Muslim Superheroes

In American comics, you might see a Muslim character once, maybe twice a year. They’ll usually be a villain, though one of the X-Men books has a main character who is Muslim. Heck, that’s better than you can say for the French. All they’ve got is Batroc the Leaper.

But that’s fixin’ to change, thanks to a company called Teshkeel Media, which is putting together a new series called “The 99,” in which all of the superheroes are named after the 99 names of Allah.

Although the book begins in 13th century Baghdad, its Kuwaiti-born creator Naif Mutawa says the comic is a metaphor for what is happening in the Islamic world.

The 99 features superheroes such as Jabbar ‘the powerful’ and Fatah ‘the opener’ who come to the rescue in modern disasters.

The comic is currently available in eight Middle Eastern countries, and will soon be launched in the United States and Malaysia.

Yudha Kartohadiprodjo from Femina Group, the Indonesian company publishing The 99, says every single hero in the book is named after one of Allah’s 99 monikers.

The superheroes come from 99 different countries with Muslim populations, with Fatah hailing from Indonesia.

“(Fatah’s) power is to be able to teleport himself from one dimension to another or from one place to another,” Mr Kartohadiprodjo said.

Honestly, I’m wildly in favor, and I wish more comics companies would follow Teshkeel’s lead. There’s nothing more terrifically dull than picking up your weekly stack of comics and realizing that they all star a bunch of generic white guys. Yawwwwn. Sure, some comics are improving their diversity — I think the current Justice League has the most black characters the series has ever had. But characters from Islamic cultures are still very, very scarce.

And don’t hand me any bullpucky about “We cain’t never have none o’ them Ay-rabs in our comics ’cause, uhh, 9-11! AMURRICAAAA!” No, I’m sorry, but that clanging sound you hear is me hitting you in the skull with this 1975 Cadillac Seville. I don’t subscribe to the “Insulting National Stereotype” theory of global relations, and you shouldn’t either.

Anyway, if I see a copy of “The 99” here in Lubbock one of these days, I’ll pick it up and give you a review.

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