The short version of this story goes something like this:
Both this month’s Detective Comics Annual #12 and Batman Annual #28 feature a new DC Comics superhero, Nightrunner. As Batman (aka Bruce Wayne) travels the world and takes his fight against crime global, he is appointing local heroes Batman-like roles, just as he has long done for Gotham in America. Nightrunner, otherwise known as Billai Asseiah, has an Algerian background and is Muslim.
Let the sideshow begin.
Warner Todd Huston, freelance writer for websites including BigGovernment.com, RightWingNews.com, and, StoptheACLU.com, calls this “a PCing of the American comic book industry that has been going on for far too long” and “a misreading of what ails France.” He writes:
You see, DC Comics has decided that the “French savior,” the French Batman is to be a Muslim immigrant. The character’s name is Bilal Asselah and he is an Algerian Sunni Muslim and an immigrant that is physically fit and adept at gymnastic sport Parkour. Apparently Batman couldn’t find any actual Frenchman to be the “French
Arturo R. Garcia, writing at Racialicious.com, argues against Huston’s position, sardonically commenting:
In the meantime, far be it from us here at Racialicious to completely dismiss the views of people like Mr. Huston or the “Astute Blogger.” In fact, here’s a hot tip for them to pursue: as it happens, DC has been guilty of exploiting an undocumented immigrant superhero for decades on end. We’ll even provide a picture for reference:
The “Astute Blogger” quoted by Garcia refers to Avi Green writing at The Astute Bloggers, who, among the rest of his commentary, suggests Nightrunner might “bring justice to the Parisian streets by lighting dozens of evil automobiles on fire every night” or “setting disabled women on fire too.” Like Huston, Garcia feels this is DC’s PC “kowtowing” (He points, too, at the cross-over between Batman’s superteam and Teshkeel Comics’ Muslim supergroup, JLA/The99, being “a fiasco.”)
Comics-centric sites like Comics Alliance, Superhero Hype, and Comic Book Resources have largely fallen on Garcia’s side of the debate, citing similar uproar over an African American actor in the Thor movie or Captain America‘s rebuke of the Tea Party.
Meanwhile, Dylan Moran, writing for 3News in New Zealand, says, “the [comic book] industry appears to be making equality a focus lately, and the inclusion of Nightrunner may be a real signal of that intent.”