Ms, Marvel has had a makeover, and is being re-launched by Marvel Comics as Kamala Khana – the 16-year-old daughter of Muslim Pakistani immigrants living in Jersey City.
Marvel Entertainment is making a great effort to reflect a growing diversity among its readers, hence the fact that the new Ms. Marvel is both a woman AND a Muslim. However, at this stage, the emphasis is on the modernity of the new superhero. The new Ms Marvel still wears Marvel style uniform. There are no signs of a Burka – not yet!
The company has always tried to keep some relevance to current developments in society since the creation of Spider-Man and the X-Men in the early 1960s
Editor Sana Amanat, says the idea is to reflect Khan’s vibrant but kinetic world and calls the series a “desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective”
The writer of the new Ms. Marvel series, G. Willow Wilson, said:
“I wanted Ms. Marvel to be true-to-life, something real people could relate to, particularly young women. High school was a very vivid time in my life, so I drew heavily on those experiences — impending adulthood, dealing with school, emotionally charged friendships that are such a huge part of being a teenager. It’s for all the geek girls out there and everybody else who’s ever looked at life from the fringe.”
Last fall, DC Comics relaunched its “Green Lantern” series with Simon Baz, an Arab American and a Muslim. In 2010 they introduced Nightrunner, a young Muslim hero of Algerian descent reared in Paris.
In keeping with the new obsession for multicultural awareness, Marvel Comics has Dust, a young Afghan woman whose mutant ability to manipulate sand and dust has been part of the popular X-Men books.
The Marvel Comics creative team said that Khan’s story, growing up Muslim, is an element of the story, but not the critical foundation, either.
Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso said of the new Ms. Marvel character, “Kamala is not unlike Peter Parker. She’s a 16-year-old girl from the suburbs who is trying to figure out who she is and trying to forge an identity when she suddenly bestows great power and learns the great responsibility that comes with it.”
It will be fascinating to see how Marvel Comics and their creative team deal with “Muslim Issues”, as the character of the “Muslim Ms. Marvel” develops.