Marvel's Syrian War Tale Demonstrates the Power of Comics

Marvel and ABC have teamed up to bring the story of one Syrian woman’s struggles to life.

Madaya Mom is a visual comic based on a series of text messages between ABC News and an unnamed Syrian woman earlier this year. The woman lives in Madaya, a town that is trapped between government forces, rebels, and ISIL. The Syrian government has systematically starved residents to try and get them to surrender their land. There’s no food, no electricity, and, for many residents (including Madaya Mom), waning hope.

We’ve seen an increase in comic books as part of political discourse, especially in sharing stories about the Middle East. There was Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, a 2000 graphic novel (and later award-winning animated film) about a 10-year-old girl living through the Islamic revolution in Iran. And this year, Wasiq Haris released the first installment of a free comic book series called Raat about a young woman in Pakistan who becomes a masked vigilante to fight corruption. And, of course, Joe Sacco’s comics journalism series, including Palestine and Safe Area Goražde, set in Palestine and Bosnia, respectively, prove that comics can depict strife in unique ways.

Marvel has only recently ventured into sharing Muslim-American stories like with the critically and commercially acclaimed comic book series Ms. Marvel, but this is the first time they’ve backed an initiative like this, collaborating with a news organization to get a message out to more people. The project even includes educational materials to engage students and young adults in learning more about the Syrian crisis.

“We are not a genre, we are a medium. We are a way of storytelling,” Marvel’s editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said in a behind-the-scenes video. “Marvel comic books span every genre known to man, and why not journalism?”

Related Tags