Arab-American Green Lantern adds diversity to superheroes

Updated 07 September 2012
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Arab-American Green Lantern adds diversity to superheroes

NEW YORK: DC Comics introduced a new Green Lantern on Wednesday — a Muslim from Dearborn, Michigan, who leaves behind street racing to join an intergalactic police force.
Simon Baz, the muscular protagonist in his early 20s with the Arabic word for courage, “al-shuja’a,” tattooed on his arm, is the latest example of superhero diversity in the comic book world. His debut comes after Marvel Comics presented a half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man last year.
“In typical comic books there’s a big handsome white guy and that’s it. But that’s not the world we live in, and comics are reflecting that,” Thor Parker, social marketing and event director at Midtown Comics in New York, told Reuters. Parker’s store was selling the new comic book on Wednesday.
Most comic book fans know the Green Lantern’s alter ego as Hal Jordan, who is Caucasian, a ladies’ man who was played by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 film.
But Green Lantern, released on Wednesday, tells the story of Baz, an American of Arab ancestry raised in a Muslim family. He is chosen to be part of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force.
The original Green Lantern was introduced in 1940 with a character named Alan Scott. DC revived the Green Lantern in 1959 with Jordan. The new story begins with Baz as a child watching television images of a burning World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, according to a copy of the comic book viewed by Reuters. As an adult, Baz, with a criminal record for illegal street racing, turns to car theft after he loses his job at an automobile factory. A car he tries to steal lands him in the middle of a terrorism investigation. Later on, he is magically bestowed with a ring that gives him super powers and anoints him a Green Lantern.
Geoff Johns, who writes the Green Lantern series, said Baz’s character was part of an effort to diversify the universe of superheroes.
“There’s no real prominent Arab-American superheroes in DC (Comics) at all,” Johns told Reuters, adding that Baz’s background also dovetailed with the superhero’s story.
“You are chosen to become a Green Lantern because you are of the ability to overcome great fear, and I thought that would be a great (theme) to play with, with a character of this background,” he said.
Green Lantern is part of a collection released in September that tells the back story of famous DC Comics characters. Baz will be the focus of several more comic books, Johns said, but he declined to say for how long.
The next Green Lantern comic book, in which Baz will be the focus, will be released in October.


Cosby jury to decide: Serial rapist or con artist’s mark

Updated 24 April 2018
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Cosby jury to decide: Serial rapist or con artist’s mark

  • Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault
  • Before going off to deliberate, jurors will hear both sides rehash the case in lengthy closing arguments

NORRISTOWN: The jury that will start deliberating Bill Cosby’s fate on Tuesday has heard the comedian described over the past two weeks both as a “serial rapist” and a con artist’s victim.
They have seen a parade of accusers testify that the man once revered as “America’s Dad” had a secret life of drugging and violating women. And they have heard from a witness who says his chief accuser talked about framing a high-profile person to score a big payday.
Now, seven men and five women who have been kept in a suburban Philadelphia hotel, away from family, friends and daily routines, will get to have their say in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.
“You now have all of the evidence,” Judge Steven O’Neill told them after Cosby’s side rested on Monday without calling the 80-year-old comedian to the stand. “Try to relax, so that you’re on your game tomorrow.”
Jurors could be in for a marathon.
Before going off to deliberate, they will hear both sides rehash the case in lengthy closing arguments, and they will get O’Neill’s instructions in the law.
Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault — all stemming from Andrea Constand’s allegations that he knocked her out with three pills he called “your friends” and molested her at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in January 2004.
Each count carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Cosby has said he gave Constand 1½ tablets of the over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to help her relax before what he called a consensual sexual encounter.
The jury in Cosby’s first trial weighed the evidence for five days without reaching a verdict.
This time, both sides have given the retrial jury much more to consider.
Prosecutors were able to call five additional accusers who testified that Cosby also drugged and violated them — including one woman who asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
Cosby’s new defense team, led by Michael Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau, countered with a far more robust effort at stoking doubts about Constand’s credibility and raising questions about whether Cosby’s arrest was even legal.
The defense’s star witness was a former colleague of Constand who says Constand spoke of leveling false sexual assault accusations against a high-profile person for the purpose of filing a civil suit. Constand got a civil settlement of nearly $3.4 million from Cosby.
Both juries also heard from Cosby himself — not on the witness stand, but via an explosive deposition he gave in 2005 and 2006 as part of Constand’s civil suit against him. In it, Cosby acknowledged he gave the sedative quaaludes to women before sex in the 1970s.
Cosby’s lawyers devoted the last two days of their case to travel records they say prove he could not have been at his suburban Philadelphia home in January 2004. They argue that any encounter there with Constand would have happened earlier, outside the statute of limitations.
Cosby’s private jet records and travel itineraries produced by Cosby’s lawyers do not show any flights in or out of the Philadelphia area in January 2004, but they have large gaps — a total of 17 days that month in which Cosby was not traveling, performing or taping TV appearances.
District Attorney Kevin Steele noted that the records do not account for other ways Cosby could have gotten to Philadelphia.
“You can’t tell us whether he got on a commercial flight,” Steele said, questioning a defense aviation expert. “You can’t tell us whether he got on a train. You can’t tell us whether he got in a car and drove to Philadelphia.”
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.