Monday, January 23, 2006

It's a Comics World

Five of "The 99," from left: Mumita (speedy), Dr. Razem (a gem expert), Rughal (mystery powers), Jabbar (expandable) and Noora (sees truth).

Yesterday's New York Times contained an article by Hassan M. Fattah titled "Comics to Battle for Truth, Justice and the Islamic Way."

Here are the article's key paragraphs:
"Naif al-Mutawa's Teshkeel Media, based in Kuwait, says that in September it will begin publishing 'The 99,' a series of comic books based on superhero characters who battle injustice and fight evil, with each character personifying one of the 99 qualities that Muslims believe God embodies."

"Mr. Mutawa is seeking to reach youngsters who are straddling the cultural divide between East and West. They like comics and Western entertainment, and yet are attached to their roots and intend to hold on to their customs. He, too, faced that divide, going to summer camp in New Hampshire in the 1980's..."

"The story concerns 99 gems encoded with the wisdom of Baghdad just as the Mongols are invading the city in the 13th century - in his version, to destroy the city's knowledge. The gems are the source of not only wisdom but power, and they have been scattered across the world, sending some 20 superheroes (at least in the first year, leaving another 49 potential heroes for future editions) on a quest to find them before an evil villain does."

"The characters in 'The 99' are not all Arabs, but Muslims from all over the world. Jabbar, the enforcer, is a hulking figure from Saudi Arabia with the power to grow immense at a sneer; Mumita is a bombshell from Portugal with unparalleled agility and a degree of bloodlust; and Noora, from the United Arab Emirates, can read the truth in what people say and help them to see the truth in themselves. There is even a character who wears a burka, aptly called Batina, derived from the word meaning hidden."

"[W]hat may give him the biggest edge is a seasoned team, including writers like Fabian Nicieza, who wrote for X-Men and Power Rangers comics, and a group of managers and advisers who are old hands in the industry."

All I can say is, man, I hope there's an easy way to get this title here in the US.

Damn, I really want to read that comic now. It sounds like a lot of fun.

And I like the global muslim take too, be interesting to see the take on certain cultural differences while the faith remains essentially Islam. I hope there's an Indonesian character, would seem very strange not to, as Indonesia has the highest muslim population in the world, I've heard.
Hey, kalinara!

Yeah, it sounds like an interesting project, indeed. And I agree, an Indonesian (or Indian/Pakistani) character would be a nice addition to the 99 team.
Hi there. There will absolutely be a character from Indonesia-as well as Malaysia, Pakistan, India, China,etc... There will be 99 countries represented. I am keeping away from religion and politics and trying to focus on the spirit of Islam. The religion of the characters will be a non issue. We won't mention it. Neither will we have mosques or Quran. The backstory that takes place between 1258 and 1492 and the fact that there are 99 heroes doing justice and fighting evil is all the reference to Islam that there will be. Thanks for being excited about it and please register on

Naif Al-Mutawa
Thanks very much for the additional information, Mr. Al-Mutawa. I'm very pleased to learn (from the FAQ at The 99 website) that the titles will be appearing in English translations.

Will The 99 books be distributed in the USA, or will subscriptions be the only way for those of us living here to acquire copies?
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