Writer Jim Zub and artist Sean Iszaake will introduce a new Marvel hero in Champions #21 - Snowguard, a teen girl of Inuit ancestry with the power to shapeshift and take on different animal traits.
Snowguard, a.k.a. Amka Aliyak, gains her powers from the Inuit spirit force known as "Sila," a concept taken from indigenous beliefs. To help craft the story, Zub consulted with Nyla Innuksuk, founder of the Toronto-based virtual reality production company Mixtape VR, who, like Amka, is of Inuit descent.
"I was really excited to hear that there would be an Inuk superhero in the Marvel Universe... Inuit are oral storytellers and 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," Innuksuk told CBC Books. "There is a certain amount of hesitancy that I feel when I hear about a non-Indigenous organization interpreting Inuit culture for a commercial project. What I valued with Champions was that Jim and the team at Marvel had reached out early in the process to have input from an Inuk collaborator."
"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…et cetera. To see a young woman fighting for her community is the kind of story that needs to be told," she continued. "Indigenous women are often represented in mainstream media as victims, 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."
Champions #21 is due out on shelves June 20.