On the anniversary of September 11th DC comics is introducing a new Muslim superhero in Green Lantern #0. The issue tells the origin story of a new Green Lantern, an Arab-American named Simon Baz. He fills in for Hal Jordan, who was apparently killed in Green Lantern Annual #1 and will return as a Black Lantern (zombie Green Lantern).
It’s part of an ongoing effort to increase diversity in the DC universe explains writer Geoff Johns. “There’s no real prominent Arab-American superheroes in DC (Comics) at all,” Johns told Reuters. “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.”
Simon first demonstrates the ability to overcome great fear as a child, though he seems uncaring rather than fearless. While watching coverage of the Twin Towers collapsing his family huddles to comfort each other but Simon just looks at them with bewilderment then goes back to intently watching the television. Growing up he is the victim of Islamophobia including a vandalized Islamic center vandalized, bullies, and security screenings. Johns hits you over the head with it and makes it look like Americans are constantly persecuting Muslims. Rather than sympathy, you feel defensive particularly when security screenings are equated with racism.
Simon comes off as a unsympathetic character even before the first page. The cover shows the fully masked Green Lantern leaping off the page with a handgun pointed directly at the reader. He looks more like a criminal than a galactic cop. In fact, he is. Simon is a car thief, who unwittingly steals a van packed with explosives. He manages to safely drive it to a remote location before it explodes but the government thinks he’s a terrorist. They rendition him overseas in order to waterboard him, yet another dig at America. The interrogation is interrupted by Hal Jordan’s ring, which selects Simon as a replacement. However, the ring malfunctions. It says “error” then shocks him.
Unfortunately, DC Comics has no intention of correcting this error. Simon Baz will continue to be featured in Green Lantern series and in the new Justice League of America out in February 2013.