Saturday, September 1, 2012

God's Justice

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"God's Justice" from Azrael vol.2 #5 (DC, 2010) by Fabian Nicieza, Ramon Bachs and John Stanisci

The Battle for the Cowl event introduced a new Azrael in Azrael: Death's Dark Knight, which led Michael Lane to get his own series, running through to the reboot (18 issues). Lane is an ex-cop who was turned into out of the Batmen in Batman RIP, seeking salvation by wearing the haunted Azrael armor. He's also another African-American superhero who, uncomfortably, wears a full-face mask so that you'd never know if from looking at a cover. For some reason, there's a lot of that going around. Is it just me? Anyway, from what I read of this Azrael series, it had heavy supernatural elements and dark, creepy art. However, it soon became clear it was steeped in the Azrael mythology of the previous series, which I really wasn't invested in.

8 comments:

  1. Great post, short but informative. The series could have been good, it had all the elements even though some (ex cop) have been beat to death.

    They hid his face so White people would give it a try. The mask and armor was done so well though it wasn't a problem. What killed the book is that it wasn't about Azrael the individual hero who vanquishes evil doers. It was bogged down with supporting characters and previous mythology in front of the so called protagonist.

    The book was afraid, like most other books to focus on a non-white character without being scared of backlash. I'm pro people staight up, all people. One day people are going to become bigger than their ism's.

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  2. Of course, we can't prove that this sort of racism is behind these decisions, but it seems to me that comics are largely tone deaf when it comes to gender and race issues. Any time someone brings it up, Editorial goes "you're reading too much into it" and "I just don't see it". Just look at the new dark-skinned, Muslim(?) Green Lantern they're about to introduce. For some reason, he wears a ski mask and a gun. What are they trying to say? Or indeed, why are they not seeing what they're actually saying with that image?

    Even if it's not done consciously (which I'm not accusing anyone of doing), it's still really disturbing.

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    1. This was a nice politically correct response. For some reason he wears a mask, why? He carries a gun but has a power ring, why?

      Why are they not seeing what they're actually saying, "that is the question".

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    2. Well, I'm not about to imply that people I've never met are doing it out of malice, or even that they have a subconscious racism that comes out in the work.

      What I AM prepared to say, based on years of media and public relations experience, is that no one is questioning these design decisions. No one is asking how it LOOKS or if it might be offensive. No one is using a gender and race filter on the work. If you're not even asking the question, you can't see the problem. And so we have comics filled with white faces, even in the crowd, or black men presented as dangerous hoodlums, or women as sex objects and nothing else. Editorial has the perfectly WRONG reaction when readers ask this type of questions. "You the reader are mistaken. Please don't call our creators sexist or racist. You are over-sensitive." Or worse "comics starring minorities don't sell." Never mind that they should have asked those questions UP FRONT before the product ever got to the reader, their defensiveness and refusal to acknowledge their insensitivity is what I find offensive.

      (Context: I'm a straight white male, but a member of an ethic/linguistic minority. I know what it's like to be shouted at by a car for having a certain school bag, or to get impatient service for "not speaking white", but I can't possibly fully understand what it's like to be a so-called visible minority, or how one's lack of portrayal in media would feel.)

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  3. I had been meaning to email you over t your Blog of Geekery re: Old52 choices. THE AMERICAN WAY was a WildStorm imprint from 2007, and it reads much better as the 8-issue trade.

    Set in 1961-2, there is a group of Northern heroes and Southern heroes, some born with powers, others genetically amplified. The black man behind the mask is The New American, but there is so, so much goodness to this book that takes place just at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement.

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    1. I'm going to check for this, the new American sounds good.

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  4. Oh, and Kurt Busiek pulled off a great thing in ASTRO CITY with Jack-In-The-Box being black, not just because of the clown paint instead of full-on mask, but because it wasn't a Huge Revelation and wasn't even mentioned except during his home life and even then it was about 15-16 issues in.

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    1. Jack in the Box was a great character and a revolutionary move if you ask me. Black Manta is in the same vein being a good bad guy or a bad good guy and African American. That's if he's done correctly. Infidel was another one that was a superior character and he came about on accident.

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