Holy Land heroes flex their media muscle

AK Comics tailors comicbooks for Mideast sensibilities

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Zein — the Immortal Pharaoh.

Born in 14,000 B.C, his world was destroyed by a large meteor. Placed in an incubator by his father, he wakes in the present day. A philosophy professor by day, Zein is by night the last line of defense against evildoers.

Sound Super familiar? Zein is just one of the characters in AK Comics, a 2-year-old line of comicbooks tailored for Mideast sensibilities.

In a region that probably needs real-life superheroes more than ever, the comicbooks, says creator Ayman Kandeel, were an opportunity to “send out a good message that we can all still live together.”

Kandeel, a 39-year-old economics prof at Cairo U., was inspired by the DC comics of his youth to create a set of homegrown superheroes in 2003.

Other characters in the AK Comics universe include Jalila, whose superpowers derive from exposure to a nuclear blastand is now charged with protecting the City of All Faiths, and Rakan, an ancient warrior condemned to roam the land battling invading armies.

There are parallels with the current Mideast: The City of All Faiths is modeled on Jerusalem and the fictitious Dimondona plant alludes to the real-life Dimona nuclear plant in Israel.

Produced in English and Arabic versions, the comics are sold in Egypt as well as the U.S. and Canada through its partner Studio G.

“The comicbook is only the first step,” Kandeel says. “We’re opening an office in Los Angeles in May. We want to move into animation, movies and games.”

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