DC Comics’ Aquaman #7 marked the New 52 debut of archenemy Black Manta and the introduction of “the Others,” a super-powered team from the king of Atlantis’ past whose ranks included Kahina the Seer, a native of Tehran gifted with prophetic powers. Unfortunately for Kahina, however, her first appearance was also (presumably) her last, as she’s hunted down and killed by the helmeted villain in the issue’s opening sequence.
It’s a turn of events that didn’t sit well with comics writer, and fan, Dara Naraghi (Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland, Ghostbusters: Tainted Love), who’s posted an open letter to Aquaman writer Geoff Johns, reworked from a similar one he sent to Editor Pat McCallum, detailing his “extreme disappointment” as an Iranian-American reader in seeing an Iranian character killed off only eight pages after her introduction.
“Please understand, this is not one of those ‘DC Comics is racist/xenophobic’ essays that you’ve undoubtedly encountered countless times in the recent past,” Naraghi writes. “I’ve been happy with, and supportive of, DC’s attempt at diversifying their universe with a sizable number of comics starring minority and female characters in the ‘New 52’ relaunch of books. But I just don’t understand the logic behind creating a new minority hero – one from a country and culture that’s often misrepresented in today’s media as ‘evil’ – only to have her killed upon her first appearance. What purpose did her death serve, other than being a mere plot point?”
“I’m not asking that DC Comics create a plethora of Iranian characters,” he continues, “or that they should only be portrayed as heroes, or even that once created, they should never be killed. I understand narrative needs, primary characters and supporting ones, emotional beats and motivation. But when there are absolutely NO characters of a certain ethnic or cultural background in your stories, to casually kill off the ONLY example of one, after a mere 8 pages, seems very counterproductive to me. It’s a disservice to your audience, a step back in your strides towards diversity, and just reinforces the negative stereotypes about the stunted development of superhero comics.”
Read the full letter on Naraghi’s website.