Would an African-American solider in Iraq accept help from the ghost of J.E.B. Stuart? Only in comics!!!!!  

Would an African-American solider in Iraq accept help from the ghost of J.E.B. Stuart? Only in comics!!!!!

Non-fiction. Graphic novel describing the methods of interviewing soldiers for the documentary - On the Bridge

Graphic novel describing the methods of interviewing soldiers for the documentary - On the Bridge


Reading Level - High School and up
Length -341 pages
Basic Premise
This is the author's memoir of growing up in revolutionary (70s/80s) Iran.
Teacher Thoughts
There is a movie on this book as well -
Overall, great book - I completely understand the hype. My only fear is that it does present a more liberal/Western point of view -- perhaps it could be compared to other accounts for a more balanced approach. Very timely book and it is easy to make connections between the life of the author and modern teens.
Student Thoughts
I kept finding myself going back to the French Revoluton and Robespierre - the ongoing internal revolution while fighting an external war and teh extremism/radicalism that presented itself in both events. (Iran/Iraq War).
Role of teachers as government mouthpieces of propaganda - changining with different regimes. Easy to connect to Nazi Germany.
Jews trying to get out of Nazi Germany before borders were shut -- anti-Revolutionary Iranians also trying to get out.
Marx -- dialectic materialism (loved this connection!)
Caste system from India -- different social levels in Iran as well. Compare/contrast.
Political prisoners - North Korea, USSR, Guantanamo?
Arab Spring -- compare/contrast -- are revolutions a good thing?
Women's rights and education
Teenager/parental conflicts. Iranian teens listening to banned Western music - Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, etc.
This would be a neat pairing with A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah -- I remember hearing him speak about listening to Western Hip-Hop as he went through multuple civil wars in Africa.
p. 302 - easy to make connections to Louis XIV and his crazy rules for the nobles -- keep them focused on the rules and they will be too busy to rebel
Swing Kids - a movie I show to students about teen rebellion in Nazi Germany (great film!) - same idea for many teens in Iran.
Potential Issues
Violence from war and protests -- nothing graphic. Use of some curse words - very few and used well in context. This is one person's view, and it tends to be more of a "western/liberal" type of view/
Lesson Ideas
Have students put together restrictions that they face in our society - as individuals, children, students, etc. Compare to those in the book.
Ask what the students would do. Then compare to the modern Arab Spring movements.


Originally published in 1988. An original advertisement - see above - was to get readers involved in the Robin cliffhanger - should he live or die? SPOILER ALERT - the readers chose to have him die. Talk about social commentary - could also talk about technology and how social media would make this much easier today.

Batman and Robin head to the Middle East to track down Robin's real mother and an escaped Joker.
It is interested to use this comic as a window to the late 80s and compare to modern events centering on the Middle East - seems that, in some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Adventures in:
Lebanon -
Joker tries to sell a stolen US nuclear tipped cruise missile to finance his goings on. The CIA (in hoods) follow Batman in to assist him in finding the TERRORISTS. Bruce Wayne travels through Beirut under a Northern Ireland passport as it is not safe to be an American -- interesting political commentary. Arab terrorists attempt to fire the cruise missile at Tel Aviv - but, of course, Batman saves the say. This would be an interesting conversation to have - what would happen if Israel was struck with a nuclear weapon? How would the US or world react?
"Bekaa Valley" - heart of SHIITE terrorist activity.
Batman beats up the "terrorists" to obtain information - easy connection to waterboarding, ett controversy from today.
Israel -
Robin has to sneak in as he is trying to find his mother who may be a secret agent with the IDF. His research in Israel leads him to BEIRUT.
Robin's mom was not the Israeli secret agent, so his research now leads him to Ethiopia. Famine relief mission/refugee camp doctor might be his mother.
Joker runs into the Iranian Secret Service - turns out the Ayatollah has a proposition for him.
So the Joker becomes the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations -- now Batman can't get revenge for the death of Robin as he has diplomatic immunity. The US State Department sent in Superman to make sure Batman did not cause an incident.

Two Face thought about destroying the Twin Towers in 1988 as a way to trap Batman. His coin flip stopped this from happening.


Rating: 5/5
Reading Level - Teen +
Length - comic
Basic Premise
Multiple stories are in this issue - the best centers on Superman relinquishing his US citizenship in front of the UN so that he is no longer seen by the world as just an extension of US foreign policy. Superman realized that he can't just protect NYC - that he belongs to the world - he does a great job protecting the earth from super villiains, but not from the everday spectres of hunger and thirst. He met with the US secretary of state as the government was concerned that Superman went to Tehran to stop a protest from becoming violent. He stood in the middle of the protesters and miltitary as an image of non-violent resistance - civil disobedience. The Iranian government then threatened war as it saw Superman acting as an agent of the US government - this is why he renounced his citizenship. Although the Iranian government did not immediately stop its repression, things began to move in better direction as a result of Superman's actions.
Teacher Thoughts
Interesting way to teach current events in the Middle East - compares to the ideas presented in Superman Red Son (where he is a Soviet, not American - see Cold War page). This issue was received in 2011 was controversial and it would lead to some good discussions in class. To me, it appears that Superman mirrors the worldview of the US - the world's mightiest power, able to confront super villians (Hussein) - but not doing enough to help with democratic movements and general needs of the world's populatiom.
Student Thoughts
Potential Issues
Lesson Ideas
If Superman is the most powerful being on the planet, why then is there hunger, repression, etc? Choose a conflict in the world today and imagine that Superman intervened. What would happen? Repercussions? Positives? Negatives? Why do you think Superman doesn't normally become invovled in world events in his comic universe? What would/should the American government do if Superman acted contrary to American interests?


Rating - 5/5
Reading Level - high school
Basic Premise
A detailed history of how Iran's democracy was derailed by Great Britain and the United States over oil - culminating in the company of BP.
Factual - with the research I have completed, most seems to be on point. The appendix included the original CIA plan from June 1953.
Teacher Thoughts -
This would be a great resource for teaching AP US, AP Euro, or AP World. With the current ongoing Iran-USA negotiations this book could not be more timely. This is a book that could be read in one or two days and used as a jumping off point for further research. It is an unforgiving look at Western policies and how they have shaped some of the current Middle East issues. When European Imperialism is taught, it is often discussed as being over in the early 1900s or maybe even by WWII - however, this book certainly would suggest otherwise. Too often, Westerners read about "those" people in the Middle East and the violence - it is important to understand the historical underpinnings of these recent issues.
The book is beautifully drawn and it is interspersed with text and documents to bring everything together. I personally found it to sum up 60 some years of history quite succinctly and provided me with enough curiosity to complete further research on my own.
Student Thoughts
Connections -
Imperialism, 1979 Iranian Revolution , Cold War, Containment Theory, propaganda, Atlee, Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Dulles Brothers.
Potential Issues -
There are a few scenes of violence - nothing over the top. There are also two incidences of sexual activity - but nothing graphic and no nudity
Lesson Ideas
I would begin with a current events lesson on the ongoing nuclear negotiations between the US and Iran. Or perhaps begin with a discussion on 9/11 and why it happened. It would be interesting to see how students "feel" about Iran after reading about this nation through the Western media. These "feelings" could then be revisited after reading this graphic novel. While no side is clearly "good" or "evil" - the lesson is that the study of history matters when understanding current events.
App store digital/interactive comic. I have not seen it - would love to hear feedback if anyone looks at it.

2005 Government solicitation to create a comic book in Arabic to be disseminated to Middle Eastern youth -