The newest addition to the Marvel Comics family is not just a female superhero. And she’s not only a teen, she’s Pakistani and Muslim and living with her family in Jersey City. Her name is Kamala Khan (or Ms. Marvel) and she’s a 17-year-old with the ability to change shape. Khan’s character represents the first time someone of Muslim faith has headlined a Marvel comic.
Khan is the creation of Marvel editors Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker and the creative team G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Wilson and the team spoke with Marvel about what readers can expect from superhero teen Khan, whose book will be released in February 2014:
The Ms. Marvel mantle has passed to Kamala Khan, a high school student from Jersey City who struggles to reconcile being an American teenager with the conservative customs of her Pakistani Muslim family. So in a sense, she has a “dual identity” before she even puts on a super hero costume. Like a lot of children of immigrants, she feels torn between two worlds: the family she loves, but which drives her crazy, and her peers, who don’t really understand what her home life is like.
This makes her tough and vulnerable at the same time. When you try to straddle two worlds, one of the first things you learn is that instead of defending good people from bad people, you have to spend a lot of time defending good people from each other. It’s both illuminating and emotionally brutal. That’s what makes this book different.
Islam is both an essential part of her identity and something she struggles mightily with. She’s not a poster girl for the religion, or some kind of token minority. She does not cover her hair -most American Muslim women don’t—and she’s going through a rebellious phase. She wants to go to parties and stay out past 9 PM and feel “normal.” Yet at the same time, she feels the need to defend her family and their beliefs.
Here’s a sneak peak at the book’s cover, with art by Sara Pichelli: