Marvel Comics has recently announced its plans for a new superhero named Snowguard, who is an Inuk teenager from Pangnirtung, Nunavut.
With her real name being Amka Aliyak and her face donning traditional tattoos, Marvel writer Jim Zub introduced the character as “independent, courageous and headstrong” in a CBC interview at the end of last month.
Zub describes Aliyak’s story as beginning with the decision to investigate a mysterious factory that popped up near her community overnight.
“What she discovers there is a villain using the spiritual energy of the land to fuel his plans for conquest,” said Zub. “Amka tries to release the spirits (Sila) that have been captured and in the course of that ends up becoming empowered with their energy.”
Her connection with the spirits, the Sila, give her the ability to change forms and take on animal traits and this concept came from Nyla Innuksuk, an Inuit film producer that heavily influenced the creation of Snowguard.
“Our myths and legends are full of spirits and characters that take both human and animal forms, so I was excited to see how those elements could be interpreted within the structure of a graphic novel,” said Innuksuk.
But not only offering her cultural knowledge, Innuksuk also added that the story, although fictional, is one that needs to be told.
“I was really excited to hear that there would be an Inuk superhero in the Marvel Universe,” she says. “Amka is an activist and cares about real issues. In the Arctic there are a lot of things to fight for; food security, environmental impact, social issues, lack of resources, etcetera. To see a young woman fighting for her community is the kind of story that needs to be told.”
Aliyak will be meeting the Champions, a Marvel superhero group comprised of teen versions of the Hulk, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, in late June. Zub has high hopes for her to become a standing frontline member of the Champions, and Innuksuk is eager to have youth see an Inuk woman portrayed as a hero.
“Indigenous women are often represented in mainstream media as victims,” she observes, “and to see a powerful young person who is fighting back against what she sees as wrong has the potential to make a real difference.”
The empowering force of Snowguard is hoped to be a highly anticipated addition to the Marvel universe.