Ngozi, the lead character, starts off by helping the Black Panther in a fight with the Rhino.
Captain America, Wonder Woman and the rest of Marvel’s team of super-heroes may have to watch their back. There’s a new girl in town; Her name is Ngozi, she’s young, black and modelled after Nigeria’s Chibok girls.
Ngozi is the star of Nigerian-American writer, Nnedi Okoroafor’s debut for Marvel, an eight-page comic titled “Blessing in Disguise”.
Okorafor announced the comic in August. Now, with the comic’s release, she has let us know that the lead character, Ngozi was inspired by the Chibok girls.
After they were kidnapped in 2014 by members of the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, the clamour for their release or rescue came from around the world.
Notable personalities including the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama called for the release, drawing huge international attention to the case.
Some of the girls have since been released or rescued. The stories of their travails in the hands of their captors are nothing short of inspiring; suggesting huge courage and fortitude in the face of great evil.
It was an important decision for me to base Ngozi on one of the Chibok girls,” Nnedi Okorafor, who has won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, told the Reuters.
“They were normal girls who suddenly had to deal with a huge change in their lives … and their story of perseverance is so powerful,” Okorafor added. “Like many Nigerian girls, Ngozi comes in a small package but is strong-willed and determined.”
“I had asked the artist to make Ngozi in the likes of one of Chibok girls … I asked her to draw Ngozi in her likeness,” Okorafor told the BBC.
Ngozi’s story is set in the bustling city of Lagos. It will feature as part of Marvel’s new Venomverse series and will see her on the same page as familiar characters like the Black Panther and Rhino.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio to immigrant parents of Igbo origin, Okorafor uses the scientific and metaphysical to address issues such as sexism and racism.
The writer is most known for over 20 fantasy novels, including “Who Fears Death” (A World Fantasy Award Winner for Best Novel), “Akata Witch” (An Amazon.com Best Book of the Year) and her “Binti” trilogy (the first of which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella).
While novels are clearly her forte, Ngozi is not her first shot at writing comics; she is credited as a writer in 2012’s “Mystery in Space”, a one-shot anthology by Vertigo Comics, loaded with unsettling short stories.
Okorafor is a big fan of some of Marvel’s more characters, particularly “Wonder Woman”. The success of this year’s “Wonder Woman” - the first superhero movie to star a woman since 2005 - inspired the writer to push forward with Ngozi’s story.
She admits that new ground has been broken by telling stories with strong females in the lead, but pushing the envelope from Greece to Chibok is the next frontier.
“I‘m not just talking about race and sexual orientation, but about having a range of personalities with different desires, dreams and flaws,” she told Reuters. “I don’t only want to see badass female characters, I want to see much less predictable ones.”
As the comic nears its release, Nnedi Okorafor has also landed a gig writing for Marvel’s iconic Black Panther series. The author is currently on a book signing and speaking tour, following the release of “Akata Warrior”, her 12th book.
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