Marvel Comics teamed up with ABC News to shed light on the devastating reality of life under siege in the form of a 'Madaya Mom' - a superhoero inspired from a real life Syrian mother.
The inspiration for the superhero chronicles was a woman living in Madaya, who remains anonymous for her own safety, and who chronicled her struggle to survive the horrific conditions brought on by the Syrian civil war in a series of blog posts.
Since Madaya — a city home to some 40,000 people near the border with Lebanon — was under total siege in mid-2015, more than 60 victims have died of famine and malnutrition.
The collaboration between Marvel and ABC journalists (namely reporters Xana O'Neil and Rym Momtaz, Croatian artist Dalibor Talajic, and colorist Miroslav Mrva) have been in regular contact with the 'Madaya Mom' to create a free digital comic chronicling survival dispatches as the characters face snipers, disease and starvation within the setting of the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
The illustrated panels are less bloody than they are heartbreaking as they depict a mother's fears for her family and children which includes a new born baby boy. 'Madaya Mom' is shown as she and her husband gather their children together at night for warmth and to keep their spirits strong. Yet, even when the prospect of school reopening starts to lift the children's spirits, an errant mortar shell rips their peers apart.
Artist Dalibor Talajic - best known for his work on Deadpool - said he preferred a character anchored in reality. From there came the idea of conveying the grim daily life of besieged Syrians from the perspective of a normal, human civilian.
This is not Marvel's first portrayal of real life heroes: the company also depicted Pope John-Paul II, St Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa.
ABC was able to deliver some of Talajic's images to the mother: "she found that he really nailed the features of the people, the ambiance, the town," ABC News Producer Rym Momtaz said.
"If she ever gets out," artist Talajic said, "the pictures will go to her."
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