Tagged: Adrian Alphona

Mindy Newell’s Shortest Column Ever?

wonder woman rebirth

Some of you who read my Facebook posts might have already seen this, but I think that it’s important enough to repeat the story. It’s from the “See Something, Say Something” school.

Yesterday I was walking down the block to the store and I passed a parked car with two dogs in it and all the windows closed, including the sunroof. It was 95 degrees here in Bayonne, which meant that inside the car it must have been at least 10 degrees hotter. I went into the restaurant on the corner and asked if anyone owned this car. No. So, what to do? I waited about five minutes to see if the owner came back – nope. So I called the police. I’m happy to say they showed up immediately. They went from door-to-door up and down the street, and to the storefronts to see if they could find the owner. I asked them if I should wait by the car, but they said no, they could track down the bitch or bastard who had left the dogs with the license plate if need be, and, if worse came to worse, they would open the car. So I went home, but I am still wondering – no, really hoping – that they gave the unfeeling owner a summons.

I have a bunch of comics sitting on my kitchen table that I just haven’t had time to read. They include the “rebirthed” Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka (writer), Liam Sharp (artist), Laura Martin (colors) and Jodi Wynne (letters); Liam and Laura’s work on the covers alone is just amazingly beautiful. Tomorrow I am bring this comic plus the others (Superman: American Alien by Max Landis and Francis Manapul; Betty & Veronica by Adam Hughes; Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, and VC’s Joe Caramagna; The Amazing Spider-Man by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Guiseppe li, Cam Smith, Marte Gracia, and VC’s Joe Caramagna; and the “rebirthed” Superman by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz, and Rob Leigh) to work to read at break and at lunch…if I get a break and lunch.

I have discovered a new tactic when defending Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, thanks to the New York Times. (Again, some of you may have already seen this on my Facebook page.) It is a video from the Times’ website, and it’s called “Voices From Donald Trump’s Rallies, Uncensored.” And boy, is it! It’s more than uncensored, people, it’s downright sickening. After the various people who are against Hillary watch this, I say, “Do you really want to be associated with people like this?” And then I add, “This time it’s not about politics, it’s about love of our country.” I have gotten various reactions, from nervous laughter to “Oh, shit,” to shrugs.

Seriously, folks…check it out.

Like I said, if you see something, say something.

And before I sign off for the week, I want to give a ginormous hug to my fellow columnist and beloved friend, Mr. John (Johnny-O) Ostrander. Last week John and his bromance-for-ever main man Mike Gold attended the World Premiere of Suicide Squad in the Big Apple, where Mr. Ostrander received accolade and so-long-deserved R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Aretha sang it. I am so happy for you, John! I am kicking up my heels! I am dancing in the streets….

Simply put, this Jewess is plotzing!!!!!!

Love you, John!!!!



Mindy Newell: Being Different


Part I: Wow!

“Two years ago writer G. Willow Wilson, artist Adrian Alphona and I created a story about a young woman with dreams of being ‘normal.’” Her name is Kamala Khan and she’s a Muslim American girl from Jersey City. We comic folks call her Ms. Marvel.” Kamala’s story shows how “being ‘normal’ isn’t one race, one gender, one point of view. Being ‘normal’ is being different. And being different is being American.”

Sana Amanat, Director of Content & Character Development, Marvel Entertainment, Co-Creator of Marvel Comics’ Ms. Marvel • From her introduction of President Obama at the White House Reception for Women’s History Month, March 16, 2016

I just finished reading Martha’s latest column – Wow, girlfriend! You knocked it out of the park! – and, pursuant to that, I clicked on the link in Martha’s column, which for some reason didn’t work for me, so I did some searching and found this.

Watching and listening to President Obama as he spoke to the women gathered at the Women’s History Month reception about women, and their daughters, and their sons, of how we have been, and always will be, part and parcel and participants in this country’s history, its future, and the world’s future, I was struck, yet again, by how absolutely everything about the current occupant of the Oval Office is so absolutely different from the Repugnantican men who want to take over the Presidency.

Just now, as I wrote “take over the Presidency,” I was also struck by what I can only call my Freudian slip; I could have used “inherit the office” or “win the election” or “succeed him as President,” but what automatically came out of me was those two words – take over. Because every time I see Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and, yes, even the so-called “moderate” John Kasich, every time I hear or read their latest statements, that’s exactly how I interpret their words – as a take over of this country. I have more than once lately pulled out my copy of William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to read about its financial backing by German corporations; I have pulled out my copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to reread how the United States of America becomes the Republic of Gilead, a country organized into a fanatical, patriarchal, martial, and rigidly “Christian” society in women are either Madonna or whores.

Of course I am sounding extremely paranoid, but I’m not really. The Repugnantican party and its candidates are so obtuse, so parochial, so busy attacking each other about the size of their penises that they don’t realize they’re on the Titanic. Really, I’m not worried. The Repugnanticans are done as a functioning political party in this country.

So I’m sleeping very soundly.


Before turning to a different subject, here’s a little something from Sana’s visit to Late Night with Seth Meyer.

Part II: Sucker Punched

On a somewhat lighter note – I haven’t seen The Caped Crusader Beats Up on the Last Son of Krypton (and Vice-Versa), and I really don’t want to; well, except for seeing Gal Godot as my favorite Amazon Princess/Warrior and Jeremy Irons as the butler. But I can wait for the movie to hit the streaming sites and cable and for a rainy day when I’m sitting at home bored out of my mind. Editor Mike Gold and I were talking the other night; he was being the “good cop,” waiting to see it before he formed an opinion, and I played “bad cop,” convicting the movie without benefit of trial.

“Having experienced other Zak Snyder films,” I said, “whatever Zak Snyder touches turns to destructive garbage that has nothing to do with storytelling or character development or emotional satisfaction.” And though I didn’t say this to Mike, I’ll tell you: I think Snyder’s fans are a different kind of audience, one with which I definitely don’t want to be identified. Maybe it’s my crazy writer’s mind making crazy connections again, but I think there’s a direct correlation between the audience that loves Snyder’s movies and video games and the rampaging thugs audience that go to Donald Trump stump speeches, i.e., Zak Snyder :: Sucker Punch as Grizzled Ignorant Cracker :: Protestor.

Now that I think of it, what I said to Mike about The Last Son of Krypton Beats The Crap Out Of The Caped Crusader (Or Vice-Versa) was: “It’s gonna suck.”

I told you so, didn’t I?

Have an Oxycontin. You’ll feel better.


Mindy Newell: Defining Oneself

I have been engrossed for the last week in Infidel, an autobiography that chronicles the life and times of political activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and how she became who and what she is. Ms. Ali will be familiar to those readers of this column, who, like me, strive to never miss an episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. She has also appeared on FOX News, CNN, and just about every news organization around the world – though I don’t know if she has ever been invited onto Al-Jazeera, even here on the U.S. version.

But if not, here’s a short version of Ms. Ali’s biography. Born into a traditional Muslim family in Somalia in 1969, her father was Hirsi Magan Isse, a leader of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front and who was actively involved in the Somalian Revolution against the Siad Barre government. Although Mr. Isse had been educated in the West and had a more “relaxed” view of Islam, while he was in prison for his opposition Ms. Ali’s grandmother, against both parents’ wishes (her mother followed her husband’s views at the time, becoming more rigid as the years went by), arranged for the traditional female genital mutilation of Ms. Ali and her younger sister.

Background: Female genital mutilation is the circumcision of the clitoris and the removal of the inner, or minor, labia; the entire vulva is then sewn shut, and a small hole is lanced into the skin to allow the flow of urine.

After her father’s escape from prison, the family moved three times, first to Saudi Arabia, then to Ethiopia, and finally settling in Nairobi, Kenya. There Ms. Ali attended the Muslim Girls’ Secondary School, which was funded by Saudi Arabia, and where she was inspired by a teacher to adhere to the strict Wahhabism interpretation of Islam that the Saudis practice – which is interesting, because Ms. Ali was, shall I say, not impressed with the practice of Islam she saw as a young girl while living in Mecca. She does speak of the peace she found within the Great Mosque itself.

Turning her back on the more relaxed version of Islam practiced in Somalia and Kenya, Ms. Ali became immersed in the religion, donning the hijab, sympathizing with the Muslim Brotherhood, and agreeing with the fatwa against Salmon Rushdie for his portrayal of the Prophet in his The Satanic Verses.

At the same time, she was reading Nancy Drew stories, romance novels by Danielle Steele and Barbara Cartland, and Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. She also read the great classics of Western literature, including Wuthering Heights, 1984, Huckleberry Finn, and Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country, the South African writers polemic about racism and apartheid in his country.

So Ms. Hirsi Ali was a study in diametrically opposed forces: the Islamic subjugation and degradation of women, to which she clung for many years, and the Western beliefs of freedom and equality between the sexes. However, when a marriage was arranged for her, she sought and gained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. There she obtained a graduate degree and began to speak out against the Muslim abuse of women. Ms. Hirsi Ali was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003, representing the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. When her Dutch citizenship was questioned in 2006, she resigned her seat – this action is believed to help lead to the fall of the Dutch administration in 2006.

In 2002 Ayaan Hirsi Ali renounced Islam and all religions, announcing her atheism, and attributing it to her personal “multi-year journey.” Time Magazine named Ayaan Hirsi Ali one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2006; she continues to be an advocate for Muslim women, for free speech, and Islam itself. She believes the religion is in desperate need for a “Reformation,” similar to what occurred in the Middle Ages when Martin hung “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on (according to custom) October 31, 1517. Because of this, Ms. Hirsi Ali lives with continuous death threat hanging over her like the sword of Damocles.

I became aware of Ms. Hirsi Ali when she worked with Danish writer and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, scripting his film, Submission (2004), which criticized the Islamic treatment of women; in one scene an actress, dressed in a see-through burqa, is nude, and the viewer can easily see texts from the Koran (or Qur’an) validating the religion’s subjugation and abuse of women. Outrage ensued among Dutch Muslims, and one young man, Mohammed Bouyeri (allegedly a member of the terrorist Hofstad Group), violently killed Van Gogh, shooting him eight times, slitting his throat, and then attempting to decapitate him. The killer left a letter, a death threat against Ms. Hirsi Ali, pinned to Van Gogh’s chest with a knife.

Now, as to comics…

I don’t really know of many Muslims in American comics, at least historically, although I do know of The 99, created by Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, a Columbia Business School graduate, and published by his Kuwait-bashed Teshkeel Comics. They were distributed all over the Middle East, India, and Indonesia, and reprinted here in the States via Marvel. Still, though the beliefs and creeds of Islam forms the basis of the book’s themes, none of the characters were specifically Muslim, and the marketing of the book “promoted universal virtues” such as cooperation, wisdom, and generosity. The 99 themselves were an international group of teenagers and adults who are empowered individually by each of the mystical Noor Stones. By working together and combining their specific gifts, the 99 overcame all problems and foes.

But the comic was not received well in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait because the 99’s “super-powers” were based on the 99 attributes of Allah as described in the Qur’an, The Grand Mufti, Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, head of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas, said The 99 is a work of the devil that should be condemned and forbidden in respect to Allah’s names and attributes.” On July 2, 2014, ISIS issued death threats and offered rewards for the assassination of Dr. Al-Mutawa.

I read and have copies of the graphic novels Persepolis (2003) and Persepolis 2 (2004), the English translations of the autobiographical work of Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian-born French citizen who is also Muslim. (I also went to see the animated Persepolis with Alixandra in 2007.) It is the story of a rebellious young girl, named Marjane, who comes of age during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

And now, of course, there is Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson and drawn by Adrian Alphona. Kamala Khan is the Pakistani American teenager who discovers she has shape-shifting abilities and takes the name of “Ms. Marvel” after her hero, Carol Danvers. Ms. Wilson, a convert to Islam, said that while Kamala certainly fights her share of super bad guys, but also…”explores conflicts with Khan’s home and religious duties…[it’s] not evangelism. It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith.”

Editor Sara Amanat, who conceived the idea along with co-editor Stephen Wacker after a conversation about Sara’s childhood as a Muslim-American, said, “Her brother is extremely conservative, her mom is paranoid that she’s going to touch a boy and get pregnant, and her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor.”

Most important, Ms. Amant said:

“As much as Islam is a part of Kamala’s identity, this book isn’t preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It’s about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It’s a struggle we’ve all faced in one form or another, and isn’t just particular to Kamala because she’s Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself.”

This American Jewish woman wholeheartedly agrees.