What if DC comics’ league of greatest heroes was based out of Pakistan?
How different would Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and The Green Lantern be in a local flavor? How would they tackle local issues? Would they still get along? How would we receive them?
If these are the sort of questions which keep you up late at night, then read on my fellow geek.
After his wealthy parents are gunned down in a tragic target killing outside a cinema in Karachi and he inherits an empire, the Pakistani version of Bruce Wayne commits to a life of crime fighting.
Recalling his days of playing cricket when certain batsmen would hit his bowling for enormous sixes, he resolves to put the same fear in the heart of criminals and becomes the Batman, hitting the villains of Pakistan on the face with his massive bat.
As a wealthy businessman, Batman owns several corporations in the country, including K-Electric, and uses the electric supply company to schedule load shedding in areas where he wants to operate in the cover of darkness.
Initially, Pakistanis welcome Batman for his promise to bring change, peace, and prosperity to the nation, and appreciate his activity on the streets. But eventually the citizens grow a little weary of Batman when they notice that he is as nutty, if not nuttier than the villains he is claiming to put away. Upon hearing these concerns Batman scoffs, “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain!”
During the Justice League elections, Batman loses to Superman 4-3, after which he begins to throw wild accusations of rigging, “I am the hero Pakistan deserves and needs right now.”
When the Justice League members disagree, Batman throws a tantrum and resigns from the organization claiming he will go forever, only to sheepishly return later a few days later. Here, he is enraged to find a pacifier at his table. Finally, a reelection occurs, where Batman embarrassingly suffers an even bigger defeat of 6-1 (clearly losing supporters thanks to his madness). Batman’s humiliation is compounded when his partner, Robin is caught trying to rig the election in his favor.
Batman is at further odds with Pakistan when the powerful super villain Darkseid launches terrorist attacks across the country. While the other Justice League members are intent on counterattacking Darkseid, Batman insists on negotiations with the evil ruler, claiming that Pakistan’s drone attacks are why ‘good’ Darkseid became ‘bad’ Darkseid.
The Justice League is further sickened by Batman when after marrying the ambitious Catwoman, he quietly allows her to campaign for a spot on the team.
Batman primarily fights a widespread gang of villains across Karachi, whose leader having fled the city decades ago, now commands his men in melodramatic tones from London, England. He, of course, is most popularly known as The Joker.
Ala Admi (Superman)
With his planet hours away from explosion, Kal El, the last son Krypton was sent as a mere baby to live amongst the people of Earth. His spacecraft landed on a small farm, not in Kansas but in rural Sindh, where he was found by farmers Jamshed and Mairah Karim, who gave him the name Kamal.
Growing up as a farmer, Kamal Karim’s superior strength and speed made him an asset for his parents worth several tractors. It didn’t take long, however, for Kamal Karim to notice the evils of bonded labor enslaving those around him. After embracing his powers he works to end the practice across Pakistan, bringing powerful people to their knees.
But Ala Admi doesn’t stop with Sindh, and vows to fight all evil across Pakistan. He is often at odds with his arch nemesis, an unprincipled bald business man who aims to become the country’s leader.
Aside from dealing with the villains of the nation, Ala Admi’s biggest challenges are to not misuse his superpowers. It is especially difficult for him to restrain himself from using his X-ray vision when doing poondi when traveling at malls.
Martian Arab Prince Hunter (Martian Manhunter)
Martian Manhunter’s frighteningly alien looks scared the people of the first Pakistani town he walked into. Not only did they stone him, but burned his body as well. A TV channel reported on this event:
Fortunately, with his powers of regeneration, the Marian Manhunter restored himself to his original form. After speaking to the other members of the Justice League, Martain Manhunter resolved that while the rest of the Earth’s heroes served mankind, he would protect the animals of the planet.
Martian Manhunter soon moved to Balochistan where he paid for a license to hunt rich Arab princes who come to Pakistan to illegally hunt endangered creatures. Renaming himself as Martian Arab Prince Hunter, he vowed to use his optic blasts to hunt ‘every bustard hunting bastard.’
Paani Admi (Aquaman)
Growing up in Machar Colony, Asim Salan often wondered why he was such a lucky fisherman. On his little boat he would catch thousands more fish a day than anyone. As it turned out, the poor fish were only coming to him because he was the king of Atlantis and had the telepathic powers to command all sea life.
After discovering his powers, Paani Admi uses his abilities to help Pakistan by ending the water shortage crisis across the nation. This doesn’t sit well with the tanker mafia which has grown rich by profiteering from the water shortage across Karachi. Thankfully, Batman partners with Paani Admi to bring them to justice.
Paani Admi and Batman also decide to raid a popular seafood biryani restaurant which is not only backed by a local political party, but is rumored to carry links with foreign agencies. Upon arriving they aren’t surprised to find the seafood is more than a little… raw.
Chacha Cricket (Green Lantern)
If there is one thing Chacha Cricket loves, it is spreading cheer and harmony across the nation. After being visited by an alien being, Chacha Cricket is told that he has been chosen by a magical ring to be a member of the interstellar law enforcement agency known as the Green Lantern Corps.
Limited only by the scope of his imagination, as the new Green Lantern, Chacha Cricket flies across the Pakistani night skies to raise the spirits of its people, especially on Independence Day. He doesn’t do much crime fighting, but always has an encouraging word or two for the Justice League when they are engaged in battle.
Chamak (The Flash)
Popular actor Hamid Ali Akhtar seemed to have a controversial opinion on everything. Whether it was politics, minorities, or gay rights, Hamid would offer an opinion in a flash, often to the ire of his social media followers. For some reason, Hamid was particularly irked when the Supreme Court of another nation on the other side of the planet ruled in favor of gay marriage in a ruling which did not affect him in the least.
Or so we thought.
It was complete mystery why Hamid was so perturbed by gay rights. Until he was struck by lightning that is. The bolt to Hamid’s head not only granted him the power to move faster than anyone, but it also cleared the cobwebs in his head. Finally, Hamid stopped denying who he was, and accepted his true nature.
Now, when the glittering hero isn’t fighting crime alongside the Justice League, Chamak is intent on encouraging equal rights across Pakistan while also looking fabulous.
Hairat Aurat (Wonder Woman)
With her life in peril, the Amazonian princess was sent as a young woman to live with a foster family in Lahore until the threat at her homeland Themyscira was neutralized. Taking the name of Dania, the beautiful young woman quickly grew frustrated by the gender issues in Pakistan.
While at work in the morning, she noticed she was being paid significantly less than her male colleagues. She was also passed over for promotions she deserved. Studying at night, she was often put off by her lewd college professors who would offer her ‘private tutoring’ for free. At social events she was fed up by aunties asking her why she wasn’t married yet. Meanwhile, her Facebook inbox was flooded by friendship requests with poorly worded messages from would be lovers who couldn’t be discouraged.
Dania would also it difficult to enjoy many outdoor activities without feeling stared at or phone numbers thrown at her face.
Finally, Dania decided that Pakistan needed a feminist revolution, and she, as Hairat Aurat, would become a feminist icon. With her fists she beat up every chichora she could get her hands on. Using her ‘dupatta of truth’, she forced every sleazy uncle in the city to confess his behavior to his large angry wife. The dupatta was also used to pinpoint and prosecute misogynist bosses.
She also named and shamed every college professor in Pakistan who had victimized vulnerable female students, and went to every auntie who was overly interested in other people’s affairs, and told them to get a life. They were so scared of her that they did.
Dania visited villages where men pushed their wives into pregnancy and gave talks on family planning. She ended these talks by making snipping sounds with her scissors to make sure the point was driven home.
But Dania didn’t stop there. She started an Instagram account where she uploaded pictures during her menstrual cycle to discourage period shaming. Dania also ran in a marathon without using tampons. This was a little controversial, but no one said anything. Not to Hairat Aurat.
All illustrations are by Rakshanda Khan; text by Noman Ansari