The Small Lebowski:
Characters Appearing: Jane Dixon, Ken Reid, NFL Superpro
NFL Superpro #6
Issue(s): NFL Superpro #6
The story is that there is a Hopi named Laura Eagle, who has left her tribe to become a professional ice skater. She is attacked by people in kachina costumes, but armed with things like nunchucks and chainsaws.
NFL Superpro, in his guise as sports reporter Phil Grayfield, is covering Laura when the attack happens. He rushes out to help in civilian form.
He gets knocked out of the rink, and comes back as Superpro.
I wonder if it's little lines like, "You're not on the pueblo now!" was part of what rubbed people the wrong way. Kind of like how Hispanic characters always pepper their dialogue with grade school Spanish.
My favorite line from the CBR article i linked to is a quote from Dixon saying that he tried to depict Superpro as "not the sharpest crayon in the box", which i absolutely love. I don't think Fabian Nicieza, the previous writer on the series, did that deliberately, but Superpro always came off as kinda dumb. It's nice to get confirmation that Dixon was writing Superpro that way deliberately. I love him trying to get some respect from the police by telling them that he's a super-hero.
Also note the Iron Man reference.
Anyway, Laura says that she's being harassed by what she thinks are people from her tribe that are mad that she left them to find a career for herself. She thinks her sister might be involved with them. So Superpro goes with her back to the Hopi pueblo to see if they can stop the attacks.
Here's another example of Superpro not being the sharpest crayon.
And here's the "hostiles" / "friendlies" distinction that Dixon talks about in the CBR article.
I'm kind of taking Dixon's word for it that this stuff is accurate, but regardless of that, it seems well intentioned. That said, it's kind of dull for a story. Why isn't Superpro punching out someone that wants to politicize the Superbowl halftime show or something?
Anyway, it turns out that the kachinas are really funded by a white guy that is playing some 11-th dimensional chess to try to take control of the Hopi's finances.
Superpro gets some help from Laura's sister. Maybe her being in a kachina outfit and fighting the gun-wielding bad guys with a bow and arrow is what was offensive.
Honestly, the story is dumb, but certainly no dumber (although maybe a little duller) than all the other Superpro stories. If i wasn't already aware of the controversy, this story wouldn't have struck me as being offensive, and even looking for things i don't really see anything. But i admit that years of much worse depictions of Native Americans have probably made me jaded.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
This is kind of what I was trying to mention before. Readers complain about a lack of diversity. A writer tries to add that diversity then gets shat on for trying. Obviously, there was no intention to offend here. What could Dixon possibly achieve by that. But you can't control what people choose to be offended by.
Im betting nobody has written anything about the Hopi since. Why would they even try?
Posted by: kveto | February 8, 2016 5:22 PM
He'e'e's costume is a bit too sexualized for confort, IMO. It does feel exploitative.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 8, 2016 5:37 PM
Regarding the diversity: I'm not so certain that we should be complaining about the Hopi's reaction... I mean, a creator can be well-intentioned and still create something offensive. I don't know anything about the Hopi religion, so I won't be saying that this stuff cannot be offensive to them.
Have you guys seen "Hellsing"? The way it portrays the Catholic Church is plainly offensive. I'm sure it was *not* intentional: it's simply a manga / anime created by a Japanese author. Who just didn't get the subtleties of Catholicism, Catholic / Protestant relations - and, while trying to use them in a story, ended up with something ridiculous. Who knows, maybe Dixon did something similar here..?
Posted by: Piotr W | February 8, 2016 6:02 PM
With my UU church growing up, there was an annual trip for the 9th graders of our entire district (covering a large portion of the western states, but most of us from Colorado) to the Hopi and Navajo reservations. Guess which year I went on the trip? The Hopis did not let outsiders visit their dances at that time. The adults on the trip told us that occasionally there would be some stress affecting the tribe when they would not let outsiders to the dances, so it wasn't that this comic book caused an extremely unusual reaction, afaik. (Keep in mind 20+ year old memory and second-hand information.)
The other kids in the group did get a hold on this comic to see what the fuss was and we had a melodramatic reading of it. If this is a D comic to start with, imagine a 14-year old girl who was already inclined to hate the story reading it aloud, bringing emphasis to every awful line.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | February 8, 2016 10:39 PM
@Luis- by 90s standards, it's actually conservative.
Posted by: Michael | February 8, 2016 11:00 PM
It is probably a good thing that Dr. Evelyn Necker of the review of Death's Head coming before this one was not a Hopi. Somehow I don't think that thong-bottom with boots outfit she used in the last few panels would be well received.
Not that I blame the Hopi,mind you.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 9, 2016 1:57 PM
Not that anyone would actually wish for a Superpro reboot, but if done today the creative team could have used Native Americans in dealing with the controversy of the logo and team name of the Washington Redskins. Around this same time period, certain NCAA teams dropped Native mascots and names (Eastern Michigan, Miami(Ohio) among others), with notable exceptions being the Central Michigan Chippewas and Florida State Seminoles, where the universities actively sought out and received the tribes' blessings to continue using the names and logos/mascots. Of course, this kind of deep social commentary would likely stick out like a pumpkin in a pea patch in the pages of this particular book, likely Goodell and Daniel Snyder would put the kibosh on it.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | July 11, 2017 3:03 PM
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