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CSBG Archive

Comic Critics #163!

Here is the latest installment of the Comic Critics strip, courtesy of Sean Whitmore (writer) and Brandon Hanvey (artist)! You can check out the first hundred and sixty-two strips at the archive here and you can read more about Sean and Brandon at the Comic Critics blog.

Enjoy!

Let us know what you think, either here or at the ComicCritics blog!

33 Comments

The right reaction for Captain America would be “What the hell are you doing with a saxophone?”

That’s a trumpet.

Oops, you’re right. Still, it’s a bit weird.

In this context, I suspect we’re going for “bugle.”

Why is Ash in Cap’s unit?

In this context, I suspect we’re going for “bugle.”

No, it’s a trumpet. I understand why you’d think it’s a bugle because they are often seen in the military, but the character is Gabe Jones, a jazz trumpet player that was part of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos. That’s why his instrument has valves. Bugles have no valves.

Isn’t it unfortunate that Gabe would be the one with musical talents (including ‘ryhthm’)? In fact, the whole Howlin’ Commandos were a series of stereotypes all across the board.

Today, they might have the same skills, but they would have been mixed up. For example, Gabe would be a chess player instead….. and someone else would have been musically-inclined….

In fact, Hollywood would have made one of them gay, just to demonstrate their individuality.

So, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

One of them is already gay, at least according to Stan Lee, who went on record long after the fact to say that Percival “Pinky” Pinkerton was intended to be gay. Of course, it’s just as likely — or more likely — that Stan didn’t decide this until decades after the series ended. In the actual comics, Pinky is, in the brief glimpses of his private life, shown to be a playboy — to the point where, if memory serves, the flash-forward issue #100 shows him actually running a Playboy Club. But he is British, nicknamed Pinky and fights people with a bumbershoot, so perhaps that means he was intended to be gay after all. It’s hard to say.

I laughed. Good one.

I featured that one in Was Superman a Spy?!!!

So, Brian, for those of us that don’t have the book… was Pinky gay?

You should just buy the book. ;) 65 legends not in the column here!

It’s been out for a couple of years now, so it’s cheap! :)

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

[...] Source: Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources [...]

Obviously I haven’t followed the no-doubt-vicious conversation in other forums (or haven’t bothered to see the film), but…Heimdall is black? I must say that definitely wins the contest of “the most obviously token black guy” until they decide to make a movie of Founding Fathers and cast Samuel L Jackson as Thomas Jefferson…

Also kind of odd if people calling that casting decision out are considered racist, when some time ago the movie “Memoirs of the Geisha” was called racist because it had Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters…
And if one wants to make unusual casting decisions, why not go all the way and get Scarlett Johansson to play Thor? Or is misogyny more acceptable? (I also think Johnny Depp would make a great Wonder Woman)

Also kind of odd if people calling that casting decision out are considered racist, when some time ago the movie “Memoirs of the Geisha” was called racist because it had Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters…

Memoirs of a Geisha was only called racist by overly sensitive idiots.

CheeseOnThree

May 26, 2011 at 7:09 am

I think Hogun was Asian in the Thor movie so maybe the movie universe’s Asgard is teeming with different races, kinda like every iteration of Midgard.

Obviously I haven’t followed the no-doubt-vicious conversation in other forums (or haven’t bothered to see the film), but…Heimdall is black? I must say that definitely wins the contest of “the most obviously token black guy” until they decide to make a movie of Founding Fathers and cast Samuel L Jackson as Thomas Jefferson…

Also kind of odd if people calling that casting decision out are considered racist, when some time ago the movie “Memoirs of the Geisha” was called racist because it had Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters…
And if one wants to make unusual casting decisions, why not go all the way and get Scarlett Johansson to play Thor? Or is misogyny more acceptable? (I also think Johnny Depp would make a great Wonder Woman)

What’s funny is people who complain about Heimdall, a Norse god, being black, will gladly watch a ton of movies where Jesus, Moses, and the Virgin Mary, and other Judeo-Christian religious figures, are depicted as white as the driven snow. They’ll go to churches and pray to these blatantly racially incorrect images as well.

It’s even worse with Jesus because Heimdall is not a real person while Jesus was. I’d love for the people with a bug up their ass about black Heimdall to also go online and complain that Jesus in movies and religious imagery should start being depicted more realistically like this:
http://www.scottbradford.us/2010/03/18/what-did-jesus-look-like/

Do a Google image search and look at the most popular depictions of Jesus:

http://www.google.com/search?q=jesus&hl=en&safe=active&client=firefox-a&hs=EiH&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=ivnsb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=a2LeTdnwCcPY0QHfqM3WCg&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CCIQ_AUoAQ&biw=985&bih=589

Many of these are still used in churches today, and are accepted without question still. And suddenly people are sticklers about racial accuracy when it works AGAINST white people?

This might break new levels of nerdity, but if the Norse gods are depicted as watching over the entire world (which seems to be the case if Thor shows up in New Mexico), then they should be represented by the entire world. If they just rule over Norway, then maybe they should be a bunch of tall blondes (but that doesn’t explain why they showed up in the US.)

Given Christian attitudes towards Jews, the only Apostle traditionally depicted as having Jewish features would have been Judas Iscariot.

As to the whole Heimdall complaint: I’m of the mind that it is a superhero fantasy, and so one could argue that in this iteration of the Marvel Universe, Heimdall really is black, but his Norse worshippers, having little or no contact with black people, depicted him as white.

That said, I do feel that in casting for historical dramas, it might not be such a good idea to do racially blind casting, lest anyone come to believe that certain historical milieux were more racially tolerant than they actually were– but Thor isn’t a historical drama.

This was pretty great.

Well, unless one does a documentary with footage of actual people, it is a work of fiction so there is no difference in casting historical characters or norse gods (which as characters are still strongly tied to specific historical period even if they have (probably) never existed as persons…)
Come to think of it, I’m not sure if I have ever watched a movie with Jesus or Virgin Mary (I’ve seen a movie where God was played by Alanis Morrissette though). In religious art characters are closer to symbols who are then just given flesh suitable by the artist and the likely viewers, which means European artists tend to draw more European Jesuses and Virgin Marys, and artists of different origins are welcome to do their own depictions (and several have). If one however decided to make a historical drama about the Gospels, casting a blond blue-eyed Jesus would be wrong.
I doubt Thor is religious art though (if you disagree, I won’t challenge your opinion) but actually closer to a historical drama. And as such a decision to cast a dark-skinned Heimdall needs explanation. Mysterious skin disease? Something in the origin Edda didn’t bother to mention? What?

It’s even worse with Jesus because Heimdall is not a real person while Jesus was.

Maybe. Probably not.

I doubt Thor is religious art though (if you disagree, I won’t challenge your opinion) but actually closer to a historical drama. And as such a decision to cast a dark-skinned Heimdall needs explanation. Mysterious skin disease? Something in the origin Edda didn’t bother to mention? What?

Many of the Jesus biopics count as historical drama more than they do religious stories. There have also been Jesus documentaries where he was portrayed as European, blue eyes and all.

But let’s take your word for it and say that it only happens in religious art but not in historical fiction and documentaries…why exactly is one okay but not the other? Why is it okay to make Jesus lily white in churches, religious imagery, religious movies, etc, but it’s wrong to make Heimdall black in a modern-day historical fiction. What’s the difference in motivation? Both instances are an example of the majority enforcing a falsehood in order to generate a politically correct result. And to religious people, religious art and stories are just as valid or even more so than historical fiction. In fact, many people take it as the truth.

Today it’s politically incorrect for anything good to be portrayed as lily white. Hence enforced diversity in our narratives. Centuries ago until the 20th century, however, it was politically incorrect for anything good to be portrayed as diverse. Hence enforced whitewashing. People were very antisemitic back then and were very tribalist, so they needed a way to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that comes from actively hating and persecuting Jews, yet at the same time worshiping a Jew intensely. The solution was to “de-Jew” Jesus. They made him as white as could be to reflect THEIR current society and make it more palatable to what was their modern culture (they did make sure however to exaggerate the semitic features of the “bad” Jews like Judas and the high priests though. No whitewashing for them). And to this day many Christian people take these images literally, not as “cultural reinterpretations.”

Just like black Heimdall is the politically correct propaganda of today, white Jesus was the politically correct propaganda of its day for centuries. At least with black Heimdall, no one watching really believes there were black Norse gods and knows its just PC casting.

See, my problem (and this is not personally aimed at you AS, just something I notice in general online) with people who complain about black Heimdall is that these exact same people will either keep their mouths shut or tell people to stop bitching when the reverse of tokenism happens in media and something is whitewashed. For example, they’ll complain about black Heimdall, but their whole lives they’ll never complain about white Jesus no matter where he appears, or they’ll rationalize it by claiming somehow there’s an exception for religion. They’ll ignore Jake Gyllenhaal (an American of Jewish-Swedish descent) and Gemma Atherton (a white Brit) playing ancient Iranians in Prince of Persia. Or tell people to stop complaining. Or they’ll tell Asian people they are being too sensitive when they complain about the whole saga of Avatar being whitewashed so that all the good guys who were clearly Asian in the cartoon are cast with Caucasian actors.

That’s my problem with the Heimdall naysayers. If they made these complaints across the board, I’d say more power to them. I’m not a big fan of tokenism myself. It’s just that they take this moral high ground, speaking up against propaganda via racial casting, yet they do it selectively, only when white guys get the shaft from it.

Hehe, not bad.

I don’t get people getting mad about Heimdall. The actor played the role well, and there’s nothing that says the character has to be white.

Here’s some more examples of whitewashing or reverse tokenism, and some of them are from movies that are supposed to be factual biopics to boot:

http://www.asianweek.com/2008/04/07/21-film-ben-mezrich-cards-las-vegas-not-the-first-film-to-%E2%80%98whitewash%E2%80%99-our-history/

In the article, the movie ’21″ about card counters. The original real-life card counters were largely Asian, but were cast as pretty, white CW-style actors. The article gives more examples, like a crusading real life Asian lawyer who got an Asian inmate acquitted for a wrongful conviction. The wrongfully imprisoned Asian guy gets to be played by an Asian actor, the more heroic role of the crusading lawyer that tirelessly worked to get him freed though gets played by James Wood.

There have been some really good arguments here that plan to use to augment my current position of “get over it” when people complain about Idris Alba playing Heimdall. To them, I would like to add that I defy you to find a work written by actual ancient Norsemen that specifies that Heimdall was white. We assume that they pictured him as white because, hey, why wouldn’t a Viking think his gods were all white? But I can guarantee you’re not going to find some ancient runes that translate into “Heimdall was the ever-vigilant guardian of the rainbow-bridge Bifrost and also he was white.”

Personally, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to go out of your way to change the race of a major character, like whenever someone suggests that Serena Williams should play Wonder Woman (which I have seen more than once), despite the fact that Serena can’t act. But after seeing the movie, I can honestly believe that Alba was the best choice for the role. He knocked it out of the park, and had the perfect physicality for the part. I can’t even think of a white actor that I’m confident could have done as well. And that’s all that matters: he was really good.

Being the “right” race should be like being the right hair color, right height, or right age: nice but not a deal-breaker. I would have loved for Wolverine to have been played by a short, middle-aged Canadian, but Hugh Jackman did a great job. If there’d been a white actor who could have played (and was willing to play) the Kingpin as well as Michael Clarke Duncan (say what you will about the movie – he was solid) I’d agree they should have gone with him, but there wasn’t, and it was smart to go with Duncan. It would have been nice to get a naturally red-haired Russian to play Black Widow, but I have no complaints about Scarlett Johansson. If you want Donald Glover to play Spider-Man because you think “it’s time for a black Spider-Man” then you need to rethink your priorites, but if you want him because you can’t think of anyone who’d be better in the role, then I don’t have any problem with that.

So, to sum up: Idris Alba is awesome, Thor was great, Heimdall was fantastic in all his scenes, and the haters need to get a clue.

I repeat my earlier suggestion: Johnny Depp as Wonder Woman. That would be fab.

About religious art vs historical drama, the difference is that the former pursues spiritual truths over naturalistic ones. I don’t think anyone human looks like how Byzantine icon painters painted everyone, and no doubt perspective existed also in Middle Ages.
Also, T, what makes you assume that I had no problems with Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia (well, I haven’t seen that film so I didn’t know he was in it)? I almost always manage to suspend my disbelief on everyone having perfect teeth, but there is a reason why I watch so few Hollywood historical epics…well, expect if they are aesthesized to the level of an unreal fairytale like in 300 (which I correlate to, say, all-female cast doing Oresteia which I have also seen).
And back to the earlier comment…if we accept as current stylistic choice the necessity of a token black guy, does it mean that a film about Founding Fathers should have Samuel L Jackson playing Thomas Jefferson? Because again that would be something I’d want to see.

which I correlate to, say, all-female cast doing Oresteia which I have also seen

Interestingly enough, I accept creative casting when it comes to staging classic plays. Maybe its just that I’m a frequent enough theatre goer that I’ve seen multiple stagings and so I can accept anything unconventional so long as it works on stage.

…and truth to be told, I haven’t ever really cared about Thor comic book either. He’s okay as the strong guy with a hammer in Avengers but if I want to read a comic about Thor, I read the one by Peter Madsen. Or even Neil Gaiman.

There have been some really good arguments here that plan to use to augment my current position of “get over it” when people complain about Idris Alba playing Heimdall. To them, I would like to add that I defy you to find a work written by actual ancient Norsemen that specifies that Heimdall was white. We assume that they pictured him as white because, hey, why wouldn’t a Viking think his gods were all white? But I can guarantee you’re not going to find some ancient runes that translate into “Heimdall was the ever-vigilant guardian of the rainbow-bridge Bifrost and also he was white.”

Personally, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to go out of your way to change the race of a major character, like whenever someone suggests that Serena Williams should play Wonder Woman (which I have seen more than once), despite the fact that Serena can’t act. But after seeing the movie, I can honestly believe that Alba was the best choice for the role. He knocked it out of the park, and had the perfect physicality for the part. I can’t even think of a white actor that I’m confident could have done as well. And that’s all that matters: he was really good.

Being the “right” race should be like being the right hair color, right height, or right age: nice but not a deal-breaker. I would have loved for Wolverine to have been played by a short, middle-aged Canadian, but Hugh Jackman did a great job. If there’d been a white actor who could have played (and was willing to play) the Kingpin as well as Michael Clarke Duncan (say what you will about the movie – he was solid) I’d agree they should have gone with him, but there wasn’t, and it was smart to go with Duncan. It would have been nice to get a naturally red-haired Russian to play Black Widow, but I have no complaints about Scarlett Johansson. If you want Donald Glover to play Spider-Man because you think “it’s time for a black Spider-Man” then you need to rethink your priorites, but if you want him because you can’t think of anyone who’d be better in the role, then I don’t have any problem with that.

So, to sum up: Idris Alba is awesome, Thor was great, Heimdall was fantastic in all his scenes, and the haters need to get a clue.

I agree with all of that pretty much 100% – though I wasn’t so impressed with Michael Clark Duncan as Kingpin. Physically he was perfect for the role, but he was too chirpy. He completely lacked Fisk’s intensity.

This is the first one that’s made me laugh out loud in a while….

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