The comic book and superhero genre can be dated way back to the early days of the 20th century when Superman was created to help bolster morale during the Second World War. In recent years, the legacy of these comic book superheroes have definitely become more and more prominent in nearly all mediums of entertainment, especially blockbuster films.
These superheroes now have global popularity, but it is important to note that nearly all of them have been inspired and created in the United States. There have been relatively few attempts by other countries or cultures to offer their own take on the modern superhero. This has especially been the case for the conservative and at times extreme regimes in the Arab world and the Middle East.
Enter Naif al-Mutawa. A Kuwaiti psychologist, al-Mutawa has spent the last few years building up an extraordinary premise—a comic book series based on, but not explicitly about certain aspects of the Islamic religion. Named The 99, after the 99 attributes of Allah, his franchise has reached new heights this year in the Muslim world and across the globe with a television series set to air in Saudi Arabia and various other Islamic countries.
The titular “99” are a wide variety of superheroes, both male and female, who each embody some aspect of Allah, although al-Mutawa is clear to note that the comics are not overtly Islamic but rather include allegories from the Qu’ran, just as American comics like Superman embody subtle and secular Christian references.
In this way there’s nothing really shocking in the way that The 99 is written, since it simply reflects the influences of the culture it was based on, just like we’ve all taken Western culture for granted in Hollywood films.
Check out the video below to learn more about this fascinating comic.