BF: So when Simon enters the continuity on September 5th, the Earth Lanterns are in somewhat of a state of disarray, from what I read?Sounds just the Islamofascists, right? Now the Guardians may have been depicted at times as foolish and making dumb choices, but never till now had they been portrayed as that close to being bad guys and taking a position that sounds almost like the belief under Islam that free will is haram. The irony is that, if they're the ones choosing Simon as a GL, that's apparently supposed to be positive.
GJ: Exactly. Right before this new guy is recruited to the Corps, the Guardians of the Universe who created the Lanterns billions of years ago have decided it was a big mistake and they're going to shut them down. That the best thing to do is to convert everyone to a hivemind sentient being called the Third Army.
BF: So wait, there's like the Borg now? They're going to assimilate everyone?
GJ: They're behaving kinda just like the Borg. They think free will is a mistake. Sentient beings get to make choices and that causes problems. They shouldn't be able to make choices, they should just live in harmony and more of an insect hive. They think that's going to be a better way, which clearly it's not…
BF: Now I don't want to give to much away but Green Lantern #0 definitely deals with some heavy, sensitive issues for Americans. How and why did you come up with that particular backstory for Simon Baz?Just like Johns himself did. It's funny how he seemingly makes a point that not every person of Arabic background is of the Muslim religion, yet that's just the kind of religious background he gave to Simon Baz, and instead of trying to refute the stereotype on paper that not all Arabs are Muslim, he practically went out of his way to cooperate with a museum that's run by Muslims and get their approvals for the script. Mainly because Christian Arabs weren't the focus of anguish in the aftermath of 9-11, and doing it the way's he's done it only makes him look all the more like a bleeding heart liberal. If I were him, I would've wanted to make the protagonist an Arab from a Christian or other non-Muslim background (and I would've written stories that are far less violent than his are, and definitely avoided sensationalism and fetishism of violence).
GJ: I really want to create a character, you know I'm from Michigan, so I really wanted to create a character that was from Dearborn and the culture, the ethnic background, everything associated with that, from the fact that he's an automotive engineer to being Arab American. I worked with the Arab American National Museum; I got them the script beforehand because I wanted to give it a sense of authenticity.
BF: That's awesome you went through so much research to make sure it was an authentic representation of Arab American culture.
GJ: Absolutely. You know my father is Lebanese, so I'm Arab American on that side. However, I was raised in a Christian household and Simon was raised in a Muslim one and I really wanted to explore the difference between. Not everyone who is Arab American is Muslim and not everyone who is Muslim is Arab American. I think there's a lot of misconceptions about what Arab American culture is and so when creating a character who I think is, by far and away, the most prominent Arab American superhero in DC if not in all of mainstream comics here in the US, it was really important to me to work with the Arab American National Museum to make sure it was represented correctly. To make Simon's cultural not define who he is but make it a part of the DNA of the story and be a part of what he deals with in his life. It took a lot of research, both personal and talking to a lot of other people about it and running the script by them and really making sure it was as good as possible.
And then also trying to make Simon a compelling character. Because at the end of the day, it needs to be a compelling character story. So many characters that we've created in comics were made in the 40s-60s, that creating a character of our age that grew up in a post 9/11 world was important to me. And the character is not perfect, he's a flawed character that obviously makes bad decisions. He makes a really bad one up front.
Aside from that, he's actually insulting Arabic culture by implying that it's Islamic only, first and foremost (notice also that he bases his descriptions mainly on the racial background and tries to avoid the religious background).
Green Lantern has had such a great history of tackling issues of it's time, like with the creation of Jon Stewart. The whole Green Lantern/Green Arrow run, when Speedy was dealing with drug addiction. And that's what I really wanted Simon to be, was a character of our time.If he'd really wanted to make Simon a character of our times, he would've made him a Christian or other non-Muslim form of protagonist. By making him a Muslim and whitewashing the Religion of Rape, to say nothing of depicting non-Arab/Muslim Americans in such a disturbing light as this story does, he's only penned one of the most atrocious items ever to be seen. He also says:
...it's been really really enjoyable to write Simon Baz.Was it also fun to lace the story with traces of Trutherism?
GJ: I'm really excited about the introduction of Simon Baz. I'm really proud of the book. Everyone worked really hard on it, to make it something special.And that something is taqqiya, plain and simple.
One more thing I want to add following all this dissection is: much of Johns' output as a comics writer should be avoided like the plague. If you check his work on The Flash, for example, you'll find the second story he wrote there, Blood Will Run, quite repellant, and by 2005, his work was becoming extremely alienating. He is, quite simply, one of the worst things that could happen to modern day comic books, and even if he hadn't turned this blatantly political, the violence-laden storytelling in much of his consecutive output alone is bad enough. I think he'll go down in history as one of the people who destroyed DC Comics.