Thursday, September 22, 2016

September Spotlight on #OwnVoices:
Super Indian

Super Indian Vol. 1 by Arigon Starr
As part of our Spotlight on #OwnVoices in September, we will feature books not published in the last year on Throwback Thursday. Today Allie looks at a graphic novel published in 2012.

Super Indian by Arigon Starr. Wacky Productions Unlimited, 2012. ISBN 978-9870985952. Click here to purchase.

Super Indian opens with an image of a lone figure on horseback. This "mighty Native warrior", who seems to speak Bear and levitates during meditation, "holds the mystical knowledge and secrets of the ancient shamans".  The stereotypes last only one page, however, as the narrator abruptly informs us, "That warrior and his story are told in another comic book."

Cut to mild-mannered Hubert Logan, who as a child ate some government-provided cheese tainted with "rezium" and subsequently developed super strength, fire breath, and more ever-emerging super powers. After escaping from the clutches of an evil anthropologist who traveled to Leaning Oak Reservation in search of ancient artifacts, Hubert decides to try his hand at blogging.  Big mistake.  Three identities--Hubert, Super Indian, and Rez Boy--prove too much even for Super Indian, especially when an imposter starts tagging as Rez Boy.  All will be resolved, but not without the help of Hubert's dog, Diogi, and his friend General Bear/Mega Bear, who help Super Indian save the day.
"At last... everything I wanted to know about
string theory but was afraid to ask..."

There's so much to love in this uproariously funny comic.  Stereotypes are flouted at every turn, the Twilight series is parodied, and Diogi--the dog--loves string theory.  Villains include Wampum Baggs, who possesses a magical Wampum belt, and Cal Van Erik, who "despite his suspect Native heritage [is] the most well-known 'Indian' actor".  One-page bonuses include information about Real Super Indians, e.g., Maria Tallchief, an internationally-renowned ballerina.

As an outsider to Native culture, I can tell that there are many in-jokes and references that I miss when I read Super Indian, and that's a good thing.  Despite the inclusion of a "guide to rez speak", Super Indian firmly centers Native experiences and counters, rather than comforts, White ideas about Native identity.  For that reason, it's something that every library--especially those serving primarily-White populations--should have.

Reviewed by Allie Jane Bruce

1 comment:

  1. So happy to see this here! I love that book. And yeah---lots of inside jokes. Each time I think of it, I remember the middle grade student at Santa Clara Pueblo who came to me after my talk there, specifically to see the book. She grinned and grinned as she read it.