Movies & TV

Here's the Story Behind Marvel's Filipino Superhero

It's about time.
IMAGE SPIN.PH
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Filipino comic book fans went into a frenzy when it was revealed that Marvel finally decided to give the Philippines some representation in their superpowered universe with Wave. Fortunately, I got the chance to talk to the man behind the Filipina superhero.

Film director and comic book writer Greg Pak is well-known for his runs with the X-Men, and The Incredible Hulk, including that wicked combo of Wolverine and the green monster called Weapon H. He also gave life to a revolutionary team up of Asian-American superheroes ever witnessed in the world of mainstream comics.

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Now, he’s gotten an opportunity to play more with those characters with his new series, War of the Realms, where, of course, will see the debut of Wave. To know more about how he created the Filipino superheroine, Greg Pak and I got into a little Q&A. And here’s what we talked about.

We know that she'll be debuting in the War of the Realms: New Agents Of Atlas miniseries coming in May. As a comic book fan myself, it's been a while since I've seen a superhero of Filipino descent. Can you take us through the process of conceptualizing Wave? Where did your ideas come from and when did you feel that you should create a superhero to represent Filipinos?

In 2017, I had the chance to tell an incredibly fun story starting in TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #15 that featured the biggest team up of Asian-American superheroes ever seen in mainstream comics. I've been hungry to play more with those characters ever since, and the right opportunity came up with the WAR OF THE REALMS, during which the fire goddess Sindr, Queen of Cinders, attacks Asia with her horde of fire goblins.

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So WAR OF THE REALMS: NEW AGENTS OF ATLAS features Asian-American superheroes like Amadeus Cho, Shang-Chi, Jimmy Woo, and Silk rallying against Sindr. And I was given the chance to give the first US comics appearances to some great Korean characters from the MARVEL FUTURE FIGHT video game and some awesome Chinese characters from the Marvel NetEase webcomics.

But I looked at this great ensemble cast and thought it really needed more representation from outside East Asia. And it occurred to me that it had been a long time since Marvel had done anything with any superheroes from the Philippines. So I started thinking about it and talking about it with my editors and ultimately with Filipino artist, Leinil Yu, and the end result is the superhero Wave, co-created and designed by Leinil!

Can you tell us about the character of Wave? What's her real name? Where did she (and her powers) come from? Is she pure Filipina or is she half something else? How was her character incorporated into her costume? Was there any Filipino personality that you modeled her after?

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We're keeping some things secret for now so we can reveal them in the books, but Wave's civilian name is Pearl Pangan, and she's a Filipina from Cebu. She has water-based powers and a special costume designed by Leinil with retractable fins and other features to be revealed. Leinil also had the inspiration to give her those awesome swords reminiscent of Filipino kampilan.

I think there's some speculation out there that since she's got these water-based powers, she might be part Atlantean. But I like the idea that she grew up as a regular girl without any kind of special, royal, or magic bloodline that gives her powers. Later down the line, we'll reveal more about her abilities and how she got them, but for now I'll say she grew up by the sea and has always felt as comfortable in the water as on land.

What can we expect from the miniseries? Who is the threat that Wave and other Marvel heroes will encounter? And what's the role of Wave in beating (if at all) this threat?

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The big threat our heroes face is a fire goddess (Sindr)—and Wave just happens to have water powers! So I'm thinking that's a pretty good recipe for Wave to make a big impact as the story plays out!

Marvel’s War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas debuts its first issue in May.

This story originally appeared on Spin.phMinor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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