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Comic Book Superheroes: Celebrating Three Egyptian Characters and Creators

September 13, 2023
Photo Credits: Álvaro Martínez Bueno (left), Ibraim Roberson (middle), Ahmed Raafat (right)

For a viewer to watch a character on television that looks or speaks like them inspires the powerful feeling of being seen. The same concept holds true for other mediums, among them comic books.

Comics have been around for over a century, and they have come a long way since their creation in 1837 and their prosperous “Golden Era,” which began in 1938 with the first appearance of Superman in DC’s ‘Action Comics.’

Today, the title of superhero is not limited only to those who gained powers from toxic waste, a radioactive spider, or other miscellaneous chemical accidents — it applies to a rich selection of heroes with diverse powers and origins.

As such, it is no surprise that some of these heroes are Egyptian or have powers rooted in Egyptian history and culture.

Be it in Marvel, DC, or beyond, Egyptians can find pieces of their culture and identity in comic books — and the following three examples are particularly interesting.

Doctor Fate

Image Credit: Justice League Dark (2018) #18, illustrated by Álvaro Martínez Bueno

For those unfamiliar with this classic DC superhero, Doctor Fate is an agent for the Lords of Order, magical beings who give mortals power to act in their stead against the Lords of Chaos.

Doctor Fate is guided by the Lord of Order Nabu through the golden Helmet of Fate, and uses powerful sorcery for good.

This hero already has connections to Egypt because of his magic powers, which often manifest as an ankh. In ancient Egypt, the ankh was the symbol for life, its meaning extending to eternal life and even reincarnation — which is especially relevant to this superhero.

Doctor Fate is the persona adopted by the one who dons the Helmet of Fate, so there have been a few incarnations of this character during his time in the DC universe, such as Kent Nelson and Hector Hall.

In 2015, however, DC introduced a new Doctor Fate: Khalid Nassour, an Egyptian-American medical student and great nephew to the original wearer of the helmet.

Not only does Khalid use powers with ancient Egyptian influences, he also goes on to interact with good and evil deities from Egyptian mythology during his adventures, such as the cat goddess, Bastet; funeral god, Anubis; and the god of knowledge, Thoth.

Moon Knight

Image Credit: Ms. Marvel & Moon Knight (2022) #1, illustrated by Ibraim Roberson

Ever since the release of the well-received ‘Moon Knight’ television series in 2022, this character has become instantly recognizable to modern Marvel fans — and Egyptians may be excited to see how deeply rooted the character is in ancient mythology.

While Marc Spector, the titular Moon Knight, is not an Egyptian character, his powers come from the Egyptian god of the moon, Khonsu.

As an avatar of this ancient deity, Moon Knight is a walking representation of the culture his character draws inspiration from.

For example, his entire body is wrapped in linens that give him a mummy-like appearance, and he has a crescent moon, the symbol of the moon god, on his chest.

That, combined with the inclusion of the Egyptian hero Scarlet Scarab — avatar of the protector hippo goddess, Taweret — is sure to endear this hero’s comic to many Egyptian fans.


Image Credit: Ahmed Raafat via El-Osba official website

There are many comic book creators outside of the Marvel and DC universes — and those behind El-Osba (The League, 2015) are particularly fascinating.

El-Osba was written and illustrated by co-creators John Maher, Ahmed Raafat, and Maged Raafat. The comic follows a team of six Egyptian superheroes whose origins and powers are rooted in both ancient and modern Egypt.

For example, one member of the team is the reincarnation of the falcon-headed god Horus, and another is Microbusgy — a microbus driver who got into an accident that granted him unique shapeshifting powers.

Both the members of the team and their exploits are familiar to Egyptian audiences as well, since their main goal is to “fight crime, evil and corruption in Egypt.”

In their adventures, readers can explore the issue of pharmaceutical industry corruption with the doctor and magical healer Mariam, or the dangers of sexual harassment with the rouge bedouin mercenary El-Walhan.

From conception to execution, these comics feel truly Egyptian in essence, and local fans will likely find unique enjoyment in their stories.

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