Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free Marvel Comic Character Profile : Sooraya Qadir (a.k.a. "Dust")

Dust is the codename of Sooraya Qadir, a mutant with the ability to turn herself into sand-like substance, and control herself as a living dust storm. The character was introduced in New X-Men #133, published in 2002. The character was created by Grant Morrison and Ethan Van Sciver, the writer and artist of that issue, but she was only a minor character. Her character began to be developed substantially when she was featured regularly in New X-Men: Academy X, written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir.

Since the creation of the character, Dust has always been portrayed as a devout Sunni Muslim from Afghanistan. As a voluntary part of her faith, she always wears a burqa when in public.

When she was a child, Sooraya Qadir (later known as "Dust") was kidnapped from her family in Afghanistan and sold into slavery. Later she was rescued by Wolverine and brought to Xavier's Institute where she began studying how to better use her mutant powers. Dust had not seen her family for many years, and had been unsuccessful in her attempts to locate them.

Dust is not "officially" a super-hero. She is a member of the "New Mutants," which is a group of young mutants learning to use their mutant abilities at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. The New Mutants are often thought of as "X-Men in training," but they are not necessarily all planning on becoming X-Men or superheroes. Dust was previously assigned to the "Hellions" squad at the Xavier Institute, when the school had over 100 students divided among multiple squads. Although students at the same school, the Hellions were rivals of the New Mutants in many ways, particularly in field day activities when the different squads competed against each other. After the events depicted in the "House of M" storyline, the Scarlet Witch caused over 90% of the world's mutants to be depowered. Most of the students at the Xavier Institute were no longer mutants, and they returned home. The remaining students were merged into a single squad, known as the "New Mutants." Their stories continue to be chronicled in the comic book series New X-Men. Dust retained her powers after "M-Day," and continues to be a core part of the New Mutants and the New X-Men comic book series.

Sooraya became a target of William Stryker's crusade against the Xavier Institute, as he expressed his need to "eliminate the Muslim." Icarus gave her a note, which X-23 told Sooraya not to trust, as Icarus "smells like death". When Icarus visited the church of William Stryker he was shown why Dust was his next target. Nimrod had a vision of an altered future in his memory banks which showed Dust killing all the Purifiers by turning into a sand storm and ripping the flesh from their bones. After entering the church of Reverend Stryker, she was shown being shot down, though it was revealed to be X-23 wearing one of her niqabs. When Stryker's team infiltrated the school, Dust reappeared, surprising Stryker and playing a key role in defeating his Purifiers after all.

Sooraya cried with Icarus's mother, when she came to the Institute, and apologized for not being able to do more to save her son. His mother tells her that Icarus thought she was beautiful (a significant statement, since he had never seen her without her veil on).

She, with the help of the rest of the New X-Men, would later defeat Nimrod, Stryker's back-up plan for destroying the mutants.

Dust is shown praying to Allah before being teleported with the other students to Limbo where she was being held captive by Belasco and his demons. X-23 broke free and urged Dust and Mercury to join her in fighting Belasco. Dust was too afraid of the demon that she thought of as the Devil, but when X-23 was seemingly killed, Dust broke free and attacked Belasco, saying that if she was to die, she would make Allah proud.

Dust is one of the students that goes up against the Hulk in World War Hulk: X-Men. She attacks him after he defeats Hellion but she too, is defeated when Hulk pulls a water pipe up from the ground and sprays water on her.

Regrouping after their failed attack under the leadership of Matthew Risman, the Purifiers are keeping track of the escaped Predator X. Horribly scarred by Dust's attack, Matthew is fixated on training Predator X to seek out and kill Sooraya by using abayas and niqabs bearing some recognizable quality of hers (possibly her scent). While being trained to seek out and kill Dust, Predator X senses the mutant it was originally created to destroy (the unknown mutant featured in X-Men: Messiah Complex) and the Purifiers follow. Dust is crucial in the success of the battle against the Marauders as she helps take out the massively powerful and dangerous Exodus, by entering his body in her sand form and lacerating his lungs.

A recently revealed cover of the upcoming X-series "Young X-Men" portrays Dust on the cover along with Rockslide, Wolf Cub, Blindfold and two new characters, Ink and Greymalkin.

Despite being in the series Young X-men, Dust appears in the X-men series of Secret Invasion, battling along side Emma Frost, Mercury and X-23.

Powers :
Dust is an Alpha-Level mutant.

Sand Form: ability to convert herself into a destructive sand blast by simultaneously transforming the substance of her body into loose silicon particles and creating an explosive release at her center, expelling her sandy mass at high velocity in all directions, then cause her particles to reassemble themselves back into her human form. With apparent telepathic control, she can then move at high velocity resembling a sand storm. The sand storm effect is strong enough to destroy steel and rip the flesh from one's bones.

  • Telepathic Resistance: very hard to telepathically detect or influence while in her sand-like form.
  • Enhanced Durability: skin, bone and muscle augmented to make it stronger and harder than human; impervious to injury to a certain extent.
  • Magical Resistance: very hard to magically detect or influence while in sand-life form.

Abilities :
Dust speaks Arabic and English fluently.

Strength level :
Sooraya possesses the normal human strength of a woman of her age, height, and build who engages in moderate regular exercise.

Weaknesses :
While in her granular form, Sooraya can be weakened by wind or water.

Notes :
  • Normally, Dust appears to be able to convert her clothing to granular form. However, during the fight between the Hellions and the New Mutants outside the Salem Center Station, Wind Dancer trapped her in a wind while she was in the middle of her transformation and sent her all the way back to campus before she could convert her clothing. This effectively left her naked back at campus. Ironically, Wind Dancer's intentions were good - Sooraya was being attacked by Noriko and refused to fight back
  • Dust is a Devout Sunni Muslim.
Above: Sooraya Qadir (a.k.a. "Dust") explains to her mother why she wears the burqa.
[Source: New X-Men: Hellions #2, published 2005, written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, pencilled by Clayton Henry; page 16.]

In this scene, Dust and her mother are speaking their native language (probably Pashto), as indicated by the caret brackets around their dialogue. From: New X-Men: Hellions #2 ("Fortune and Glory: Part One"), published 2005, written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, pencilled by Clayton Henry, page 16:

Sooraya's mother: I see you still wear it.

Dust (Sooraya Qadir): Pardon?

Sooraya's mother: Your burqa. Do you wear it in America?

Dust (Sooraya Qadir): I never wore it because of the Taliban, Mother. I like the modesty and protection it affords me from the eyes of men.

Sooraya's mother: It is good that you are in a country where you have that choice, Sooraya. Here, things are better. But not all the time. And not everwhere.

Dust (Sooraya Qadir): The man who brought me here, Mother. He says he can help you come to America. So you can be with me. Is this something you would like?

Sooraya's mother: I would love this. But Sooraya . . . my child . . . What do you have to do for this man to make this possible?

Dust (Sooraya Qadir): I don't know. But I am beginning to think it does not matter.


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