Marvel made a comic of a Syrian family. It tells a story you won't see on the news.

Since July 2015, the Syrian mountain town of Madaya has been under siege by their own government.

40,000 people live there, and the government (mostly) allows people to move freely within the town limits. But with a few exceptions for emergency aid, no one has been allowed in or out of the mountainside town for more than a year, effectively turning the former resort town into an open-air prison.

Government officials have consistently denied travel visas to visitors, too, which means no one knows exactly what's going on within city limits — except that dozens of people have already starved to death and that it's all in retaliation for a few rebels in the town who opposed the brutal actions of the Assad regime.


The blockade leading into the city. Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images.

ABC News producer Rym Momtaz became obsessed with the city of Madaya early on.

She spent weeks working through her wide network of contacts (built up over years of war correspondence) to try to get news from the inside. Finally, she made contact with a mother of five who was trapped in Madaya.

At first, the woman feared for her life; she had a family to provide for, after all, and the Syrian government was not forgiving. But Momtaz gained the woman's trust over time, and the two began to communicate every day via encrypted text messages.

A family rushes to greet the aid trucks that arrived in January 2016. Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.

Momtaz started translating "Madaya Mom's" encrypted texts into English, chronicling the strife in an ongoing blog.

The woman, whose identity was kept secret to protect her and her family, shared the details of her life under siege — the furniture they burned for warmth; the bombs that rocked their schools and home; the scraps of food they struggled to keep down and sickness they endured from starvation; intimate details of her children's lives and passions; and all the other struggles of life during wartime.

The blog was shocking. It was heartfelt. It was real. But Momtaz worried that not even those bursts of words could do justice to the horrifying situation.

Photo by Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images.

Eventually, ABC teamed up with Marvel Entertainment to render the story of Madaya Mom in a way that people could actually see.

“[The Mother] agreed to speak with ABC because she wanted her story — and the story of her neighbors — to be known," explained ABC News digital executive producer Dan Silver. "However, with no visuals coming out of Madaya, our team spent a considerable amount of time imagining the ways we could illustrate her powerful journey."

Marvel tapped artist Dalibor Talajíc to bring Madaya Mom's words to life. Talajíc, who has previously illustrated "X-Men" and "Avengers," had his own experiences with armed conflicts in his native Yugoslavia and his current home country of Croatia.

"What I could relate to is this civilian point of view during the war because somebody else is fighting, and regardless of your actions, bombs are falling around, snipers are shooting around, and you just survive," he said in an interview with NPR.

Using Madaya Mom's own words, Talajíc turned the story into a stunning visual narrative.

He recreated the ruin and claustrophobia of life in wartime Syria in a stunning way.

“[Madaya Mom] is a huge fan of Spider-Man, and she could not believe that the people behind Spider-Man, Marvel, knew that she existed, knew her story and were interested in giving her story the same treatment they gave Spider-Man," Momtaz said in an interview with Fusion. "The only difference being Spider-Man is fiction and her story is unfortunately is … very real."

Check out the first few pages of the story below:

Images by Dalibor Talajic/ABC News/Marvel Entertainment, used with permission.

"January 19, 2016. Today our one meal was rice and bean soup. Our bodies are no longer used to eating. My children are hungry but are getting sick, severe stomach pains from the food because their bodies aren't able to digest and absorb the food because they were hungry for so long."

"When we wake up, we drink mint or thyme tea from the garden, with a little bit of sugar. It keeps the children from being hungry for a while."

The story of Madaya Mom is available for free online, and it's also an exclusive print comic. But the real-life Madaya Mom is still trapped under siege.

Right now, Madaya Mom's graphic narrative is the only way for the world to hear her story — though hopefully someday we will hear her voice directly from her mouth, too. Another aid convoy entered the city at the end of September, but the future is still unwritten for her and many like her.

For now, all we can do is share her harrowing story.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

"Generation X" got its name in the early '90s from an article turned book by Canadian writer Douglas Coupland. And ever since, they've been fighting or embracing labels like "slacker" and "cynic." That is, until Millennials came of age and all that "you kids today" energy from older generations started to get heaped on them. Slowly, Gen X found they were no longer being called slackers... they weren't even being mentioned at all. And that suits them just fine.

Here are 17 memes that will resonate with just about anyone born between 1965 and 1980.

Gen X basically invented "Whatever."

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Until recently, Generation X has been sitting back and watching as Millennials and Boomers eat each other with an amused, non-confrontational attitude. But recently, Millennials and Gen Z became aware of their presence, and dubbed them "The Karen generation."


They seem to be embracing the Karen thing.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

While I"m pretty sure the "Karen" thing is not complimentary — as BuzzFeed puts it, it's meant to communicate someone who is "the middle-aged white mom who is always asking for the manager and wondering why kids are so obsessed with their identities," lots of people landed on a different Karen to represent the generation: the martini-guzzling, wise-cracking Karen Walker.


Get it right!

gen n memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Well [expletive] me gently with a chainsaw, she's right. The 1980s cult classic starring Winona Ryder and Shannen Doherty really is the Mean Girls of the '80s and a much better term than Karen


The disdain is mutual...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Most of my Gen X friends have Gen Z kids and they are intergenerationally very chill with each other. However, Gen X is the generation most likely to have Boomer parents and younger millennial kids, and this meme seems to be resonating a bunch with Xers of a certain age.


A lot of Xers are enjoying the "OK boomer" squabble.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

The media tends to ignore Generation X as a whole — as a few tweets coming up demonstrate — and this pleases Gen X just fine. After all, they're used to it. They were latchkey kids whose parents both worked long hours, so they're used to being somewhat neglected.


A whole mood.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Gen X: "Look, don't pull us into this. You'll make me spill my beer."


Gen X: Get used to it.

gen x memes

Perhaps Gen X's blasé attitude to the generation wars has something to do with being called "Slackers" for a full decade.


Pass the popcorn.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Aside from this whole "Karen generation" blip, Gen X continues to be largely overlooked, and that fact — as well as their silent delight in it — is possibly one of the most Generation X things to happen to the class of 1965 to 1980.


Pay no attention to the man behind the venetian blinds.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Back in the '90s, Gen X bore the same kind of criticism Boomers tend to heap on Millennials and Gen Z now. It's not necessarily that they want to watch a cage match. It's just they're so relieved it's someone else being called slackers and downers for a change.


See?

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Although this chart doesn't list the generation names, the approximate age ranges are all there... except for a big gap between the ages of 34 and 54 where apparently no humans were born? Poor Gen X (and some elder Millennials) apparently don't have political beliefs worth examining.


Don't you forget about me...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

If Millennials are the "burnout generation," I guess Gen X is truly the invisible generation. I'm starting to feel inspired to write a science fiction novel where everyone born from 1966 to 1980 inhabits a totally different dimension.


There are perks to being invisible...

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Being overlooked can be an advantage when you just want to sit in the corner and be immature. Gen X spent all of the 90s being told they were immature slackers, and in their 40s, a lot of them are really leaning into that description, because what does it matter?


"No one cares what we think anyway..."

This GIF of Janeane Garofolo mocking her classmates at the high school reunion is basically a whole Gen X mood and definitely captures how a lot of this generation caught in the middle feels about the "OK boomer" wars.


Party on.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITTER

Before Brené Brown was telling us all how to dare greatly, Gen X got their inspirational advice from a different kind of TED and his pal Bill, who taught us all how important it is to learn from history and be excellent to each other.


Too late and yet too early.

gen x memesSOURCE: TWITER

Romance — or getting lucky — was never easy for Generation X. They were the generation most impacted by the AIDS epidemic when it comes to anxiety about casual sex. Whereas Boomers had the free love of the late '60s, Gen X was about safe sex, which usually meant less sex. And even when having safe casual sex, singles in the '90s had to meet people the old-fashioned way or, if they did meet online, they felt shame over it. Now online dating is the norm.


When Gen X replaces the Boomers.

gen x memes

This is probably an optimistic view — because the truth is there are "Boomers" in every generation, and many of them tend to find their way into powerful positions. Let's call this a best case scenario, though.


The Nihilism Generation

gen x memes

There is no generation more over it than Gen X. They are ready for the apocalypse, but don't expect them to, like, help or anything!