Marvel's Pakistani-American Comic Superhero
By Riaz Haq
The new Ms. Marvel’s real name is Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim Pakistani-American girl from Jersey City, New Jersey. “Kamala has all of her opportunities in front her and she is loaded with potential, but her parents’ high expectations come with tons of pressure,” says Marvel's press release . “When Kamala suddenly gets powers that give her the opportunity to be just like her idol, Captain Marvel, it challenges the very core of her conservative values.”
Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel is the first comic book character from Marvel Entertainment who is both female and Muslim. It is part of the American comic giant's efforts to reflect a growing diversity among its readers.
The new Ms. Marvel series is mainly the work of two women: G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam who created the character, and Sana Amanat who edits it.
Here's how Wilson describes the main character of the comic: "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".
Ms. Wilson says the series is “about the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are.” Though here, she told New York Times , that happens “through the lens of being a Muslim-American” with superpowers.
Elaborating on the superhero character, series editor Sana Amanat said in an interview published on Marvel.com website : "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".
The Marvel series is set for launch in February, 2014. Earlier this year, Pakistan's GeoTV launched Burka Avenger . Its superhero is a mild mannered school teacher who fights feudal villains and terrorists getting in the way of girls' education . Burka Avenger series is inspired by the story of Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistan teenage school girl who miraculously survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Swat Valley last year. Malala has since become an international icon for girls' education worldwide. The United Nations declared Malala's 16th birthday this year on July 12 as Malala Day to focus on girls' education.