By fodigg 13 Comments
Sinister, listing the Schism sides to himself:"Rachel, Remy, Katherine, the remaining Gurthies, and others I'll list anon went east. Oh--and that Toad creature. Ororo wanted to go but Cyclops persuaded her otherwise.
"Ms. Frost, the lovely Miss Betsy, Erik, King Namor, Piotr and many others stay. Ah! And the fledgling chick lets the troubled Miss Okonkwo escape from under her wing, I believe."
For those who may not know, Okonkwo is a character from the novel Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. I remember reading this book in university (might even still have it on my shelf) and how it dealt with the impact of colonialism on Africa. Wikipedia's summary:
Things Fall Apart is a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim. The title of the novel comes from William Butler Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". In 2009, Newsweek ranked Things Fall Apart #14 on its list of Top 100 Books: The Meta-List.
The novel depicts the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion in Umuofia—one of a fictional group of nine villages in Nigeria, inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group. In addition it focuses on his three wives, his children, and the influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on his traditional Igbo (archaically "Ibo") community during the late nineteenth century.
Up until this point, I had never actually realized that "Okonkwo" was Idie's last name. It's an interesting reference, I guess, but I can't seem to see why the creators—Fraction and Gillen—would make it. Other than being from a rural Nigerian village, the characters of Oya and Okonkwo seriously could not be more different. Consider:
- Okonkwo was a village leader, a great warrior, but prone to rashness. He was a strong believer in the old religion and grappled with the coming of Christian missionaries and their message. Eventually, he kills another member of the tribe accidentally. Although he did not mean to kill the boy, the law is clear and he takes his three wives and goes into exile.
- Oya is a timid young outcast who is hated and feared by the rest of her village. She also has strong faith, but seems to believe she is a demon, referencing "witchcraft" in very typically Christian terms. She does not accidentally kill a villager, but instead knowingly cuts down a group of terrorists in order to prevent a bomb from going off. And far from being exiled from her home, she's allowed to leave Utopia and start a "real" life going to a school.
I understand the urge to tie your Nigerian character to one of the better-known existing Nigerian characters, but why do that if you're going to invert nearly everything about that character? It'd be like referencing Sherlock Holmes only to make him a slobbering idiot. Furthermore, why make that reference if you're going to abandon everything that makes them relevant? It just kind of bothers me a bit considering the serious social issues Things Fall Apart dealt with compared to, well, Schism, which seems to be dealing with "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if Cyclops fought Wolverine?" Now, I'm not saying that comics, even superhero comics, can't deal with serious issues. I've railed against considering speculative fiction as a literary ghetto, here and elsewhere. However, what they've done with Oya seems to be totally unrelated to those issues. Perhaps the writers feel that the topic of the impact of imperial colonialism is a bit too high brow for comics? Perhaps they think the issue of child soldiers is relevant to Nigeria, so why not? I'm just not sure it's a good idea to invite this comparison. It'd be like if they'd written in an Indian X-Man and named him "Saleem Sinai" after the character in Midnight's Children. I mean, really? You want to set the literary bar that high and then deliver something like this?
I dunno. Did anyone else notice this? I know I'm late to the ballgame here as I didn't realize what her last name was until Sinister called her that. It just seems like a really odd choice.