Abu Dhabi: Dana Ebrahim aka Noora, an Emirati superhero with a special gemstone that allows her to see the light of truth in others, will soon be premiering on television screens around the world this summer as part of The 99 animated series, the maker of the series told an audience in the capital last week.
Along with Noora, 98 other superheroes will also be gradually introduced in the The 99 animated series, which is based on the now-world famous comic books created by Kuwaiti psychologist Dr Nayef Al Mutawa.
With its work complete, the 26-episode first season that introduces 16 of the 99 superheroes, and preparations on for producing the second season, Dr Al Mutawa said at a talk last Monday that he hoped the books and the show, which use Islamic archetypes, would reposition Islam in right perspective.
"As a psychologist, I usually work with people's perceptions and I am not happy with how Islam sees the West or with how the West sees Islam. I believe in the power of media to change a civilisation and its way of thinking," Dr Al Mutawa told Gulf News on the sidelines.
The 99 first entered global imagination in the summer of 2006. Although often sold as a "Muslim" comic, Dr Al Mutawa was adamant about the fact that the books are secular, especially as they incorporate superheroes from different cultural and religious backgrounds. "Comics like Superman and Batman, which have no religion in the storyline, are based on Judeo-Christian archetypes mainly because these archetypes lead to good storytelling.
For example, most superheroes are orphans who receive a calling to do good. For my franchise, I've simply tapped into Islamic archetypes, although like all other comics, these superheroes and the stories told in The 99 are completely secular," he explained.
The tale is set in a factual event that took place in 1258, when the Mongol army destroys the then-affluent city of Baghdad.
The city's prolific library called Bait Al Hikmah (House of Wisdom) is one of the army's prime targets, and they throw its vast collection of books into the river Tigris, thus turning the waters black for the next six months.
The 99 begins at this point in time when a group of scholars dip 99 stones into the river to capture and preserve the wisdom in the books. These stones, called the Nour stones, are then spread across the world.
"In the present day, the main villain of the series is bent on finding and exploiting these Nour stones, while 99 individuals from different backgrounds are "chosen" by the stones and given special powers, based on the 99 attributes of God in Islam, to protect the world," Dr Al Mutawa said.
The comics are now printed in several languages worldwide, and the franchise also incorporates a theme park in Kuwait, as well as the 3D CGI animated series co-produced by famed Dutch firm Endemol.
In the meantime, Dr Al Mutawa said he was keeping a low profile.
"Nobody likes controversy when it comes to a kids' show, so I've turned down some … high-profile interviews in the US," he said.
He added that his ultimate goal with The 99 was not only to promote good values for children worldwide, but also to reduce extremism and promote tolerance.
"I made this for my kids and they are actually big fans. In fact, when the animation was completed and I took my three eldest sons to watch it, I told them that the one thing they should learn from the show was that anything in the world is possible," Dr Al Mutawa added with a smile.
What's the show about
- 16 characters in Season 1 of TV show
- 3 superheroes work together in each episode
- 26 episodes in Season 1
- It is produced by Teshkeel and Endemol
- It will be aired this summer
Have your say
Do you read The 99? Which is your favourite character? Will you be watching the animated series based on the comics?