Ever since DC Comics decided to reboot their entire universe of characters, they’ve been trawling the diversity waters. They’ve done all sorts of stunt casting with their characters. In June, for instance, they turned the Green Lantern gay.
Well they’re at it again. Earlier this week, DC revealed that they’re pulling another stunt: They’re creating a Muslim Arab-American hero.
At this point, DC is closing in on self-parody. Because the new Muslim hero, “Simon Baz,” is also a Green Lantern, and where other Green Lanterns have worn either a simple Domino mask (or no mask at all), Baz wears a full stocking mask with only his eyes and mouth visible. You can practically hear the corporate notes on the design: We like the super-powered burka look because it’s so evocative of America’s multicultural history.
But wait, there’s more. In an interview, DC writer Geoff Johns says that the new Green Lantern’s story will begin on September 11, 2001:
The olive-skinned, burly Baz hails from Dearborn, the hometown of Henry Ford and the capital of Arab America. His story begins at 10 years old, when he and the rest of his Muslim family watch their television in horror as airplanes fly into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Events unfold from there as U.S. Arabs and Muslims find themselves falling under intense suspicion and ostracism in the days, months and years following the attacks.
"Obviously, it's affecting everybody," said Johns, who grew up in nearby suburbs in a Lebanese Christian household and got into comics when he discovered his uncle's old collection in his Arab grandmother's attic. "One of the things I really wanted to show was its effect on Simon and his family in a very negative way."
So once more, comic book writers come to 9/11 only to point out how terrible America is.
If we were going to be snarky we might ask what the Muslim Green Lantern thinks of the gay Green Lantern’s right to marry. Or why DC Comics doesn’t have any prominent evangelical Christian heroes. But instead, I’ll just point out that with DC popping out diversity stunts every few months, eventually the law of diminishing returns will set in and they’ll have to create a transgendered Green Lantern with a drinking problem—in a wheelchair!—in order to get people to pay attention.
On the other hand, that’s still easier than writing compelling stories that people want to read.