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August 06, 2004 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-08-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

EL tgg

wish famili

Uncommon Hero

.A local comic-book series, eatures a former Mossad agent with a sense of humor.

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM
AppleTree Editor

T

he Arsenal, aka Akhmar ben
Sharif, believes in justice and
truth and all the rest of that
idealism stuff. But to be honest, his
favorite part of being a superhero is
the attention he gets from women.
But then, Arsenal probably
deserves a bit of fun. Growing up
the son of an Israeli father and a
Palestinian mother, then serving
with the Mossad, Arsenal has had
his share of difficulties.
Arsenal, the creation of Chad
Halcom of Madison Heights, is one
of five superheroes in the science-fic-
tion series The Calling. Arsenal's col-
leagues include Nocturna, of
Yugoslavia, whose skill is magic;
Nocturna's 12-year-old son, Winch,
and her daughter, Alchemyst, who
can change matter at will; Hatchet,
of Chicago, who has a skin of
armor; and the Paladin, a 791-year-
old winged creature.
Like the crime-fighting Arsenal,
whose special talent is being able to
masterfully use any weapon, Halcom
has something of a mixed back-
ground. His family is from Detroit
and Oakland County, then in the
1970s they settled in Texas, where
Halcom grew up. Halcom moved
back to the area to attend Michigan
State University, where he studied
journalism. He always was passion-
ate about drawing, but making art a
full-time career didn't seem the best
prospect.
In high school, Halcom served as
cartoonist on his school newspaper,
which is how he became interested
in journalism.
Most recently, Halcom has been
part of the staff of the Macomb
Daily in Mt. Clemens, where he cov-
ers the courts and other legal issues,
and some politics.
"Drawing," he says, "is a nice
escape from work. What I do can be
a little overwhelming, so I'll pick up
a pencil, draw and indulge in fanta-
sy."
Halcom has just completed the
fourth issue of The Calling, for
which he does all the writing and
illustrations. The title refers to a

.

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8/ 6

2004

32

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Halcom's interest in the Middle East inspired his
creation of Arsenal.

.

message that certain humans receive
as they are "called" to fight evil
demons. The comic books are sold
primarily at conventions and on the
Internet.
Among Halcom's fans is Chris
Yambar, a writer for the Bart
Simpson comics and editor of other
titles, who says, " The Calling is sure
to appeal to fans of fantasy adven-
ture, gaming, and those of us who
love the classic superhero comics of
the 1970s."
Halcom specifically wanted a col-
lection of international heroes in his
comic books, inspired by his child-
hood.
"When I was young, I traveled a
lot with my parents," he says. "But I
was very young. So now I see pic-

tures of myself where the Odyssey
took place and I'm 1-year-old and
completely oblivious."
While in college, Halcom, who is
Protestant, took a particular interest
in Middle East studies, which is how
he decided to include someone from
Israel in his books.
The Arsenal, Halcom says, is "an
unusual kind of character." His past
has provided him with numerous
challenges (Not only does he have
an Israeli and a Palestinian parent,
but the two had a "strained mar-
riage," Halcom says.), yet he's the
comic relief of The Calling team.

Arsenal refuses to take things seri-
ously," Halcom says, and "he's com-
pletely ambivalent when it comes to
politics."
Halcom says he chose this unusual
background for his character because
"having an ambiguous ethnic
appearance makes him a good
mole."
Intrigue also runs in the family;
like his son, Arsenal's father works
for the Mossad.
In the first issue of The Calling,
Arsenal joins his friends against the
evil Kaliar. Subsequent issues, which
are self-published and financially
successful for Halcom, focus on
more science-fiction battles, but also
look more closely at the personalities
of each of the superheroes.
"I'll be exploring Arsenal's heritage
more in future issues," Halcom says.
"I want to take a look at the events
in the lives of the characters that
made them who they are today."
Halcom writes late at night "after
the bills are paid and the chores are
done." Ideas start, then develop,
twisting and turning,
changing, some dying,
some coming to life.
"So maybe I'll think
about a vampire, because
vampires are neat modern
folklore. I'll think, 'Let's
have the characters battle
a vampire.' But then I
say, 'Okay, but what does
my vampire want to do?
Is he just out to suck
blood or does he have a
special agenda?'"
The most nerve-racking
part of the job is not
deciding the plots, though. It's
choosing what the characters will be
called.
Arsenal's birth name, Ahkmar, like
those of his superhero colleagues,
has a basis in reality.
"I use parts of the names from
some of the court cases [I'm cover-
ing for the paper]," Halcom says.
"So I'm always a little nervous when
I use them." ❑

For more information on
The Calling, go to
vvwvv.answerthecalling.corn

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