Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan (center) on a variant cover of Ms. Marvel #1 (February 2014). Art by Arthur Adams.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceCaptain Marvel #14 (August 2013)
Created bySana Amanat
Stephen Wacker
G. Willow Wilson
Adrian Alphona
In-story information
Alter egoKamala Khan
SpeciesInhuman
AbilitiesShapeshifting

Kamala Khan is a fictional superheroine appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Publication history

Created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona, Khan is Marvel's first Muslim character to headline her own comic book. Khan made her first appearance in Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013) before headlining the Ms. Marvel comic book series in February 2014.

In November 2013, Marvel Comics announced that Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim American from Jersey City, New Jersey, would take over the comic book series Ms. Marvel beginning in February 2014. The series, written by G. Willow Wilson and drawn by Adrian Alphona, marks the first time a Muslim character has headlined a book at Marvel Comics.[1] However, Noelene Clark of the Los Angeles Times noted that Khan is not the first Muslim character in comic books, which include Simon Baz, Dust and M.[2] The conception of Kamala Khan came about during a conversation between Marvel editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker. Amanat said, "I was telling him [Wacker] some crazy anecdote about my childhood, growing up as a Muslim-American. He found it hilarious." The pair then told Wilson about the concept and Wilson became eager to jump aboard the project.[3] Amanat said that the series came from a "desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective."[4]

The series not only explores Khan's conflicts with supervillains but also explores conflicts with Khan's home and religious duties. Wilson, a convert to Islam, said "This is not evangelism. It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith." Wilson continued, "Her brother is extremely conservative, her mom is paranoid that she's going to touch a boy and get pregnant, and her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor."[3] Amanat added,

As much as Islam is a part of Kamala’s identity, this book isn't preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It's about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It's a struggle we've all faced in one form or another, and isn't just particular to Kamala because she's Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself.[1]

In the series, Khan takes the name Ms. Marvel from Carol Danvers, who now goes by the alias Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick revealed that Khan actually made a brief appearance in Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013) saying, "Kamala is in the background of a scene in Captain Marvel 14... She is very deliberately placed in a position where she sees Carol protecting civilians from Yon-Rogg."[5] According to Wilson, Khan idolizes Carol so when Khan acquires superhuman abilities, she emulates Danvers.[6] "Captain Marvel represents an ideal that Kamala pines for. She's strong, beautiful and doesn't have any of the baggage of being Pakistani and 'different,'"[3] Wilson explained. "Khan is a big comic book fan and after she discovers her superhuman power – being a polymorph and able to lengthen her arms and legs and change her shape – she takes on the name of Ms. Marvel," Amanat elaborated.[7] Khan is one of several characters who discover that they have Inhuman heritage following the "Inhumanity" storyline, in which the Terrigen Mists are released throughout the world and activate dormant Inhuman cells.[8]

The series is set in Kamala Khan's hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey, which is across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and has been referred to as New York City's "Sixth borough."[9][10][11] It therefore forms an important part of Khan's identity and the narrative journey of her character. Because most of Marvel Comics' stories are set in Manhattan, Wilson explains, "A huge aspect of Ms. Marvel is being a 'second string hero' in the 'second string city' and having to struggle out of the pathos and emotion that can give a person."[6]

In the series' first story arc, Khan faces off against a new villain, Mr. Edison / the Inventor. Wilson created the Inventor to be Khan's first arch rival in order to mirror Khan's own complexity. Wilson characterizes The Inventor, and the overall visual look of the opening story arc as "kooky and almost Miyazaki-esque at times," owing to the art style of illustrator Adrian Alphona, which balances the drama of the threats which Khan faces with the humor of Alphona's "tongue in cheek sight gags." During the storyline, Khan also teams-up with the X-Man Wolverine against the Inventor. Because Wolverine is dealing with the loss of his powers during this time, Khan is placed in the position of having to shoulder much of the responsibilities, as Wilson felt this was a role reversal that would subvert reader expectations that Wolverine would take the lead in such a team-up.[12]

At 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International, writer Dan Slott announced that Khan would team-up with Spider-Man beginning in The Amazing Spider-Man #7 (October 2014) during the "Spider-Verse" storyline. Slott characterized Khan "the closest character to classic Peter Parker,"[13] explaining, "She's a teenage superhero, juggling her life, making mistakes, trying to do everything right."[14]

Beginning in June 2015, Ms. Marvel will tie into the "Secret Wars" crossover event with the "Last Days" storyline, which details Khan's account of the end of the Marvel Universe. Wilson explained, "In the 'Last Days' story arc, Kamala has to grapple with the end of everything she knows, and discover what it means to be a hero when your whole world is on the line."[15] In the storyline, Khan rushes to deal with the threat in Manhattan. However, Wilson revealed, "She will face a very personal enemy as the chaos in Manhattan spills over into Jersey City, and she will be forced to make some very difficult choices. There will also be a very special guest appearance by a superhero Kamala—and the fans—have been waiting to meet for a long time."[16] In March 2015, Marvel announced that Khan will join the Avengers in All-New All-Different Avengers FCBD (May 2015), which takes place in the aftermath of "Secret Wars".[17]

Fictional character biography

Kamala Khan was a Pakistani-American born in Jersey City after her parents moved from Karachi, Pakistan. Though respectful of her heritage, Kamala always felt different; she had nerdy interests, strict parents, and did not meet the white Eurocentric standards of beauty.[18] She was also a fan of superheroes, having devotedly followed the career of Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel who had recently started going by the nom de guerre Captain Marvel.[19]

One night during the Infinity storyline, Kamala snuck out of her house against her parents' wishes to attend a party on the Jersey Waterfront only to be teased and ostracized by her classmates Zoe Zimmer and Josh. As Kamala walked home in anger and disappointment, Jersey City was suddenly enveloped in the Terrigen Mists, which had been released by the hand of the Inhuman Black Bolt during his fight with Thanos, and Kamala fell unconscious from exposure. As her Terrigenesis began due to her Inhuman lineage, Kamala was presented with a vision of Carol Danvers chastising her for disobeying her parents and asking her what she wanted in life, to which she replied "I want to be you." Once the vision faded, Kamala woke up and broke out of her Terrigenesis cocoon wearing a replica of Danvers' previous Ms. Marvel costume and literally transformed into Carol Danvers as part of her subconscious desire.[18] Shocked and scared at the sudden change, Kamala's body repeatedly altered itself as her mind and body struggled to gain control over her newly-developed shapeshifting powers. When she saw Zoe fall into the river while trying to keep a drunken Josh off of her however, Kamala (still in the Ms. Marvel form) instinctively came to her rescue by enlarging her hand to pull her out of the water. As Kamala returned home, she realized that merely looking like her idol was not what she wanted at all, but also that rescuing Zoe made her feel happy. After returning home, she was grounded by her angry parents, as her friend Bruno Carrelli had told them that she escaped to the party.[20]

During the Secret Wars storyline as part of it's "Last Days" segment, Kamala Khan is still nursing a broken heart when she sees the beginning of the incursion affecting Manhattan. Realizing that the panic would spread to Jersey City, she runs and organizes an evacuation zone for the residents in her high school as it was given a protection spell by Loki. When she returns to her home to evacuate her family, she instead finds her former lover and fellow Inhuman Kamran. He tells her how the incursion between Earth-616 and Earth-1610 provided a distraction for him to use Terrigen Mist to awaken Inhuman powers inside Kamala's brother Aamir before he runs off. After Kamala lets her parents know about the coming incursion, she returns to the school to find the area completely organized and all the evacuees looking up to her. The pressure finally gets to Kamala as she runs to the roof of the school trying her best to calm down. Captain Marvel then arrives offering a helping hand and praises Kamala's costume but mildly wonders about the usage of her former mantle.[21]

Collected editions

Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal Ms. Marvel #1–5, material from All-New Marvel NOW! Point One October 28, 2014 978-0785190219
Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why Ms. Marvel #6–11 March 24, 2015 978-0785190226
Ms. Marvel Volume 3: Crushed Ms. Marvel #12–15 June 23, 2015 978-0785192275

Reception

Initial reaction

Marvel's announcement was met with widespread reactions online. Fatemeh Fakhraie, founder of Muslimah Media Watch, a diversity advocacy group, told Al Jazeera America that "She is going to be a window into the American Muslim experience" and that she "normalizes this idea of the American experience as Muslim."[22] Brett White of Comic Book Resources said, "With Kamala Khan, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in Jersey City, Marvel Comics has shown yet again that it wants to include groups of the American population that have yet to be personally inspired by their heroes."[23] Hussein Rashid writing for CNN said, "The character of Kamala Khan has the opportunity to offer something new to pop-culture portrayals of Muslims. She is born in the United States, appears to be part of the post-9/11 generation and is a teenager."[24] Muaaz Khan of The Guardian compared Kamala Khan to Malala Yousafzai and indicated that the rest of entertainment industry should follow Marvel's example.[25] However, Dr. Leon Moosavi of the University of Liverpool felt that the character's family would reinforce the stereotype of restrictive Muslim parents and that her shape-shifting ability resembled several anti-Muslim stereotypes, especially taqiyya:[26] a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are at risk of significant persecution.[27]

Political satirist Stephen Colbert joked about Marvel's decision to introduce a Muslim superhero on his television show.[28] Comedian Conan O'Brien also made a joke via Twitter, linking the character's religion to polygamy, but later removed it due to public backlash.[29]

Critical reaction

Meagan Damore of Comic Book Resources said, "There is nothing not to love about Ms. Marvel #1: every character is well formed and distinct; the story, lovingly crafted; the art, meticulously planned and — at times — downright funny."[30] Jen Aprahamian of Comic Vine said "Ms. Marvel makes a delightful debut, showing confidence and heart even before she puts on a mask. Kamala is not your average superheroine and her stories seem like they're headed in an exciting direction. Kudos to Marvel for expanding its range; amping up the diversity factor in a way that doesn't feel token or temporary is a great move, and Ms. Marvel is launching with a solid first issue and a world — a universe, even — of story possibilities."[31] Joshua Yehl of IGN said, "Ms. Marvel introduces a vibrant and troubled character that you can't help but love."[32] George Marston of Newsarama said, "Ms. Marvel is a solid debut issue, and that in itself should be a victory not just for G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, but for Marvel Comics itself... It's not exactly edgy, and Kamala Khan is not exactly the first reluctant teen hero in Marvel's long history, but Ms. Marvel is one of the strongest debuts for a new character that Marvel has had in a long time."[33]

Accolades

Year Award Category Winner/Nominee Result Ref.
2015 Hugo Award Best Graphic Story Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal Pending [34]
Eisner Award New Series Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona Pending [35]
Writer G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel Pending
Penciller/inker Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel Pending
Cover artist Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson, The Wicked + The Divine; Ms. Marvel Pending
Lettering Joe Caramagna, Ms. Marvel, Daredevil Pending

Sales

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal was the best-selling graphic novel in October 2014,[36] and by November 2014, it reached #2 on The New York Times Best Seller list of paperback graphic books.[37] In April 2015, Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why debuted at #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list of paperback graphic books.[38]

In other media

Television

Video games

References

  1. ^ a b Wheeler, Andrew (November 6, 2013). "All-New Marvel NOW! Q&A: Ms. Marvel!". Marvel.com. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  2. ^ Clark, Noelene (November 6, 2013). "New Ms. Marvel isn't the first Muslim — or religious — superhero". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Gustines, George (November 5, 2013). "Marvel Comics Introducing a Muslim Girl Superhero". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  4. ^ More, Matt (November 5, 2013). "In Marvel Comics, Ms Marvel returns as Muslim teen". Associated Press. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Thompson, Kelly (2013-11-18). 3 Chicks Review Comics – Episode 064 (MP3) (Podcast). Comic Book Resources. Event occurs at 1:37:40. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
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  8. ^ Schedeen, Jeese (November 5, 2013). "A New Ms. Marvel Takes Flight". IGN. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  9. ^ Strunsky, Steve (December 9, 2001). "CITIES; Bright Lights, Big Retail". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Holusha, John (October 11, 1998). "Commercial Property / The Jersey Riverfront; On the Hudson's West Bank, Optimistic Developers". The New York Times
  11. ^ Belson, Ken (May 21, 2007). "In Stamford, a Plan to Rebuild an Area and Build an Advantage". The New York Times.
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  16. ^ Lovett, Jaime (February 19, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: Ms Marvel Enters Her Last Days". comicbook.com. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
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  18. ^ a b Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #1
  19. ^ Captain Marvel Vol. 7 #17
  20. ^ Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #2
  21. ^ Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #16
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  26. ^ Moosavi, Leon (November 27, 2013). "Why can't Spider-Man convert to Islam?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
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  28. ^ Maglio, Tony (November 7, 2013). "Stephen Colbert on New Ms. Marvel: 'Muslim Cannot Be a Superhero … They're on the No-Fly List' (Video)". The Wrap. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
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  32. ^ Yehl, Joshua (February 5, 2014). "Ms. Marvel #1 Review". IGN. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  33. ^ Marston, George (February 3, 2014). "Best Shots Advance Reviews: MS. MARVEL, PUNISHER, LOKI, WOLVERINE #1". Newsarama. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  34. ^ "2015 Hugo and Campbell Award Finalists". Locus. 2015-04-04. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  35. ^ Clark, Nolene (2015-04-23). "Eisner Awards: 'Ms. Marvel,' 'Saga,' 'Multiversity,' 'Bandette' lead nominations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
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  38. ^ "Best Sellers> Paperback Graphic Books". The New York Times. April 20, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  39. ^ McNally, Victoria (June 2, 2015). "Kamala Khan's First Animation Appearance Confirmed for "Avengers: Ultron Revolution"". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  40. ^ McNally, Victoria (March 26, 2015). "Exclusive: Marvel Superhero Kamala Khan Is Making Her Video Game Debut". MTV. Retrieved March 26, 2015.