Loa And The Representation Of Hawaiian Superheroes

The X-Men feature some of the most diverse comic characters in the world, and there are plenty of young mutants that deserve recognition. Alani Ryan, codename Loa, is one of them. Born in Maui, Loa is one of the few Hawaiian superheroes in pop culture. Loa has the power to dissolve solid objects. Combined with her heritage and connection to characters like Namor, Loa is a superhero you need to know about.

Discovering her powers

Growing up with mixed Hawaiian and Haole ancestry, Alani had a peaceful life in Maui. She developed a talent for surfing, going out to sea with her dad as often as she could. Loa’s world changed when she and her dad were ambushed by the villain Great White and his pack of trained sharks. The stress of the event triggered Alani’s mutant power, causing her to kill a few of the sharks and save her father.

All would have been lost if not for Namor’s arrival. The Sub-Mariner defeated Great White and Alani’s grandmother was revealed to be an acquaintance of his. Alice Ryan had been the best friend of Namor’s former love Betty Dean.

Alani enrolled at the Xavier Institute and picked the name Loa after a type of worm. She became a part of a team made up of Anole, Indra and other young mutants learning to control their powers. After M-Day, Loa was one of only 27 students to retain her powers.

Channeling the spirit of Hawaii

Loa’s powers allow her to move through solid matter, breaking molecules down. This causes an object to crumble. Her abilities manifested as markings on her body. Loa’s markings resemble traditional Polynesian tattoos, which are considered to be culturally important.

Polynesian tattooing has developed into a refined art form. Known as ‘kakau,’ ancient Hawaiians cut their skin open and poured tattoo ink over the wound. The ink was usually made from ash. Once the cut healed, the ash appeared as black pigment. Warriors of Tonga were tattooed from the waist down with geometrical patterns. In ancient Samoa, tattoos played an important role in religious practices. A tattoo artist was held in high regard, often inking several family members as part of a ceremony. Loa’s markings are a reflection of her culture.

Despite not having a lot of field experience, Loa’s powers are formidable. She single-handedly destroyed a Sentinel and she’s also held her own against demons in Limbo.

Alani’s growth is attributed to her relationship with Namor. Their dynamic can be described as mentor and student. During the Curse of The Mutants arc, Loa helped Namor to defeat the Atlantean vampires known as the Aqueos. Namor gifted her with an Atlantean necklace that let her breathe underwater and he invited her to explore his kingdom. However, the necklace came with a price, as Loa can no longer live on land. Namor helped her adjust, demonstrating his compassionate.

Ultimately, Loa found her Ohana in the X-Men. As a superhero, Loa embodies the Hawaiian belief of ‘pono,’ a concept that translates as righteousness. Her selflessness makes her a wonderful role model for young people of Polynesian descent.

I’d love to know your thoughts on her, especially if you come from a Hawaiian family!

Author: thecomicvault

Short story writer, comic geek and cosplayer hailing from Manchester, England. Find my pop culture ramblings on The Comic Vault.

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