Monday, June 16, 2014
SAY HELLO TO KAMALA KHAN
I don't like zombie movies. It's not the creepiness or the guts and gore. As I stated in my post on The Hunger Games (http://storiesaresignposts.blogspot.com/2012/12/what-makes-heroine.html), they reinforce and encourage the us-against-them mentality. There's no dealing with zombies (and a lot of video game enemies), no negotiation, no common ground. It makes it easier for the edgers who hold the power in society to get otherwise peaceable people to kill their enemies if they can paint the enemies as less than human. Once you realize that "they" are people like you, it can be harder to kill a fellow human being.
That's why books like the ones I'm reviewing today are so important. Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel PERSEOPLIS (also an animated film) show the recent history of Iran and its political issues through the eyes of Marjane as a young girl. She shows how she felt when, overnight, the boys and the girls in her school were segregated into seperate classes and head scarves were made mandatory for the girls. She later experiences the horrors of death, destruction and injustice personally, all the while maintaining her love for freedom and western culture (denim jackets, Iron Maiden and Michael Jackson).
PERSIA BLUES by Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman is a young adult graphic novel with a similar theme of daily life in Iran, interspersed with the adventures of the heroine's alter ego, a sort of female Conan in ancient Persia.
I've mentioned THE 99 in previous posts (http://storiesaresignposts.blogspot.com/2007/12/in-city-of-all-faiths.html). This wonderful series of comics involves super-powered people from all over the world, but Dr Naif Al-Mutawa created their powers based on the 99 attributes of Allah. The series has them working together for good, despite their differences. Unfortunately THE 99 is no longer published as paper comic books, but they are available as online comics (http://www.the99.org/)
Marvel's new title MS MARVEL may be the most important of this kind of storytelling. Marvel is a major force in comics, movies and TV. It gets more attention. The new Ms Marvel is Kamala Khan, a Pakistani muslim girl living with her family in Jersey City. Her origin is tied to Marvel's Inhumans, Avengers and Captain Marvel titles, so she's hard to ignore if you're a Marvel universe fan. And it's a fun read. Her parents are strictly religious, but Kamala is into normal teenage girl pursuits: parties, texting, being popular, and she's a huge Avengers fan. When she gains shapeshifting powers from the Inhumans' Terrigen Mist, she makes herself a super hero, but it's not the powers or the heroics that are important here. Like the other books, it reveals that, muslim or no, her wants and dreams are no different from anybody else's. Getting readers, especially young readers, to see this is what we need to save the world.
"I believe in my neighbors.
I know their faults and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults." - Robert A Heinlein,