Metropolis of Legends
Son of Saladin
Freedom, Hero, Scrapper, Fire/Fire, Lvl 12
Type: Hero (Paragon City)
Primary: Fiery Melee
Secondary: Fiery Aura
First Pool: Leaping
Current Level: 12
Bio: History records that in 1160, the king known as Salah ad-Din (“Righteousness of the Faith”) gave birth to the son. When Salah ad-Din died in 1193, his oldest sone Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din (“Most superior”) gained control not of the entirety of his father’s empire, but just his homeland of Damascus. Three years later, his jealous brothers Al-Azis and az-Zaphir allied and conquered Damascus, and sent their brother into exile. As yet, historians have no explanation as to why no death records exist for Al-Afdal.
The truth is that Al-Afdal had been inducted by his father into the Quadiriyya, a mystical sufi sect that sought to reengage the spirit with the fitra, the primal state of truth, purity and goodness, and in doing so, had sought to master the body (producing a powerful martial art based on inner strength) and also the nature of time, for the fitra was where humanity began. In deep meditation, Al-Afdal saw his brother’s treachery and departed his city incognito before it fell. He journeyed to the top of Mount Hermon, where – so the Book of Enoch says – the Grigori descended from the heavens to earth. There he sought a ritual to contact his father, far in the past, in search of guidance for his future.
The ritual went wrong (and may have caused the events detailed in Madrigcal Comics’ special event “Past Lives”; the trigger event was never defined, characters in the story have only speculated). Arriving in modern day Paragon City in a blast of fire, Al-Afdal was encountered by the man known as Easy Strike Match, who was afraid he had set the Arab aflame and took the unconscious man to the hospital. When he awoke, a translator by his bed asked him his name. Al-Afdal introduced himself by his last name “ben Salah ad-Din”. The literal translation was entered in the records by the nurse, and soon stuck. Suspecting he owed Match his life, he swore eternal gratitude to the hero, and joined him in the supergroup “Firebrands of Freedom”.
The Son of Saladin is a martial artist and swordsman of preternatural skill thanks to his sufi abilities. He famously covers his weapons and body in slow-burning flashpowder he claims his father developed, allowing him to fight “with the fires of Allah”. Al-Afdal hates the French because Henri Gourad kicked his father’s tomb in 1920, and because of the Franks’ role in the Second Crusade. He makes regular pilgrimages to his father’s shrine in Damascus, and is a citizen of that country and the USA. He is a devout Sunni Muslim. He has been romantically involved with fellow Firebrand Dancing Cinders.
Creation: Although one of the last characters to appear in the Past Lives storyline, he was the first one sketched out by writer Steve Darlington. He first appeared in Firebrands #132 (Darlington/Byrne 1995) although sharp-eyed readers realised that this figure was almost certainly the masked Arab encountered by El Hoja on the Golan Plateau in his flashback tale in Circus of the Arcane #57 a few months earlier. He made itinerant appearances with the Firebrands until 1999 when his own title was launched.
During the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in 2001, Islamaphobic events also occurred in the Legendary Comics universe, and Al-Afdah was a great vehicle to explore these storylines. New writer Gary Pellino took over on the book as the character was slightly rebooted (he gained a gift to control fire due to the accident that brought him to the future) while political events cause the stories (controversial to some) to gain much attention. All of these threw the character into the spotlight and he became quite popular.
His nemeses include Dr Deceit, Bel Canto and The Redcoat.