A new Marvel for a new age

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Meet Kamala Khan; she made her first appearance in Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013) before headlining the Ms. Marvel comic book series in February 2014 Kamala Khan was created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Scott Hepburn. Kamala is a teenage Pakistani American born in New Jersey after her parents moved from Pakistan. She is a huge fan of superheroes, her favorite being Carol Denvers, the former Ms. Marvel who had recently started going by Captain Marvel.

Although Kamala has the same superhero alias as previously Carol Danvers, her powers are not the same at all. Kamala is a polymorph after being exposed to the Terrigen Mist. This gives her the ability to stretch her body in almost anyway imaginable. Kamala can also increase and decrease her size to both the size of a small building or a toy action figure. She can also selectively increase and decrease the size of any part of her body, although she prefers to increase the size of her fists. But she also uses the ability to increase the length of her legs so that she can travel great distances in a short amount of time. Kamala also has the ability to shape shift. In theory she can look like anyone she wants, but so far she has only changed into Carol Danvers and her own mother. Kamala also has healing abilities since she has been shot in the stomach but was able to heal over the wound when she transformed back to her original form. She cannot transform again until the healing process is complete.

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Kamala isn’t the first Muslim character in Marvel’s history but she is the first Muslim character to headline her own book. G. Willow Wilson which is Ms. Marvel’s lead writer, has made us fall in love with our new favorite heroine who isn’t just another superhero, she’s a minority and she’s a nerd. In her first issue, we’re shown a young woman who is altogether aware of superhero culture. When we first see Kamala at home, it’s at her computer, writing Avengers fan-fiction. This is important, not because it builds a relationship between reader and protagonist, but because it builds a solid foundation where the reader and the protagonist feel one in the same.

All that within the first few pages of her comic and we haven’t even reached what has given her the most attention, she is a teenage girl coming from a Muslim family.  She lives in a majority non-Muslim community, she doesn’t wear a hijab all the time, as neither do a lot of inner city young women of Muslim families. Kamala attempts to balance her need for her own identity with not disappointing her parents and acknowledging their love for her.

Marvel’s treatment of Kamala seems to be the exact opposite of some critics which thought it was a political move to create controversy to drive up sales. They have brought a respected writer, penciler and inker to her title and have been slowing integrating her into the bigger Marvel universe. She’s has also become an active member of the Avengers team for several months now which is their premier title, along side Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. She will also be headlining a new comic called “Champions” which will consist of younger heroes that want to be activist/super heroes rather then just caped do-gooders that punches bad guys. Kamala is going to be a main stay at Marvel and she seems like she’ll be breaking new ground during that time. Check out Ms. Marvel at a local comic store or online.

 

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Religion in Marvel

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Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) is a  superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics, commonly in association with the X-Men. Created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum, he debuted in the comic book Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975).

Nightcrawler possesses superhuman agility, the ability to teleport, and adhesive hands and feet. His physical mutations include indigo-colored skin which allows him to become nearly invisible in shadows, two-toed feet and three-fingered hands, yellow eyes, pointed ears and a prehensile tail. In Nightcrawler’s earlier comic book appearances he is depicted as being a happy-go-lucky practical joker and teaser, and a fan of swashbuckling fiction.

Nightcrawler is a Catholic, and while this is not emphasized as much in his earlier comic book appearances, in later depictions Nightcrawler is more vocal about his faith. Ironically, his appearance is similar to that of a demonic figure from a faith that he practices.

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The Purifiers, also known as the Stryker Crusade, are a paramilitary/terrorist organization in the Marvel Comics universe and enemies of the X-Men. Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Brent Anderson, they first appeared in the 1982 graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills.

A force of Christian fundamentalists led by the ruthless Reverend William Stryker, the Purifiers see themselves in a holy war against mutants, believing Mutants to be the children of the Devil and thus worthy of extermination. The Purifiers made only sporadic appearances since their first appearance, but returned to prominence in the 2000s, when they became prominent antagonists in the series New X-Men and X-Force, murdering over 40 children in one terrorist attack.

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Dust (real name Sooraya Qadir), is a fictional character, a superheroine in Marvel Comics’ X-Men-related comic books. She was created by author Grant Morrison and artist Ethan Van Sciver in New X-Men #133 (December 2002), although her character was not fully developed until the New X-Men: Academy X series written by Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis. Sooraya is a mutant with the ability to transform her body into a malleable cloud of dust or “Sand”.

Born in Afghanistan, Sooraya is attacked by a slave trader attempting to remove her traditional niqāb; almost instinctively, she lashes out with her powers and flays him alive with her sand-like dust. The X-Men, hearing of the situation, travel to Afghanistan and rescue her, where she is brought to the USA and becomes a student of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. She is a rare example of a positive Muslim comic book character that is shown practicing her religion frequently.