Marvel comics has a new superhero, and for the first time ever, she’s Nigerian. Ngozi, the teenage character featured in the recently released Venomverse title, Blessing In Disguise, was inspired by the 2014 abduction of around 220 girls from Chibok, Nigeria.
The protagonist, whose name means Blessing in Igbo, fights crime in Lagos with cameos from well-known Marvel universe characters like the Black Panther, Rhino and Venom Symbiote. Penned by award-winning American-Nigerian writer, Nnedi Okorafor, the comic is the fourth Marvel series ever written by a black woman, with Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey the first to claim the title for their World of Wakanda series just last year.
Okorafor, who said she was inspired by the concept of “perseverance” among the 200 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, said: “It was an important decision for me to base Ngozi on one of the Chibok girls.
Blessing In Disguise is one of a number of titles helping to change the face of the traditional superhero
“They were normal girls who suddenly had to deal with a huge change in their lives [...] and their story of perseverance is so powerful.
“Like many Nigerian girls, Ngozi comes in a small package but is strong-willed and determined.”
Blessing In Disguise, which was released yesterday, is one of a number of titles helping to change the face of the traditional superhero. Last year saw a young African American girl called Riri Williams replace Tony Stark as Iron Man, while Ava Duvernay’s film adaptation of the science fantasy book A Wrinkle In Time, stars 14 year-old African American actress Storm Reid.
Speaking of the upcoming film adaptation in an Instagram post celebrating National Read A Book Day in the US, Duvernay said: “Look closely. That's a girl. A girl of color. Saving the universe. Heroes come in all shapes and colors and walks of life. In fact, heroes look just like you, reading this, right now.”
In an interview with Reuters, Okorafor spoke of the need for the box office success of Wonder Woman to be replicated for more diverse representations of women superheros. “I’m a huge Wonder Woman fan, but we can really push it further when it comes to diversity,” she said, adding, “I‘m not just talking about race and sexual orientation, but about having a range of personalities with different desires, dreams and flaws.
“I don’t only want to see badass female characters, I want to see much less predictable ones.”