Superheroes With a Muslim Message

At present, approximately 10,000 Arabic copies are distributed monthly to newsstands, arcades, supermarkets and hotels in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. English versions can be found in specialty comic book stores across the United States as well as in Cyprus, Taiwan and Mauritius.

"Absolutely, I believe there is a market for this type of work," he said. "What we have here is an international cast of characters, each of which is embodying one of these traits. Basically we are taking the rich Islamic culture and heritage … and creating new characters and new storylines based on an old archetype.

"At the end, when you think of it … what culture on Earth, Islamic or non-Islamic, religious or atheist, doesn't espouse those traits?" Mutawa asked.

Still, Mutawa sees the success of the 99 as a sign that Muslim youths are looking for an outlet that balances their religious and cultural beliefs with the kind of entertainment they are looking for. Ultimately, he hopes that his comic book will not be seen as a strictly Arab series, but as something kids from across the world can identify with and enjoy.

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