• Madaya Mom tells the story of a Syrian mother of five's struggle for survival. (Marvel Comics/ABC News)Source: Marvel Comics/ABC News
"Superheroes are not defined by their powers or their physique. Superhero is in the heart."
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

12 Oct 2016 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 12 Oct 2016 - 4:06 PM

Meet Madaya Mom. She's a Syrian mother of five trapped in the town of Madaya, she battles starvation, disease, depleting resources and violent threats, and she's Marvel's newest superhero.

Madaya Mom is a collaboration between ABC News and Marvel Comics, and it tells the true story of the Syrian mother and her struggles to survive.

The city of Madaya has been under siege since July 2015. Residents have been unable to get out and journalists have been unable to get in, with only occasional humanitarian aid reaching an estimated 40,000 starving residents.

The International Committee of the Red Cross describes Madaya as effectively an open air prison.

The mother's real name has been kept a secret "for her protection", but there are plenty of other threats she and her family face every day.

"Today our one meal was rice and bean soup. Our bodies are no longer used to eating," she reveals at the start of the comic.

"My children are hungry but are getting sick, severe stomach pains from the food because their bodies aren't able to digest and absorb food because they were hungry for so long."

The comic, which is free to download, is based on Syria Starving: A Family's Fight for Survival, a series of blog posts by the woman. 

“[The Mother] agreed to speak with ABC because she wanted her story - and the story of her neighbors - 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,” said ABC News Digital Executive Producer Dan Silver.

“With their storied history of innovative and emotional storytelling, we knew that our colleagues at Marvel would bring this story to life in a truly unique and expressive way.”

ABC News producer Rym Momtaz said Madaya Mom was "immediately sold" on the idea of the comic. 

"It was actually really heartening because she told me that she loved Spider-Man and she knew Marvel," Momtaz told The Guardian.

"She could not believe that the people who were behind Spider-Man had any interest in her life and had heard of her."

The comic is illustrated by Croatian artist Dalibor Talajic, who argues that Madaya Mom isn't so different from the typical Marvel heroes.

"Superheroes are not defined by their powers or their physique. Superhero is in the heart. Madaya Mom fits within this category because she finds strength to be human and unhardened,” Talajić said.

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