*Update* New Video added
MV: One of my favorite things as a kid (and still now) is comics and superheros. Now some might think of me as mad, which I am not Thank Allah! But those of you that enjoy superheros and comics would understand. Regardless this post is very good news for the Muslims in America and other people’s views of Muslim as they are now teaming up DC’s superheroes including Batman and Superman! Muslims, as superheroes.
They are superheroes battling injustice and fighting evil the Islamic way, and they are teaming up with some of the west’s biggest comic book icons. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are among those joining forces with The 99, who personify the 99 attributes of Allah, according to Islamic tradition.
What will unfold on the pages of the collaboration between DC Comics in the US and Teshkeel Comics in Kuwait is yet to be seen, but the appearance of The 99 – who already appear in comics in the Muslim world – alongside archetypal American heroes would have been unlikely during the Bush years. DC Comics’ president and publisher, Paul Levitz, believes the cross-cultural project is unprecedented.
He said: “It is a long-standing tradition for characters to meet others in the fictional world, and over the years a lot of the superheroes have been translated into Arabic, taking on ethnic elements. But this is a nice step forward. The most difficult creative test is when you are working with the least precedent and when you’re trying to reach an audience that has a different cultural bias and different interests.”
The mini-series will hit shops within a year, with links between the publishing firms easing the creative process.
Comic book aficionados have mainly responded positively to the news, although questions have been raised about how Wonder Woman’s skimpy costume will fare in the Middle East.
One fan writes: “Maybe they can colour her differently in other markets so it looks like she is wearing a bodysuit. It would be cool if there was a line about Wonder Woman choosing to cover up out of respect for where she’s going since she was an ambassador (I doubt they would have her take the more radical decision and not cover up as a feminist move).”
A few accuse DC Comics of betraying the US: “Muslim-pandering, anyone? Thank you, Time Warner, for showing us whose side you’re on. I guess we can add you to the list of traitorous companies who have forgotten 9/11.”
Unlike their western counterparts The 99 do not wear disguises, unless you count the burka-wearing Batina The Hidden, nor are they outsiders with secret identities. They are ordinary people who develop extraordinary abilities after coming into contact with mystical gems infused with power and wisdom.
Only Batina, one of five females, is fully veiled, and although characters pray or read the Qur’an, they are meant to appeal to children of all faiths.
The team behind The 99 includes comic book stalwarts Fabian Nicieza, Stuart Moore, June Brigman, Dan Panosian, and John McCrea, who have all worked at DC Comics and Marvel.
The 99 comics, which sell about 1m copies a year, enjoy a high profile in the Middle East. The adventures are to be made into an animated film, while the first of several 99-inspired theme parks has opened in Kuwait.
The creator of The 99 and founder of Teshkeel Media, Dr Naif Al- Mutawa, a psychologist by day, hopes his comics help dialogue and co-operation. Like Levitz, he is unsure of how the story will develop. “Are we going to have them working together from day one, or will they think the other is the enemy? Enemy number one is fear. You could open it with Obama’s speech [in Cairo] with the two sets of superheroes watching it and having different reactions. There’s plenty of possibilities.”
About 23 heroes have been launched and there are more to come.
Mutawa said: “We’re building the brand slowly.
“It’s difficult to have any kind of reading or comic book culture here because there is a lot of stuff that doesn’t come in or it’s censored. Certain storylines don’t work and some stuff, like magic, just isn’t allowed.”