Ms. Marvel Returns

Nov 12, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Expressions, Fiction, General, Opinions

Recently Marvel Comics announced the return of Ms. Marvel to the Marvel universe.

However, things will be a little different this time around as Ms. Marvel will now be a teenage Muslim born to Pakistani parents, living in New Jersey.  The character has been named Kamala Khan, which sounds quite similar to a non-fictional Pakistani teenager.

Comic books are an integral part of American pop culture. Initially they were dominated by white superheroes, but with the passage of time and the changing demographics, characters from various ethnic backgrounds have been introduced. Muslim characters are not a novel concept.

The latest Green Lantern is Simon Baz an Arab American, it was considered a bold move on behalf of DC comics but the character was well received. Nightrunner (Bilal Asselah)-also known as Le Batman of France-is another DC universe character with a rich back story: he is a Muslim of French-Algerian descent. Another hero from the Marvel universe is an Afghan mutant called Dust in the X-Men comic book series.

However, a ‘Pakistani’ superhero is a new direction for comic books. It’s a surprise actually, as most Western media outlets portray Pakistanis as fundamentalists. Many movies in the last five years or so have portrayed Pakistan as an unstable state or Pakistanis as extremists. Take Iron Man for instance (released in 2008 by Marvel), the antagonist had a network of Pakistani ‘extremists’ working for him. Therefore, the idea seems like breath of fresh air.

There have been mixed reactions to the announcement of the character. There does seem to be a larger number of supporters though. A reaction that has received much attention on social media came from comedian Conan O’Brien (Host of the talk show Conan) in the form of a tweet:

“Marvel Comics is introducing a new Muslim Female superhero. She has so many more special powers than her husband’s other wives.”

Ms Marvel Twitter

Other responses to O’ Brien’s tweet were just as emotional.

Ms Marvel Twitter 1

The tweet was deleted on Saturday after comments were posted, slamming O’Brien for being ‘insensitive’, ‘ignorant’, ‘tasteless’, ‘Islamophobic’ and even ‘racist’.

Marvel editor Sana Amanat, one of the creators of the character told the NY Times:

“I do expect some negativity, not only from people who are anti-Muslim, but people who are Muslim and might want the character portrayed in a particular light.”

The fan base might get over her religion and ethnicity, but ultimately it comes down to whether her powers and character development are good enough. That can only be determined once the first issue comes out in February of the next year. It is stated that Ms. Marvel will have the power of altering the size and shape of any part of her body, which basically means that she’ll have the ability to shape shift (like Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four).

As a Marvel fan put it:

“I don’t care about the fact that she’s Muslim or even Pakistani, but couldn’t they have given her better powers. The last Ms. Marvel had super strength and flight at least.”

The Author

Born in Karachi, raised in cities all over Pakistan.

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