How 'Stargirl' subverts The Fiddler's racist origins by making the character a South Asian woman

The origin of the Fiddler was problematic, at best, and the show attempts to rectify that with an all new Fiddler


                            How 'Stargirl' subverts The Fiddler's racist origins by making the character a South Asian woman
Hina Khan (DC Universe)

Spoilers for 'Stargirl' Season 1, Episode 5 'Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite'

The Fiddler's origin had terrible racist references in it, right from the start. Created by Robert Kanigher and Lee Elias, the Fiddler was introduced in 'All-Flash' #32 in 1938. There, it was revealed that he learned his powers through a Hindu fakir, whom he saw enchanting a cobra. 'Stargirl' appears to have turned that story on its head, giving the powers of the Fiddler to a South Asian woman, doing away with the cartoonish portrayal of Indian mystics.

It was typical of comics of that time to see down-on-their-luck characters gain their origins from the East, with their original tutors dying. Doctor Strange is the most famous example of this, having studied under the Tibetan Ancient One, taking on the role as the Sorcerer Supreme after the Ancient One dies. That Isaac Bowin is a villain who manages this is less of a subversion of a trope than it is an emphasis on how terrible it was - a white man going to an "exotic" country and plundering it for power. The Fiddler faded into the background of the DC Universe and was killed for failing a Suicide Squad styled mission and having the bomb in his head explode.

Only one character has taken up his legacy, and there is very little known about her. In DC's 'Blackest Night' event, the Fiddler was one of the dead who rose from their graves. There, he meets his successor, who calls herself Virtuoso and promptly kills her before readers could even find out what her real name was. In the years since there have been several attempts in media to bring back either the Fiddler or Virtuoso. CW's 'The Flash' introduced a female version of The Fiddler - Izzy Bowin (Busy Philipps), whose origins were simplified - she happened to be on a bus whose passengers all gained superpowers in an accident. 'DC Super Hero Girls' introduces Mandy Bowin, the daughter of the original Fiddler - someone Wonder Woman later refers to as 'Virtuoso.' 

In 'Stargirl,' however, we learn that Principal Anaya Bowin (Hina Khan), portrayed by an Indian actress, is the new Fiddler. Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) dismisses this out of hand, claiming that the Fiddler he knew was Irish. It's not yet clear what relation Bowin has to the original Fiddler, but it's a nod to the character's origin and rectification of its racist undertones. Also interesting is the fact that Anaya's son is named Isaac Bowin, and goes to school with Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger). Given that Blue Valley High seems rife with both villains and heroes in the making, it probably won't be long until we see a new Fiddler emerge, in an origin blessedly free of Indian mystics.  

The next episode of 'Stargirl' airs June 22 on DC Universe and June 23 on the CW. 

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