Marvel is launching a new solo superhero series, which in and of itself wouldn’t be that exciting — except the star will be a Muslim Pakistani-American teenage girl from New Jersey.
For those who stopped reading superhero comics around when they hit puberty, here’s a recap: the current Captain Marvel is a woman, Carol Danvers, who was formerly Ms. Marvel. Now that she’s assumed the coveted captain title, it’s time for a new Ms. Marvel, and the company has chosen (well, created) Kamala Khan, the teenage daughter of Pakistani immigrants. The series will be written by G. Willow Wilson, who, according to the New York Times, is a convert to Islam; drawn by Adrian Alphona; and the idea for it came from Sana Amanat, a Muslim-American editor at Marvel.
Khan won’t be the first Muslim comic-book character ever, but her introduction is novel for a number of reasons, offered by Andrew Wheeler at Comics Alliance:
The new Ms. Marvel will be the first Muslim character to get her own ongoing solo series at Marvel, one of a growing number of female solo leads, and the only person of color headlining a solo book in the Marvel Universe.
The only person of color!
Kamala will apparently struggle with her ethnic and religious identity and the feeling of being “different,” as well as a conservative brother, overbearing parents — and, you know, supervillains. It sounds almost like Buffy with a twist.
The new Ms. Marvel will be introduced in a comic called “All-New Marvel NOW! Point One,” coming out in January, and then starting as its own series in February, according to the LA Times. I, for one, am really looking forward. In the meantime, can anyone explain Ms. Marvel’s porcupine sidekick with Hulk-like green fists?
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Adrian Alphona is an amazing draftsman and has come such a long way from his start on Runaways years ago. I’m excited about this, despite the sense of tokenism one could get from the whole idea. After all, tokenism, if anything, is at least a start in trying to attain a more balanced equilibrium when it comes to portraying more than just white people in any form of media. I don’t really doubt that it’ll end up sort of like how gay characters were shown secondarily and stereotypically on TV in the 90s and the aughts — it did little to expand the portrayal of gay characters, but the fact that they’re portraying different kinds of identities helps to normalize the idea and, hopefully for the vast swaths of mainstream Americans, show people that they can empathize with others, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, cultural identity, or religion. Marvel is doing a lot of great things these days in their comics — leaving the main DC line to rot in its establishment boots. I’d be happy and surprised to see Marvel have this new character join forces somehow with Kitty Pryde, who they’ve made an effort to establish as Jewish.
Yeah, I was/am vaguely worried about tokenism, too, but the team they’ve assembled sounds so good, I hope it’ll be fine. Also, as the series goes on (presuming it does) and the character becomes more complex, that’s when it could get really good.
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