What Place for Muslims in DC Comics?

'Superman' writer Chris Roberson on the controversy of earthly aliens

Would the real alien please stand up? DC pulls planned Superman #712, in which the last son of Krypton teams with a Muslim hero
Would the real alien please stand up? DC pulls planned Superman #712, in which the last son of Krypton teams with a Muslim hero (Image courtesy of DC Comics)

The comic industry press is bubbling with the news that DC Comics pulled the original story slated for issue #712 of Superman. Written by Austin author Chris Roberson, it was to feature Superman teaming up with Sharif, an American Muslim superhero. Instead, when it shipped this week, comic fans got a lost tale of Krypto the Superdog.

So who did Roberson get the news, and what reason was he given? He said, "When I heard about it, and that's an easier question to answer, was the third Friday in May. I got a weird text message from DC that they weren't publishing that issue of Superman." However, as for the logic for the late switch, he said, "I was never really given a reason, and until they released a press release I didn't know what their publicly stated reason was going to be."

This is how DC filled in that "why?" blank in their press release to stores:

This fill in issue contains a lost classic, Lost Boy: A Tale of Krypto the Superdog, set shortly after Superboy died in Infinite Crisis and Superman went missing.

DC Comics determined that the previously solicited story did not work within the “Grounded” storyline. However, Chris Roberson, will be back for the final two issues of Superman’s year long walk across America. As we near the conclusion, catch up with Superman next month as he makes stops in Portland and Newberg, OR.

So what was the problem? Two rival stories have emerged. The first and most bizarre, as revealed by BleedingCool.com, is that DC editorial was upset that the last son of Krypton rescued a cat from a tree. Second, and more worrying culturally, is that they pulled planned story because it featured a Muslim superhero.

Sharif is not a new character: Originally created in 1990 as Sinbad, Roberson described him as "a naturalized American citizen of Middle Eastern origin who was Muslim, developed superpowers, and was inspired by Superman to become a hero." His appearance in #712 came from the urge to "roll the clock forward, to see where that kid would be now." Now a college student, Roberson said Sharif is "a dude who is visibly from somewhere else. He doesn't wear a mask. He wears the symbol of his culture on his chest, and he tries to help people."

Hmm. That sounds very familiar. Roberson said, "The point that the story explicitly states is that that is what Superman is. He's a guy from somewhere else. He's an alien, literally, naturalized as an American, and trying to help us. Everyone thinks Superman is great, so why should it be any different if it's someone who is brown skinned from another country here on Earth?"

The replacement issue has caused a secondary PR firestorm: The original #712 was supposed to ship with a variant cover by George Perez as a tribute to long-time Superman fan Rob Morrisroe. That cover has been scrubbed and now will run with issue #714. Perez announced via Facebook that he was "both extremely upset and personally embarrassed" that DC had made this decision without informing him.

Look for a full interview with Roberson next month, just in time for some big announcements at San Diego Comic-Con International.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More DC Comics
Free Comic Book Day: Picking Through The Shelves
Free Comic Book Day: Picking Through The Shelves
The annual graphic giveaway is this weekend, so what should you pick up?

Richard Whittaker, May 3, 2013

Hey, Dark Phoenix, Who's Your Daddy?
Hey, Dark Phoenix, Who's Your Daddy?
Why, that'd be Chris Claremont, wouldn't it?

Wayne Alan Brenner, July 4, 2012

More graphic novels
Book Review: <i>The River at Night</i>
Book Review: The River at Night
In Kevin Huizenga's graphic novel, one man's speeding mind breaks time

Wayne Alan Brenner, Oct. 24, 2019

Book Review: <i>The Hard Tomorrow</i>
Book Review: The Hard Tomorrow
Eleanor Davis' graphic novel centers on a woman who's trying

Wayne Alan Brenner, Oct. 24, 2019

More by Richard Whittaker
How Nicole Riegel Got in Tune With <i>Dandelion</i>
How Nicole Riegel Got in Tune With Dandelion
Filmmaker on working with the National, Ted Leo's worst gig

July 12, 2024

Everything Evil: How <i>Longlegs</i> Is Osgood Perkins’ Popcorn Movie
Everything Evil: How Longlegs Is Osgood Perkins’ Popcorn Movie
Channeling Silence of the Lambs for his horror club sandwich

July 12, 2024


DC Comics, graphic novels, Islam, Comics, Superman, Sharif, Sinbad, Chris Roberson, Issue 712, #712, Islamic Superhero, Muslim, George Perez, Krypto the Superdog

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle