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Marvel Introduces A New Muslim Character

February 6, 2014 by  


By Laura Fawaz, Contributing Reporter

Marvel Comics introduction of Kamala Khan goes as “Ms. Marvel Doesn’t Drink, Date Or Eat Bacon.”

Untitled-111Living in Jersey City, she is a 16-year-old public high school student, and the first Muslim superhero to star in her own mainstream comic book series.  Just like any other superhero, she will be up against villains and carrying out her superpowers in the name of good.  All while struggling to somewhat figure out what it means to have these superpowers and still maintain her regular life.  But because of her unique background, one that is new to the mainstream American entertainment world, she’ll also have the struggles that many young American Muslim teens, particularly those of immigrant parents, face … being trying to mesh that American identity with the one she inherited, creating that third hybrid culture for herself.
G. Willow Wilson is the author of this new hero and was interviewed on the NPR show Tell Me More.  He was asked questions such as “can she be a superhero with a curfew?  Can she be a superhero who doesn’t eat bacon?”

His response: “You know, a lot of it is this day-to-day stuff that we don’t even think about as being significant. … She does wear a mask. And that’s kind of part of her dilemma is that she’s not kind of an out superhero, because she doesn’t want to bring that scrutiny on her family or her background.”

Her family was partly the reason of creating this series, in order to show that there is a huge diversity of belief and practice within the American Muslim community.  So Kamala was introduced as the sort of more relaxed end of the spectrum, but observant in the fact that she doesn’t drink alcohol or date.  She has an older brother who is a bit firmer in his beliefs and actions.  He’s very involved in his local mosque and is very idealistic.  But their father on the other hand, is a little bit more laid back and progressive, and especially has high hopes for his daughter in terms of her career.  Their differences are underscored by their love for one-another, but still describes the religious diversity even amongst some immediate families.

Wilson touched on the notion that introducing Kamala is just the start of what is happening in the comics industry right now.  The diversity that we are seeing is to make as much room at the table for as many people as possible.  Martin Goodman founded Marvel Comics in 1939, and brought us characters such as the Hulk and Captain America.

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