The Holy Man Of Avengers A.I.

Sam Humphries may best be known in the comics industry for his self-published micro-distributed hit Our Love Is Real, a rather outrageous science-fiction comic.

Since he started at Marvel Comics, his work has been less controversial. And, for his sins, he has just signed an exclusive deal with Marvel.

The final issue of Avengers A.I, the less-than-bestselling Avengers spinoff comic Avengers AI, teaming up a number of robots, androids and other artificial intelligences into one team.

In the comic, an Islamic character Monica is confronted with a moral dilemma that she turns to her faith to resolve. And then, she's greeted by a vision of "the holy man" who helps to guide her to the right decision.

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Some contacted Bleeding Cool feel the explicit references to the Muslim faith in these pages make the authorial intent obvious. Why have a character refer to the teachings of Allah and the Qur'an, and then meet a vision of an ancient "holy man" if that holy man were not Mohammed? And such portrayals in comic book form have caused all manner of issues in the past.

But no, a clue as to what is actually going on may be found in the previous issue.

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Because this is a genuine Pakistani fairytale, holy man/dervish and all.

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Here is one translation.

There was a greengrocer who had a parrot, a sweet-voiced green talking parrot.
(Perched) on the bench, it would watch over the shop (in the owner's absence) and talk finely to all the traders. In addressing human beings it would speak (like them); it was (also) skilled in the song of parrots.

250. (Once) it sprang from the bench and flew away; it spilled the bottles of rose-oil.
Its master came from the direction of his house and seated himself on the bench at his ease as a merchant does.
(Then) he saw the bench was full of oil and his clothes greasy; he smote the parrot on the head: it was made bald by the blow.
For some few days it refrained from speech; the greengrocer, in repentance, heaved deep sighs,
Tearing his beard and saying, "Alas! the sun of my prosperity has gone under the clouds.

255. Would that my hand had been broken (powerless) at that moment! How (ever) did I strike (such a blow) on the head of that sweet-tongued one?"
He was giving presents to every dervish, that he might get back the speech of his bird.
After three days and three nights, he was seated on the bench, distraught and sorrowful, like a man in despair,
Showing the bird every sort of marvel (in the hope) that maybe it would begin to speak.
Meanwhile a bare-headed dervish, clad in a jawlaq (coarse woollen frock), passed by, with a head hairless as the outside of bowl and basin.

260. Thereupon the parrot began to talk, screeched at the dervish and said, "Hey, fellow!
How were you mixed up with the bald, O baldpate? Did you, then, spill oil from the bottle?"
The bystanders laughed at the parrot's inference, because it deemed the wearer of the frock to be like itself.
Do not measure the actions of holy men by (the analogy of) yourself, though shér (lion) and shír (milk) are similar in writing.
On this account the whole world is gone astray: scarcely any one is cognisant of God's Abdál (Substitutes).

There you go then. Because while Our Love Is Real may be controversial, but there's only so far you might want to go…

So in that case… Swipe File!

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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