Muslim children need new role models. That is the message at the heart of The 99, a comic book of superheroes who each exemplify one of the 99 qualities that Muslims believe Allah embodies, like generosity, strength and patience.

The man behind these figures is Naif Al-Mutawa, a Kuwaiti psychologist whose quest to develop, publish and promote them is the subject of "Wham! Bam! Islam!," the season premiere of PBS's "Independent Lens" series. (Broadcast nationally on Thursday and in New York on Sunday, it was shown at the New York Film Festival this month.)

The impetus for the comic book came in part from a story Dr. Mutawa heard about a sticker book developed for children in the West Bank. It championed suicide bombers and martyrdom while depicting bloody scenes of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

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