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Marvel's Universe Of Superheroes Has Officially Come To Nigeria

"A Marvel story. Written by a Nigerian Woman. Set in Lagos. Superhero's name: NGOZI. What a time to be alive."

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Nigeria’s cultural galaxy has a new star to sit alongside Nollywood films and the Afrobeats music takeover: Marvel’s first Nigerian superheroine, Ngozi, whose story the comic book powerhouse has set in Lagos.

We have only a few tantalizing details so far about the eight-page story, called "Blessing in Disguise," which debuts in September.

Nnedi Okorafor/Marvel

But Ngozi — whose name means "blessing" in Nigeria's Igbo language — acquires superpowers after she encounters an extraterrestrial being known as a "symbiote." These creatures — and their most famous incarnation, Spider-Man villain Venom — will be at the heart of the upcoming Venomverse event that will span across the publisher's titles.

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As part of Venomverse, Ngozi will also be rubbing shoulders with Black Panther, the titular star of one of Marvel's most anticipated movies, and supervillain the Rhino.

It features a girl named Ngozi (a name that mens Blessing), the Venom Symbiote, Black Panther, and the Rhino. Wahala ensues.

"Wahala ensues," Nnedi Okorafor, the Nigerian-American writer behind the comic, told BuzzFeed News, using Nigerian slang for trouble, chaos, and shit generally hitting the fan.

You might have already heard of Okorafor, an award-winning science fiction writer who grew up between the US and Nigeria. Who Fears Death, her fantasy novel set in post-apocalyptic Sudan, is currently being turned into an HBO series produced by George R.R. Martin.

Nnedi Okorafor

Okorafor is keeping tight-lipped about the exact storyline of "Blessing in Disguise," but revealed that Ngozi is inspired by the Chibok girls kidnapped by Islamist militants Boko Haram in 2014.

"Her likeness is based on one of the Chibok girls. That was something that was important to me," she said. "I’ve wanted to write a story on the Chibok girls for a while. That’s been kicking around my head for a while. So when this opportunity came up, I was like, this is gonna be a girl who is living her normal, everyday life and then thrust into a situation where everything was normal, and then suddenly everything wasn’t. My brain just went straight to those girls."

It’s also the first time a Marvel story will be set in a real-life African country.

Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP / Getty Images

Okorafor knew instantly where the action had to be. “A superhero narrative in Lagos practically writes itself,” said Okorafor, whose works include an alien invasion novel set in the lagoon-side city. She said she worked closely with illustrator Tana Ford to make sure the city was accurately depicted.

“Lagos is so exciting. I wanted things that are set where the characters are from, and connected to that area. There’s so many stories there, so much energy.”

Nigeria's comic book scene, like others across the continent, has been booming in recent years.

And Okorafor is unfazed about smashing even more barriers as Marvel makes its entry. “I want young Nigerians to take away that all of these things are possible. That our stories are important and can be told in multiple media forms. We can have a story in Marvel that tells a story about Nigerians, by Nigerians."

"I’ve come across a lot of African artists and writers who felt they won’t be successful if they tell their own stories unless they tell it in a specific way, and I really want young creatives to get away from that."

"This idea of, Oh it’s never been done before, therefore I’m not gonna try doing it — I think that’s the worst attitude to have," Okarafor said of the upcoming comic. "The only thing is that the story has to be well-told because stories are universal and intoxicating.”

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Superhero fans everywhere are pretty down with that.

A Marvel story. Written by a Nigerian Woman 😭😭 Set in Lagos😭😭 Superhero's name: NGOZI 🙌🙌🙌 What a time to be alive. https://t.co/3uxZj2JFrH

OK I can just imagine my child calling a superhero like NGOZI NGOZI to the rescue😨 Marvel oh😰

@Nnedi Oh!!!men gigiddy...BLESSING,NNEDI,LASGIDI AND MARVEL...it's simply gigiddy...😀😀😀...atlarge knows the truth

@Nnedi So, so, soooo proud of you! 🇳🇬 Ppl like you and @comicrepublicng make me hopeful! (hey @snazzypo @ohbritannica peep this)

Venomverse #1 is slated to hit shelves in the US on Sept. 6.

Monica Mark is the West Africa Correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Dakar, Senegal.

Contact Monica Mark at monica.mark@buzzfeed.com.

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