The 99: First Light

By | Sunday, September 16, 2007 1 comment
A little while back, I spoke about the The 99: Origin Preview. In what must be an extremely expensive way to market a comic, publisher Teshkeel recently released a second preview issue for free. I think I caught an interview with creator Naif Al-Mutawa a little while back where he said he was printing up something like 40,000 copies of each issue. Both issues are over-sized, both are on great paper, neither have any ads... Well, it's not an ad campaign I could afford to carry out, at any rate!

This issue picks up not long after the previous one. Ramzi Razem has found another Noor Stone recipient -- Dana Ibrahim -- and he's able to talk with her about the frightening manner in which she discovered it. He eventually convinces her to join his efforts to help mankind. In chapter two, Ramzi takes Dana and Nawaf (who was discovered in the first issue) to locate a third recipient (John Wheeler) in St. Louis. It is there that we begin to see that there are other groups also looking for the Noor Stones, and it's (intentionally) not clear which "side" they're working for.

This book has the same creative team as the last, so you can expect pretty much the same quality of storytelling throughout the book. In fact, this issue was better I felt, largely because the origin of the Noor Stones themselves before was overly narrative and weighed the overall story down unnecessarily. Despite the fact that the first chapter here is essentially just the origin of Dana's powers, it's well-crafted and doesn't feel as monotonous as most typical superhero origin stories you get these days. The second chapter's focus on John is more on Ramzi's search for him, and doesn't go into any details about how John acquired his Noor Stone. Thus, the chapter has a greater sense of immediacy -- there are no flashbacks here -- and we get some more plot interest as Ramzi starts running into his competitors.

Overall, I like the direction this book's taking. The three superheroes so far hail from Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S. Even without seeing where the rest of the characters come from and what kind of backgrounds they have, it'll be interesting to see the mix of these characters and how their own specific worldviews mesh. Or don't. I'm also pleased to see that this story, while making reference to the previous issue, doesn't show any signs of being weighed down by it's own continuity. Readers get enough information to know what's going on without overly explanatory flashbacks or editor's notes -- nor do they need to track down the previous issue to understand the full setup here. Both of those points, I think, speak to good writing. And whether more credit should Al-Mutawa or Nicieza, I don't know, but it's ultimately irrelevant as we the readers still have a darn fine story regardless.

And did I mention that the book is FREE? Seriously, regardless of what you personally like in comics, how can you pass up on "free"?
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1 comments:

This is an amazing Idea. I grew up reading comics just like many kids in the US. This is one of the concepts that I had been thinking of to help change the perception of Muslims in the West. Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa has put together an excellent team to produce this high quality work of art.

Check it out here and listen to the interview!

http://www.hotconflict.com/blog/2007/10/the-99-cultural.html