The world could always use more heroes. Next month, the hero coming has Filipino comic book fans buzzing. Her name is Wave, and she is an all-new superhero from the Philippines created by Greg Pak and our very own Leinil Francis Yu.
There isn’t much known about Wave at this point beyond the initial media release. As part of Marvel’s ongoing War of the Realms event, it is known that she’ll attempt to stop the infernal forces of Sindr from conquering Asia, alongside Amadeus Cho and a team of heroes from across the region in the pages of War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas.
Wave is portrayed as a young morena wearing a black and green wetsuit adorned with golden armor and ethereal green wings. She wields a pair of similarly glowing emerald blades which bear a resemblance to the laring, a sword with Moro origins.
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Should a live action movie made about the character, Yu thinks Angel Locsin would do the Wave role justice. But Mico Suayan, who designed Wave’s Marvel Exclusive cover with Rain Beredo, admits in a Facebook post that he based the new hero's image off Nadine Lustre.
While Wave is the first original Pinoy character to be featured in one of Marvel’s major crossover events, there have been Filipinos in colored print in the past. In Invincible Iron Man Volume 2 published in 2008, Marvel introduced the Pangkat ng Tagumpay or Triumph Division, which consisted of a centuries-old succession of Filipino superheroes who train their whole lives to replace their elders. Their headquarters, Triumph Hall, is located in Manila, but the group also offers protection around Southeast Asia. When some of the members were killed off, iconic characters including Thor and Iron Man, paid their respects.
Real life change
Like much of the entertainment industry, comic books have been making strides forward for diversity in the past few years, and its importance cannot be understated. Whether in books, film, or video games, the protagonist is often an ideal to which we aspire in one way or another; and having a character that is like you, written, created, or portrayed by someone who has experiences like yours makes the dream just a little more familiar and a little less impossible.
Kamala Khan, for example, a teenage American Muslim inherited the title of Ms. Marvel from Carol Danvers (the current Captain Marvel). The first volume of her series received the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, and was praised by critics for shedding a positive light on what life is like for Muslim Americans.
More recently, the Black Panther film received almost universal praise, not just for its story and highly nuanced characters, but also for the amazing visual design which drew on the rich culture of Africa and its people. Among its most vocal supporters, of course, are members of the African-American community, many of whom stated that this was the first time in a more mainstream film that they saw a black man in the role of the statesman, genius, hero hybrid.
In both Kamala and Black Panther's cases, the heroes not only show how far these characters can go and how much they can achieve. They also showed how these characters can undo the damage done by decades of stereotypical portrayals.
These days, Mars Ravelo’s Darna is getting a lot of traction online. Jemuel Barnaldez and Carljoe Javier's pitch for a new Darna comic was brought up. It would’ve been published alongside the planned movie on the superhero. In the Barnaldez-Javie iteration, the superheroine would have a reimagined costume and morena features. The idea eventually got rejected, but the duo posted it on social media, which caught the attention of netizens. Soon, more and more artists were riding this wave, sharing their own take on the hero under the hashtag #SigawDarna.
While still being rooted firmly in entertainment, comics and movies can be effective tools in championing new ideals. Movies and comics are mediums of escape, yes, but also an of expression of many things: among them inclusivity and representation, the tearing down of age-old stereotypes.
We live in dangerous times, with violence on the streets, disinformation spreading like wildfire, and climate change is becoming a bigger reality every day. We need heroes. Not necessarily ones that fly or have extraordinary powers, but ones that can help make a difference. – with Jacs T. Sampayan