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.
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.