Thursday, July 28, 2011

The story of Rayhan Mazin


Of course, once again, I am late on informing you all of an interesting story! I just recently caught up on my issues of Power Girl and was surprised to read a really great two-issue story arc involving a super-powered individual named Rayhan Mazin. He is very unusual because he's one of the few Muslim-Americans I've ever seen presented in a comic-book. He is from the fictional country of Qurac, and had never used his powers because he feared what people might think of a super-powered person of Middle Eastern descent in America. Basically, the story is about how exactly right he was!

The story starts six months ago when he is on a plane that is about to crash. Knowing how it might look to the other passengers, he decides to use his power (of controlling the weather) to lift the plane up and prevent it from crashing by increasing the wind speed. Unbeknownst to him, Power Girl and Batman have arrived on the scene to be heroes. So, when the plane lands, everyone blames him and we see him cuffed and scurried away.

The next scenes in the book deal with him being constantly interrogated and being denied contact with any friends, family or even a lawyer. Through the whole situation he keeps thinking that if he just keeps cooperating, they will eventually realize that he is not some kind of terrorist and that they will just let him go. They don't; and to make matters worse, he finds out that his father is dying of cancer and they won't even let him visit him in the hospital. That proves to be the last straw and he decides to breakout. (He had the power to do that all-along)!

This is where Power Girl and Batman jump back in the story because they have been asked to capture him. Telling more would be ruining the ending, so I'll stop here. But, this was an obviously great story that's a current reflection on U.S. policy and the way people of Middle Eastern descent are treated in this country. The ending was a little rushed, but still a nicely-written story by Judd Winnick. I strongly recommend you look for Power Girl #24-#25 in your local comic-book shop.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tom Morello Writes a Comic Book

Last weekend, at the annual San Diego Comic-Con International, (the biggest pop-culture event in the world), Rage Against the Machine guitarist, Tom Morello, announced that Dark Horse Comics will be publishing a comic-book that he is writing.

The 12-issue series, “Orchid,” (which has an October 12 release date for its first issue), is said to be about a “16-year-old street prostitute who learns that she is more than the role society has imposed upon her.” The synopsis that has been circulating on the Internet says:

“When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed. Human settlements are now ringed by a dense wilderness from which ferocious new animal species prey on the helpless. The high ground belongs to the rich and powerful that overlook swampland shantytowns from their fortress-like cities. Iron-fisted rule ensures order and allows the wealthy to harvest the poor as slaves. This is the world of Orchid.”

What is exciting to me, as a Communist, is that Morello will definitely inject some class-consciousness into his story. In a recent article he said, “It’s like Lord of the Rings meets Battle of Algiers…I wanted to craft a story that has the same visceral impact and political clout as the music I’ve been involved in.”

Other people are also excited that Morello is also providing music for the book as well! He told Rolling Stone, "When you buy the comic book you’re going to get a free song, which is the musical score for that issue. Over the 12-issue arch of the story, there will be 12 musical pieces that make a complete musical score for it."

There is already some buzz on the net about this book: Click HERE for a look at some of the cover and interior art; Go HERE for more information on the Shepard Fairey variant cover; and check out this VIDEO where Morello talks about this project and also reveals his previously unknown comic-book geek history, including how he collected thousands of comics!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black Panther vs Hate-Monger

In my last blog I informed you about a superhero battling Christian Fundamentalists. Today, a quick summary about a comic-book that came out last Wednesday, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #521. I've talked about the Panther dealing with racism in a previous post, and here he does it again; although, this time, it is straight-up racism, because the Super-villain is the new Hate-Monger.

As a comic-book character, the Hate-Monger has been around the Marvel universe since 1963, (originally he was a clone of Hitler)! This new version happens to be an average White U.S. citizen who just really hates foreigners. Throughout the first half of the book, (going back a year in this guy's life), we see how he losses his job, starts reading racist literature, shares his anti-immigrant beliefs on the Internet and on the street to anyone who will listen to him and then turns to a life of petty crime to "fund his revenge" because he blames immigrants for everything bad in his life.

Then, all of a sudden, he is given some kind of mystical power from some powerful being that has just landed from somewhere in the sky. (Yeah, I know). Anyway, besides a very silly and clumsily-written scene with a cop, the story was getting pretty good before the issue ended. The issue was written by David Liss, with art by Francesco Francavilla, and is available at your local comic-book store now. The next issue is expected to be in stores sometime in August.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Green Arrow vs Christian Fundamentalists

The bad thing about having a lot of different things to do is that often times I don't a chance to read my comic-books until weeks after everyone else has, so I'm constantly catching-up. The worst part is when I'm late on discovering interesting things like this current issue of Green Arrow, (which went on sale June 22).

I wanted to bring it to your attention because in this issue, Green Arrow is up against some Christian Fundamentalists extremists who are using "high-tech equipment." Near the beginning of the issue we meet Federal Marshal Haley Donovan who has recruited Green Arrow to help them transfer a prisoner, the Reverend Billy Miggs. Green Arrow, being the bleeding-heart liberal that he is, knows the Reverend as the head of a church called, "The Southern Order of Change." Donovan says, "Yup. Except it's not a church anymore. Two months ago, my office classified it as a militia. A couple of days ago, they became terrorists."

Apparently, the Reverend and his followers killed nine people when he "orchestrated the simultaneous attack of several organizations that he targeted as 'sinful.'" What they don't tell us, but what is very clear, is that one of the "organizations" that was targeted was an abortion clinic! In fact, the very first page of the story, is composed of four panels, in which the first three, we see a young woman and a doctor talking about medical history. Then, all of a sudden, there is an explosion in the last panel. It is not until about four pages later that we can piece together how that first page fits into the rest of the story. I find it pretty interesting, although not unusual, that they just couldn't say that the Reverend was blowing up abortion clinics and killing doctors because that is what these extremists right-winger types do!

Anyway, when I last left Green Arrow, he was not doing so well. He has a hell of a fight coming at him next issue, which should be out July 27. Stay tuned, or better yet, get the issue yourself when it comes out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dwayne McDuffie tribute censored

Dwayne McDuffie, was known in the comic book community for writing some great episodes of Justice League, Teen Titans, Ben 10: Alien Force and other cartoons; and also for co-creating and being the Story Editor on the Emmy-Award winning animated series, Static Shock, which might just be the first cartoon series with a black superhero as the main protagonist. McDuffie, who's last big project was writing the script for DC's All-Star Superman animated feature, was so good that he was nominated for various awards in the animation and comic-book industry.

McDuffie was also known for being outspoken! Like many other comic-book-loving-minorities, (such as myself), Dwayne was bothered by the lack of people of color, not only inside the pages of comic books, but in the comic book industry itself. This lead him to being one of the co-founders of Milestone Media in 1993, which launched several comic book titles written by a coalition of Black writers and artists.

Earlier this year, McDuffie passed away, just a bit after celebrating his 49th birthday. The biggest comic book convention in the world, the San Diego International Comic Con is set to print tributes to McDuffie in its annual program this month. But, it has come to light that one tribute won't be printed. On the Dwayne McDuffie website forums, his good friend and collaborator, Matt Wayne, informed the world that the tribute he had written won't be printed. Below is his explanation:

"Comic-Con International is printing tributes to Dwayne in the San Diego Comic-Con program this year, and they approached me to write one. What I came back with was my sincere feelings, and something that I feel the industry needs to understand about itself: Dwayne should have been running the comics business, and instead he was barely tolerated.

"I ran my tribute past Dwayne's wife before I sent it, and she dubbed it 'perfect.' But the people at Comic-Con asked me to change it, and I decided to just let it go. I'm worried that Dwayne is going to be the industry's 'proof' that we're all post-racial and chummy, now that they can't be embarrassed into hiring him anymore, and I don't want to contribute to that absurd but inevitable narrative."

To read Wayne's tribute, click here: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Feliz cumpleaños, Frida!


There's way better pictures of Frida out there on the Internet, but this one is one of my favorites.

Have you guys ever been to Frida's House; "The Blue House" (La Casa Azul) in Coyoacán, Mexico City? That is where her life began and ended. (Her daddy built it back in 1907 and she died there on July 13, 1954, a few days after turning 47). When I went to Mexico City, shortly after graduating from high school, I made sure that it would be one of my stops. My greatest joy was being able to see this unfinished painting she had started of Mao Tse-Tung.

Do you have any cool Frida stories; know any good web-sites; have a favorite quote; or have any awesome merchandise with Frida's picture on it? (I have little Frida and Diego fridge magnets at home). Leave a cool comment and I might just gift you one of my Frida books!

BTW, here's a web-site that lists all of Frida's paintings by year!