The Arab world can take graphic art seriously, as any Danish cartoonist will attest, so goodness knows what sort of response will greet the comic industry's latest mooted blockbuster publication: a tale about al-Qa'ida that was designed, in the words of its creator, to "really piss people off".
Frank Miller, the superstar comic book author famed for such creations as Sin City, 300, and Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, unveiled the opening pages of his new work, Holy Terror, in the weekend, describing the 120-page book as "a piece of propaganda" intended to represent a response to 9/11.
The book, which goes on sale shortly after September's tenth anniversary of the attacks, was unveiled at the Comic-con conference in San Diego. It stars a superhero called The Fixer, who according to Miller is "well adjusted in committing terrible acts of violence on very evil people".
He told an audience that the story will be "a reminder that we're in the midst of a long war" against Islamic extremism, adding: "the enemy that we are up against is pernicious, deceptive and merciless, and wants nothing less than total destruction."
The book has been in development for eight years and, thanks to Miller's cult following, will be one of the most eagerly awaited new graphic novels in recent times. It was originally conceived as a Batman narrative, but DC Comics reportedly feared that several of its key elements were too near the knuckle for their high-profile superhero. Among the potentially provocative ingredients in Holy Terror, which will now be published by Legendary Comics, a subsidiary of Legendary Films, is a musclebound superhero character who attempts to exterminate Islamic terrorists while wearing a mask adorned with a Star of David.
The first six pages, along with an animated trailer, were unveiled in San Diego this weekend, prompting a slew of questions to Miller from fans concerned that the book, for which he is rumoured to have received a million-dollar advance, will stereotype or vilify Muslims.
"I hope this book really pisses people off," he responded.
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