Recently, YA author Laura Moriarty wrote and sent out arcs of a book called American Heart. Its description:
Imagine a United States in which registries and detainment camps for Muslim-Americans are a reality.
Fifteen-year-old Sarah-Mary Williams of Hannibal, Missouri, lives in this world, and though she has strong opinions on almost everything, she isn’t concerned with the internments because she doesn’t know any Muslims. She assumes that everything she reads and sees in the news is true, and that these plans are better for everyone’s safety.
But when she happens upon Sadaf, a Muslim fugitive determined to reach freedom in Canada, Sarah-Mary at first believes she must turn her in. But Sadaf challenges Sarah-Mary’s perceptions of right and wrong, and instead Sarah-Mary decides, with growing conviction, to do all she can to help Sadaf escape.
The two set off on a desperate journey, hitchhiking through the heart of an America that is at times courageous and kind, but always full of tension and danger for anyone deemed suspicious.
Basically a story about how Muslims are people too and rounding people up in camps is a bad thing, probably handled with all of the nuance and subtlety of Margaret Haddix’s cheesy Among the Hidden series. Not really my kind of thing, probably written as a genuine and heart-felt progressive kumbaya from a well-intentioned liberal YA writer.
Unfortunately, it was less-than-well received by certain individuals on Goodreads:
It’s easy to laugh about this, because progressives have the tendency to eat their own–you can never be progressive enough to satisfy those more progressive than you. So, “ha-ha, look at the lady who tried to virtue signal and got dog-piled for ‘doing it wrong'”, right? Well, it gets more complicated than that.
Moriarty had submitted her book for a Kirkus review, a site that will write reviews for authors on a for-pay basis. Now, paid reviews are sketchy as it is, but this is gonna take the cake!
Originally, Kirkus gave a positive review for Moriarty’s book. It was apparently even reviewed by a Muslim woman who “is an expert in children’s &YA literature and well-versed in the dangers of white savior narratives”, and “she found that American Heart offers a useful warning about the direction we’re headed in as far as racial enmity is concerned.”
So, ironically, Kirkus has chosen to silence a Muslim woman because people disagreed with her review. They’ve backpedaled and thrown up this new review calling the book problematic.
Here’s the thing about reviews. Reviews are always going to be subjective. They are the opinion of the reviewer giving the review based on their experiences, prejudices and believes as they make contact with the content they’re reviewing. So, yeah, even ‘fuck muh whiteness!’ up there is perfectly entitled to her review and I don’t have any real problem with it. But if you’re a review site whose sole purpose is, well, reviewing stuff, then you need to stand by reviewers’ reviews. You may feel like you need to say, as an editor, “I don’t necessarily agree with what this reviewer said,” but to pull down a review and take it out to the woodshed because people have different opinions from the reviewer means that you should probably get out of the reviewing business because your credibility is shot.
Spent a lot of the weekend reading a backlog of comics I’d gotten across various Christmases and birthdays and made a lot of headway.
I’ve got to say, I’ve actually really been enjoying the Final Crisis era Batman stories, particularly the Dick/Damien pairing (shades of Prodigal?), but I’ve got to say, the continuity of it is damnably confounding.
I’d known that Batman “died” in Final Crisis and that he would eventually pop back up and launch Batman, Inc., but when the story is being told across several titles, including special series and new titles, and collected in trades that don’t give any indication of reading order, it’s been a hassle figuring out which books to read. Sometimes Bruce’s dead, sometimes he’s back, sometimes he’s back but not really back… Early on, it also took me a bit in some of the books to go “Oh, okay, this is Dick”, because for some reason Dick Grayson gets drawn a lot like Bruce Wayne did in the 90s (sickly Dustin Hoffman from Midnight Cowboy).
The Batman & Robin series that picks up after Battle for the Cowl was really good. Trade-mark dark Grant Morrison, sure, but it’s the “good” Grant Morrison. While he’s probably my second favorite Bat writer after Dixon, the pendulum swings wide: when he’s on, he’s on, but there’s always the chance that he’ll churn out some absolutely muddled non-sense that’s damn near impossible to figure out what’s going on. And he’s on for Batman & Robin. Last Rites and Time and the Batman are a damn mess, but that’s probably because they’re respectively tacked on to a trade out of continuity or isolated from the story that would give it the context needed for them to make sense as anything but a fever dream of random Batman panels.
I also enjoy some of the arcs in the mainline titles featuring the Dick/Damian team, like the story of Vicki Vale trying to piece together the connections for her big expose on the Bat Family and the Road Home event that ties into those. Except the thing that bugs me is that they have so many overlapping and intersecting storylines that only some of them make sense.
Everything is building up to Bruce’s dramatic return from TimeTM. The main Batman books do a slow-burn story, working in some of the major threads but with the missing Bruce as a haunting spectre. The Batman & Robin book works on those same threads but in a much more serial manner, with Bruce’s absence becoming ever more pressing as the Black Glove and Joker are both fighting over Wayne’s legacy in their own ways until Batman 1.0 showing up at the last minute is a matter of life and death. Which doesn’t exactly jibe with a Bruce Wayne who has time to dick around subtly and not-so-subtly testing members of the Bat Family around the world while Dr. Hurt is in Gotham pretending to be Thomas Wayne, slandering Bruce as a deviant lunatic, and trying to murder everybody with cultists.
The storylines are good on their own, and I’m interested to see where the Vicki Vale one goes (if it goes anywhere), but when taken as a whole, they are a damn mess as far as any sort of continuity is concerned. I think I’m a few arcs away from covering everything I’m interested in from this period, and will be glad to be going back to the Pre-Knightfall stuff, mostly out of Legends of the Dark Knight.
About 8 years minus two weeks ago, this was on the turntable at Shaxul Records. I bought it then and there.
I’ve been binging a bit on comics lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that, whenever I can help it, I’ll go for the single-issues over trade paperbacks.
On one hand, it’s an economic issue. Oddly enough, buying a full run of individual issues is generally cheaper than trades—you can get a six issue run of something for about $6, while unless you can score a really good deal on it, a trade of the same run will go for around $10-$20.
The real reason, though, is I love seeing the ads and reading the letters columns, getting a glimpse back at pop-culture and fandom from yesteryear (probably something I’ve picked up on from going through my stack of pulps).
>Some really creepy fanboying for Tim Drake Robin in the letters sections
>Really bad, ham-fisted AIDS PSA
>Some people really excited to buy almost half a dozen variants of the same issue
>Some people really mad about obvious and cynical short term cashing in via half a dozen variants of the same issue
>Editor of DC admitting as early as 92 that with the millions of copies being printed, the collectors’ market was a house of cards, nothing would be worth anything.
Chuck Dixon’s Robin stories are good enough to make me real fan of the character, seeing Gotham through the eyes of some characters close to, but not, Batman. Not enough to make me a squeeing Robin Fanboi, but enough to keep an eye out for any of the Robin mini-series.
Still loving the Legends of the Dark Knight stuff. Destiny makes me hope that there are more stories about Old Norse “Bat Man” (who is basically a deeply introspective version of Dark Wolf from Fire & Ice). There probably aren’t, though.
As recent as 2015, with the Convergence event, there was a Batman & the Outsiders 2-parter, with Katana in her old costume and Halo with long hair. This makes me optimistic for DC.
Unfortunately, Suicide Squad looks like the Harley Quinn show and Katana still has her garbage New 52 redesign. I’d like to see her on another team away from the Harley Quinn trashfire.
Seriously, I’ll be convinced that Suicide Squad is a trash title so long as Harley’s a part of the team.
I know I’d sworn off DC with the New 52, but I may get back in if I find the right title. Until then, though, so long as this #comicsgate mess is going on, I’ll be supporting my local comic shop by buying back issues of 20 and 30 year old stories I’ve missed out on.
Just so you guys know, there’s a sale going on through Lulu. Our hardcovers are all 30% off if you use the code SAVENOW30.
Still need to get some cover art commissioned for issue 7, but we’ll be doing that soon and pushing out the text to our copy editors. Already gearing up for next year!
To be honest, I’ve been a bit skeptical about the new Alt*Hero comic project. An explicitly “anti-SJW” comic that, from its marketing, is as much about jingoism and anti-globalist politics as it is about superheroes, I’ve rolled my eyes a bit because at a glance it seems like it could be strawman punching, just in the opposite direction of “mainstream” comics.
But I’ve also said that I would love to see an unironic run on a Force of July book that treated those characters as actual heroes, possibly headed by someone like Chuck Dixon.
And today I saw this:
Apparently Chuck Dixon will be doing a multi-issue run on the comic, and suddenly I’m intrigued.