Last June, Marvel Comics announced they were adding Ari Agbayani to their growing repertoire of heroes - a Filipina-American scholarship student who seeks justice in her university campus, inspired by Captain America.
The story centers on Agbayani and her best friend - the latter of which is victimized by a wealthy legacy student. “But what can she do when her college is only concerned with keeping its donors happy, and half the buildings on campus are named after her best friend's abuser? In order to take him down, she'll have to get creative,” Marvel described in a statement.
The new character was created by writer Alyssa Wong, along with Jodi Nishijima. Wong is the author of the 2020 Marvel comic book series, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, while Nishijima’s notable works include comic illustrations for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
For Wong, having grown up in a Filipino-American community, paying homage to her childhood was something she always wanted. “There just aren't very many of us in comics!” she said, “Every time I see a Filipino character, I get excited.”
Likewise, Nishijima described the playful and charming concept art behind Agbayani as reflective of her strong-willed friends. “Ari's design was inspired by all the girls I've known in my life who in their day to day appear very sweet and empathetic, but when challenged can be terribly fierce,” she described. “Her style is very much what [me] and my friends would feel comfortable and confident in wearing as well!”
Ari Agbayani will debut in the Marvel comic "United States of Captain America" on September 22.