The Marvel Universe is best known for powerful superheroes with otherworldly powers and technology, like Captain America or Iron Man. But Marvel's latest hero doesn't have superpowers or high-tech armour — she's a mother of five living in Syria. "Madaya Mom" is a comic made by Marvel and ABC News, based on the true-life experiences of a mother living in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya with her family. According to ABC News, the family has been trapped in the town for 14 months by forces loyal to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. As their neighbours slowly starve in what is described as "effectively an open-air prison," this mother has shared her family's everyday traumas with reporters in a series of blog posts, text messages, and phone calls. “[The mother] agreed to speak with ABC because she wanted her story — and the story of her neighbours — to be known; however, with no visuals coming out of Madaya, our team spent a considerable amount of time imagining the ways we could illustrate her powerful journey,” Dan Silver, executive producer of ABC News Digital said in a statement online. That's when ABC News paired up with Marvel to create a digital comic book that uses the mother's own words to tell her family's story. The final result is a powerful series of snapshots from their daily lives in Syria.
"Our bodies are no longer used to eating," she says in one panel of the digital comic. The accompanying illustration shows the imagined interior of her home and a child sick in bed. She continues, "My children are hungry, but getting sick, severe stomach pains from the food because their bodies aren't able to digest and absorb the food because they were so hungry for so long." Dalibor Talajić, the artist who illustrated the "Madaya Mom" comic told ABC News that the way the mother described her “everyday horror” impacted his work. Talajić, who lived through the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, said the reason the illustrations are [the way they are] is because there's so few visuals from the Syrian conflict, so it's seen as "an abstract war, somewhere afar." For everyone involved, the goal of "Madaya Mom" is clear: to teach people who might not pay attention to the conflict about horrors of the Syrian war. In addition to the digital comic, there are discussion guides for teachers, two short documentaries about how the project came about, and even a short profile on the artist. Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said in a statement that the comic, "goes where cameras can't and provides visuals to the true story of Madaya Mom — a story that needs to be seen and told."