I am a British, Muslim Arab girl, and I’ve loved superheroes and all things Sci-Fi and geeky for a long time. With superheroes, it was mostly the animated TV shows and the movies. I loved how all of these characters sacrificed everything to make the world a better place. Batman was always my favorite. How could someone still fight the good fight and embrace the tragedy that fell upon him as a child and still sacrifice more and more every day?
I found myself wanting a community to share these interests, and I wanted to know more to be able to discuss all things DC with people who also were as passionate about these characters as I am. This need led me to tumblr, which was a great place to find a community who enjoyed and had great passion for the DC superheroes that I fervently loved. One day, I opened my messages and someone had messaged me about Simon Baz and asked what I felt about him being a British Muslim Arab. At that point, I had never even heard of him due to the lack of my comic book knowledge. But this got me into countless hours of research because it was important for me to see someone I can relate to in a comic universe that I treasured with every ounce of my being.
The first time Simon Baz appeared in the DC universe was in 2012’s Green Lantern run in the Rise of the Third Army arc. I instantly became attached to the character. I saw how he struggled with being framed as a terrorist, and to a degree, I understood what that felt like. It’s a fear that many Muslims have: walking among society living with the fear that you don’t belong and having a share of the blame for attacks and horrible things done by a few. Reading this graphic novel also showed the torture aspect of detainees and highlighted the issues that surround that.
But most importantly, the character trait that really stood out to me was the self-doubt he had and how he didn’t think he had it in him to be a Green Lantern. This is also present in Green Lanterns Rebirth. He does have the strong will and power to embrace the ring and the Green Lantern, but one reoccurring theme is his self-doubt. I related to that. I used to be someone who was confident and had so much belief in herself, but then I hit a period in my life in which it all changed. And I felt that maybe I was not good enough. It’s a trait that I continually struggle with to this day even as I wrote this.
So, as I related to his struggles in significant ways, the experience made this universe even more precious to me as I felt like I fitted in. So, for that, I thank Geoff Johns for introducing this character to the DC universe.
Once they announced Rebirth, I was excited to see the characters I love in this universe have a new and fresh take. They also announced that they will have a Green Lantern’s run with Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, and that only excited me even more. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Jessica Cruz, her back story, or what her struggles with the Green Lantern ring were like. So, this was a great way to be introduced to her as a character and to understand her struggles. With her being a Latina, I was also able to relate to her as a female minority just as I was able to relate to Simon Baz. That’s why they work well together and why this comic book was important for minority males and females and for those who struggle with day to day life.
Another element to Jessica Cruz is that she deals with severe anxiety which was really important to me as I have also struggled with my personal mental health. I saw myself in her. She struggled with it from the beginning of this story, and you saw how Simon didn’t understand or relate to her early on, which mirrors what society does when someone deals with mental health issues. However, with teamwork and giving each other a chance, Simon slowly understood how to be helpful and supportive. The most amazing part of this story was when you slowly saw Jessica find ways to cope and manage her anxiety, believe in herself and her willpower, and how she was then able to help Simon with his shortcoming’s. In turn, they became a team that supported each other and helped each other out.
These panels are some of my favorite, I was just so happy seeing how supportive Simon Baz became and how Jessica Cruz finally felt that she had a true partner.
“Fighting Anxiety might be my battle but I don’t have to fight it alone”
The issues just became addictive, the way the characters were written and the attention to detail that Sam Humphries had with their cultures and personal battles was amazing. As an Arab, I loved the part when Jessica visited Simon’s family home and managed to help out with making Ma’amoul, which is a sweet biscuit that Arabs have in celebrations and Eid. She managed to surprise Simon, and I just loved the way they both bonded and how they became a team. They worked so well together, and Sam Humphries wrote their characters so well that I found myself loving both of them and wanting to see more.
In a world in which we’ve sadly become less tolerant of other religions and races and where mental health isn’t prioritized, this comic book issue is very important. It allows for girls and boys to relate to these characters and see that with teamwork, understanding and patience, we can work together and do phenomenal things. The willpower that they both struggle with together only grows in strength as they support each other, a true team, a true partnership between people with their own flaws and struggles.
I really hope that they do one day enter the cinematic universe and that they both show their personal struggles. They truly deserve all the love they can get.