Marvel’s comic book universe is expanding into the Far North with new Inuit superhero Snowguard.

The shape-changing character is built upon the story of Amka Aliyak, a bold 16-year-old Inuk girl from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, who wants to leave behind the traditional life and didn’t believe the stories her family told her about spirits. But when she is saved from a villain by Sila, a powerful life force underpinning Inuit culture, Amka is imbued with powers of her own.

As Snowguard, she can take on powerful animal traits, and mix them into hybrid forms. Depending on how she changes shape, she can gain strength, stamina, and speed, along with fur, claws, a powerful bite, antlers, or even feathered wings, says Toronto-based writer and Snowguard’s creator Jim Zub.

She is joining the Champions team, a diverse group of superheroes that includes teen versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel and the Hulk. Amka is introduced in the current edition of Champions and gains powers in the next issue being released May 23. She then joins the team and will continue on their adventures.

“When I was asked if I was interested in taking over the title on an ongoing basis, I proposed adding a new hero to the team, a new teen Canadian superhero. I wanted to expand the team's roster and show a side of Canada that hasn't had much representation in superhero stories,” Zub told CTV News via email.

He guesses there are fewer than a dozen Indigenous characters in the Marvel universe and many don’t have powers. They are usually only shown in their own environment and don’t continue once the story moves on.

That will change with Snowguard, who will be a frontline character.

“Selfishly, I wanted to add a new Canadian hero to the Marvel universe. Building new pieces of the huge fictional sandbox that is Marvel is an absolute thrill and being able to do that with a Canadian character is even more special,” he said.


Snowguard appears in a page from issue 19 of ‘Champions’ (Line art by Sean Izaakse. Colors by Marcio Menyz. Champions and all related content copyright © Marvel Comics)

He hopes that Snowguard turns “a spotlight on an area of the country many people don't know much about” and shows that “Marvel superheroes can be found anywhere in the world.” Zub also hopes Snowguard’s core theme of finding a balance between traditional culture and the modern world strikes a chord with readers.

Zub, who has been writing comics for Marvel for four years and has contributed stories to the Avengers, Spider-Man, Captain America and X-Men, said he was inspired by the use of Norse mythology by comic-book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby when they created superhero Thor in the 1960s.

Zub turned to Inuit mythology and relied on Nyla Innuksuk, a filmmaker and virtual reality producer in Toronto, for guidance. She is Inuit, grew up in Igloolik and Iqaluit, and is the great-granddaughter of the last shaman in the Arctic.

“Nyla provided wonderful insight into what it's like to live in Nunavut as well as the mythology and spirituality and that helped inform my initial proposal. In addition, Nyla continues to read scripts as they're completed and gives feedback to myself and the Marvel editorial team on an ongoing basis when it comes to Snowguard.”