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)

Continue reading

Sexualized Saturdays: The Gender Politics of Ladycastle

The four issue run of Ladycastle, a limited series from Boom Comics, recently came to an end. The premise of the series was intriguing: after almost all the men of a castle in a fantasy land are killed while out on crusade, the women are left to seize power and agency for themselves for the first time. I thought the idea sounded interesting, and, as always, am enthusiastic about supporting comics stories about women by women, so I eagerly dove in.

The series tackles a number of gendered issues over the course of the story, from the traditional devaluation of femininity to accusations of misandry to challenging socialized behaviors. Ultimately, though, the story bit off more issues than four issues could chew. While it tried to say and do a lot of things, the matriarchy it attempted to sell me never really swept me off my feet.

Continue reading

A Locke & Key Vol. #1 Review: In Which I Ponder My Credentials as a Comics Fan

(via wikipedia)

One of the hottest comics when I got into the medium was Locke & Key, written by horror author Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. At the time (about four years ago now), it was far enough along in its run that it would have been silly verging on impossible to attempt to find single issues, so when I came into a gift card, I bought the first trade. From the slew of awards it had won or at least been nominated for, and the strong recommendations from both friends and comics personalities whose opinions I trusted, I started to read it expecting to have my socks knocked clean off… and never finished it. This week, it caught my eye from between my Sandmans and my DC Bombshells on the shelf, and I figured, welp, might as well try again.

Time and distance, apparently, do not make the heart grow fonder. Maybe I have bad taste in comics, but I have no idea how this won an Eisner or anything else. Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft did absolutely nothing for me.

Spoilers for the first volume after the jump!

Continue reading

Into The Woods Vol. 1

I need very little motivation to give a recommended new book a try. Sometimes it’s the plot concept that grabs me; more often than not, someone just says “it has queer people in it” and that’s enough for me. (I’ve ended up trying some terrible books this way; LGBTQ+ representation and quality are not mutually guaranteed.) Combining an author I already know I love with the promise of queer representation, though, is a no-brainer for my ever-growing to-read list. So when I saw that James Tynion IV had written a comic series I’d somehow never heard of, and that it came highly recommended by Bisexual Books, I obviously had to check it out.

Vague spoilers for Vol. 1 of The Woods below the jump.

Continue reading

Dept. H: You’re Smarter Than Me If You Realized That Looks Like “Depth”

I really need to cut back on my comics. Lately I’ve been scooping up series after series that have been recommended to me by the one guy at my shop, and it’s starting to get a little out of hand. There’s so much good stuff out there, though! From the feel-good roller derby shenanigans of Slam to the artsy and weird world of The Electric Sublime, comics continue to do cool things.

This recommendation spree began with an indie series called Dept. H, which was recommended to me based on my interest in unique art styles like Christian Ward’s in ODY-C. I wasn’t actually in the market for new books at the time—comics cost money—but the premise and art style were so intriguing that I decided to give it a look anyway. And now, at the risk of making some kind of terrible ocean/fish-based pun, I’m hooked.

Some vague spoilers for the series so far (through issue #9) below the jump.

Continue reading

Web Crush Wednesdays: Superheroes in Full Color

As we Americans slog on toward Thanksgiving, it sometimes feels like there isn’t a whole lot to be thankful for this year, what with politics, celebrity deaths, and natural disasters coming one after the other in one big avalanche of awful. Even though Tumblr is often not great as well, I tend to use my malfunctioning blue hellscape of a dashboard as a handy mental escape, particularly this month. So today, I’d like to rec a site I’ve followed on Tumblr for a long time called Superheroes in Full Color.

webcrush picThough we often bemoan the lack of characters of color and works created by people of color in our mainstream media, the fact remains that the content we seek is likely out there somewhere, just sorely under-hyped. Our major franchises are things like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, all universes created by white people and all of which feature few, if any, characters of color. So if you’re the type of person who wants to read a more diverse, inclusive story, where should you start looking for this type of content? Today’s web crush is going to be a handy resource for you.

Continue reading

Dom Reads: Hyper Force Neo

Dear readers, I cannot stress the importance of conventions enough, as I still have comics from New York Comic Con to talk about! The reason these experiences mean so much to me is that you can simply walk around with the hope that something catches your eye, and Hyper Force Neo definitely fits that bill. The title features a Black main character, a Black author, Jarrett Williams, and an aesthetic that was totally my style (think Steven Universe meets Scott Pilgrim), so I had to give it a shot.

Continue reading