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A Muslim Ms. Marvel

Marvel Comics announces a Muslim Pakistani American immigrant as its latest Ms. Marvel. Has the world frozen over?

The entertainment industry in the United States has been largely censured for its informal sidelining of non-white and female characters. But it appears such criticism is being rebutted with the announcement of a new Ms. Marvel: a Muslim Pakistani American teenager! The announcement came on November 5th, and appears to involve a three-birds-one-stone situation, appeasing three distinct minority groups that have previously seen prejudice in the American context: Muslims, Feminists, and immigrants on American soil.

The protagonist goes by the name of Kamala Khan, and is the teenage daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in New Jersey. Apart from fighting villains, Kamala is reported to utilise her body-morphing powers in the face of fighting off the pressures of her conservative family background. G Willow Wilson, writer of Ms. Marvel #1, described Kamala, “She’s strong, beautiful and doesn’t have any of the baggage of being Pakistani and ‘different',” adding that the character functioned on a “universal” level in that she speaks to the internal plight of all “American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are.” It’s a bit ironic to follow the term “universal” with the specification of “American teenagers” but the time to critique the success of Kamala in presenting a wholesome and culturally respectful image will have to follow the audience response upon the official release of the book. 

Until then, we suppose the announcement of a Muslim Pakistani American teenager should be celebrated as a milestone in terms of bringing cultural diversity to the comic world.