"She floats like a swan Grace on the water" - Echo & the Bunnymen
Somehow Echo & the Bunnymen's 1987 New Wave classic "Lips Like Sugar" rings in the ears whenever the Filipina superhero Wave appears in War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas No. 1 from Marvel Comics. And just like the elusive siren in the song - "Just when you think you've caught her/She glides across the water" - the Mico Suayan variant cover of same with Wave soaring across the Philippine flag quickly vanished from comic-book stores throughout the U.S., a big fish that many collectors were unable to net.
Created by writer Greg Pak and renowned Philippine artist Leinil Francis Yu, Wave is Pearl Pangan, a woman from Cebu with aquatic powers. Although she is introduced quickly on the first page, Wave doesn't actually appear much here, and it's those brief scenes with her that cause so much excitement among Pinoys; she's a mystery. Wave is an exotic beauty, a morena with perfect skin and a slender, athletic build. With so many Marvel Comics entering live action through theatrical films and TV shows, it is obvious that rising Filipina actress Kate Valdez has both the gorgeous model looks, inner strength, and sense of wonder that she radiates in every panel. For those familiar with Valdez, it is so easy to hear Wave's dialogue with Valdez' voice in mind.
Writer Pak and illustrator Gang Hyuk Lim keep the book moving at a robust pace. Sindr, the fiery daughter of Surtur (who was seen in the Thor: Ragnarok movie), is attacking Asia so classic Marvel character Jimmy Woo assembles a group of heroes from the region. Aside from veterans such as Shang-Chi, Amadeus Cho, and Silk, these include newcomers like Luna Snow from Korea and Aero from China. They are essentially an Asian Avengers but Pak digs below the surface to show them as unique individuals and not mere stereotypes. There is humor here and thrilling action sequences that reflect both manga and American influences.
Representation is a term discussed frequently with comics properties, and the Asian all-stars of these new Agents of Atlas is truly refreshing and thrilling.