‘Green Lantern #0’ introduces new Muslim Arab-American super hero – a major milestone in comics
NY Daily News: The Green Lantern is about to get a lot more
colorful politically correct. DC Comics is unveiling its newest super hero Wednesday — a Muslim Arab-American being interrogated by Homeland Security when he’s fitted for the cosmic powered ring.
Meet Simon Baz of Dearborn, Michigan, who grew up dealing with prejudice in a post 9/11 America. He may be unlike any other hero to make the leap to his own comic book in a single bound.
“It’s an amalgam of a bunch of different things,” “Green Lantern” writer Geoff Johns told the Daily News. “I’m from Michigan. My dad is also Lebanese [like Baz], and there’s a very big Arab-American community there. I think he’s going to be a really great character.”
Baz is also a major milestone, a role model for Muslim and Arab-Americans of all ages including her own 13-year-old son, says Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Brooklyn-based Arab American Association of New York. “In general, when you think about Arabs and Muslims in main roles in pop culture, they’re always the villains,” she said. “We’re always the hijackers. We’re always the bad people that the good American soldiers or CIA is trying to fight. To finally have the opportunity where the Arab-American can be the super hero, to be the one who saves people, is a lot more powerful an image.”
The storyline in Wednesday’s “Green Lantern #0” issue is part the publisher’s reboot of its fictional universe last year, which wiped out more than seven decades of continuity. The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, a character first introduced in the 1940, was reimagined earlier this year as a homosexual hero in another series.
“At this point, after making Alan Scott gay — that was sort of the big one. Other than a few idiots who somehow felt it was a betrayal, there doesn’t seem to be many people offended,” says Harry Knowles, founder of Ain’t It Cool News, a geek culture news website. “The thing about these characters, they get redefined by the times they are in,” Knowles said. “That’s how they attract new readers.”
Longtime readers don’t have to panic, either: Hal Jordan, the longstanding Green Lantern, wasn’t bumped off, he’s just stuck in a sort of limbo with his old frenemy, Sinestro in an ongoing plotline. That paved the way for Simon Baz, who could use the job after being downsized from an auto plant in his home town, to take over the mantle and the ring.
The new character’s real secret origin, though, may have come from a chance encounter Johns had with two Arab-American comic fans a few years ago. That got him thinking that the four-color world of comic books could use a few more hues. “It continued to reinforce that our readership is extremely diverse, so we want to continue to diversify the characters in our universe,” Johns said.
Want to know why Arabs are the bad people who our soldiers and CIA are trying to catch?
Wonder if this Simon Baz will be the Superhero who saves the Christians who get mobbed at the next Dearborn Arab Festival?