Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Profile: Sabra

Real name: Ruth Bat-Seraph

First appearance: Incredible Hulk #250, February 1981

History: Sabra was an Israeli police officer and Mossad agent born in the Jerusalem area whose son was murdered in an Islamic terrorist attack (this may have happened after she'd originally met the Hulk). She became a minor protagonist in the Marvel universe, and subsequently worked on occasion with the X-Men, since she herself apparently had mutant powers. Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema were her co-creators.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: in Contest of Champions from 1982, after the original Arabian Knight was made to look bad by initially refusing to work with a Jewess (his characterization was that troubling alright), she was made to look ridiculous herself by refusing a helping hand by Arabian Knight after she fell off his flying carpet during a battle with She-Hulk and Captain Britain as opponents. After 2000, she was subject to similar embarrassments in the Union Jack miniseries from 2006, where she sustained a shot at her eye, and the moral equivalence involving her dislike for the second Arabian Knight as much as the first made it worse.

There was even a story published in New Warriors #58-59 where she was brainwashed into sabotaging peace talks between Israel and Syria, which included a nasty attack on a Syrian hero called Batal.

What's wrong with how this was done? The superficial depiction of her mistrusting, hostile feelings against Arabic/Islamic characters without establishing or explaining properly why is just what seriously undermines those stories (no willingness to acknowledge the Koran's contents is a serious flaw in development). The plotline from NW in particular was very sloppy, and was left dangling with nobody commenting on her mental condition.

I don't think she was ever featured in the anthology stories from Marvel Comics Presents (1988-95), whereas Arabian Knight appeared in at least one, and this left me wondering if TPTB had no courage to use her, even in short stories? What good is that? Though in fairness, she did continue to make appearances in X-Men related material as the 90s came about.

Sometimes, from what I've researched of Sabra in the past, it all but seems like they victimized her through cowardice combined with disinterested, ill-informed approach to politics surrounding Israel, the Islamic world by extension, and characterization. Such superficial approaches never do anyone any favors.


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