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  1. #1
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    Default Racist Batman comics

    I am doing a school project on the representation of race in popular superhero comics and need help finding the most notorious examples of racism. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    I know the older ones, like from the 40s, but I don't remember which issue.

    There's a case where Batman is investigating a group of cultist murderer. Every character just calls them "Hindus" and they worship Kila. They meant Kali, of course. The whole vibe of the cult is kinda like Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

    There's also Batman's friend named Wong who live in the Chinatown but he dresses like he's from Ancient China. Chinese people during the world war II era do wear traditional clothes, but a different, more simple one.

    Then there's a time where world greatest detectives are gathering, some of them are from Japan and Mexico. The Mexican one wears a sombrero, and the one from Japan is colored yellow and always talk about honor.

    Now to be fair, every time there's someone from Texas the always wear full-on cowboy garb but it's still making fun of other people not from the city.

    Does writing foreign accent phonetically count? Whenever there's a french people or even just Alfred, they always write them in an accent that's supposed to be French or British. Like "mawster" instead of "master"

    I'll update this post with pics once I find the issue.

    Edit: Here's the Kila cultist one.

    0555c330bfd1fc705e85783dbf5d372a._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg

    Detective Comics (1937-2011) #35
    January 3 1940
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 01-24-2019 at 06:33 AM.

  3. #3
    Sun of the Mourning Montressor's Avatar
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    Wonder Woman as I recall featured a stereotypical black character in a Golden Age issue that I saw a scan of, as did Captain Marvel...I recall lots of racist comments towards Japanese people made by Captain America, Namor and the Human Torch...and Bucky had a black 'friend' named Whitewash Jones who was caricature with a capital 'C'.
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    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Okay here's the Wong issue, but I misremembered. Wong wore a modern jacket, but his hat and hairstyle is still based older era instead of the 40s. Here is the splash intro page, and everyone looking ancient.

    4ce095b3da3b0e48d6ffb93f753e6f06._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg

    Detective Comics (1937-2011) #39
    May 1, 1940

  5. #5
    Death becomes you Osiris-Rex's Avatar
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    Not a comic book, but the 1943 Batman movie serial was very racist.

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    Going by most answers theres a lot of stereotyping, but very little actual racism.

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    While not specifically racist in depiction, and I don't want to shoot off without at least making it aware that I haven't read the material yet because I've got loads of backtracking Batman comics that I haven't had a chance to yet, Obeah Man at least now really comes across as a pretty unfortunate example of, not outright racism, but like ... mega cliche tropes.

    I'm actually particularly fascinated by that character and don't think it's a total loss in possibility, but yeah it's definitely a classic example of "oh let's do a Caribbean Haitian Voodoo crime lord" guy. I'm historically, mythically, culturally pretty interested in Voodoo and the freaky folk practices of Afro-Caribbean people but that doesn't mean I can't see the cliches and tropes built in a lot of the time. You sort of get the same thing in 007: Live and Let Die, and a bunch of other stuff. (LALD is a weird example, too, because it's a 70s take on a 50s book, Fleming's original novel is racist as hell and so 20 years of pretty great strides were made in adapting that troublesome original into something far less heinous, and even kind of embracing the tropes of the blaxploitation era of filmmaking ... but you know, now, 40 years later, it's ... novel ... just how far we've come from even that.)

    Obeah Man always felt like a continuation of that kind of trope. And he's also just not a character that ever really took off, so never got a chance to get past being that kind of two-dimensional depiction. Obviously there's also the built-in issue of the fact that he's pretty much a lift of Mister Big/Baron Samedi from that James Bond story, transferred into Batman's universe. So he's not particularly original, either.

    Anyway this one came to mind specifically because I've been researching and thinking about how to modernize and make Obeah Man relevant lately. So yeah ... maybe not overtly racist, but definitely unfortunately cliched and tropey? Kind of a footnote in the history or evolution of racial depictions in comics, where even things from the 1990s are still perhaps a bit problematic now 25 years later.

    Just writing about that it occurs to me that perhaps the ... oddly ... best? At least, most notable, most "infamous", cool, well-known and least stereotypical black Batman character is Killer Croc. That's a trip to think about.
    Last edited by K. Jones; 01-24-2019 at 12:19 PM.
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    Tropes are not bad, or unfortunate by default, they exist for a reason, they work.
    Positive or negative representation of a character in a work of fiction isnt a bad thing either, Obeah-man wasnt there to represent his entire ethnicity, race or the practices of Voodoo in general. He was there to tell a story of how Tim Drake lost his mother.

    Why do writers use stereotypes? because it makes it easier to tell a story without having to explain and worldbuild, a thing that takes a ton of effort and time.
    As long as the comic doesnt tell you that one race is clearly better or worse than the others, its not racism.

    PD: You should read european, southamerican and asian comics to broaden your views a bit, especially when it comes to the whole "representation" thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mataza View Post
    Tropes are not bad, or unfortunate by default, they exist for a reason, they work.
    Positive or negative representation of a character in a work of fiction isnt a bad thing either, Obeah-man wasnt there to represent his entire ethnicity, race or the practices of Voodoo in general. He was there to tell a story of how Tim Drake lost his mother.

    Why do writers use stereotypes? because it makes it easier to tell a story without having to explain and worldbuild, a thing that takes a ton of effort and time.
    As long as the comic doesnt tell you that one race is clearly better or worse than the others, its not racism.

    PD: You should read european, southamerican and asian comics to broaden your views a bit, especially when it comes to the whole "representation" thing.
    Agreed.

    I mean my views are broad but I do have a dearth of a wider range of storytelling.
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    If your Japanese in a Comic during WW2 your a yellow skinned, fang mouthed demon man. Its not great.

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    Death becomes you Osiris-Rex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetengine View Post
    If your Japanese in a Comic during WW2 your a yellow skinned, fang mouthed demon man. Its not great.
    The Germans weren't depicted all that kindly either.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Osiris-Rex View Post
    The Germans weren't depicted all that kindly either.

    That's WWI though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jetengine View Post
    If your Japanese in a Comic during WW2 your a yellow skinned, fang mouthed demon man. Its not great.
    If you are japanese and its WWII your own depiction of western civilization isnt any more charitable. Also lets not forget whose side they were on.
    Discriminating people based on an accident is never good.
    That war was no accident tho, and demonizing your enemy in times of war is just natural. War is a horrible thing.

  14. #14
    Fantastic Member tbaron's Avatar
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    I have to look up what issue it was but in my Batman the war years Hardcover there is an issue where the Joker steals a bomber plane. He promises to have it back in time to drop bombs on the sqaureheads.
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    A particularly bad example (IMHO) was Hal Jordan's Oriental friend "Pieface."

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