Simon Baz, Green Lantern:
The first major Muslim Superhero?
By Jamil of Jamil's Comics JCC
Green Lantern #0 was released in the month of perhaps the greatest tragedy of the United States. On September 11, 2001 the world changed when the Twin Towers came under attack. It changed for the ordinary Americans who were shocked that someone could attack them in their homeland. And it changed for us Muslims when we realised we would inevitably be blamed for this attack and there would be great oppression.
It is fitting then, that the starting sequence of the comic references 9/11. A young Arab-American, Simon, watches the towers burning on TV with his family, horrified. Five years later, a sequence shows him and his sister being taunted at school. Then in current time, he is fleeing from the law. He has stolen a van, but he does not know that there is a bomb inside.
Simon Baz wears a tattoo in his arm, which says 'courage' in Arabic. The Tattoo is haram in Islam as his father tells him. In an interrogation facility, he is subjected to physical violence when a good cop-bad cop routine goes awry. A federal agent happens to be pointing a gun at Baz when, to save the day, a Green Lantern ring arrives at the picture, “You have the ability - error - to overcome great fear”. Yes, Simon Baz, the Arab-American, the car thief, has been chosen to become the new Green Lantern.
What about the old Green Lantern for Earth then? What about Hal Jordan? Just to summarise - Hal is/was not the current Green Lantern for Earth with the turn of events in the new DC 52 universe. It is/was Sinestro. Sinestro however did provide Hal with a make-shift power ring and they both ended up fighting the Black Hand. Readers will remember the Black Hand as being the centre figure in the massive event the 'Blackest Night' a couple of years back. Now here, Hal and Sinestro discover they are fighting not only the Black Hand, but the Guardians themselves. Both apparently 'die' and their power rings fuse together. This ring is the one that sought out Simon Baz.
There is much disturbance among the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians. The Guardians apparently are trying to form their third army (their first attempt was the Manhunters which they abandoned. Green Lantern Corps is their second attempt). So, are they disbanding the Corps? And who is the first Green Lantern? What role does he play in all this? The Third Army saga will be in the core storyline of the DC universe for the next few months. So how does the first Arab-American superhero fit in all of this? Is DC planning this character for the long haul or will he disappear like John Stuart - the first Black Green Lantern - from the limelight?
Superstar writer Geoff Johns, a Lebanese-American himself, is apparently serious about his creation. The thug-like mask and the gun on Simon may bother many, but maybe that is the intention of that image - provocation. Giving Baz the cover of the much-hyped Green Lantern #0 is a token of confidence to how far he can go from DC. But only time can tell the real future of Simon Baz.