Dust (comics)

Dust (comics)

Dust (Sooraya Qadir) is a fictional character, a mutant in the Marvel Universe. She is one of the student body in the Xavier Institute and a member of the former Hellions squad therein. Created by Grant Morrison and Ethan Van Sciver, she first appeared in New X-Men #133 (2002), although her character was not fully developed until the New X-Men: Academy X series written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. She maintained her powers post-M-Day and is currently a member of the New X-Men team. She is a rare example of a positive Muslim comic book character.

Fictional character biography

Origin

Dust is an adolescent Sunni Muslim girl who possesses the mutant power to turn herself into a sand-like substance. Born in Afghanistan, Sooraya is kidnapped by a slave-trading ring after she is separated from her mother. While one of her slavers tries to remove her niqāb, she instinctively lashes out with her powers and flays them all alive with her dust form before passing out. She is subsequently discovered and rescued by Wolverine and Fantomex. Wolverine takes her to the X-Corps base in India. Sooraya hides herself from the X-Men stationed there by turning into sand and spreading herself around the complex. Phoenix senses Sooraya's presence and telepathically convinces her to reveal herself to everyone present. Sooraya reforms and announces her presence by speaking a single word: Turaab. (dust).

Xavier Institute

Ultimately, Dust is enrolled at the Xavier Institute in Westchester County, New York. Quiet and nervous, she experiences difficulty adapting to her new surroundings - particularly after being given the loud and rebellious Surge as a roommate. Sooraya and Surge often come to disagreements over the traditional garb which Surge believes to be an affront to women's rights. Sooraya is initially placed into Xorn's Special Class and is picked on by Xorn for standing by her faith and allegedly placing its importance over the cause of mutants. Frightened, she then alerts Professor X to Xorn's 'true' identity. She attempts to use her powers to do so but Xorn manages to defeat her and Xavier.

Hellions Squad

After the conclusion of New X-Men where leadership of the school goes to Emma Frost and Cyclops, Sooraya is made a member of the Hellions training squad. She opts to observe Islamic hijab rather than wear a standard training costume, though it does bear the standard 'X' insignia. She forges a friendship with Icarus. He asks her to the school dance, but she declines since the idea of the dance made her uncomfortable, though she did not feel insulted by his asking nor did Icarus feel insulted due to her rejection.

After winning the field day competition with the rest of the Hellions and the academic year was done, Hellion (Julian Keller) had invited the Hellion Squad to his home in LA for summer vacation. While there, the Hellion Squad meets the Kingmaker, a powerful criminal with the power to make "dreams come true" through favors and connections, but for whom favors are expected in return. When each of the Hellion's agree to the deal, Sooraya's wish was to find her mother. The Kingmaker finds Sooraya's mother and arranges for a trip back to Afghanistan so that Sooraya can meet up with her. She is soon flown back to LA to deliver on her part of the deal; stealing an advanced bio-weapon, which they learn later will be sold to Doctor Octopus in New York. The Hellion Squad breaks their deal with the Kingmaker and end up destroying the weapon. As a result, Sooraya loses her connection to her mother as she learns she has been moved again with no hope of tracking her, leaving her devastated.

Decimation

After House of M, Wanda Maximoff depowered over 90% of the mutant population, thereby reducing the population of Xavier's student body to only 27 students. The squad system has been dissolved, and the remaining students have been merged into one large group. She is also paired as roommates with X-23.

Sooraya becomes a target of William Stryker's crusade against the Xavier Institute, as he expresses his need to "eliminate the Muslim. Icarus gives her a note, which X-23 tells Sooraya not to trust, as Icarus "smells like death". In reality, Stryker wishes to eliminate her because Nimrod has a vision of an altered future in its memory banks which shows Dust defeating all the Purifiers during their planned future attack on the school. Wallflower was previously killed by the Purifiers because of Nimrod's portrayal of her ability to turn the tide of the fight with her pheromones. Upon entering the church of Reverend Stryker, she is shown being shot down, though it is later revealed to be X-23 wearing one of Sooraya's niqābs. Learning the Purifier's true intentions and that he was tricked into leading "Sooraya" to her death, Icarus is killed by Stryker. When Stryker's team infiltrates the school, Dust awakens in the bathroom, having been knocked out by X-23. She enters the fight and surprises Stryker, singlehandedly defeating most of his Purifiers and severely wounding Stryker's follower, Matthew Risman.

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

The Institute holds a memorial for the mutants lost during M-Day; Sooraya cries with Icarus' mother when she comes to the Institute and apologizes for not being able to do more to save her son. His mother tells her that Icarus thought she was a beautiful person.

While Hellion and X-23 go off to rescue Mercury from the Facility, Sooraya is left at the mansion but learns vital information from Pixie of what happened. Sooraya immediately tells Nori and David what she knows; Dust and the remaining team are about to leave the Institute, but are stopped by Shadowcat, who brings them in for the time being to tell them about the whereabouts of their teammates and friends.

The "Astonishing" team and the remaining X-Men, accompanied by the O*N*E* Sentinel, go off to the Facility and rescue Hellion, X-23, and Mercury.

Dust is shown praying to Allah before being teleported with the other students to Limbo where she is held captive by Belasco and his demons. In #39, X-23 breaks free and urges Dust and Mercury to join her in fighting Belasco. Dust is too afraid of Belasco, believing him to be the Devil, but when X-23 is seemingly killed, Dust breaks free and attacks Belasco, saying that if she is to die in battle against "the Devil", she would make Allah proud. Dust and Mercury fight with Belasco and manage to hold their own due to the fact that their transient forms give them limited resistance to Belasco's magic. When Surge and Hellion arrive, the two girls are exhausted and can only watch as Belasco tries to pull Earth into Limbo. He fends off every student of the Xavier Institute until he is slain by Pixie and the Darkchilde.

World War Hulk

Dust is part of the New X-Men in a training session supervised by Beast that goes up against the Hulk in World War Hulk: X-Men. She attacks him in her sand form after he defeats Hellion but she too is defeated when Hulk pulls a water pipe up from the ground and sprays water at her, taking her out of the fight.

She is also quizzed by Pixie about her beliefs and choice of dress and has her shoulder fixed by Beast after it is dislocated during the fight with Belasco. She also checks on Julian at the urging of Mercury, after Nori kisses him.

Messiah Complex

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. In Chapter Four of Messiah Complex, Sooraya neglects to join her teammates in raiding the Purifier's most important base in D.C. merely because she thinks that her squad leader, Surge, is out for vengeance and that she is only ambushing the Purifiers for the baby as an afterthought. She stays at the mansion alongside Elixir and David Alleyene and the remainder of the student body while the other New X-Men and the X-Man, Armor, leave.

Later in Chapter Six, the mansion's Megatron Sentinel guard are taken over completely by nanosentinel technology, causing them to battle the X-Men. As Hepzibah, Warpath, Bishop, and the student Nezhno fight the Sentinels, Dust appears and Cyclops orders her to enter the Sentinels to find out what is going on and stop it if she can. She does but she runs into the pilots who have been turned into updated versions of Prime Sentinels and they repel her. Dust frantically runs to Cyclops as infantry arrives in the form of Iceman and X-23. They manage to severely damage the human-Sentinel hybrids.

When the New X-Men are home alone with Beast, she and Rockslide go to put flowers on the graves of their deceased friends only to find Predator X eating the corpses. The three New X-Men battle with Predator X until Surge arrives, taking the beast on by herself, as the other three warn the others. After an intense battle across the remains of the school, Pixie teleports Predator X, herself, Dust, and the rest to the X-Men's final battle against the Marauders on Muir Island.

On Muir Island, Dust is crucial in the success of the battle against the Marauders in the final chapter as she helps take out the massively powerful and dangerous Exodus, by entering his body in her sand form and lacerating his lungs while he was distracted by Emma Frost.

Divided We Stand

Sometime after Cyclops disbanded the institute, Sooraya had returned to Afghanistan. The first issue of Young X-Men showed Sooraya driving a group of Taliban guerrillas from a small town, declaring the town to be under her protection, the Taliban thinking her of some sort of extension of Allah's wrath. Shortly afterwards, Cyclops appears, asking her to return to New York to join his new team of Young X-Men.

Unaware that "Cyclops" was actually Donald Pierce in disguise, the Yougn X-Men proceed with their first mission to take down a new Brotherhood of Mutants supposedly composed of the original New Mutants. In the ensuing battle against Magma, a blast of flame turns Dust's sand form into glass. Sooraya's glass form is later shattered into hundreds of glass fragments in a battle between Donald Pierce and Greymalkin. However, Magma used her powers to return the glass back into sand and Sooraya is able to revert back to human form. Realizing that they were used by Pierce, the Young X-Men and New Mutants defeat Pierce, albeit with the death of Wolf Cub, and Sooraya joins the real X-Men in San Francisco.

Secret Invasion

Dust is among the several X-Men helping to fight off Skrulls during their invasion of San Francisco.

Powers and abilities

Dust can transform herself into an explosive cloud of sand-like silicon particles and maintain control of her sand form (for instance scouring the flesh from her enemies' bones like a sandstorm, shredding steel or forming a human-shaped body), before reforming at will. However, telekinetic or similarly powered beings can take control of her sand particles. According to Jean Grey and Professor X, her dust form makes her harder to detect telepathically and according to New X-Men vol. 2 #42 somewhat resistant to magic.

Dust has also demonstrated a major weakness to water. Her sand form has been stopped by being doused with water several times in combat. She can also be defeated if the air she travels through is manipulated (such as during her fight with Wind Dancer). Her sand form is also vulnerable to extremes of heat, causing it to crystallise into glass, paralysing her. Like many transmorphs, she reverts back to her human form if exhausted or knocked unconscious.

Family

Sooraya is still searching in hopes of being reunited with her mother, Mirah Qadir. Currently, Emma Frost has been trying to locate Mirah, but to no avail.

Observing Islamic Hijab

In line with Sooraya's character as a traditional Muslim, she chooses to observe Islamic hijab by donning traditional dress. Sooraya explains to her mother that she always observes hijab because of the modesty it affords her from men, and never did it because of the Taliban's enforcement of hijab on women. Her mother is happy that she lives somewhere where she is able to make those choices, unlike in Afghanistan. Characters in the comics often refer to Dust's traditional Muslim outfit as a burqa. However, the outfit Dust wears is an abaya with a niqāb for her face, an ensemble originating in and worn mostly by Muslim women in the Persian Gulf states of the Middle East. In New X-Men vol. 2 #42, Gentle is the first to get it right while correcting fellow student Pixie.

Some artists depict Sooraya's abaya incorrectly, having it tightly cinched around her waist and breasts, which questionably disregards the purpose of wearing an abaya.

Other versions

House of M

Sooraya appears as a member of the New Mutants in the House of M continuity. She appears to have formed a very close friendship with Jubilee and become Westernized, wearing revealing clothes and enjoying stereotypical 'mall rat' activities, although it is revealed that she may carry some reservations and resentments for trading in on her morals and beliefs for her Western behavior. Like the rest of the Hellions and New Mutants, she travels to Japan to fight against Emperor Sunfire in order to close down Project Genesis.

X-Men: The End

In the alternate time line depicted in X-Men: The End, Sooraya remains at the institute as the caretaker of Cyclops and Emma Frost's children. During the attack on the Institute, Sooraya encounters Madelyne Pryor, asking if she is Jean Grey returning to the school. Madelyne lashes out and Sooraya defends herself, seemingly defeating Madelyne and escaping the Institute before it explodes. It is later revealed that the "Dust" who escaped the encounter was really Madelyne, disguised in Sooraya's abaya. Upon revealing her true identity, Cyclops states that he already knew it was her and that the real Sooraya died back at the school.

Other Media

Wolverine and the X-Men

Dust appears in the animated TV series "Wolverine and the X-Men" as a captive of the Mutant Control Unit. She and others are freed by Wolverine. Dust also appears in episode 10.

X-Men: The Last Stand

In the X-Men: The Last Stand novel by Chris Claremont, Sooraya is mentioned by Rogue.

References

External links

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