Local cosplayer, Asad Mudeer, recognised by global DC Fandome
Virtual DC Comics con broadcasts UAE pop-culture enthusiast to the world
Imagine a comic con where no badge or entry fee was required and you didn't even have to leave your own bedroom to attend. This is what occurred one weekend last month when, for a few hours on August 22, the virtual DC Fandome attracted over 22 million participants from around the globe all clamouring to hear the latest developments from the DC Multiverse. At the free event a frenzy of announcements from WB Games, film and TV, and comics, as well as unprecedented opportunities to hear from the cast and creators behind choice projects including Aquaman, The Batman, Batwoman and Wonder Woman 1984 all took place. From a local point of view, however, it was arguably the UAE's comic book and merchandise store Speedy Comics and its brand ambassador cosplayer Asad Mudeer, or Asad Morningstar to his friends, who made the biggest splash. The City Walk shop and its owner Rashid Al Farooq were always going to be major contributors to the online gathering, but when Asad's image was highlighted in the 'A Celebration of Villains Cosplay' picture competition, the exposure was more than they could ever have imagined.
Dressed as The Flash antagonist, Captain Cold, Asad's phone lit up the second he was digitally tapped on the shoulder by DC Comics officials.
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"I was apparently the only cosplayer to be featured and have my name and residing country mentioned," the enthusiast told us of his victory representing the Emirates. "I was able to submit good photographs of every individual DC character I've cosplayed until now and it was like a one-in-a-million chance to get such an opportunity to be put forward.
"It is definitely a huge honour to make it up there on such a platform representing the region, our geek community and to show the level of diversity and various talents that are present within the UAE. I owe it completely to the Speedy Comics board and in particular, our owner Mr. Al Farooq and his super cool son, Amer."
Asad's first exposure to a convention's notoriously fevered fandom came in 2014. A pop and sci-fi culture admirer, he had just received his first ever salary and decided to splurge on a ticket for that year's Middle East film & Comic Con in Dubai.
"I heard that Seth Green was attending and I just went to see what it was all about," Asad said. "I didn't even have a clue that dressing up as the characters during such events was called "cosplaying". I thought dressing up as characters was just a thing for Halloween.
"After that convention I made it a goal to attend as many conventions for the coming years and prepare myself for cosplay in order to be a part of the fun and get that 'other side of the world' experience."
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Since then Asad has appeared as various well-known characters, preferring villains because 'they tend to have all the fun'. The Riddler, The Penguin, Red Hood from the Batman series, Jay Garrick, Loki from Thor and of course Captain Cold have drawn favourable reviews from his peers. It was international credit in 2017, though, which led to his hobby becoming more of a job opportunity.
"I was featured for my cosplay on the official DC's Legends of Tomorrow and The CW's Instagram pages," Asad said. "This was, I believe, the first time someone from the Middle East was recognised by DC Comics officials and Warner Bros."
The accolade caught the attention of Speedy Comics, but it would take a couple more appearances on TV series Gotham and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi's Insta-stories before an invitation to join the crew as brand ambassador was extended.
"My role is to continue building a strong community of geeks and pop-culture admirers in the UAE. I also cosplay for Speedy Comics events and represent them at conventions. I reflect the positivity and fun-going lively atmosphere at the store and wherever we go."
Asad signed off by saying this Saturday (September 12) will be a red-letter occasion at the store. For a while the shop has housed a vault, which will finally be opened. Apparently its contents will leave you astounded. To celebrate there will also be 40 per cent off DC items and a mega draw, not to mention a chance to meet the dressed-up man himself.
If you could meet one superhero for real, who would it be?
Either Batman or Spiderman. There's something about these two characters that I can relate to. They have played a massive part in my childhood. Batman is DC and Spiderman is Marvel. I've read the comic book where they both actually team up and it is amazing.