September 15, 2012 by Ish
Julia and I began this blog with two goals in mind, exploring geek culture from the perspective of our right-wing politics and exploring right-wing politics from the perspective of nerds. Today shows us a fine example of why we need to have actual nerds covering nerd issues: PJ Media is trying to cover comic books.
Now, look, I love PJ Media. Instapundit is pretty much my first stop every morning on the internet, the last site I look at before going to sleep at night, and I visit it probably a dozen times randomly during the day. I read almost all the articles that appear on the main PJ Media site. I adore Andrew Klavan, stand in awe of Stephen Green, and confess to something of a man-crush on AlfonZo Rachel. In my opinion, Bill Whittle is pretty much a demigod… but, frankly, I doubt any of these folks have touched a comic book since grade school.
So this report on DC Comic’s newest character to bear the name and powers of the Green Lantern are, on the surface, correct… they jump to some odd conclusions and make a lot of assumptions based on scant evidence. Green Lantern Vol 5 #0 will be the debut of Simon Baz, a Lebanese-American from Dearborn, Michigan. According to pre-release interviews with the Detroit Free Press, main themes of Simon Baz’s story will be “taking responsibility for the decisions [you have] made.” Radical stuff for a comic book, eh?
Robert Spencer, author of this terrible review at PJ Media, gets a few things right in his piece, gets many things wrong, and fails to mention several important bits of information.
He is right that DC Comics will soon be introducing Simon Baz as the new Green Lantern. Simon Baz is going to be a Muslim. Simon Baz is going to be from Dearborn (a real place, with one of the highest concentrations of Arab-Americans in the US… I live about three minutes away from there). A major part of Simon Baz’s background history will be the events of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath. But, even as Robert Spencer gets these facts right, he is doing his readers a disservice, I’ll get to that in a minute…
Robert Spencer gets many, many things wrong about how the comic books work and the character of Green Lantern in particular. Asking about “death rays” or speculating about how he “develops his super powers.” It should be pretty clear even to a casual comic book fan that Spencer’s never bothered to so much as see 2011’s Green Lantern film, let alone read an issue of the comic book. Which is perhaps the ultimate disservice Spencer does to his readers…
I said before that Spencer fails to mention several important bits of information to his readers, and I think this is the most clear and obvious one… and the greatest failure. Robert Spencer has not read Green Lantern Vol 5 #0. No one outside of DC Editorial and the books creators have, because it won’t hit newsstands for a few more weeks, Green Lantern #0 is the November 2012 issue. Since I highly doubt PJ Media gets advanced copies of comic books, every plot point and artistic detail Spencer mentions in his review are either speculative or hearsay.
Spencer also fails to give any context for the book such as the DC Universe’s recent New 52 reboot, that Simon Baz will not be the only Green Lantern, the concept of the Green Lantern Corps, the name of the author… Hell, he doesn’t even cite the issue number or even the name of the comic book!
Robert Spencer is the author of ten books including several New York Times bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and The Truth About Muhammad. Spencer also writes for the blog Jihad Watch. See how that works? I’ve given you an idea of the background and qualifications of the author whose work I am critiquing. This let’s you know that Spencer isn’t some random hack, but that he might have a bit of a bias.
In Spencer’s review of the Green Lantern comic he never read, he utterly fails to mention anything about the comic book’s writer — such as his name. Green Lantern Vol 5 is being penned by Geoff Johns. Geoff Johns started writing comics professionally in 1999, and is considered something of a superstar in the industry, his most critically acclaimed and fan-loved works include recent runs on The Flash, Justice Society of America, Green Lantern events Blackest Night and Brightest Day, and one of the most important recent series in the entire DCU: Infinite Crisis. I mention this because Spencer doesn’t, and I think it is important to establish that the Simon Baz character isn’t being created by some hack with an axe to grind, but rather by one of the most respected comic book writers around.
I also bring up the identity of the author because I think we need to establish a few other facts about Geoff Johns besides his list of previous works. Geoff Johns, like your’s truly, is a Michigander; Born in Detroit, and raised in the suburbs of Grosse Point and Clarkston, Johns eventually went to Michigan State University. Geoff Johns is also of half-Lebanese ancestry… Yep, an Arab-American from suburban Detroit is going to be writing a book about an Arab-American from suburban Detroit. To Robert Spencer, that’s a scandal, to anyone sane that’s just a case of “write what you know.”
Now, I have not read a single issue of any of the New 52 Green Lantern books, and I certainly haven’t read the unpublished debut issue of Simon Baz. But neither has Robert Spencer… but Spencer writes for one of the more influential right-wing journals around, PJ Media, making his a powerful voice. But, to borrow a phrase from DC Comic’s rival, with great power comes great responsibility… Spencer has failed to live up to that. His review is speculative, full of hearsay, lacks context, and omits such basic information as the name of the book he’s talking about!