Tagged: G. Willow Wilson

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.


Joe Corallo: Allegiance

ms marvel

This past weekend, fellow ComicMix columnist Molly Jackson and I went to see Allegiance on Broadway starring Lea Salonga, Telly Leung and George Takei. Outside of both of us being Star Trek fans (Molly a much bigger Trekkie than I), history and political science is what I studied in college some years ago and the mistreatment of our own citizens during World War II was something I was interested in knowing more about. And something I hoped never to see discussed seriously in our political process during my lifetime.

George TakeiHaving spent his early years in an American internment camp himself, George Takei has been very vocal and passionate about this performance. He has a will and drive to get this story out there, particularly during this political season where echoes of our past sins are arguably louder than ever. The loudest of which is four time bankrupt real estate mogul turned reality star turned politician Donald Trump.

Mr. Takei is so insistent on getting the story about Japanese internment camps out there to people who would once again call for this solution to our troubles overseas that he offers up a seat to Donald Trump every show. Yes, this is a political point. Yes, Donald Trump wouldn’t take George Takei up on this for a multitude of reasons. Yes, it’s free advertising for the show. If you can parse through all the partisan muck here, you do find a point. The point being that we need to evaluate the decisions of the past, the cost of the decisions we made as a country, and see if it’s worth it to do the same thing all over again

Empty ChairOne would hope that if someone did fully understand the gross injustices, human rights violations, and disgusting subhuman treatment that we exposed tens of thousand of our own citizens to for no fault of their own that any reasonable person would not want to push for that decision to be made again.

However, we are seeing people on the right running for president echoing these ideas and people responding to them. We’re also hearing people on the left call for a return to a Democratic party like FDR envisioned while conveniently leaving out not only the internment camps but his efforts to pack to the Supreme Court, the creation of the atomic bomb… just to name a few examples. It’s a bit distressing.

Not to Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, who gave a million dollars to Donald Trump’s Veterans’ fundraiser. Yes, it wasn’t exactly money to Trump’s campaign, but the billionaire presidential candidate isn’t exactly strapped for cash, and if Perlmutter wanted to donate money to Veterans he could have done so much more easily and in a nonpartisan type fashion. He deliberately chose not to do so, and to give money to Trump in a way that made Marvel’s CEO a very public supporter of Trump’s candidacy.

Ike Perlmutter is not a stranger to controversy. He’s infamously made racist and sexist comments in the past that have been well-reported. And backing Trump adds xenophobia to the list. Publicly supporting a man who wants to bar all Muslims from entering the country while Marvel is trying to push and support the first high profile Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, is certainly at odds with each other.

Last week I talked about how I try to avoid boycotting. Right now, I’m somewhat conflicted. Writer G. Willow Wilson, who was instrumental in the creation of the Kamala Khan, is a bit conflicted herself on this. It’s a tough thing to think about. On the one hand, your money (though indirectly) is going to a person like Ike Perlmutter who may help elect someone like Donald Trump. On the other hand, we might see books getting cancelled and the comics division get consolidated before it even gets to a point of affecting someone like Perlmutter. Marvel has gone through serious consolidation in the past though, at the hands of Perlmutter, without even the threat of a boycott.

I said “might see books getting cancelled” before because a boycott isn’t necessarily a long term campaign. Look at what happened with Chik-fil-a over funding anti-LGBT campaigns. That was bad PR from them. The whole situation ended up with Chik-fil-a seeing its sales actually go up from the controversy, but did eventually end with them deciding to move away from anti-LGBT causes. It didn’t take too long and the business still thrives.

The same could be true of Marvel. If we don’t stay quiet on this and we yell as loud as the likes of Donald Trump, maybe Marvel will want to make a change or feel compelled to do so. A change like pushing Ike Perlmutter out of the company. Or maybe it’ll even push Marvel to focus more on diversity and new ideas to compensate for people like Ike Perlmutter and the bad press surrounding him.

We need to take a long hard look at ourselves and our world. Is supporting anti-Muslim rhetoric something we are okay with being a part of, no matter how direct? Even if only a penny of my money or our money went towards that, is it okay? Does creating a positive Muslim superhero role model, Kamala Khan, make it better? Will that positive Muslim superhero role model make it better if government officials come and take tens of thousands of Muslims from our communities? What if they only take hundreds? What if they only take dozens? What if only one innocent life was ruined by the support of xenophobic politicians bolstered by the money and public support of one of the biggest and most successful franchises in the history of the world? Will we wave our Ms. Marvel comics at those being lined up and taken away and tell them we tried? What about the fate of the millions of undocumented immigrants that have been threatened to be rounded up and shipped out? Will we wave our Captain America comics and tell them that our nostalgia and fuzzy feelings were more important to us than basic human rights and dignity for all?

And beyond Marvel, what about the other items we purchase, food we eat, energy sources we consume, where does all of that come from? How does it come about? Where does it go? Do we care? Should we care? Could we handle it even if we wanted to?

Either way and no matter what, if enough people speak out Marvel will have to take more responsibility and speak up. If we don’t give them a pass they’ll have to evaluate the decisions of the past, the cost of the decisions they’ve made, and see if it’s worth it to do the same thing all over again. I hope we’ll see that the people involved will have learned from these missteps, but if seeing Allegiance with Donald Trump’s consistently empty seat prevalent this past weekend has taught me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t count on that.

Martha Thomases: Selling Death


About 20 years ago, I asked Batman editor Denny O’Neil if I could attend DC’s annual editorial retreat. I was their Publicity Manager at the time and I thought that if I could sit down and watch how the creative teams worked I could better promote the various Batman titles.

Denny was cool with it, and my boss was cool with it, so I went up to Tarrytown NY with them. It was a really interesting experience… for about a day. Then, for some reason, the big boss found out I was there and demanded I return.

His fears, as I understand them, were that, as part of the marketing department, I might interfere with the creative and editorial decisions. That was certainly not my intention. And it was also pretty insulting to Denny, to Alan Grant and Jo Duffy and Chuck Dixon and the others who were there who were more than willing to tell me to shut up if I overstepped my bounds.

Things have certainly changed since then.

Earlier this week, the New York Daily News ran a story by Ethan Sacks about the Marvel editorial summit. In attendance were Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, James Robinson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Michael Bendis, Emily Shaw, Sana Amanat, Nick Spencer, Sam Humphries, G. Willow Wilson, Dan Slott, Tom Brevoort, Dan Buckley, and probably a whole bunch more.

This is amazing. I can’t think of any other kinds of story meetings that involve the press. Did Matthew Weiner let reporters into the Mad Men writers’ room? Did Jann Wenner send someone to sit in with Lennon and McCartney?

The article did not say if any marketing people were there while they planned the next storylines which will, apparently, involve the death of a major character. According to the piece, this is something that Marvel plans to happen every quarter. Dan Buckley is quoted as saying “The death is a marketing hook,” although he goes on to say that the story has to pay off. Still, it seems pretty damning to me, and indicative of a thought process that seeks out the lowest common denominator.

To my mind, they did this backwards. They decide that some character has to die, and then try to figure out who it should be, and from there, what the story is. I think they should first have a story, see which characters make sense to be part of that story, then see if one of them dies in the course of events. I’m on record saying that I think death is over-used as a plot device. We know the character isn’t really dead. By going to that story-well four times a year, Marvel runs the risk of cheapening the death of heroes. It’s not special. It does not inspire awe for a hero’s self-sacrifice, or tears for the tragedy.

We know the character will come back to life in a few months or years. Hell, if there must be destruction, blow up an entire planet.

A wedding would be more engaging. A birth.

It’s encouraging to see that there were more kinds of people in the room than the usual white men. Some were even women. It is my hope that this is a trend that will continue and grow. That’s how you get new perspectives on the stories, and new ideas. Perhaps if Marvel invites a reporter to the next summit, they’ll permit the women to speak to the press, just like the boys do.

Joe Corallo: Knowing Your Place

Hellcat Patsy WalkerThe other day at a comic shop I saw a flier for the upcoming Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #1. It was advertised having writer Kate Leth and artist Brittney Williams attached. I think it’s great that the two of them are on this book, as I enjoy the work they’ve put out over at BOOM! Studios. However, it did start getting me thinking about the direction the comic industry is going. A direction that it may not want to go in.

We’ve seen the big two added more books with a woman lead. This has been great. A lot of them have at least one woman creator attached as well. We should absolutely be thrilled by that and support those efforts.

Just off the top of my head I can think of Amy Reeder on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Kelly Sue Deconnick’s recent Captain Marvel run, G. Willow Wilson and and Sana Amanat’s work on the new Ms. Marvel, Marguerite Bennett on the all woman’s Avengers team titled A-Force, and of course Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! just at Marvel.

Over at DC we have Amanda Conner on Harley Quinn, Amy Chu on Poison Ivy, Ann Nocenti followed up by Genevieve Valentine on Catwoman, Gail Simone followed up by Babs Tarr on Batgirl, Meredith Finch on Wonder Woman, Annie Wu on Black Canary, Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage on DC Bombshells and Emanuela Lupacchino on Starfire.

That’s a pretty hefty list for right off the top of my head, and I could have even missed one or two. We should be proud of the comic industry for having more women being involved in the creative process. However, you’ll also see the problem I was getting at before. All of the women creators are working on comics starring women… and not much else.

Just to be clear, I am not at all speaking on behalf of any of the creators listed, or making any judgments on the work they choose to do. I think they’ve been doing incredible work, and I’ve picked up most of the mentioned titles that are currently available. My concern lies with the pattern of the big two pairing up women on women lead books while not doing that with books that have a man in the lead.

It’s very possible that some of these instances they asked creators the characters they wanted to work with and these are the results we have. I highly doubt that was every single instance. We have had a long history of men, particularly straight cis white men, writing women in comics. Many of which have been great. I thoroughly enjoyed Charles Soule on She-Hulk and Brian Azzarello on Wonder Woman. However, I’m starting to get concerned that we’re moving more towards compartmentalizing creative teams, and that’s not a good thing.

How many women can you name who’ve worked on Batman? Sure, you might have thought Devin Grayson right off the bat. You’ll probably be racking your brain for a while after that though. Becky Cloonan did a fill in issue on Scott Snyder’s run a few years ago. And yes, Genevieve Valentine is currently one of the eight writers on Batman and Robin Eternal, the other seven being men. We haven’t had a woman creator have a lengthy run on either Batman or Detective Comics. Mostly fill-ins.

Okay, how about Superman? Louise Simonson had a huge impact on the character. She was integral to the Death of Superman storyline, and she created Steel. You’re gonna need to think real long and hard to come up with too many more names than that. Sure, Ramona Fradon did many of the Super Friends comics, but that’s most of it. Justice League comics are even more male dominated. As are The Flash, Green Lantern, and so forth. Ramona did work plenty on Aquaman and Plastic Man, but we did already mention her.

How about over at Marvel? Let’s start with Spider-Man. Sara Pichelli did co-create Miles Morales with Bendis, but beyond that there isn’t much else. Louise Simonson did some work on Spider-man as well, but I did already mention her with Superman. And those examples aren’t exactly examples of long runs on Amazing Spider-Man or even Spectacular Spider-man.

And the X-Men? Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti did a lot of work in the X-Universe, but again, both of them have already been mentioned for other contributions. I can also add Majorie Liu for her work on Astonishing X-Men, but you get the idea.

Again, to clarify, I am not knocking or belittling any of the contributions these creators have made. I admire the work they have all done and continue to do. I’m highlighting all of this to make the point that this is still a very male dominated industry, that women have not had all the same opportunities over the years as men whether it was deliberate or not, and that this should change. I also understand that the comic book industry is small. Smaller than I think we realize sometimes. Even still, this situation could be better.

I’m not asking for Superman to spin the earth backwards in time and fire the DC editorial teams of yesterday and replace them all with women. I’m not asking for Kitty Pryde to project herself back in time to do the same thing at Marvel. The past is the past. It was a different time, and there is very little we can do just dwelling on that. What we do have to do is acknowledge the past and understand it as we move forward.

I think Scott Snyder is doing great things with Batman, but maybe when he’s done with the title Genevieve Valentine or Amy Chu might have some great ideas of where to take him next. After seeing the kind of work that Amy Reeder has done on her title Rocket Girl with Image, maybe she’s got a great run for someone like Iron Man that she could be working on. Maybe the next big Superman creator will be a woman none of us have heard of yet.

I believe the best stories are yet to come. Many of the popular comic characters are decades old and have mostly been handled by male creators. One way to revitalize these decades old characters would be to get creators with different perspectives.

As a queer man have enjoyed a great deal of comics that involve exclusively straight characters. People from all backgrounds enjoy all sorts of stories. Someone with a different background could help flesh out other characters in these stories as well. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and many others have both men and women in their stories, and people from all walks of life.

It’s not only important to have representation in the main character or characters, but characters off to the sides and in the backgrounds as well. More women tackling comics like those I mentioned could be a way to help revitalize these titles, and hope it’s something that’s being considered.



Mindy Newell: Gaiman, Luthor and Trump, Oh My!

lex luthor trump

 “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again. Because I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money. I’m not using lobbyists, I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

Who said that?

This being ComicMix, and you being a comics fan, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said it was Superman’s arch-enemy, Lex Luthor.

This being ComicMix, and you being a comics reader, I wouldn’t be surprised if you picked up on the interesting concept of life imitating art as you witnessed Barak Obama’s arch-enemy, Donald Trump, announce his candidacy for the office of the President of the United States on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

Yesterday, out for a stroll with Alix, Jeff, and little Meyer, we browsed an outdoor celebration of Jersey City’s multi-cultural milieu, which included a terrific, mesmerizing, head-nodding, toe-tapping “Bollywood” dance performance by a professional Indian theatre group. What would “the Donald” say about that? Oh, wait, they weren’t Mexicans, so I guess they’re okay.

Anyway, continuing our stroll, we went to Jersey City’s greatest (and only) independent bookstore, The Word. While browsing the shelves, I picked up Neil Gaiman’s – and please don’t tell me that I have to remind you who Neil Gaiman is, this being ComicMix and you being a comics reader – new collection of short stories, Trigger Warnings: Short Fictions and Disturbances. Here’s some of what the New York Times had to say about it (and about Neil):

One of the most enjoyable pieces of writing in Trigger Warning, which assembles a range of previously published material from the past seven or eight years, along with a new story that revisits the world of Gaiman’s best-selling novel American Gods, is the author’s introduction, delivered in the chatty, generous and digressive style familiar to readers of his blog. He supplies contextual anecdotes for every story or poem in the book, apologizes (unnecessarily) for its inherent shagginess and lack of thematic clarity, and expends rather too much effort explicating his title, a puckish reference to the Internet-spawned notion that all potentially provocative material should be flagged in advance, lest it engage latent trauma in its audience.

“I wonder, are fictions safe places?Gaiman writes. “And then I ask myself, should they be safe places?” He means to suggest that his fiction may indeed prove disturbing and that we’re on our own, but that last part isn’t quite true. We have a guide. In practice, Gaiman’s writing answers the introduction’s questions both in the negative and in the affirmative. In his fictional worlds, reality is frequently subject to disturbing or hilarious slippage: A moonlight stroll in search of a defunct local attraction shifts without warning into a Shirley Jackson-style murderous ritual (“A Lunar Labyrinth”); a talkative woman in a small-town pub turns out to be a spectral jilted lover with a gruesome secret to reveal (in ‘Black Dog,’ a new adventure of Shadow Moon, the hero of American Gods); a teenage girl’s addiction to tanning lotion may result in the creation of a shimmering orange entity known as ‘Her Immanence,’ or to her sister as ‘the Great Oompa-Loompa.’ (That story, ‘Orange,’ is skillfully constructed as a litany of unsatisfying answers to official questions.)

One of the things I love about Neil is that he embraces his own fan sensibility and geekhood; Trigger Warning not only includes the afore-mentioned Oompa-Loopa, but also stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.

I was also amused – well, I’m not sure if “amused” is the right word, unless it’s used in the ironic sense – to find G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Aphona’s Ms. Marvel series in the “Graphic Novels/Comics” section of the bookstore. I couldn’t help wondering if Kamala Khan, who lives in Jersey City, sometimes comes into The Word. (Um, that’s the “ironically amused” part.)

And I also couldn’t help wondering if “the Donald” would be okay with her. But she’s not a Mexican, so I guess he would be.

Wait a minute, she’s Muslim!

Just like President Barak Obama. Right, Donny?


Martha Thomases: The Usual Gang

Are you watching the last season of Mad Men? It’s our last chance to see Jon Hamm in so many crisp suits – at least for a while.

It’s also a weird sort of time travel, at least for me. I figure that I’m about the same age as Sally, the oldest daughter in Don Draper’s (i.e. Hamm’s) family, so I’m watching events I lived through, but from the perspective of my parents, if they were stunningly beautiful, not Jewish, lived in New York, and worked in advertising in the 1960s.

In the ten fictional years since the show started, we’ve watched the turbulent 1960s from the point of view of successful, media-savvy adults, mostly men. We saw Kennedy get elected and assassinated. We saw the Civil Rights movement and Woodstock. We saw Americans land on the moon.

This season, it’s 1970. And it’s remarkable how that time, 45 years ago, is so much like now.

If you click on the link, you’ll read an insightful analysis of Sunday’s episode when both Peggy (the first woman to write copy at our fictional ad agency) and especially Joan (a secretary who became an account executive and partner at the firm) faced subtle (in Peggy’s case) and not-subtle-at-all (in Joan’s case) sexism.

My problem with the episode is that it didn’t play like something from the past. That crap still goes on far too much. Even (maybe especially) in the so-called “liberal” entertainment industry. (See here for an extremely vile assortment of examples).

This is bad news for working women, and it’s bad news for society in general. We miss out on different points of view and we miss out on the great work people with different backgrounds can do. There is no reason to think you have better talent available from a smaller group of applicants.

Comics have the same problem, albeit with less money at stake. When I was at DC in the 1990s, at least one prominent editor said as a statement of fact that women can’t write superhero comics. This is the cousin to the Hollywood attitude that female superheroes can’t star in movies. At least in comics (again, probably because less money is involved), we have writers like Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, Amanda Connor, and G. Willow Wilson as best-selling examples to the contrary. (Also probably dozens of others. Forgive my laziness at looking up stuff.)

We suffer as an audience when we are only offered the stories of white people. Most recently, a group of Native American actors walked off the set of an Adam Sandler movie because the dialogue was so profoundly offensive to them. As this article about the incident suggests, Native Americans get far fewer roles than they should, so it took great courage to give up a paycheck. I hope that the attention they get encourages someone to make a comedy movie from their point of view. It has to be funnier than Jack and Jill .

Nearly 30 years ago, when I saw Spike Lee’s School Daze, I walked out of the movie theater thinking, “That’s how black people talk when there are no white people around.” I’ll never know whether or not that’s true, but I felt I had been offered the chance to eavesdrop on a different world. I still enjoy that opportunity, but Spike Lee did it in a way that had singing and dancing.

Of course, no one actually talks the way people do in the movies. We hem and haw more, we don’t finish our sentences, and we digress from the subject at hand. Movie people talk with precision because they only have two hours to tell the whole story.

Mad Men isn’t a bad show because its point of view is limited. Every piece of art has a limited point of view. The way to enjoy different points of view is to live your life and pay attention. One purpose of entertainment should be to open our eyes to other experiences.


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.


Tweeks: A-Force Assemble!


Last week when Marvel announced the all-female team of Avengers, you better believe we were stoked! We studied the A-Force artwork to figure out who everyone was and got right to researching the superheroes we didn’t know. Now, we’re even more excited and can’t wait  read Secret Wars in May.  In this week’s video we’ll tell you why A-Force is rad, which mutant powers we’d use to make lunch, and our thoughts on the girls not included (namely Maddy’s #2 favorite superhero, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). A-Force Assemble, indeed!

Mindy Newell’s Year-End Bests And Worsts

So here we are at the end of 2014, which is the time for media folk to opine about the best and the worst of the year in all the different areas of our overcrowded, put-upon lives. So though I rarely think of myself as part of the media folk crowd, I’ll include me in that description for this column, since all of you have so kindly considered my words, thoughts, judgments, attitudes, and so forth important enough to peruse over the last twelve months.

So here we go, in no particular order, and not divided into “best” and “worst”…

I applaud Marvel Comics’ writer G. Willow Wilson (great name, by the way, so alliterative!) and artist Adrian Alphona for introducing the comics world to Kamala Khan, an American Muslim teenager from Jersey City, New Jersey. Kamala’s parents and family are traditional, observant Muslims (for the most part), but Kamala just wants to be what every teenage girl wants to be – not different from her peers. But she is. Not just because she’s Muslim. It’s because she’s also Ms. Marvel.

In a time when bigotry is rampant in these United States – our President is a Muslim Kenyan socialist dictator terrorist determined to destroy America, and, oh, by the way, he’s *gasp* B-L-A-C-K – I just absolutely love that the House of Ideas has embraced the opposite of the disease named xenophobia. There is no better cure.

Just a few weeks ago at my daughter’s birthday dinner, we got into a discussion of the state of music these days. I said that I think there is nothing out there that can compare to the music produced during the ‘60s, certainly nothing like the great concept albums of the Beatles, the Stones, and so forth. Not for the mass public, anyway. It’s all manufactured pop crap. Certainly nothing that is going to hold up to the test of time. Said brother Glenn, “So where do you think great popular art is being produced?”

“Television,” I said instantly. “We in a new ‘Golden Age.”

“When she’s right, she’s right,” said Glenn.

There’s been a lot of really fantastic television these days. Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Transparent, Outlander, and certainly comics are rocking our personal screens with The Flash, Arrow, Gotham, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield. But my vote for the best TV show of 2014 – as if regular readers can’t guess before I type out the letters – is Homeland.

Homeland not only made everyone forget – well, sort of – Brody (for more see my earlier column on the series here), but it amped up the tension to equal the heyday of 24 – and beat Jack Bauer at his own game by never forgetting that it is also a study of the emotional, and psychological scars borne by those who serve their patriotism in the coldest of wars.

Best taking on of a role already inhabited by fan favorites: Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord in Doctor Who. David Tennant and Matt Smith made indelible marks on the saga of the Gallifreyan, between them raising the Doctor into the realms of a worldwide phenomenon shared by only two modern myths – Star Trek and Star Wars. I can well imagine the trepidation with which Mr. Capaldi must have felt when he was given the keys to the TARDIS, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t slept the night before the his debut premiered. But he made it his own; an original interpretation in which, im-not-so-ho, the Doctor had to figure out if, of if not, he’s a good man. “I don’t know,” said Clara. And I’m still not sure if the Doctor can accept that maybe he is, even if he did, at long last, salute Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

Politics and World Affairs 101. (Hey, you know me – I wasn’t going to let this topic slip away.) This year was definitely one that went way beyond any introductory college course. The most “do-nothing” Congress in the history of this country, all based – again, im-not-so-ho, on the biases held against our President. (Reference first sentence in fourth paragraph of this column, please.) ISIS, jihadist Crusaders determined to raise the Ottoman Empire from the dust of history using beheadings with modern-day scimitars and social media propaganda, is the biggest threat to any type of peace in the Middle East – and the world – since Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party. And yes, that is really how I feel.

Meanwhile Vladimir Putin seems determined to lead a new Soviet Union – and for those who may point out that the Russian economy is in freefall…well, countries have gone to war because of failed domestic policies. And homosexuals in Russia are the new scapegoat, replacing Jews.

Best (and worst) on the domestic front this year. It seems to me that the American people have finally woken up and are marching in protest again against our own “black boots” (not to reference Nazis again, but…) who – shades of the pre-Civil Rights Act era – seem to feel they have a right to kill black men and anyone else who doesn’t “salute” them fast enough. I only hope the protests continue to the level of the social activism in which I grew up during the ‘60’s, and now dwindle away like the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Worst “Oh, God, I knew this was going to happen” moment: “The Mystery of Malaysian Flight 370” was televised on CNN. Just waiting for it to show up as an episode of “Ancient Aliens” sometime in 2015.

Dumbest comics controversy of 2014 (though I can understand the uproar) was that cover. Yeah, you know the one I mean. Jessica Jones as Spider-Woman with her ass up in the air.

The other dumb comics controversy – the stupidest, I mean – was DC’s decision not to allow Batwoman to marry her long-time love, civil rights lawyer Maggie Sawyer. Not only does it reek of bigotry and ignorance, not only does it go against the biggest non-issue in recent American history, i.e., gay marriage, but it’s based on an edict that “no DC superhero is allowed to be married” as “heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives” because it would make for “less dramatic stories.” As if marriage is always a state of bliss. Um…no. And kudos to J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman for walking away from such ignoramity.

Most exposed comic character: Starfire. Once upon a time, back in the Wolfman-Pérez days of New Teen Titans, she was a nuanced character. Now she’s just…exposed.

Speaking of DC and stupidest. How about their contest concerning Harley Quinn? the company asked for tyro artists to draw a scene from Harley Quinn #0 which specifically asked for: “Harley sitting in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances, all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before her inevitable death. Her expression is one of, ‘Oh, well, I guess that’s it for me,’ and she has resigned herself to the moment is going to happen.”

Announced just before National Suicide Prevention Week.

Oh, wait, a lot of that happened in 2013.

Well, it’s still “worst of” bad news.

So what kind of stupidest stuff has DC done in 2014?

Turned Wonder Woman into a caricature of a feminist icon – whiney, spoiled, and bitchy.

Batgirl featured a literal “cartoon” of transgender characterization in the imposter Batgirl, who was actually a dangerous, deranged man. Um, btw, that’s not transgender. That’s cross-dressing. Either way, it was incredibly insulting to too many individuals. (The creative team of Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr apologized…and meant it.).

Merchandizing sexualized and insulting t-shirts with Superman “scoring” with Wonder Woman, and mottos like “Training To Be Batman’s Wife.”

Releasing a book for toddlers and early readers called “Superheroes Opposites” in which “Wonder Woman pushes a swing” with a little girl on it, while Superman, on the opposing page, “pulls the machine,” which looks like some combination of a Deere tractor and deep-sea oilrig. Anyway, it’s enormous and definitely very heavy. Yeah, I’ll be buying that book for my 15-month-old grandson soon.

DC sure isn’t Jenette Khan’s company anymore!

But DC didn’t just become the leading anti-feminist comics company in 2014. I found this at www.Whatculture.com:

2014 also saw DC leaning on some wonderfully old-school gimmicks to try and boost sales, including falling back into the nineties speculator boom trope of providing shiny covers to try and entice people into buying flagging books. They planned to provide 3D variant covers for climactic final issues of their year-long crossover event Future’s End, a process which apparently requires certain special chemicals.

One of which is called microcystin, and is highly toxic. Exactly the sort of thing you wouldn’t want to, say, get into a municipal water supply.” Woops, that’s exactly what happened though! Some sort of spill at the printing plant where the books were being published caused the deadly toxin to end up in Lake Eerie, which provides the water supply of eleven million coastal inhabitants in Northwestern Ohio.

Yes, DC poisoned the water supply of eleven million people. Lex Luthor would be proud.”

Okay, I’m sure DC comics weren’t the only books being published at the printing plant. But I just have three things to say:

How come stuff like this doesn’t happen at Marvel?

And, at least based on this list of “worsts,” I don’t think I’ll be working for DC anytime soon.

And, based on this list of “worsts,” I’m not sure I would want to.