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Muslim super hero

DETROIT (AP) — When DC Comics decided to blow up its fabled universe and create a brave, diverse future, Geoff Johns drew from the past for a new character: his own background as an Arab-American.

The company's chief creative officer and writer of the relaunched "Green Lantern" series dreamed up Simon Baz, DC's most prominent Arab-American superhero and the first to wear a Green Lantern
ring. The character and creator share Lebanese ancestry and hail from
the Detroit area, which boasts one of the largest and oldest Arab
communities in the United States."I
thought a lot about it — I thought back to what was familiar to me,"
Johns, 39, told The Associated Press by phone last week from Los
Angeles, where he now lives. "This is such a personal story."The Green Lantern mantle in DC Comics
is no stranger to diversity with its ranks made up of men, women,
aliens — animal, vegetable and mineral — from across the universe.Earlier this year an alternate universe Green Lantern was reintroduced as openly gay.

Baz's
story begins in a standalone "zero issue" available Wednesday that's
part of a companywide effort to fill in the gaps or tell the origins of a
character or team. Johns has no plans for Baz
to fade into the background — the character in February is bound for
the Justice League of America, one of DC's premier super team books, to
fight alongside Green Arrow, Catwoman and Hawkman.Johns said he took economic as well as ethnic cues for the character from his native Detroit area, with Baz
resorting to stealing cars after being laid off from his automotive
engineering job. He steals the wrong car, which inadvertently steers him
into a terrorism probe and, eventually, an unexpected call to join the
universe's galactic police force.The olive-skinned, burly Baz hails from Dearborn, the hometown of Henry Ford and the capital of Arab America.
His story begins at 10 years old, when he and the rest of his Muslim
family watch their television in horror as airplanes fly into the World
Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Events unfold from there as U.S. Arabs
and Muslims find themselves falling under intense suspicion and
ostracism in the days, months and years following the attacks."Obviously,
it's affecting everybody," said Johns, who grew up in nearby suburbs in
a Lebanese Christian household and got into comics when he discovered
his uncle's old collection in his Arab grandmother's attic. "One of the
things I really wanted to show was its effect on Simon and his family in
a very negative way."Baz is not the first Arab or Muslim character to grace — or menace, as has historically been the case — the comic world. Marvel Comics has Dust, a young Afghan woman whose mutant ability to manipulate sand and dust has been part of the popular X-Men books. DC Comics
in late 2010 introduced Nightrunner, a young Muslim hero of Algerian
descent reared in Paris. He is part of the global network of crime
fighters set up by Batman alter-ego Bruce Wayne.Frank Miller,
whose dark and moody take on Batman in "The Dark Knight Returns" in
1986 energized the character, took a different tack in his recent book, "Holy Terror,"
which tells the story of The Fixer and his efforts to stamp out Islamic
terrorists. The graphic novel initially took root as a look at Batman's
efforts to fight terrorism, which grew out of Miller's experiences of
being in New York on 9/11.A
broader mission to bring Islamic heroes and principles to the comic
world comes from Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of "The 99." The U.S. educated
psychologist from Kuwait
has been gaining followers across the globe since the 2006 debut of the
comic book that spawned a TV series. "The 99" is named after the number
of qualities the Quran attributes to God: strength, courage, wisdom and
mercy among them.The series gained a wide audience in 2010, when
it worked with DC on a six-issue crossover that teamed the "The 99"
with The Justice League of America.Johns,
who also has written stories starring Superman, The Flash and Teen
Titans, said going diverse only works if there's a good story, and he
believes he found that with Baz. But don't mistake him for a hero in the
beginning: Baz disappoints both devout Muslims — his forearm tattoo
that reads "courage" in Arabic is considered "haram," or religiously
forbidden — and broader society by turning to a life of crime."He's
not a perfect character. He's obviously made some mistakes in his life,
but that makes him more compelling and relatable," he said. "Hopefully
(it's) a compelling character regardless of culture or ethnic
background. ... But I think it's great to have an Arab-American
superhero. This was opportunity and a chance to really go for it."Of course, Johns hopes Green Lantern fans accept Baz, who joins other humans who have been "chosen," including Hal Jordan,
John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. The overall relaunch has
been good for DC, which has seen a solid gain in sales and critical
reception — as well as some expected grumbling — since coming out with
the "New 52" last year.Johns
also sees the debut of Baz as a chance to reconnect with people in his
home state: He's scheduled to visit Dearborn this weekend for events
related to the release that include a signing Friday at a comic book
store and a free presentation Saturday on his career and characters at
the Arab American National Museum. He worked with museum staff to make
sure he got certain details right about his character and the
Arab-Muslim community."It
doesn't completely define the character but it shapes the character," he
said. "My biggest hope is that people embrace it and understand what
we're trying to do."___

Associated Press Writer Matt Moore contributed to this report from Philadelphia.

___

Follow Jeff Karoub on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jeffkaroub

___

Online:

DC Comics: http://www.dccomics.com/


Added: Sep-5-2012 Occurred On: Sep-30-2012
By: orangepeel
In:
Other Entertainment
Tags: Islam, superhero, usa
Location: United States (load item map)
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