Hero For Hire #5
Issue(s): Hero For Hire #5
Now, the villain in question is a 400 pound black woman, but that's fine.
The problem is the way she talks.
Now to be completely fair, it's not like every black character talks like this. Only Black Mariah. So i don't know what's going on here. All i ask is that she and Kevin O'Brian (aka the Guardsman) get a Team-Up book.
The other problem with this book is about the case that gets Luke Cage involved in the story here. Someone was waiting to meet with Cage, but before Cage arrived, he was murdered.
Then Mariah's gang (a separate group from the murderers) came and stole the body. Cage notifies the dead man's wife and promises to get the body back for free. But (at least on panel) he never asks her what the guy might have originally been wanting to meet about. Cage has an informant named Flea, and at the end of the book there's a miscommunication and Flea tells the woman (the MCP tags her as "Mrs. Frank Jenks" since we never learn her name) that she's going to have to pay, so she throws her money at Cage and leaves in a huff. And as far as this issue goes, it seems like that's the end of it. Like Englehart forgot that Black Mariah's people weren't the ones that actually murdered Frank Jenks.
This story will get picked up on again in issue #10. And you could read it as Mrs. Frank Jenks is so disgusted with the payment issue that she's done with Cage. But it really feels like Englehart dropped the ball here.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Well, dead bodies in 1970s Times Square would have a big chance of carrying resellable drugs...
Some years later, a letter in this book would criticize Power Man villains as rather racist, citing Black Mariah as a particularly bad example. The editor(possibly Archie Goodwin) responded with basically "Hey, WE didn't create her!"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 23, 2013 4:29 PM
Apparently Mrs. Jenks is eventually given the first name of Mimi in one of the Handbooks.
Posted by: Dermie | December 28, 2014 11:20 PM
Black Mariah, Kevin O'Brian and Boomerrang.
Posted by: david banes | December 29, 2014 1:55 AM
Thanks, Dermie. That is less unwieldy than Mrs. Frank Jenks, so i've updated her tag.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 31, 2014 11:16 AM
Well that's a shocker: she's going to be in the Netflix Luke Cage series...wonder how though.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 3, 2015 6:19 PM
I guess i never read these summaries, because how the Hell did i miss that Englehart named a character in his "Black Power" title after DW Griffith?
Posted by: cullen | September 3, 2015 8:11 PM
They'll just turn Black Mariah into an evil white male businessman.
Posted by: kveto | September 5, 2015 3:13 AM
Actually they speculate Alfre Woodard; I could see more a "big mama" type character for her.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 5, 2015 6:20 AM
DW Griffith first appeared in issue 2 by Archie Goodwin... But yeah that confused me as a kid. "Wait, there's a real life film director with the same name? ...And wait, he's kinda racist?" Not sure it's ever been explained. Yeah i'm expecting TV's Black Mariah is a completely different character with the same name, there's been a few instances where minor characters have been announced for films and then turn out different (Coldblood and Protogoblin for starters).
Posted by: Jonathan | September 5, 2015 9:11 AM
Let's not forget Doctor Kafka, who was an evil German man in Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Posted by: Michael | September 5, 2015 9:14 AM
I'd assume the DW character was named as such more for his nakesake's cinematic prowess than his racial views.
Posted by: kveto | September 5, 2015 10:02 AM
Yeah I never saw anything negative in it. Archie seems to have been universally considered a good guy and was presumably unaware of the controversy. Just seems they couldn't have picked a worse US film director to be the namesake of early black superhero's only white friend. (Or pretty near only, before he met Iron Fist.)
Posted by: Jonathan | September 5, 2015 10:18 AM
In fairness to the real-world D.W. Griffith, he did see the light regarding the racism of Birth of a Nation and subsequently made a film called Intolerance that attacked racial prejudice.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 9, 2015 7:31 PM
Not so much 'saw the light' as he was that way already. He wasn't racist, he was just adapting a stage play into a movie, and pioneering [or perfecting] many of the techniques he invented into a long, coherent film, arguably the first of its kind.
The stage play itself, yes, it was quite racist, but Griffith was more interested in the drama of the presentation. The KKK aren't treated as heroes, they are simply the first filmed iteration of the 'cavalry riding to the rescue' for a dramatic rescue scene. Police officers could be doing the same thing, but it wouldn't have worked for the Reconstruction-era South. Griffith, and the play ["The Klansman," if I remember correctly] were dealing with some heavy Civil War themes, for an audience that included a lot of people who were there. Griffith's father was a Confederate Soldier, which is how he learned about the play in the first place.
He only saw the potential for drama, and that's why he picked it for his first movie, after making his reputation with shorts. And he was horrified at the reaction. He made "Intolerance" as an attempt to repair the damage. His next movie was war propaganda, and Griffith was a pacifist. He was just good at making movies which didn't reflect his actual beliefs. His next big movie was about an abused girl who runs away and gets adopted by a Chinese immigrant. His only talkie was a biography of Abraham Lincoln.
He also helped create United Artists, the Image Comics of their day. It fell apart similar to how Image Comics fell apart, but like Image, did a lot of good things for creators rights.
The play "Birth of a Nation" was taken from is racist, no denying that. But Griffith only played it up insofar as he was adapting the play, and went out of his way to include positive examples of blacks. The sassy fat black chick steals the show in the last part of the movie, a stereotype which is very true even to this day, and while you can quibble about the use of blackface, consider the level of film technology in 1915. Dark skin simply didn't show up well on camera. Genuine black people would have looked physically horrible, undermining the story and Griffith's own beliefs. What's the alternative? No black people in any movie until technology has advanced to a point where you can film real black people? Yeah, the white people inventing and improving the technology will get right on that.
All this information, by the way, comes from a D.W. Griffith documentary PBS aired a decade or two ago. I'm not a big movie fan, so I'm free to appreciate his pioneering work for what it is without getting too caught up in the story or actors. I've only seen "Birth of a Nation" and "Intolerance," and I have no particular stake in Griffith's work itself, other than its innovation. It always pisses me off when an artform repudiates the people who made it possible. It would be like denying Jack Kirby any credit because he was Jewish and very violent, or Steve Ditko because he likes Ayn Rand. No. Give them all the credit they've earned, regardless of what you think of their work.
Unfortuntely, with D.W. Griffith, few people have even seen his work, much less realize how innovative it was. Movies today still use techniques he invented. [/soapbox]
Posted by: ChrisW | November 9, 2015 10:10 PM
Chris, yes, D.W. Griffith helped introduce many techniques used by today's filmmakers but that doesn't change the fact that Birth of A Nation was one of the most damaging films in American history. It let to a revival of the KKK! Yes, the play he took it from was racist but that doesn't excuse Griffith from adapting it. Yes, most educated people in Griffith's time believed the Dunning School myth of "white southerners victimized by freed blacks during Reconstruction". But the film was so racist BY THE STANDARDS OF THE TIME that some cities banned it. The "sassy fat black chick" is part of a myth about Southerners being so benevolent that their slaves/employees were loyal to them. Griffith himself was the son of a Kentucky Confederate veteran and defended it as based on true history.The Lost Cause Myth was horrible because it justified the lynchings and the convict leasing system and Birth of A Nation is the primary film exemplar of that myth- even Gone With the Wind is more nuanced.
Posted by: Michael | November 10, 2015 12:21 AM
100% with what you said, Michael.
Posted by: cullen | November 10, 2015 11:23 AM
How does a work like "Birth of a Nation" damage film, or anything else? It explored and expanded the possibilities of film in ways that no other film has done even to this day. The world has become more violent since Jack Kirby got creator credit in Marvel, is that his fault because he was such a violent person? Is it possible that people make their own decisions and bear the responsibility instead of being instructed by a work of fiction?
Are you really judging people in 1915 by the standards of 2015? You must hate them for the slow download time for their internet porn. They didn't grow up with refrigerators, automobiles or high-speed air travel, but you want to judge them by the same standards for pioneering work in a new medium because they saw dramatic possibilities - and ignore all their other work in the same medium - because of it's supposed effect. That's like blaming Quentin Tarantino - who uses a lot of techniques D.W. Griffith invented - for popularizing the use of the word "nigger" by white people. And films a lot of niggas busting a cap up some nigga's ass because he thinks it makes for a cool movie. Which - Tarantino fans seem to agree, I haven't seen the movies myself - it does.
How about just recognizing the greatness of a pioneer and leaving political ideas out of it. Greatness is Greatness. Stop thinking in a world of instant porn downloads and consider what life was like for earlier generations.
And the "sassy fat black chick" is a recognizable person that you know when you meet her, whether or not you like her. Stereotypes are based in truth, and one is hard-pressed to think of a stereotype more true than the Sassy Black Fat Chick. God bless them, one and all.
Ok, "Gone With The Wind" is more nuanced. Never read the book or saw the movie, but it just tells me that books are better than movies, and reinforces why I don't like movies. And comic books are best of all. Because duh.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 13, 2015 2:24 AM
ChrisW, it seems like you're missing Michael's point. As cullen says, everyone acknowledges that Griffith contributed innovations to film. But the content of the film is recognized as being a major factor in the return of the KKK. As Michael says, it was racist for the time period, and that's why it's not just about judging a film with the standards of the day. It helped with the resurgence of the KKK (who used the film for recruiting and propaganda purposes) and vilified Reconstruction, and is therefore somewhat responsible for the turn from Reconstruction to Jim Crow, which resulted in a marked decline in the rights and quality of life of black people. It's in that sense that Michael says the film was damaging, not in relation to the film industry. And all of this is what makes discussions of Griffith more problematic (i.e., harder to leave his politics out of it) than an artist who may have been racist 'in their own time' but still produced works that are recognized as artistically important.
I think at this point all sides of the argument have been presented in more detail that is merited for this particular comic, so i'd appreciate it if any further discussion were taken to the forum.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 13, 2015 7:58 AM
I think Michael cross-posted with my request to take further conversation about D.W. Griffith (the filmmaker) to the forum. I've created a new topic in the forum and moved Michael's comment there. Sorry if i'm stepping on your toes, Michael. I just don't want an endless back and forth on a political/historical topic on an entry about Luke Cage fighting Black Mariah.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 13, 2015 8:52 AM
Fnord, it was a cross-post, and I was a bit embarassed by it, so I don't mind you moving it to the forum.
Posted by: Michael | November 13, 2015 7:44 PM
I have no interest in taking the conversation further. I already did my turn on the soapbox, and was genuinely worried about cluttering the commentary on a comic book I've never read. Fnord, do what you think is right, because you're the one in charge. Michael, have a good day. Everybody else, go about your lives, nothing to see here.
[Unless you want to blame Madelyne Pryor, because she's so evil!!! ;)]
Posted by: ChrisW | November 13, 2015 9:47 PM
Oh I forgot this villain's name was Mariah. Her version in the Luke Cage show is a lot slimmer.
Posted by: davidbanes | January 5, 2017 7:01 PM
Comments are now closed.
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