Thursday, August 11, 2016

TRULY GONE & FORGOTTEN : KISMET

This caption kills fascists.

You can more or less credit Kismet – a bare-chested, Nazi-smashing superhero from the little-known title Bomber Comics – as being the first four-color crimefighting Muslim in the medium. In fact, you’d be able to do so easily, because it’s not like the field was so awash with other Islamic do-gooders that his position at the front of the queue could be easily debated. I think he might have been the only Muslim superhero for at least the next thirty years, as a matter of fact…

Dude's a coke fiend.
That’s the “concrete certainty” part. The “more-or-less” part comes from Kismet’s only-Claremontesque nods towards his apparent faith and heritage, rather than any sort of substantial background which contextualized his upbringing. Much like Crossen’s and Raboy’s The Green Lama (whose status as “the first Buddhist superhero” was largely cemented by using “Om Mani Padme Hum” as a magic word and having their clearly Western hero use occasional Eastern-sounding aphorisms in his adventures), Kismet bears some of the cosmetic memorabilia of the Urdu-speaking people from whence comes his handle, while physically resembling Fred MacMurray or some other cinematic leading man.

His costume alone is an interesting mish-mosh – He’s got jodhpurs, riding boots (very “colonial military”), an attractive sash (which seems Moroccan to me, but it’s not like I’m Mister Middle Eastern Fabrics over here) and a yellow fez which sits so low on his head that it more resembles an upturned chicken dinner bucket.

"It's BYOB. We'll have chips and guac!"
But Kismet – “MAN OF FATE” – also drops little pearls of wisdom which, while not seeming particularly Quranic, have at least the tinge of meaningful shibboleth. “None are so blind as those who look too intensely,” he says at point, needlessly unpacking that whole “forest for the trees” bit. “Necessity seems to teach men many things” he says later, again unwrapping a good ol’ bit of Cracker Barrel wisdom. On another occasion, he opines “When the brain is soaked with wine, the fist is not obedient to its master.” Tell that to my father, Kismet, tell that to *sob* daddy.

He’s also given to excoriations and exclamations of an Islamic bent, such as:
  • Allah be with me!
  •  Praise Allah!
  •  It is Allah’s will!
  •  By the beard of the Prophet!
  •  May the prophet guide my inexperienced hands!
  •  By the star and crescent of Islam!
  •  AWWWW SUFFRAGETTE!

As for what powers Kismet may possess, they’re open to interpretation. Some folks have taken his name literally, and extrapolated from a few of Kismet’s greatest hits that he literally possessed the powers of a “man of fate,” and was capable of seeing into the future. He does predict where a Nazi torture expert’s car will be at a certain time on the following day, and seems to anticipate his opponents’ punches now and then. On the other hand, he gets taken by surprise by everyday plot points and surprise attacks far in excess of the number of times he’s able to anticipate danger. Let’s call it a draw.

Leaving before the shooting starts.
What’s for sure is that he is, as the captions describe him, a man with “The mind of a prophet and fists of steel,” which is some exceptional praise. He also, at one point, refers to an airplane as a “sky bird” so I don’t know where they’re going with this character some times.

Much to Kismet’s credit as an axis-buster, he’s situated in the middle of the action. Between adventures, he manages to travel between Czechloslovakia, Berlin and the South of France, busting Nazi chops at every opportunity (as well as getting knocked around by Satanic nogoodniks Flame and Bruta, who hand Kismet his ass and then wander off without repercussions of any sort).

One other thing of note about Kismet is that he begins his career averse to delivering the killing blow to any of his enemies. He’s happy to hand them off to the mercies of those they’ve oppressed, mind you, but he’s disinclined to ever pull the trigger himself. This changes by his fourth appearance, at the end which he detonates a mine full of explosives, killing all the Nazis within. It seems Fate can get totally fed up with playing it cool, is what I learned from this. Awww suffragette!

1 comment:

David Hanson said...

They ever reveal why he has a "V" on his hat?

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