Philip Etline

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 4 weeks, 1 day ago

    Great job, Jose, dealing with a problematic subject and problematic character in a problematic way!

    I don’t have too much to add, I’m running on empty this semester, but your comments gave me a thought:

    “Do the authors have much to say about the Chinese American experience besides saying that it exists?”

    Maybe… it’s enough? For the mom…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline wrote a new post, Two Misses, on the site Superhero 1 month, 1 week ago

    EDIT: In the end, whatever we say about representation in comics tonight, none of it matters.  This is the only thing that matters… little girls having their own hero to cosplay […]

    • How do these comics differ from what we’ve read so far? They’re new and relatively minor works compared to the ‘major’ texts we’ve been reading. Will these be read years from now in a 781 class on Superheroes?

      Ms. Marvel and the more established comics of Superman and Wonder Woman are similar in that they both explore the experience of the “other”; however, while Superman and Wonder Woman hail from imaginary/intergalactic origins, Ms. Marvel has origins outside of the United States but from places that are very much real. Perhaps, as Kent argues, this means the text will not be as relatable for such a wide audience; being “othered” from the as a new arrival from Krypton is not an experience any reader will share, and that means it is an experience everyone can access equally. It may be harder for readers to see themselves sharing the woes of, for example, Kamala, although it is likely that everyone has felt, at one point or another, not good enough/excluded/out of place.

      That being said, I do not think the text’s specificity in regards to experience/relatability is why the stories’ endurance is being questioned; it is because the text lacks subtlety/sophistication (there is nothing left for me to figure out once I read lines as transparent as “Being someone else isn’t liberating, it’s exhausting” and/or “It’s mastering smallness that takes work.”). The coming-of-age nature of the story (“I don’t know who I’m supposed to be”) brings a youthful feel to the comic that is a bit difficult for a more mature audience to overlook (yes, Harry Potter has its rabid fan base, but did Harry Potter include two guys at a party literally chest-bumping?). It is also dated by current events and references to pop culture (skinny jeans, Taylor Swift) that will make it seem silly to audiences in the not-so-distant future.

      With that in mind, I still think Ms. Marvel will be read in future ENG 781 – Superhero classes because, as far as I know, these comics are the “first” of something. Perhaps whatever follows this will add depth to the plotline/language – perhaps someone will do for this what TDKR did for Batman or what All-Star Superman did for Superman.

    • Ms. Marvel and Ms. America are both embracing “otherness” by portraying a Muslim superhero and a Latin American superhero. I believe that these two comics are both created by the comics industry (Marvel) to make a profit by relating to all Muslims and all Latinos. A bigger audience means bigger paychecks. Also, besides marketing, they created these characters to make diversity and “difference” a normal concept. Readers from other backgrounds can also relate to Kamala and America’s experiences of fitting into society’s expectations.
      I am hopeful that one day someone will make a better comic book about minority groups. So, I do not believe that in the future students would want to read these books in a college course. Maybe they might read it in order to compare and contrast the differences between the new and better representation with Ms. Marvel and Ms. America. One of my students told me that Ms. Marvel is dull because she has boring powers. As a huge comic books fan, he didn’t like the representation of her either.

    • Ah Phil! I’m so glad you took a moment to articulate your cynicism because, well, being true to oneself is important…and that’s also how I’m going to introduce my thoughts about the “Ms. Marvel” comic and its relatability.

      So, I agree with much of your criticism regarding the readings this week. Like you, I think diversity and representation is important, but I really do understand your incredulousness. I think the idea that this “push” to incorporate more characters from minority backgrounds with the intention of making a profit is potentially corrupt. I also agree with you about the “America Chavez” comic. I thought “Ms. Marvel” was a much more palpable read, and “America” felt a little bit trippy. It felt like we were being dropped in the middle of a confounded backstory with little interwoven exposition and an abundance of drama. (It kind of reminded me of seasons 5-9 of “Smallville,” when the series began focusing less on Clark’s ascension into the role of Superman and more on his love-triangle/square/pentagon problems).

      That being said, I’m not sure if I agree with Kent’s criticism regarding Kamala’s relatability in “Ms. Marvel” being detrimental to the character’s identity as a young, Muslim character. I think the “universality” of Kamala’s internal conflict is important and empowering. I think Kent might be a little harsh when she says, “it should be possible for readers to have a positive experience of a text even though it may not resonate with their individual lives (525). Unless, I’m mistaken, most connections that readers or viewers make with fictional characters are incredibly dependent on reliability, or at least empathy, which once again requires some “personal connection” being made on the part of the reader/viewer. When we watch the 2017 “Wonder Woman” movie, there’s really not a lot of shared or common experiences between us and Diana, but we still relate to her based on the ideals that she epitomizes and the aspirations we have for ourselves.

      While reading through “Ms. Marvel,” I could really empathize with Kamala’s identity crisis. Whereas, she was day-dreaming about being Captain Marvel and looking like her, my younger self was also conflicted by the fact that I wasn’t born blond-haired and blue eyed. The fact that “Ms. Marvel” depicts Kamala as a teenage girl who is born into a Muslim family but experiences everyday, American teenage struggles is, in my opinion, beneficial to the progress of American society. In fact, I think Kamala and her family is a much better representation of modern America than a inter-dimensional Latina, named “America” who coordinates Star-Spangled outfits and drops the occasional palabra. The Khan family possesses an authenticity that “America” grievously lacks (in my personal opinion.) The family devoutly practices their faith and their culture; Kamala’s mother yells at her in both English and Urdu, and her family places a strong emphasis on tradition, but they also allow Kamala to go to the mall and engage in other “American” practices. Isn’t that the goal? I might be wrong, but personally, I thought Kamala’s relatability was very conducive to cultural awareness and minority representation.

    • What the hell is Kent talking about when she writes how reviews of Ms. Marvel emphasizing relatability ‘erase individual experiences of marginalized peoples”? Am I reading this wrong?

      Absolutely not. Reading this article left me shaking my head. I feel like it was a knee-jerk reaction to the positive, albeit troubling popular criticism of the comic. Yes the way that the mainstream critics responded is problematic, but Kent makes this over-arching argument to encompass all criticism of the work and has no desire to explore why they are problematic past some buzz words and phrases, an in depth analysis of their reaction would have interested me more. As for her claim of erasure, I think that’s really a stretch. People react to works of art and literature subjectively. Is Kent trying to say that the reviewer’s reactions are somehow less valid because they are men? Because of their ethnicity? I looked her up because I couldn’t help myself. I find it humorous that a white British woman has the gall to call out these critics as if she isn’t also speaking from a rarefied position in the current time.

    • I believe Ms. Marvel and Miss America were created to emphasize on diversity and empowerment. I think for that reason that these comics exist. According to Laura Portwood-Stacer and Susan Berridge “Such works recognize the significance of female comic book characters in an industry which has traditionally been dominated by men in terms of content, production, and assumed audience.” In this way the comic book industry isn’t just male dominated anymore. Moreover, females get their own voice and not just play the damsel in distress or any other character that doesn’t exemplify the qualities of being a strong independent woman.

    • “Are comics like Ms. Marvel and Miss America simply created to pander and generate $$$? Or are they as important as we want them to be? Or both?”

      I think every that every cape comic is created with the intention of generating a lot of money. Especially considering this industry was in very big trouble until recently with the rise of superhero films.

      However, importance here has to be the same as goodness. Meaning that if a comic isn’t good, it doesn’t matter if it’s providing more representation to a certain group. I think Miss Marvel is good enough to be considered important and remembered. I also think that it has a decent shot of being taught in a 781 class in a few years. Though it’s not guaranteed—especially if something better comes along.

      America has no chance though. It’s pretty awful– there’s a disconnect between the writer and comic writing. She has a very hard time in presenting her characters as believable. It’s somehow overly reverent of itself. Also corny. So it will be forgotten. And I can’t see it being taught in this class again.

    • Well written as usual Phil. I like the questions you raise in your analysis, as well as Kent’s.

      1.) Are comics like Ms. Marvel and Miss America simply created to pander and generate $$$? Or are they as important as we want them to be? Or both?

      You have reason for your cynicism. Definitely some market research/demographic survey went into Ms. Marvel’s pre-production period. To the first part of your question, YES. These comics are created to pander and if the right target audience is reached then the $$ naturally follows. They can be important comics in the future as being pioneers of this new multi-facted all-inclusive representationality in comics and its
      various transmedia off shoots. I don’t believe it has happened yet as these characters did not feature in the big budget Marvel Studios productions.

      2.) What the hell is Kent talking about when she writes how reviews of Ms. Marvel emphasizing relatability ‘erase individual experiences of marginalized peoples”? Am I reading this wrong?

      Kent writes, “Critics do not consider that some of Kamala’s experiences may actually be specific to her subjectivity as a teen Muslim girl in New Jersey” (524). I’m of the same opinion as you are that not every single individual experience can be or MUST be relatable to its readers, EVEN a teen Muslim girl from NJ reading it. I think Kent is nitpicking the critics who mostly embrace the otherness of Kamala and how teens deal with her relatable issues of being stereotyped, misunderstood and maligned, whether its in the home or other institutions.Kent herself says “The book negotiates Kamala’s “otherness” and the dominance of Western attitudes” (524). The book does so successfully and in and of itself it, is well drawn and written where a person like me who is not a female teen from NJ, can enjoy it for its creativity without relating. I do love Maria’s response about this being conducive to assimilating in the American community and raising cultural awareness. I am thinking of newly immigrated refugees trying to fit in and fulfill their life long dreams and ambitions.

    • I have a feeling your presentation will be a good one, looking forward to it.
      “Are comics like Ms. Marvel and Miss America simply created to pander and generate $$$? Or are they as important as we want them to be? Or both?”

      While I did not enjoy America – like at all – representation within America and that of Ms. Marvel I think are important in today’s society, especially for children. Ms. Marvel I think was great in the sense of introducing a Muslim American teenager from Jersey, struggling to figure out her identity amongst her peers while battling with strict parents. America I found to be less of an impactful character and was disappointed.
      That being said, I think the comic book industry from an artist standpoint (writers, animators, illustrators) are rebranding characters, or introducing new characters to represent different kinds of people that reflect the “melting pot” of America. Yet, I think the publishers are riding the bandwagon for financial prosperity and for notriary.

      Sidenote: Unlike Kent, I think anyone can relate to this character but I do agree that she would be a role model for Muslim American girls/women.

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 2 months ago

    Hey Aylar, good job. Between the readings and both Tabish and your responses, I’ve got to thinking. And frankly, it’s getting tedious. I’d like to respond to your question:

    Hoberek believes that Watchmen is not conventionally literature. Do you agree with his view? Which genre would Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s masterpiece belong to? Why…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 2 months ago

    Hey Tabish, great work. Watchmen is always so fun to discuss because of its complexity. I’d like to address your 4th question:

    Does Watchmen’s narrative, both script wise and art wise, which is steeped in realism, make you uncomfortable in seeing hero’s who are overweight, impotent and coming face to face with their mortality just as peopl…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 2 months, 1 week ago

    Awesome work, Maria!

    I’ve always been interested in the idea of recasting Robin as a woman. In fact, the relationship between Batman and whoever Robin happens to be at the time has always been weird to me. This guy running around in his tights and cape with a young man, acting as surrogate father, best friend, and lieutenant is bizarre a…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 2 months, 2 weeks ago

    Great work, Todd! There’s so much to be said about this run of comics taking a traditionally cosmic character (Green Lantern rather than the Arrow) and repurposing his focus towards the specific culturally pointed plights of us mere mortals.

    You ask how successful this run is with actually getting to the “serious issues” considering how sensa…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 2 months, 3 weeks ago

    Ken, your fandom is permeating every single word of your post (it’s inspiring!) and it’s great that you picked characters and analyzed them individually in conjunction with Bukatman’s article. You could go through all of the characters in a similar way and make the claim. What I find interesting about the article is how it does feel dated in a…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 3 months ago

    Mark, I think you bring up a great point when you question just how progressive early Wonder Woman actually is, since she is still written by a man and has to conform to then-male-dominated formulae in a patriarchal culture. Does hindsight diminish just how monumental a leap forward Wonder Woman was? Is to be ‘progressive’— by desig…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline commented on the page, on the site Superhero 3 months, 1 week ago

    Mary, you do a great job at distilling and relating Eco’s ideas about time in Superman comics to these early issues we’ve been reading. What I found interesting is the repetition of the storytelling this week. Granted, these strips are supposed to be read monthly with long breaks in between but the sameness of it all is apparent. To a cla…[Read more]

  • Philip Etline‘s profile was updated 11 months ago