NEW YORK: DC Comics introduced a new Green Lantern on Wednesday — the story of Simon Baz, an American of Arab ancestry raised in a Muslim family, who leaves behind street racing to join an intergalactic police force.
Baz, the muscular protagonist in his early 20s with the Arabic word for courage, “al-shuja’a,” tattooed on his arm, is the latest example of superhero diversity in the comic book world. His debut comes after DC Comics unveiled a gay Green Lantern in June and Marvel Comics presented a half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man last year.
“In typical comic books there’s a big handsome white guy and that’s it. But that’s not the world we live in, and comics are reflecting that,” Thor Parker, social marketing and event director at Midtown Comics in New York, told Reuters.
The new story begins with Baz as a child watching television images of a burning World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, according to a copy of the comic book viewed by Reuters. As an adult, Baz, with a criminal record for illegal street racing, turns to car theft after he loses his job at an automobile factory. A car he tries to steal lands him in the middle of a terrorism investigation. Later on, he is magically bestowed with a ring that gives him super powers and anoints him a Green Lantern.
Geoff Johns, who writes the Green Lantern series, said Baz’s character was part of an effort to diversify the universe of superheroes.
“There are no real prominent Arab-American superheroes in DC (Comics) at all,” Johns told Reuters, adding that Baz’s background also dovetailed with the superhero’s story.
“You are chosen to become a Green Lantern because you are of the ability to overcome great fear, and I thought that would be a great theme to play with, with a character of this background,” he said.
The next Green Lantern comic book, in which Baz will be the focus, will be released in October.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2012.