The Detroit resident and Arab-American will not be stealing cars nor will he be accused of being a terrorist.
Source: Associated Press
When we first heard about Simon Baz, the new Earth-based Green Lantern debuting in next month's Green Lantern #0, we were a bit worried. After all, the character was a dark-skinned man in a ski/gimp mask wielding a gun sideways with tattoos on his forearm. It just reeked of overused stereotypes mixed with the New 52's new EXTREME! attitude.
However, DC released a few tidbits about the character and his relation to creator Geoff Johns that made us think that our first impressions were wrong. Johns, a Lebanese-American, said that the character would be Arab-American, a DC first, and from Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Johns' hometown of Detroit. Dearborn, Michigan, for those unaware, has one of the largest population of Arab-Americans in the country and has been described as the "Arab Capital of America". Although Johns' writing has faltered as of late, surely he wouldn't be able to screw up an opportunity to present an interesting new character that simultaneously promoted diversity without beating it over our heads, right?
Sadly DC's pulled the curtain back a bit and revealed that Baz is basically a Mad Lib mix of Detroit and Arab stereotypes. His origin story will feature him stealing cars after losing his job at an automobile factory and then getting picked up by Homeland Security as a suspected terrorist even though he's actually a noble character who watched 9/11 in horror along with the rest of his family. But no worries, the origin will also point out that his tattoos are forbidden by the Islam religion, so he's no extremist!
While I'd hate to judge the story before it's out, it reads like the cringe-worthy origins of ex-convict Luke Cage, ex-pimp Sam Wilson (the Falcon), Katana being a samurai, or Batman being a successful businessman that doesn't screw over the world with his massive super-corporation. When I first read the AP report announcing the character, I just wanted to shout out "YOU CAN DO BETTER!" because I really thought that Johns, or DC editorial was capable of a minority character that didn't derive its origins from base stereotypes.
I suppose the only good thing about this is that at least Geoff Johns didn't go the opposite route and make Baz the least offensive character ever. After all, who wants to read about an Arab-American Detroit Red Wings goalie who's also a beat officer in a upscale suburb of Detroit?