Oh, My Pop Culture Islam: Ms. Marvel’s Respectful Portrayal of Religious Characters

Comics and religion don’t often mix, and that’s why it was so surprising when the new Ms. Marvel burst onto the scene and became such a smash hit. Kamala Khan (i.e., the current Ms. Marvel) and her Muslim family and friends provide a respectful, realistic portrayal of a family of faith that anyone from a religious background—especially one grounded in a strong family and ethnic tradition—can relate to. Of course such a story could have been written about any religious family, because the same thing could have come across if the Khans had been Greek Orthodox Christians like my family, or Polish Catholics, or Orthodox Jews, or Indian Hindus, etc. etc. But it’s extremely important that the series instead chooses to normalize a family of darker-skinned Muslims, as they have been such a persecuted group in the Western world lately. Realizing that a group different from your own is, in fact, simply human Just Like You is the first step in encouraging empathy and in changing attitudes, and Ms. Marvel does a great job with that. Now, I’m not Muslim, nor do I know an awful lot about Islam. I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian with a priest for a father, and I grew up hearing some very Islamophobic opinions from him. It took me a long time to get over that, but it wasn’t until reading Ms. Marvel that I realized that Orthodox Christians and Muslims might actually have a lot more in common than I thought. It’s also just lovely to have representation of a religious character in comics, in which faith is organically woven into the story without being preachy or just surface-level!

Note that I’ve only read through the latest trade paperback of the series (Volume 6, up to issue #12 of the current run). But Saika tells me these points still hold for the latest issues. Mild spoilers up to my current stopping point below!

MsMarvel2015cover1

(via Marvel)

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Trailer Tuesdays: Thor: Ragnarok

We’re lucky enough to be getting three MCU movies this year, even if I was a bit underwhelmed by the first one. The casting news about Thor: Ragnarok had me pretty hyped for this movie, but now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m only about 40% hype. The remaining 60% is confusion.

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Fanfiction Fridays: The Chilling Crimes of Chinchilla Chick by Traincat

Squirrel Girl! @unbeatablesg
WHO EATS NUTS KICKS BUTTS AND JUST KISSED THE RADDEST ROOMMATE EVER idk but i bet she’s super cool and finished all her homework

Squirrel Girl! @unbeatablesg
LIKE A CHAMP #eatsnutskicksbutts #andassignments

Nancy W @sewwiththeflo
So glad Mew approves of my new relationship. That would’ve been awkward. #neithersinglenorreadytomingle

Squirrel Girl! @unbeatablesg
@sewwiththeflo Hahaha but it would’ve worked out anyway right Nancy

Squirrel Girl! @unbeatablesg
@sewwiththeflo Nancy?

Squirrel Girl! @unbeatablesg
@sewwiththeflo NANCY

Squirrel Girl! @unbeatablesg
@starkmantony aw you ol’ softie you! thanks for the edible arrangement!

Tony Stark @starkmantony
@unbeatablesg Don’t mention it. Really.

Squirrel Girl! @unbeatablesg
@starkmantony could’ve used more nuts, though

Tony Stark @starkmantony
@unbeatablesg What did I just say?

The first time Nancy kissed Doreen she tasted like acorn buttercream and New York City grit. Nancy had never thought of that as a winning combination, but somehow Doreen made it work. She also dipped Nancy, because Doreen kissed like she did everything else: with 300% enthusiasm and like she’d learned it off a pack of trading cards written by a maniac in a full-face mask.

The Chilling Crimes of Chinchilla Chick may not be an actual canonical Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comic, but it’s pretty much the next best thing. Actually, it’s got femslash, so it’s inherently better. Let’s do this.

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Magical Mondays: “The Smartest There Is” Takes on Magic

The recently concluded arc of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, “The Smartest There Is”, opened on nine-year-old protagonist Lunella Lafayette learning that, thanks to her results on a test created by Bruce Banner, she is the smartest person. Not the smartest kid, or the smartest girl, or the smartest human, or the smartest being on Earth; she’s flat out “the smartest there is”, hence the name of the arc. The other people on the list (mostly adult men) are a bit salty about a little Black girl from the Lower East Side stealing their thunder, but none more so than one Victor Von Doom.

Doom sends robots to attack Lunella, and they’re unlike anything she’s fought before. Namely, they’re powered by Doom’s magic rather than by some kind of quantifiable science. So what does the smartest there is do when faced with something that defies scientific understanding? Attempt to explain it scientifically anyway.

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My Mom Doesn’t Know “Mr. Blue Sky” and Other Things I Had Feelings About During Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Well, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 sure was a thing I watched.

I should start with a positive, right? It had a great soundtrack. (Although I was shocked to discover that I recognized some of the songs and my music aficionado mom did not.)

Also, I’d definitely argue that it was better than its predecessor. If you’ll recall my review, I left Vol. 1 deeply disappointed, and I felt like this movie offered a lot of the character beats and emotional high notes that I wished the first film had hit. It also improved the representation on the team by giving us the first MCU team-up with some semblance of gender parity.

That said, I’m not sure what this story adds to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe worldbuilding, and being a band-aid for the previous film’s issues isn’t necessarily a good look for a sequel.

Spoilers after the jump!

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Oh, My Pop Culture Deities: It’s Tough to Be a God

You’d think that a comic based on an actual god figure from real-world mythology would be rife with potential for this column, but most of the time The Mighty Thor, which stars the new Jane Foster iteration of the character, doesn’t actually deal with much that could be considered theological in nature. However, the last three or so months’ worth of issues (#15-17, to be specific) have featured a very interesting conflict that gets at a meaty question. What does it mean to be a god? More specifically, does ultimate cosmic power come with a responsibility to one’s worshippers? How ought gods prove their power to their followers? This conflict is addressed through a competition that is both fascinating and horrifying.

(via the Marvel wikia)

Spoilers for the aforementioned issues below the jump.

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Black Panther: World of Wakanda Rocks My World

world-of-wakanda-cover

via Marvel

Way back at SDCC when Marvel announced Black Panther: World of Wakanda, a comic spinning off of the popular and critically acclaimed new Black Panther ongoing comic, I was immediately pretty hyped. Then it was revealed that the major focus of the comic would be the history of Ayo and Aneka, the badass former Dora Milaje duo who fell in love and rebelled against what they saw as T’Challa’s misguided rule. Then it was announced that the series would be penned by queer Black feminist Roxane Gay, and my hype levels skyrocketed to unchartable levels. Add in an additional story co-written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Pittsburgh poet Yona Harvey, and you have a recipe for my money.

The first issue in the new ongoing series was finally released last week, and it was everything I hoped it would be.

Spoilers for the first issue below!

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