Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I found an old interview Westfield Comics did in late 2001 with artist/writer Mike Grell on the Internet Archive, from the time he'd written Iron Man for about a year - and a very poor job at that - where he wrote up a story that whitewashed Islam. It was in issue 50 of the second volume (post-Heroes Reborn), and what he had to say was pretty distasteful:
Westfield: What can we look forward to in upcoming issues?

Grell: Storywise, the angle I'm taking is I want to, first of all, deal with the character. To me, the stories are not necessarily secondary, but the character development itself is always the important thing and the stories build around the character. 
So, one of the first things that I'm doing is restoring the human frailty aspect of Tony Stark having to recharge his heart on a regular basis, or an irregular basis, which is even more alarming for him. Depending on how much energy he uses during the course of the day, he gets somewhere between a 24 and 48 hour charge on his heart before he begins to weaken. So we're adding that one aspect back into his character. 
Then, going on from there, one of the things that I'm dealing with is the fact that Tony's spent an awful long time involved in one aspect or another of weapons development. Basically what he's done is, he's developed this super powerful weapon that, if it were to fall into the wrong hands or if it were to be misapplied, could cause more harm than good. 
It's one thing when you're young and you're approaching things from an academic standpoint, more or less on the angle of a mental exercise, "can I do this?" as opposed to "should I do this?" It's quite another thing when something you might have developed in the past jumps up and bites you in the butt. 
That's the direction that I've taken him in the very first storyline that I'm doing. In issue #50, I'm very pleased to say, given the state of the world and everything else, I took the problems in Eastern Europe of Kosovo and Bosnia and rolled them into a situation with a character that I call Milos Radanovic (a very, very slight take off on Slobodan Milosevic), and put Tony Stark into the situation where he has to deal in a country where the leader is conducting ethnic cleansing, which is a thinly veiled term for genocide, against the Muslim population.
At this stage in the game, given recent events, I think a lot of the readers are gonna be surprised and a little startled to find that my romantic lead in here is a Muslim woman, which I'm actually very pleased about. (Of course this story was written months before the 9/11 attack.) I took Tony over there with the express intent of separating him from his armor and forcing him to deal with the issues at hand as an ordinary man. The way the story develops from there, I think, is both logical and interesting for the reader to see what happens when a guy who's come to rely on this super powerful armor, this ace in the hole that he always has, is forced to deal with it on a one-to-one human basis.
Boy, this man sure didn't sound like he wanted to be informed at the time, and no telling if he's changed even now. Milosevic may not have been a saint, but if he thought the Serbians started the Yugoslavian war, he should take a look at the following info by Andy Wilcoxen:
...Alija Izetbegovic, the war-time President of the Bosnian-Muslims, and his Defense Minister, Hasan Cengic, were both outspoken jihadists.

Izetbegovic is the author of a book entitled the Islamic Declaration, which he wrote in 1970 and published in 1990. In his book, Izetbegovic advocates Sharia law, asserting that “the Islamic movement should and can, take over political power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only overturn the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one.”

Izetbegovic brands Western feminists “a depraved element of the female sex” and says, “There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions.” Izetbegovic asserted that “means of mass influence — the press, radio, television and film — should be in the hands of people whose Islamic, moral, and intellectual authority is indisputable.” And he advocated banning “casinos, night clubs, dance halls and all other forms of entertainment incompatible with the moral tenets of Islam.”

In 1983, Izetbegovic and Cengic were tried and convicted by the Yugoslav authorities for attempting to incite an Islamist uprising similar to the Islamic Revolution that gripped Iran in 1979.

According to the 1983 trial judgment, “Alija Izetbegovic asserted that Islam must be a state system or social system in all countries where the population is Muslim, and that the necessary conditions should be created to turn Bosnia and Herzegovina into an Islamic republic with Islamic laws.”

The judgment also quoted Izetbegovic as saying “Our imams should be armed and they should interpret and apply Islam following the example of Iran’s Shiite imams.” The judgment quoted Cengic saying, “The goal of the Islamic revolution in our country is the creation of a unified Islamic state comprising the area of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sandzak, and Kosovo.”

The judgment went on to quote Cengic’s view that “Jihad should be pursued to its final outcome in order to exterminate the enemy and the infidels.” He said, “We should not wait for a challenge or a provocation. Muslims must invent a challenge. They must be the ones who produce the challenge, and the goal will then come by itself.”

Cengic believed that “The Muslims should be prepared for self-sacrifice to achieve their goals.” The judgment quoted him admonishing Muslims, “do not take an infidel as your friend. Do not be friends with your fathers or your brothers if they favor the absence of our faith.” He said, “A Muslim woman should not nurse the children of a non-Muslim woman. A Muslim cannot receive the blood of or give blood to a non-believer. Muslims must be superior to all others, and every effort should be made to create an environment in which everyone will be of pure Muslim blood.”
So who really started the war and held the most morally reprehensible visions? A few years ago, a Bosnian woman was arrested in Kentucky for torturing/murdering Serbs (H/T: Pamela Geller):
According to court documents, [Azra] Basic is charged with fatally stabbing a prisoner in the neck in 1992 during the bloody conflict in the Balkans.

Court documents accuse her of numerous other atrocities, including: Setting a prisoner ablaze, pulling out prisoners' fingernails with pliers, ripping off a man's ear with pliers and carving crosses and the letter "S" into another man's flesh.
The federal courts have ruled last month that Basic can be extradited for her repulsive crimes. Gee, these are the kind of people Grell thought were perfect saints? I lost respect for Grell after he penned his propaganda piece in Iron Man, which conflicts with the premise he wrote for Jon Sable, who witnesses the terrorist atrocities at the 1972 Munich Olympics in the titular series from the mid-80s. What if it turned out Grell even bought into all the anti-Israel propaganda depicting Israel as "aggressor" against the so-called palestinians? The PLO, the very terrorist gang who conducted the invasion at the Olympics, takes its name from the "race" even Golda Meir said was non-existent. I found his bragging about being "pleased" with the setup he wrote insulting too. He just proved himself another leftist who always goes for the easiest path.

Still, he got punished in a way: the overall writing in his run was very sloppy, including the storyline where Tony Stark unmasks and goes public about his identity as IM, which involved getting into armor so he could rescue a cat. IM is the kind of heroic role whose wearers like Tony I don't think should go public about their IDs. The run also saw a weak battle between Tony and the son of the Mandarin, who fought without rings. It was pretty lame too. And the unmasking was all but ignored soon after. Also, the story with the Muslim woman named Aisha (which was the name of the child bride of Muhammed), was soon forgotten too, though not before Grell insulted everyone's intellect. As noted, his run was only a year at best and then he was let go.

He also defended his angle in an interview posted at Alvaro's Comic Boards. First though, here's something he had to say about the delay of a new Jon Sable story:
Q: There was some potential movie stuff with your character Jon Sable, but then that got placed to the side due to 9-11 stuff. Has that situation changed?

A: Not anything right at this moment, but there is continued interest. Sept 11 did factor in there. We were close to a green light in March of 2001, and the company was trying to push production ahead in light of the potential Screen Actors Guild strike. They would have had to start shooting March 15 so that they could have it in the can to have it released in October of 2001, but when it became a tight fit, they decided that rather than rush it into production they would wait. If you saw some of the movies that came out around that time you can tell they were rushed and not great movies. They felt Sable was a good enough project that they wanted to spend the right amount of time on it so they put it on hold and planned to start shooting parts of it in October.

Then 9-11 happened and the funding for the features just evaporated. Lots of the capitalization was European and it just vanished, it wasn’t anything personal and it certainly wasn’t anything against the character. The producer, Gene Simmons of KISS, was a big admirer of Sable and loved the character for years and years and felt really bad that it happened, but Sable wasn’t the only project of his that got axed. So we are still looking.
And still are; I don't think there's ever been a Sable movie, and with the dominant politics today, there's no chance there ever will be. Now for the part about his propaganda part in IM:
Q: Does fan reactions and comments factor into what you decide to do with the titles you are on?

A: I think it effects the editors more than the writers, because when I have a character and story in mind--when I have formulated the plot and the relationships and decided the direction everything is going and begun that journey--by the time it gets to the fans I have already gone 5 steps beyond. My lead time on most of those stories was around 5 months. As a matter of fact issue 50, where I featured a Muslim woman as the primary romantic interest and made her into a reoccurring character, had nothing to do with 9-11. I had no political axe to grind whatsoever. In hindsight people would look at that and the timing- especially since the issue that followed that involved firefighters trapped in a burning building- and say, “It is all connected to 9-11”. Nothing could be further form the truth. It was a story line that was pursued for the drama of it and the development of the character. It had nothing to do with what was going on in the world because I was already so far ahead at that time. What the reader reaction does effect on a very quick ongoing basis is other directions publishing companies elect to take from the stand point of sales.
"Nothing to do with 9-11", yet everything to do with his perception of the Yugoslavian war, which was doubtlessly informed only by mainstream papers who long made up their minds they were on the side of the Islamofascists. It makes no difference whether it was before or after 9-11; what he wrote would've been ludicrous and galling anytime, and an insult to many innocent victims of jihad past and present. Grell did nothing more than reveal himself as somebody with a bad grip on reality and no interest in doing deeper research on challenging issues.

And interesting that a Jon Sable movie would be shelved, but his IM story was given full approval. This certainly says a lot about how mainstream editors (and film producers) are thinking. And it likewise tells how questionable Grell's view of the 1972 Olympic massacre could be. I hope he's learned his lesson since then. But chances are he didn't.

No comments: