Marvel enlists Arab American superhero from Dearborn
Marvel's universe of comic book superheroes is about to unleash a new character with a bright blue look and massive superpowers. He also happens to hail from Dearborn.
It's time for the world to meet Amulet, aka Fadi Fadlalah, according to his creators. Amulet will be introduced in Marvel's pages to assist and help shield Kamala Khan in "Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13," coming to comic shops in March.
The superhero of Lebanese descent was brought to life by writer Saladin Ahmed, who himself is from Dearborn, and popular Jordanian-American illustrator Sara Alfageeh.
"This one means a lot to me. Superhero comics helped teach me to read, but as an Arab American kid, I never quite saw myself in them," Ahmed said. "To be able to add a character with a name like mine, that shares my heritage and my hometown to this pantheon ... whew!"
Amulet is described as a fun, mysterious new character who will be playing a role in "Magnificent Ms. Marvel" for months to come, Ahmed said.
"We're keeping most of the details of him close to our chests, but I can tell you that his powers are magical in nature, and that he is an Arab-American superhero from Michigan," he said.
Drawings by Alfageeh show that the superhero carries an evil eye for protection on a leather strap worn around his neck, tucked under his shirt.
Alfageeh has worked as a character designer for multi-universes outside Marvel. She and Ahmed had a lot of fun creating the concept for Amulet, she said.
"We talked about his defensive-style powers and how they tied into his background as a Lebanese kid," she said. "The blue and white color palette and the circular design were pulled from the Nazar, a symbol that pops up all over the Middle East that protects the wearer from the evil eye — the harmful intentions of others. A bit of a historical, supernatural touch.
"We tend to associate sharp corners and edges with evil, and rounded designs and circles with good. This character is a gentle giant, so I wanted to make sure that even with his size he was shaped like a friend."
Both said they have big plans for Amulet in the future.
Amulet joins Khan, another diverse character who became the first fictional Muslim hero to headline her own comic in 2013. Within the Marvel Universe, Khan — Ms. Marvel — is a teenage Pakistani American from Jersey City, New Jersey with shape-shifting abilities.
Diana Abouali, director of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, said curators will certainly be adding Amulet's inaugural comic to their archival collection when they get hands on a copy.
"I think it’s wonderful that we finally have an Arab American Marvel superhero — and not a villain — that has been created by two Arab Americans," she said.
"It’s important that our children see themselves represented in the culture around them, whether it's as characters in a book, on TV or in comics."