In this year’s recently released issue of Superman & Wonder Woman Annual #2, the Man of Steel and the Queen of the Amazons struggle with uncertainty about their new romantic relationship, a rogue Olympian terrorizing Pakistan, and an editorial team that apparently doesn’t know that Pakistani people don’t speak “Pakistanian.”
Just before Wonder Woman shows up to do battle with Dichara, a thief who’s stolen weapons from Hephaestus, writer K. Perkins slips in an editor’s note explaining that two Pakistani mens’ dialogue has been translated.
Note that the language is described as non-descript “Pakistanian” rather than the grammatically correct “Pakistani” or, better yet, any one of the specific, actual languages spoken near the Shimshal village.
Khaver Siddiqi, a social media consultant from Karachi, came across this particular panel via Twitter and made a point of sharing it out to his followers. While he understood that American writers might not exactly be familiar with the ins and outs of Pakistan’s many languages, Siddiqi explained that for many readers, this could be their first (incorrect) experience with Pakistani culture.
“Think of it this way, for some people who read this comic this may or may not be their only exposure to Pakistan,” he told me by e-mail. “It is offensive (to me) to think that you can’t respect a culture or nation not to do some basic research about its people or language when you are about to use it in your story.”
Siddiqi told me that while he was impressed at DC’s decision to set the comics’ scene in Shimshal, the move was undercut by the editorial team’s cultural oversight. The solution? Talk to Pakistani people.
“I remember comic book writer Greg Rucka asked his Twitter followers if any of them spoke Farsi: he asked, I retweeted and I think he eventually found someone helped him out,” “Also Google is really good. I mean like really awesome good.”
Fusion has reached out to DC Comics for comments and will update this piece if and when we receive word.