Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mister Fanboy Comics Commentary: Sabra Solo Series Petition

Mister Fanboy Comics us for what will undoubtedly be a controversial post.

I wrote this post once, but it disappeared into Cyberland so here's an abbreviated not-as-well-thought-out version.

Today, the Blog At Newsarama posts about an online petition to get Sabra her own solo series. Read the post here. For those unfamiliar with Sabra, she's been primarily a supporting character with the X-books. A quote from the petition says the following:

As you probably know, Israel and the Palestinian authority are in a bloody conflict for the last year and a half.
We believe, that by portraying an Israeli comic character in a series of her own - a character which fight for justice and against intolerance - Marvel Comic Company can contribute for better understanding between the two people, and hopefully to help bringing peace for this troubled region some day.
Furthermore, we believe that Sabra is one of the most important female character in the comics scene today.

So let's analyze the above, shall we. For one, the Israelis have been battling the Palestinians in the Second Intifada (which I think translates as uprising) for about 5 years now. But, in all fairness, I don't know how old the petition is.

I seriously doubt that Sabra could sustain the sales necessary to justify a solo book. Sorry, but I don't see ihappeningng. Kitty Pryde of the X-Men is a much more popular Jewish character (albeit American and not Israeli) and she couldn't sustain her own solo series. A Sabra solo-led mini-series? I could see thahappeningng. As a member of a team book? Even better.

If the petition is at least five years old and they've had only 200+ signers, then that speaks volumes about the popularity of the character since folks sign web petitions for just about anything without so much as a second thought.

The petitioners want her to fight discrimination and injustice? That's interesting. I assume that they want to her to fight intolerance against minorities of any kind. Ok. But as a reader, that will get boring after a while, methinks. This month she fights anti-Asian bias and next week what? She defeats a villain who is intolerant against folks with disabilities? I just don't see it.

But wait, do the signers want her to fight against the intolerant enemies of Israel? Well that's something else entirely that inevitably opens up its own Pandora's box. Why? Who is speaking for the Arab Israeli's (of which there are many) who face discrimination in Israel constantly? Will she take down some of the more conservative members of the Likud party (a political party in Israel)? What about the injustices endured by the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians over the last 5 decades, not to mention the Lebanese over the last few weeks. Shouldn't she fight those injustices too?

Yes, I do understand that Israel needs to defend herself/her psyche when attacked but there is a good way to do it (trial) and a bad way (bulldozing the homes of suicide-bombers' families). As an American, I am equally disturbed by the lack of due process that so many of the Guantanamo Bay Base detainees are enduring. I have noticed that all too often in the U.S. that when you criticize the Israeli government, you are branded an anti-semite. That could not be further from the truth in my case. Much like so many in the world that are mad at the U.S. government but not at the American people, I get frustrated with some of the decisions of the Israeli government but don't let it extend to the Israeli public. Feel free to criticize me, but please don't go there. Mel Gibson, on the other hand, spewed hate so turn your ire toward him.

The petitioners also hope that Sabra will bring peace to a troubled region. To me, that is not only naive, but compresses the whole Israel vs. the Muslim world conflict into a farce that can be defeated by a pop-culture icon. (Yes, I do know that repeated exposure by pop-culture of minorities sometimes leads to a wider acceptance of them by the majority. However, that is usually a by-product and not the stated goal of the book or TV program. Take the show Will and Grace for example. It's goal was to make people laugh. If they could affect the outlook of millions towards gays, even better, but that was likely secondary.)

If, on the other hand, we have Sabra and some heretofore unnamed Palestinian superhero saving civilians from extremists on both sides, and fighting the fill-in-your-blank discrimination, I can understand that. But I doubt that even that could sustain itself as an ongoing title. Would the wider-Middle East accept a Muslim fighting with a female Israeli superhero? I don't know.

There is also another issue related to Sabra engaging in combat. Apparently, for somsegmentsts of the Israeli population, that is objectionable since she's a woman. Since I am not Jewish, I don't think I can adequatelexplainin that so please check out the news article link referenced in the Blog At Newsarama article I told you about earlier.

Finally, the petitioners believe that Sabra is one of the most important female comic creators out there. That is laughable in itignorancece of comics. If that's the case, then Elvira is even more important since she's recognized by so many that don't read comics.

Having said all of this, it's not that we think that Sabra couldn't be an interesting character in the right context. Sure, bring her into a team book and let's explore what makes her tick. Make her a member of one of the many X-teams and let's see how it works out. Then let's test the waters for a solo book but not before. It would inevitably disservice the character and send her to lost-character-limbo even longer than she's already been.

Please feel free to comment. I am guessing I've opened up a Pandora's box of mine own.

--Mister Fanboy Comics


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