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Wednesday, July 02, 2014 

CBR's Carla Hoffman lives in a bubble era

CBR's Carla Hoffman wrote a gushing take on the Muslim Ms. Marvel series, trying to convince us this is worth the trees that were cut down to make the paper for printing it on. She begins with:
Ms. Marvel #5 is the most important comic of the current era. Wait, I got ahead of myself.
No, she's way behind. Fawning over a religious propaganda product at the flick of a switch, all without proving she's done any research of the Koran and Hadith. What makes this the most important book of this era, but not a graphic novel like The Forgotten Man, based on the writings of Amity Shlaes? Or maybe she's just too cowardly to admit it's got some worth to it?
Comics have distinct eras that you can recognize simply by flipping through an issue. Whether it’s the artwork, subject matter, costume design or the overall presentation, fans can get an idea of when the book came out, and who its intended audience is. It’s one of the reasons I have a hard time recommending older first issues to new readers; X-Men #1 is going to seem weird to someone who has never read any X-Men, whether it’s due to the silted language and design of the original or the ’90s posing and over-lettered pages of the Claremont/Lee version. It can seem really dated for new readers, and can completely color a generation of fans’ expectations of what comics should “really be like.” This is my only explanation for the extreme Jim Lee-ness of the New 52 costume designs.
In that case, what's her explanation for the pathetic artwork in Ms. Marvel? Or the forced denial that honor murders and stonings of adulterers do happen under Islam? Or the fact that in a very short time, this too will be old as a rusty Edsel? I think her argument she can't recommend older books to newer readers is laughable; history can give something to learn from, yet she acts like age is a problem. In that case, I guess early Garfield comic strips pose one too?

Funny why she brings up the early 90s X-Men books, because that's when the series began rolling downhill story-wise, though Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza were the ones who really took it there with few redeeming features. Why should she cite those but not some of the better stuff from older times like Bronze Age Avengers, or New Teen Titans, or even Mike Baron's Nexus and Badger?
With this is mind, trying to peg the overall theme of the current era of comics is still a little tricky. Do we use the movies as an example of how future generations will view the medium? Will Civil War and Identity Crisis, with their adult themes, be how the early 2000s are remembered? Do we have Brian Michael Bendis to thank for the voice of this modern era?
As a matter of fact, we do, though Joe Quesada and Dan DiDio are guilty too for hiring such terrible writers. In fact, they precipitated the path to comics stuffed with leftism like this current item. As for Civil War and Identity Crisis, I'm afraid they will be how the early to mid-2000s are remembered, and in a very bad way, mainly because those miniseries aren't "adult" so much as they're obnoxious fanfiction with political metaphors stuffed inside.
This brings me back to my cause this week: I would like Ms. Marvel #5 to be the bar by which the current era is measured. This comic does so much right, and is so absolutely inspiring, that I want to see followers, imitators and an entire generation of fans who will expect this level of quality in their comics in the days to come. Did I get ahead of myself again? Let me catch you up.
Again, no, she did not get ahead, only way behind. There's so much untold, and so much taqqiya in the book, that anyone who wants this to represent gold standards would only beclown themselves as she does herself.
WARNING: I’ll be discussing Ms. Marvel #5, so grab your copy (buy three more!) and read along!

For those of you who might have passed this by or have been living under a rock for the past few months, Ms. Marvel is about Kamala Khan, a New Jersey teenager. Due to the “Infinity,” event, she’s been super-powered by the Terrigen Mists and given shapeshifting abilities. Inspired to do good by her favorite hero, Captain Marvel, she helps friends and fights bad guys but is still looking for direction in her life. There are family hijinks and even some culture shock.

Representations of other cultures and nationalities in mainstream American superhero comics typically have been a little awkward and shallow (see Chris Claremont’s fondness for peppering dialogue with expressions like “Unglaublich” or “Begorrah”). Different ethnicities have been so easily, and so regularly, fumbled that we’ve become accustomed to it. But in Ms. Marvel, the portrayal feels less like culture shock and more like a cultural comparison as Kamala’s problems and lifestyle don’t exactly revolve around her heritage, but rather who she is and becomes spins off from it. Her family is a lot like mine — they just have a different motivation. Not fitting in is the root of Kamala’s teen woes, but being Muslim is merely a new flower on this common problem. She’s inspired not by representation but by success. Nothing is pigeonholed, so everything is relatable to one extent or another. Kamala’s problems could be yours.
But they're not. They're just examples of victimology and taqqiya. As a result, how can this book be any better than some of the older efforts she speaks of, yet the only one she actually uses is Claremont's X-Men, which is actually much too easy? The irony is that there are some things in the book that could irk Muslims too, and already, some did voice disapproval, but Hoffman doesn't seem very concerned.
Ms. Marvel #5 completes Kamala’s origin and first story arc. Previously, a friend’s brother got caught up in some crimes, and Kamala sets off her to rescue him but, surprisingly, fails. It’s a big deal. When people talk about “grit” in their comics, I think they’re trying to talk about honesty; it’s not the darker coloring and style that makes gritty comics, it’s washing off the cartoon gloss with some reality sandpaper to make the story seem more realistic to the reader. The idea that a teenager who just got superpowers can’t run in an save a friend from other teenagers in a basement is pretty realistic. Kamala goes home and gets yelled at by her mother, but also receives a pep talk from her father that is some of the most beautiful writing between father and daughter I’ve read in a long time. This is also a big deal, as pep talks from father figures are a more male hero trope than female; most girls have to go it alone or defy their parents and break from the norm and become someone society doesn’t expect them to be. Kamala’s father tells her that she’s perfect just the way she is and doesn’t have to pretend to be someone else to be loved by her family.
Umm, how is a book that won't be honest and transparent about Islam "honest"? Please, do tell us about it. And how curious she thinks it's realistic to be such a failure in a sci-fi world. It sounds more to me like Wilson is insulting the lead character, even if she later manages to save the friend (though I'm not sure what from). I'm also wondering if the mother's depiction as a yeller while the father is depicted sympathetically is also deliberate? Besides, there have been some examples in past history of female leads conversing with their parents for ideas how to work things out.

I believe Hoffman is praising this book deliberately - that is, she's not being altruistic - and besides, this is the same person who claimed Warner Huston knew nothing about superhero comics.
That spurs Kamala into a training montage with her best friend to learn about her powers so she can try again. Hard work pays off as she ponders some philosophy to psych herself up for her second try. The idea that good isn’t something you are, it’s something you do and that the place where you are right now was circled on a map for you (which I think should be attributed to Hāfez rather than Rumi, but I could be wrong) are poetically inspiring to both Kamala and the reader. It’s less a selfish motivation (I’m going to be the best) and more a reflection of destiny.
Look who's talking about selfishness. Maybe she should look at much of the modern Marvel contributor's list for a change, and even herself. Anyone could write a story like she describes and do it without stuffing Islamism into the tale.
It’s a destiny that still takes hard work, but one that pays off, because with a little more grounding and dedication, Kamala not only saves her friend’s brother, but gains a confidence we can believe in. We saw her fail, and we were with her as she picked herself up; now, with her success, we know she’s capable of whatever she sets her mind to. Is Kamala perfect? Heck no. As she says herself, “This is Jersey City. We talk loud, we walk fast and we don’t take any disrespect.” She has her faults, but you know. Don’t mess. The first five issue complete her first journey, and we readers can see the long road ahead.
I wonder if Hoffman recognizes she's got faults, like favoratism and failure to prove her ability to do some research? Ditto the writer of the book she's fawning over, and the editors. A better query would be: is Hoffman perfect? Not with the way she's going about this.
This book is important. I want it to be the blueprint for future heroic orgins to work from. I want fans who clamor for realized female characters in comics to hold up this issue and support the work being done here. The artwork is magical; some of the manga-like stylings can take getting used to, but for such an imaginative setting and style I can’t see any other artist in Adrian Alphona’s place. G. Willow Wilson’s writing is so heartfelt, it’s difficult not to fall in love with such a unique and personable character as Kamala Khan.
Keep going and stay classy. From some of her past interviews, Wilson sounds like a very ill-informed, disrespectful person, unwilling to be transparent about her ideology, and as for Hoffman, she sounds little different from most of the other charlatans working for CBR. What's so "realized" about this book that isn't so realized about most other books with female leads? And the artwork is dismal and childish. Pseudo-manga art is one of the things that brought down mainstream superhero comics, as artists went out of their way to mimic manga where it doesn't belong.
In another decade or so, it would do my heart good to think this is the kind of story that came out of the 2010s and is the standard the era is judged by.
If the era is to be judged by books like this, it won't be for good reasons. No, it'll be judged for bad ones, like pushing propaganda under the guise of "storytelling", something Hoffman fails to recognize. How come this book is to be considered a "good" standard, but not something like The Forgotten Man? Hoffman fails to explain clearly why Ms. Marvel Muslim makes for the greatest tales of this generation, but not stories that avoid injecting ideologies and obvious leftist politics for the sake of it. I think there's a case to be made that so-called reviewing on sites like CBR is not the standard we'd want comics criticism and opinion-making to be judged by, in this or any other era.

Update: wow, Dan Slott must hate me so much, he linked to this post. He must be so scared, he's shaking in his boots! But, all he's done is prove his educational upbringing is very poor, while doing me an honor by using the "bigotry accusation" cliche.

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The usual mindlessly laudatory gushing over the latest mindlessly PC and simplistic ("Duh, foreign culture good, America bad") comic.

The repetitive use of the term "leftist " tells me and anyone else viewing this article exactly where YOUR political views lie, yet you refuse to stop complaining about comics DARING to have a "political message". Here's a headline for you: All Art Wants To Say SOMETHING. Your refusal to allow any "message" in a comic book (especially those as accepting and necessary as those found in the current Ms. Marvel comic) only proves your lack of understanding not merely for the art of comics, but for storytelling itself. You berate the original author for enjoying the character because Kamala is Muslim, yet your attack on the book stems from this same feature. You not only refuse to accept a character simply because of their religion, but actively disregard her because of it, ironically the very feelings the creators of Ms. Marvel wish to quell. You are the reason this book exists.

Honor killings are not part of Islam. That's part of a misogynistic culture. Honor killings were part of European culture, too. What do you think dueling was about? Whether it was with guns or swords, dueling was about pathetic male ego.

Of course, the Hatfields and McCoys infamous, bloody rivalry is also a form of honor saving gone amok just as are most blood feuds.

As for atrocities committed under the name of religion, what should we call the cover up by the Catholic Church of thousands of child rapes by church priests? Do you honestly want to say that Christians don't have a shameful history of misusing the Bible for personal and professional gain? Didn't Americans use the Bible to justify slavery?

If you review the Bible, you will see that permits murder of children and others. The Bible also recommends people be put to death for unclean acts? Have you eaten shrimp or other shellfish?

Western culture eventually outgrew honor killings. Dueling and blood feuds are now illegal. And Christianity had its period of persecuting dissidents (the Inquisition). But that was long ago.

Western culture and Christianity did not invent slavery, but they may have invented the concept of abolishing slavery. British and American Christians may have been the first people who opposed slavery when they themselves were eligible to be masters.

Christianity's founder abolished the Old Testament dietary restrictions, so Christians can eat shrimp or shellfish.

Maybe someday, Islam will outgrow terrorism, feuds, and honor killings. But it hasn't yet.

I'm so glad that "Christianity had its period of persecuting dissidents... but that was long ago."

Yes.

Because Anti-Gay Christians haven't been bringing hate and persecution to Uganda.

Because the Westboro Baptist Church doesn't try to spread persecution.

Because it wasn't people of Christian faith who killed Matthew Shepard.

Are Christians evil? No.
But anyone with an axe to grind or a partisan agenda can single out the extremists of any religion.
Like this blog has tried to do with those of the Muslim faith.

Maybe the Christians here should stop throwing stones. I believe that is part of their philosophy, correct?

Poster number three: claiming alone that honor killings aren't part of Islam without backing yourself up with
information like this
does not do your cause any good. In fact, it proves the point that Islam relies on taqqiya (deception). Do you also deny the existence of Koran verse 5:60? Obviously, Slott does, and if this is how he's going to go about his business, then he's only proving why he doesn't have many career opportunities ahead of him.

Fascinating why you'd ever want to read comics produced by companies founded by Jews if you uphold a belief system that's hostile to their very existence. Hey, if I were Jerry Siegel or Joe Shuster, I'd be horrified people like you wanted to support their famous creations. Why, did it ever occur to you that you're paying Jews money if you buy their books? I thought you didn't want us to have your dough. How laughable then you'd ever want to put money into the pockets of people you clearly despise.

I wouldn't be surprised if this also sums up what you think of the families of 9-11 victims, and that's why you have no place in a civilized society. But hey, keep on buying Jewish creations and putting money into their pockets. Believe it or not, when you buy from companies founded by Jews, you're only making comedy of yourselves. Yes, seriously.

The classic Dan Slott move: Come up with a tweet that puts himself up on a moral pedestal while simultaneously saying absolutely nothing of substance.

Dan Slott can tell Hobby Lobby, the small businesses that joined its lawsuit, and the millions of Christians who support them to go to "Christ-land" and it's not big deal. Avi Green asks Marvel to actually confront some uncomfortable truths about Islam (and he's able to cite specific verses of the Koran, stories pulled from recent headlines, etc.) and he's a "bigot." Good one, Dan Slott.

Where is Dan Slott's tweets on ISIL? Will Ms. Marvel take on ISIL? That would be nice...but I doubt it.

You would think that since Dan Slott has the gall to label very specific people bigots he would at least engage that person in a real debate instead of throwing stones from the safety of his twitter feed.

My guess is that he knows that a debate with you would be like him jumping into the deep end of the swimming pool without his floaties on.

@Anon at 5:18, I'd suggest you get your facts straight before showing your ignorance in the future.

The "Christians in Uganda" you're referring to are, I assume, Kony's LRA. This is a cult that is about as much "Christian" as Mohammed's original brand of Islam (which plagiarized heavily from both Judaism and the nascent Catholic church). It's a cult rooted in African mysticism which claimed to defend the Ten Commandments several decades ago.

The Westboro Baptist Church is likewise a small fringe cult, numbering a few dozen. Interestingly, the Phelps are lifelong Democrats, with Fred Phelps serving as a delegate to the DNC at one point. I'm guessing you don't declaim the Democrat party for its lengthy and voluntary association with them.

And since evidence has emerged that Matthew Shepherd was killed by an ex-lover for drugs (neither of the two who killed him have ever professed Christianity), you're 0 for 3.

Come back after you've educated yourself.

This Ms Marvel abomination is beyond parody. From its mary sue hobbies to its failure to resemble anyone in the dearbornistan community it comes from it's breathtaking in its wilfull ignorance.

But then with very few exceptions no one buys or reads marvel any more outside the tight knit 40,000 OCD sufferers who thinks today's rags in any way resemble the real Marvel Comics that died at the end of the 1990s.

As for Slott- his mary sue character was doctor octopus. Tells you all you need to know.

So, that means Dan Slott has had a crush o Aunt May all these years. Ew. Bad enough when Doc Ock posed as the adopted son of a woman he was once engaged to...

...what's your idea of fun anyway?

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