Rescinds Invite to Elizabeth Moon


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WisCon which bills itself as a “feminist science fiction” convention has rescinded it’s Guest of Honor invitation to science fiction author Elizabeth Moon.  The reason for the cancellation of the invitation was due to a blog post where she covered 9/11, religion and remarks about the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.  All pretty touchy subjects.

Organizers had expressed concern over the post but decided to rescind the invitation.

The convention will be held in Madison, Wisconsin in May, 2011.

Choice Quotes

Dark Reign: The Hood #4

Unknown – About time we got a good storm here.  This climate change, it’s messin things up.

Wizard – Fah.  I could reverse global warming if I felt like it.

Ex Machina #44

Mitchell Hundred – I know how it looks, but the terrorists hit the World Trade Center the day of the primaries, remember?  It makes sense that they might try to strike during another… you know, demonstration of democracy in action.

the Mighty Avengers #28

Scientific Beast – Let us see what their “Fair and Balanced News” makes of this.

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