Posted by: koolwine | October 29, 2011

Kuwait: The 99


Dr. Ramzi travels the globe in search of the 99 ancient Noor Stones that imbue their bearers with extraordinary power.

Country Focus: Kuwait (Al-Kuwayt in Arabic)

The 99 (Origins; Issues 1-3)
By Naif Al-Mutawa + others
Began publication in Kuwait by Teshkeel Comics, 2008. (publishes monthly)
My edition: online downloads from
@40 pgs ea.

Acclaim: President Obama praised Al-Mutawa for his innovation at the 2011 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship; Al-Mutawa and The 99 were recently profiled in Forbes, USA Today, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and the New York Times;  Al-Mutawa spoke at the 2010 TED Conference; Al-Mutawa and The 99 are the subjects of the PBS Independent Lens film Wham! Bam! Islam!

Genre: Comic book
Time period:
present day

To make a long story short:
  In 1258 A.D., the Mongols were on the verge of sacking Baghdad.  Knowing that their great libraries would soon be destroyed, the city’s librarians alchemized their books into 99 gemstones and escaped with them.  After regrouping in Andalusia, they constructed a “Fortress of Knowledge” and incorporated these “Noor Stones” into the dome like stained glass.  Rughal, the son of one of the Fortress’s guardians, discovered that under the right circumstances, a person could absorb light from a Noor Stone and wield miraculous powers.  He plotted to concentrate the power of all of the Stones into himself during an eclipse.  The dastardly experiment destroyed the fortress and all traces of Rughal…

Fast forward to the present day.  Dr. Razem Ramzi, head of The 99 Steps Foundation, is searching for Noor Stones, believed by most to be a myth.  Dr. Ramzi lucks out when the Saudi Arabian government hands him Nawaf Al-Bilali, a young man who obtained his Incredible Hulk-like strength and size from the shards of a Noor Stone that a landmine embedded in his body.

Issues #1-3: Dr. Ramzi locates three more members of the 99: Dana Ibrahim (Noora-The Light)  who can literally see the light and dark sides of a person’s character; John Weller (Darr-The Afflicter) who can manipulate people’s pain; and Miklos Szekelihidi (Jami-The Assembler) who can physically attach himself to ingenious technology of his own design.  Together with Nawaf, whose alter ego is “Jabbar – The Powerful,” they discover that teamwork intensifies and focuses their powers.

Quote [from “Naif’s Notes,” Origins] :

Our superheroes are built neither on the Western style of individual heroes like Superman, Batman and the like, nor in the Eastern mold of Pokeman where teamwork and shared values can overcome all.  They are an amalgam of East-meets-West, an appropriate compromise given the foundation of Islam and the geography of the Middle East.

Our collective hope is that The 99 will serve more than the one-quarter of the world’s population who subscribe to the basic beliefs of Islam.  Our characters intentionally transcend all language and cultural barriers.  They offer the commonly shared ideals of all people as the basis of our heroic figures.

The author:

Naif Al-Mutawa

Kuwaiti Naif Al-Mutawa leads a double life: creator of international hit comic The 99 and Clinical Director of the Soor Center for Psychological Counseling and Assessment in Kuwait City, where Al-Mutawa calls home.  Al-Mutawa says that he was dismayed by extremist comics that championed suicide bombers.   In order to give Muslim children positive role models, he dreamed up The 99.

Overall Rating:

(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and  5 books = lit up)


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