Marvel to release comic book featuring Indigenous heroes
The comic is from Marvel’s Voices series highlighting underrepresented groups.
Indigenous heroes have always been under-represented in the comic book world, but Marvel’s Voices is set to change that narrative with the release of its comic book “Heritage # 1”.
Marvel’s “Voices: Heritage # 1” is a “one-shot” comic that highlights some of Marvel’s greatest Indigenous superheroes. Through high octane art, Indigenous and First Nations artists and writers have come together to tell four exhilarating stories that delve into Indigenous characters from past, present and future.
Acclaimed Navajo artist Shaun Beyale makes his Marvel Comic debut as lead artist of “A Friend in Need,” starring River, one of Marvel’s newest Indigenous superheroes.
“As a people we are very artistic and I think we can create our own characters and create our own stories,” Beyale said. “I don’t see why Hollywood or pop culture always has to step out of our culture to create them when we’re still here and still alive.”
Beyale has been a comic book purist since childhood. Beyale said he was frowned upon in art school for his interest in comics and cartoons, but now sees this opportunity with Marvel as an inspiration to young artists, especially those of their culture, to remain true to themselves and to the art they create.
Beyale is hoping to release an indigenous superhero comic that he created in the future that shows the beauty of his culture.
“If people want to learn more about Navajo culture, just from my comic book, they can start to educate themselves and dive into what culture is,” Beyale said. “For me, I want to entertain people, but at the same time show the beauty of our culture and maybe interest people enough to find out more about the culture they are reading.”
Marvel’s Voices is a publishing series premiered in 2020 with “titles highlighting Black, Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQ +, Latino and Latin creators and characters inspired by the communities and culture around them.” This is the second time Marvel Voices has brought together Indigenous storytellers to tell the stories of Marvel’s greatest Indigenous characters through their lens.
Writer Steven Paul Judd is from Kiowa and Choctaw and from Oklahoma. Judd tells the story of American Eagle, a hero of the Navajo reservation who is past his “prime” and wants to know if he has any gas left in the tank. Judd offered to write the story emphasizing that his superhero was not stereotypical or a “caricature.”
“I kind of told myself that I didn’t have to worry about the art looking really stereotypical because it’s another native who makes the art,” Judd said. “It took that concern away from me largely because you write it and you hope they draw what you write, but not crazy. This project was really awesome. I love the artwork. David Cutler did it so well. “
Judd is a longtime comic book fan who never imagined the day he could do a comic book for Marvel, let alone a project of this historic magnitude.
The prolific artist loved the idea that a native boy or girl could go to a comic book store and buy a story from a big company like Marvel and see that the comic is written by a native, drawn by a aboriginal and is a story about an aboriginal person.
“I just hope the Indigenous community understands where our heart was, and in doing this we have them in mind,” Judd said. “I hope they enjoy it and I hope they see what we are trying to do because it was made for people.”
In addition to his work with Marvel, Judd will be releasing his own comic book, “The Rez Detectives,” on December 8th. Judd will team up with the nonprofit IllumiNative to donate free copies of the comic – which he describes as “Scooby-Doo mixed in with ‘The Little Rascals’” – to public libraries in North Dakota, from South Dakota and Alaska.
Marvel’s “Voices: Heritage # 1” was originally slated for release in November in honor of Native American Heritage Month, but will now release on January 12, 2022.
Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of Marvel and ABC News.