Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
It’s little surprise that the editorial board of the conservative Washington Times didn’t embrace the announcement that the new Ms. Marvel is a 16-year-old Muslim from New Jersey, but the newspaper’s actual response is a bit … bewildering. One might even describe it as eerie.
Beginning a Sunday editorial with a declaration that “diversity and quotas are more important than dispatching evil” — because, as we all know, heroes can’t be diverse and fight villains! — the writer engages in a little concern trolling, warning that Ms. Marvel, and by extension Marvel, will have to be careful not to anger “militant Islam” if there’s any hope for newsstand sales in Muslim nations. Of course we’re told in the very next paragraph that, “Ms. Marvel probably won’t appear in comic books in Saudi Arabia, anyway,” which apparently takes care of that problem.
Once we slog through the bumbling writing and odd aside involving Secretary of State Kerry, however, we arrive at the crux of the Washington Times’ argument, such as it is: that diversity is strange and frightening.
Here, let the newspaper explain: “Marvel Comics insists that it won’t evangelize for Islam, but the comic book industry promotes eerie lifestyles. DC Comics‘ venerable Green Lantern came out as homosexual in June 2012, about five months after the Archie Comics’ character Kevin Keller wed his black ‘boyfriend.’ DC’s Batwoman, a lesbian, was not so fortunate. Her writers quit in protest in September after the publishers told them Batwoman could never marry. This is odd, because a lot of fans have been trying for years to figure out the exact relationship between Batman and Robin.”
In case you’re playing along at home, the newspaper in the course of one paragraph: labeled homosexuality as “eerie”; felt the need to use scare quotes around boyfriend, and single out the race of Kevin Keller’s future husband; and dig up that chestnut about Batman and Robin. Who had the trifecta?
The editorial saves the best — or, rather, the “best” — for last, though, by tossing out what one could only presume is an inter-company crossover in which the decidedly adult Batwoman marries the 16-year-old Ms. Marvel. Now that’s class.