After over 70 years of silence, Kismet: Man of Fate has finally returned to comic books. The updated edition from A Wave New World places the first Muslim superhero in the midst of America’s political turmoil following the 2016 presidential election, assisting his friends in a resistance movement. The story poses a question that many of us have faced during this era of political divisiveness: How do we best use our gifts to stand up against injustice?
**Some Spoilers Below**
Kismet, the man of fate, is an Algerian superhero made famous for fighting with the Allies against the Nazis in World War 2. Writer A. David Lewis beautifully interweaves Kismet and the other characters’ Muslim faith into the story’s narration. It’s as if you can feel Kismet’s crisis of faith as he cries out to Allah in desperation during the various tumultuous events throughout the story.
Lewis does an amazing job of taking the 1940’s superhero and fitting him into modern times. He first introduces us to a twenty-first century man named Qadar who’s come into contact with Kismet in some kind of sci-fi inspired astral plane. The two now inhabit one body but are able to swap them out depending on who’s in “control” at the time. They have also enlisted Qadar’s sister Deena and their friend Rabia to foil a plot contrived by Larue Lamont, a descendant of Kismet’s nemesis from the war. She has plans to betray a group of her supporters at an upcoming dinner.
Kismet experiences traumatizing flashbacks of his encounter with the older Lamont, a leader who promised liberation to an oppressed nation but ultimately betrayed them to the Nazis. For him this isn’t a run-of-the-mill criminal; this is history repeating itself.
What’s more, these events happen to coincide with the airing of the 2016 presidential election results. This leads to an even more tense situation among the characters as they await the outcome. One can almost feel the tension throughout the scene, especially in the all-too anxious personality of Qadar.
A confrontation with Lamont soon follows and results in her unleashing harmful chemicals into the air. Fortunately, Kismet takes over and finds an electric panel that is controlling their release. But upon breaking it he receives an electric shock that erases all traces of Qadar’s consciousness.
Kismet, racked with guilt, tells the others what happened just as a cloud of more sorrow descends on the group as the election results show on television. We see beads of sweat trickle down his back as the implications of what just happened set in.
The fear of going through life without a loved one evokes feelings of sympathy with the group, especially Deena. But seeing the election results adds that final nail into the coffin; there is no hope of solace in sight. Muslims, and minorities everywhere, will have to live in an even more oppressive society.
Now Kismet and the team must find a way to move forward without Qadar and navigate the country’s new political landscape. A stark change overtakes Rabia as she resolves to take action against the injustices sure to follow. Her determined spirit jumps right off the page when calling the others to action.
Deena’s sorrow from her brother’s death and fear of persecution leads her to push Rabia’s call further by questioning Kismet’s motivations: “But there’s a question nagging at you. It’s tugging at you more than any guilt over Qadar—More than Larue’s betrayal. All of it…You need to decide—now, in this new strange life: What do you stand for?”
Despite a growing confusion over the reasons for his arrival, Kismet now has the task of deciding how to help the country: Should he use his fists to fight injustice or his words to take a stand against it? Can a Muslim immigrant turn the tide of a culture dead set against him?
Kismet’s challenge is one we all face in trying times: standing up against injustice. And the crumbling world around him only adds that much more pressure to his choice of action.
Noel Tuazon, Rob Croonenborghs and Taylor Esposito weave together beautifully designed scenes in this fantastic story. Tuazon draws panels with squiggly lines that often overlap, representing the high levels of uncertainty in the characters’ lives. This is coupled with Croonenborgh’s warm hues mixed with shadows to pay homage to the original comic artwork.
Esposito’s lettering distinctly highlights each character’s dialogue, especially with Kismet and Qadar. The use of various dialogue box colors gives a clear indication of who’s talking as well as how central the text is to the scene.
With so much anxiety surrounding our country’s political landscape, it’s refreshing to read a story that speaks to those searching for a way to stand against injustice. What’s more, KISMET: MAN OF FATE offers hope to Muslims and other minority groups throughout the country who have been further marginalized.
What do you think of this revitalization of the hero Kismet? Did you like the political nature of the story? Let us know in the comments below!