Turks do not need a superhero
Marvel and DC’s superhero films have attracted a huge audience. The new films that are added to the series each year attract millions of viewers. So are there any Turks in the superhero world?
The answer may surprise you, but yes, indeed there are. Furthermore, there are Turkish heroes in both giants of comics, DC and Marvel. And Turkish superheroes are not just in Marvel and DC comics, in the Arab world, there is a lot of interest in Kuwait’s original comic, The 99.
If we take a quick look at superheroes, the first one we see is the Janissary (Yeniçeri). The Janissary is one of the best-known Turkish superheroes. This DC comic, which first came out in the 2000s, features a doctor named Selma Tolon, who works for the Red Crescent. During the 1999 earthquake, a dungeon collapses and she finds Merlin’s Book of Eternity and Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent’s magic scimitar. The connection between Merlin and Süleyman is that Merlin, using the name Merloch, used to be Süleyman’s vizier.
With the magical powers given to her by the book and the scimitar, Selma Tolon calls herself the Janissary and, together with the Justice League, she fights to save Turkey. The Janissary appears in just one issue, but she fights in Turkey side-by-side with superheroes such as Wonder Woman and Batman. At the end of the story, she turns down an invitation to join the Justice League, saying she has important work to do for her country.
DC’s other Turkish superhero is Yasemin Söze. Although she is not as well-known as the Janissary, she is one of the world’s best sharpshooters, and her family has been in the black market arms trade for a long time. She too is a weapons smuggler, and after she is caught, she is offered a job with the Suicide Squad. The interesting thing about Yasemin Söze’s story is that she dies but is brought back to life by the Black Lantern’s ring. However, in 2010, she died for good and left the comic book world.
Compared to DC, Turkish heroes from Marvel comics are less well-known. The only superhero that does have Ottoman roots in known as the Flying Carpet, but he is never seen. His name comes up as one of the Superheroes of Europe, but it is said that he is dead. He is an ambiguous character, to say the least.
Turac is a character that received more attention from Marvel. From the comic book world of 1973 and 1974, the warlord Turac was Dracula’s enemy and his first victim after he became a vampire. Turac, who becomes a vampire himself, plays an important role in the Dracula story. Later, his place is taken by his daughter, Lady Turac (known as Elianne), but she dies in the first issue she appears in.
Marvel also has some short-lived, single-issue bad guys such as Ali Baba and Hatay. Also not to be forgotten in the Marvel universe is the child Mehmet, who was rescued by the Punisher.
Before I move on to The 99, I first want to ask if there is any possibility of Yasemin Söze, who has inhabited the land of comics the longest, appearing in a DC film? It is possible she could turn up briefly in a Suicide Squad or Green Lantern movie, but it is unlikely.
Now let us return to The 99. This comic, from Kuwaiti publisher Teshkeel, takes its name from the 99 names of God, and the characters powers are meant to represent the 99 attributes of these names. Published both in the United States and the Middle East, this series quickly moved to electronic format only, and then ended in 2014. There is a Turk named Murat Uçaroğlu in the 99 group. His superpower is the ability to control gravity, which earns him the name of Rafie the Lifter.
Interestingly, even if there are a few Turkish heroes in foreign publications, there is actually no character that counts as a true Turkish superhero. There are heroes resembling Conan such as Tarkan, Kara Murat, Tolga, and Malkoçoğlu, who increased newspaper circulation when they first came out in the comic strips, along with Lieutenant Volkan, who is sort of a mix of Captain America and James Bond, but none of them have superpowers, so they cannot be called proper superheroes.
Perhaps the real reason for this is that Turkish society just does not need a superhero, or perhaps there is a fear that if heroes with superpowers are too real, the leaders will see them as rivals. It is true that the ruling powers do not particularly like superheroes or intellectuals for fear they will become ruling partners. In short, until a home-grown superhero emerges, keep pinning your hopes on Marvel and DC.
Comic Book Recommendation
Even though Injustice was first released as a video game, it transformed into a comic book and its story is really interesting. Although there are only 10 issues, it tells the fascinating story of how the antagonist Superman becomes a tyrant after his powers are poisoned by vengefulness. The story begins with Superman’s first murder, of Lois Lane and their unborn child, whom he kills by accident while seeking revenge on his enemies. It is quite striking how he begins to have the notion of working to do good for the people of the world, but he starts thinking that only he knows what is best for everyone. There are some who say the story is quite reminiscent of today’s Turkey.
For those who are wondering if a film version of this cool series will be made, there are no such plans. In any case, for this to happen, Superman would have to not die in the Dawn of Justice movie, and the Flash’s Flashpoint story would have to be withdrawn. Flashpoint, where the Flash goes to the past to reshape the future, shows the best way for the tyrant Superman in Injustice to become well-known again and turn into a good superhero.