Quantcast
Connect with us

Comic company launching ‘Silver Scorpion’, a disabled, Muslim superhero

Published

on

Comic book fans will soon be getting their first glimpse at an unlikely new superhero — a Muslim boy in a wheelchair with superpowers.

The new superhero is the brainchild of a group of disabled young Americans and Syrians who were brought together last month in Damascus by the Open Hands Intiative, a non-profit organization founded by U.S. philanthropist and businessman Jay T. Snyder.

ADVERTISEMENT

The superhero’s appearance hasn’t been finalized, but an early sketch shows a Muslim boy who lost his legs in a landmine accident and later becomes the Silver Scorpion after discovering he has the power to control metal with his mind.

Sharad Devarajan, co-founder and CEO of Liquid Comics whose company is now turning the young people’s ideas into pictures and a story line, said the goal is to release the first comic book — launching the disabled Muslim superhero — in early November in both Arabic and English.

Snyder says he was inspired by President Barack Obama’s effort to reach out to the Muslim world in his January 2009 inaugural address. Last month, Snyder flew 12 disabled Americans to Damascus to meet their Syrian peers, and one of their main goals was to come up with ideas and story lines for the new superhero.

“The only limit was the imagination these kids had — the opportunity for a great story,” said Snyder, a comic book collector who heads HBJ Investments LLC. “They helped create something by their combined talents, and that becomes a gift to the world.”

Devarajan found the young people’s imagination to be quite amazing.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The opening question we asked the kids was if you could have any superpower what would it be? I’ve asked that question in many different groups before and the typical answers are always the ones you’d expect — flying, reading minds, or being super strong,” Devarajan said.

“The fascinating thing about this group was that I don’t think I heard any one of those three,” he said.

“Each of their ideas was so originally distinct, whether the Syrian kids or the U.S. kids,” he said, adding that perhaps because of their disabilities, the young people think as individuals without being influenced by outsiders. One girl, for example, wanted to have the power to combine the energy of the moon and the sun.

ADVERTISEMENT

Devarajan said it was noteworthy that none of the young people wanted the hero’s power to be something that cured their disability.

“They were empowered by their own disabilities, and they should not be seen as a source of weakness,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Initially, 50,000 Arabic-language comics will be distributed throughout Syria, and subsequent issues will be distributed elsewhere in the Middle East, Snyder said. The comic will also be available worldwide for free in digital formats through the Open Hands and Liquid Comics websites.

It will be the first in a series of comics with international superheroes, and while one will have disabilities others will not, Devarajan said. He added that almost all the characters being planned “are based on the seeds that were created by these kids together in this trip.”

The dozen Americans were selected after a national call for applications by The Victor Penada Foundation, a non-profit educational organization that promotes the rights of young people with disabilities. They included youths who were blind, deaf, using wheelchairs, or suffering from Down syndrome, autism, and cognitive disabilities.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Syrians were invited by the Al-Amal school for the disabled whose chair, Asma Assad, the wife of Syrian president Bashar Assad, spent an afternoon meeting with the youngsters.

“It must be every child’s dream to create a superhero,” the Syrian first lady said in a video provided to the AP. “But I really do hope that we can bring our powers together — our human powers together — to be able to make a difference.”

Hamza Jaka, 18, of Fontana, Wisconsin, who is co-chair of Kids as Self-Advocates which promotes the rights of young disabled people, said the visit to Syria “was great” because it was people-to-people, “not politicians flying in and blustering.” Jaka, a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley who is studying linguistics, said the trip has inspired him to study Arabic.

“There’s a lot of hatred, and it really can be dispelled by just sitting down and talking to people and realizing you share experiences in common,” he said. “That’s what happened when I started talking to one of the disabled Syrians. We both discovered that we had a love of basketball and … loved the same players,” Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I am a disabled Muslim and I love comic books, so this is like the highlight of my life,” said Jaka, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

“As somebody who owns a lot of comics and has studied how they affect social change, it was fun to be part of an exchange that hopefully can do the same,” he said, especially in changing attitudes towards the disabled, towards Muslims, and towards Syria.

Abdulrahman Hussein, 20, a Syrian student who was born handicapped and uses a wheelchair, said meeting the young Americans “made me feel that I have to improve my life.”

He said he is studying library administration at a university and wants to learn English so he can have contact with more people.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I like the American people as I found them friendly,” Hussein said. “I’d like to visit America because I want to get acquainted with the achievements (of) the Americans.”

The Open Hands Initiative was launched last November to respond to Obama’s offer to the Muslim world in his inaugural address to “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Snyder said the initiative’s goal is to promote “diplomacy” between ordinary people that emphasizes dialogue, understanding and mutual respect.

It has already started a program to bring Syrian music to the U.S. and is planning to bring leading American artists to Damascus for workshops with young Syrian artists.

In early 2011, Snyder said Open Hands hopes to be on the ground in Pakistan with programs bringing Americans and Pakistanis together in the fields of public health, literature and culture — and later in the year it intends to launch projects in Afghanistan.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mochila insert follows


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Russia is delighted’: Maddow says the elephant in the room is ‘rearing up and stomping its feet’

Published

on

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC broke down how all of President Donald Trump's decisions in the Ukraine scandal primarily benefited Russia.

"We are in the middle of this impeachment now and it is still unfolding and there is still more to learn and tomorrow is going to be — tomorrow should be a big deal," Maddow noted. "Even just the news tonight is a big deal."

"But even after one day of public hearings so far, the elephant in the room here feels like it’s rearing up and stomping its feet, because who benefits with all these things Trump has done?" Maddow asked. "With all of them. With all this stuff in the middle of the impeachment, but all the other stuff he’s doing simultaneously."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump begs Louisiana for a ‘big win’ after his last-minute rally in Kentucky backfired

Published

on

At his last-ditch rally in Louisiana to help the struggling gubernatorial candidacy of GOP businessman Eddie Rispone, President Donald Trump boasted — incorrectly — that his rally in Kentucky narrowed the gap for Gov. Matt Bevin, who lost the race, by 19 points. He then begged voters to give Rispone a "big win."

"We elected everybody," said Trump. "The governor got brought up, in a few short days, 19 points. I went, we made a speech, the whole ticket was there, everybody won big. Governor's a really good guy. But 19 points is a big thing, and he lost by just a few thousand votes. And the headlines next day, Trump took a loss — I lifted him up a lot. But Trump took a loss. So you gotta give me a big win, please, okay? Okay?"

Continue Reading
 

CNN

Republicans are treating voters like ‘children’ with their defense of Trump: Ex-presidential adviser

Published

on

On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former presidential adviser David Gergen laid into Republican lawmakers for claiming that the impeachment probe is only based on "hearsay."

"The Republicans are treating us like idiots," said Gergen. "They just — they say you're only bringing forth hearsay. You don't have any firsthand information. We know there are three people who know exactly what happened. One is named [Rudy] Giuliani. One is chief of staff [Mick] Mulvaney and the third is [John] Bolton. And what's happened here? They all three have been called. The president said no, you must not talk. So the Republicans then come up and say, well, you only have hearsay."

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image