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Wednesday, December 12, 2012 

Thank heavens if this crossover story is never reprinted

Earlier this year, Jim Palmiotti and Justin Gray won back the rights to some characters they created at DC in a short-lived series called The Monolith. But there's reasons why this is not something I'm keen on caring about. During the middle of its run, there was a crossover with Batman, and in issues 6-8 of the Monolith, this story came up, that stinks of blame-America propaganda:
Part 1 of the exciting 3-part story "Friendly Fire," featuring cameo appearances by Batman, Oracle and Green Lantern and guest art by Tomm Coker (BLOOD AND WATER)! An arsonist called The Incinerator is loose in Manhattan, and he's targeting Arab-Americans. When a new housing project funded by Wayne Enterprises explodes during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Batman is on the case, and soon finds himself face-to-face with the Monolith!
More precisely, he's targeting Muslims, and in this review on Inside Pulse, it says:
So there is this guy who is attacking buildings with links to Muslims in NYC. Bruce Wayne happened to be in town, so Batman\’s on the case. The Monolith is just drawn to evil so the two heroes collide. The Incinerator has struck again, and Bats needs help from the Monolith to navigate the city.

The issue begins with Batman following The Monolith into the sewers on the trail of the Incinerator. Alice and Tilt decide to spend some quality time together. We then flashback to ten years ago to see the events that transpired to make Todd Martin become the Incinerator. Ten years ago bullies picked on Todd. Ten years ago Todd had dreams of being a firefighter and was in love with a girl named Nichole. [...]

Back six years in the past Todd didn\’t pass the firefighters exam. Furthermore he has accepted that he and Nichole will only be friends. Before they go off on their separate paths, he to the military her to Wall Street, he gives her a portrait that he drew of her. Then they go their separate ways.

In the present Batman and the Monolith arrive at a mosque to find a Muslim strapped to a bomb. Bats tries to get help from Oracle. Black Canary adds her two cents. But they don\’t really help matters.

Two years ago Todd was in Afghanistan as part of the military. There he tragically killed some fellow soldiers. In the present Tilt finally decides to go with Alice to get tested. Meanwhile The Monolith grabs the bomb and absorbs the explosion, which shatters him to pieces. Batman goes off after Todd.

But, then, the Monolith reforms and also goes after Todd. The Monolith catches up with Todd, who is looking down upon Ground Zero (where presumably Nichole was killed.) Todd has decided to blow himself up. But the Monolith thwarts his efforts. Batman arrives to bring Todd to the authorities. He also chastises The Monolith for being reckless and for trying to give Batman the slip. Then we see Tilt and Alice about to get the results from the doctor. To be continued.
So it's the kind of story that paints Americans to look "Islamophobic", and bungling enough to attack their own side during war. And this particular tale slipped under everybody's radars. Then again, maybe that's a good thing. The premise of his being a victim of bullying and basically carrying on that trait has long become quite a cheap cliche to boot.

And no matter how they depict the villain, it doesn't take much to figure what the overall angle will turn out to be. I'm glad if this story won't be reprinted anytime soon. The premise sounds nasty, and the part where the villain kills members of his own army forces is enough to tell something is wrong here. The bit about becoming a firefighter brings to mind a 1991 movie called Backdraft where a member of a firefighting squad turned out to be guilty of arson himself. It's enough to wonder just where did things go so wrong that entertainment writers developed a disrespect for authority, and the Monolith/Batman story looks like a product of such a mindset.

If the crossovers with Batman (and Hawkman) aren't published again because DC no longer owns the Monolith cast, that's good. But even now when the Monolith is in different ownership, the crossover story that took place at the original publisher doesn't make me feel like bothering to check what it's like in the trades Image is now publishing either.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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