This aired in my area last night, but you may be able to catch a repeat if you’re interested. The PBS series Independent Lens is airing an episode very poorly titled Wham! Bam! Islam!, about Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa’s quest to establish The 99. Although beginning as a comic book, the series is intended to be a brand, with eventual film and TV projects, as well as a way to provide a positive image of Islam around the world by creating Muslim superheroes. Here’s the trailer for the episode:
The documentary concentrates mostly on the business struggles, in trying to reach the intended audience and keep going against funding problems and religious opposition. I’ve seen an issue or two of this comic, but I found it both generic (in storytelling) and confusing (in having too many characters — there are 99, one for each attribute of Allah). However, after viewing the episode, I have a much greater appreciation for what he’s trying to do, and I’m a little touched that he picked comics to do it.
Here’s an interesting review that talks about some of the areas covered, as well as what the reviewer would have rather seen. There are plans to revise the film in the future to include more about an aborted attempt to show the CGI cartoon spinoff in the US and why it was pulled.
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