A visual artist from Karachi called Umair Najeeb Khan has created a Pakistani superhero force to rival the American Avengers called “Paak Legion”. The artist made the Pakistani superhero comic book with the aim of breaking stereotypes by depicting modern life in Pakistan via a blend of the old and the new.
Speaking to Geo News, Khan explained his inspiration saying, “I have always been a superhero fan and have done plenty of fan art over the years,”
“I recently started to incorporate more and more of our culture and local material into my art, and this is where the idea of Paak Legion came into being.”
He further explained, “One day, I was sitting and writing a character — a female warrior hailing from Sindh — and the next thing I knew I had 12 characters at hand!”
Khan explained his choice of using local superhero characters as he believed that it would offer him a wider palette to work with.
“We have grown up seeing Superman and Batman, and now Iron Man and Captain America. We know them by their names, but these characters are foreign to us. We may understand their values and enjoy the content, but they are not 100 per cent relatable to us,” he explains.
“Our kids should grow up looking up to characters that reflect our culture and heritage,” he adds.
Paak Legion is a story about 12 characters from 12 different areas in Pakistan. Each superhero has their own unique superpower, struggles, origin story and enemies.
Khan explains, “For each character, I researched that specific part of the country [where they hailed from] as well as their culture. For the sake of authenticity, I also spoke to people from those regions [to get a feel for the characters] while I was conceptualising the heroes.”
One such example of this can be seen in the superhero Samaa. Samaa is an engineer from Balochistan who was born with the ability to manipulate the wind. Throughout the story, her internal struggle is depicted as the burden of expectations on her by her people.
There’s also the superhero Afsoon; a local legend who has been dubbed by natives as the “Protector of the Mountains”. Afsoon has existed in various different forms over the course of many centuries. After being gone for number of years, she returns to the superhero scene to defeat her arch nemesis one last time.
Another interesting superhero is that of Marvi. Marvi, a skilled combat fighter, is a teacher by day and vigilante by night. She dons a rilli print and takes down bad guys with her bo staff.
The youngest hero is that of Bazira, whose superhero name is Buzz. Buzz is a tech-savvy student hailing from Swat who is only 16 years old.
Found in the middle of nowhere by villagers, Divya is a woman lost in the deserts of Thar. With no memories of her past and an unstable power to create portals, she is now on a quest to find herself.
In addition to her is Haajar, a full time mother of three and part time designer, who used to ‘crush’ crime on the streets of Lahore with her team almost a decade ago. After a long hiatus, she is back in the game to lend a helping hand.
Moreover, the men of Paak Legion are equally impressive. Take Aazam, a healer and poet hailing from Kashmir. His whole life he was bullied for being a “freak” by his natives until one day, a catastrophe occurred during which he was able to save the lives of his local people. He now uses his abilities to help the land and his people.
There is also the reckless and short-tempered twins, Shahvez and Shahnawaz from Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The two have recently unlocked their ability to manipulate electricity, but it is beyond their control.
Representing the streets of Karachi is Balaj, who was last seen over a decade ago. Possessing the ability to control matter and objects with his mind, he has been missing for years from the winding streets of Karachi, which is in a desperate need of its saviour.
Representing Sofiyan is a combination of a nawab and crime-fighter from Bahawalpur, who, like his name , has travelled over two centuries to save a city in a shambles.
Finally, there is 61-year-old Omran. He is the sole inheritor of the legacy of ancient earth-manipulators from Quetta. After fighting for a lifetime and retiring from his duties, he has been forced to take his mantle back in the hour of need.
Khan is the only creator and illustrator of the comic book series. He said that upon coming up with the characters and concepts, he wanted to turn it into a comic which is when he began writing the chapters. “That is when I got in touch with Iman [Sultan] on Twitter, who showed interest in being part of the series. So I brought her on board. She is co-writing the plots and scripts with me,” Khan says.
When asked if he had a favourite character from the mix, Khan says all the characters are equally close to his heart.
But if he had to pick one, it would have to be Marvi.
“It’s mostly because that is where it all started from,” he shares. “The first character that I spent days on. I would say she kind of originated this series and the idea for me.”
Paak Legion is currently available to pre-order online and will start shipping the first issue on December 18.
Keep up to date with more news at ProperGaanda: Prime Minister Imran Khan leaves for one day visit to Saudi Arabia
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