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The New Age Superhero: a Muslim, a Teenage, a Girl

Superheroes are something more to Americans, than just characters from children’s comic books. They are symbols of the epoch. Every single superhero (as well as every single super villain) was created with a purpose in mind. No matter, how horribly mixed everything is when it comes to the plots of comic books, as you come back to the beginning of each story, you might see the reason why this particular superhero appeared. That is why there are so many of them: once ordinary men and women, who unexpectedly got superpowers, aliens, robots from outer space. Still, in most cases there is a white man hidden under the mask and costume.

In most cases. But there are exceptions. In February 2014 Marvel Comics will add some spice to its superhero’s soup. The comic book universe will welcome a brand new female superhero – a teenage Muslim girl, Kamala Khan. The birth to this character was given by a conversation between two editors at Marvel – Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker. Ms. Amanat knows what it is like to grow up as a Muslim-American, from her own life experience, and as Steve Wacker heard of some of the facts from her life, he looked upon the diversity of female superheroes and realized, that there are not so many Muslim teenage girls among them. Actually, there are none.

So they went and found G. Willow Wilson, who is a comic book writer and a Muslim, and she was excited at the idea of such a character. And that was the moment, when the idea of series of comics with Kamala Khan began to turn into something real.

So who is Kamala Khan? She is a Muslim teenager, who lives in Jersey City. Her family came to the USA from Pakistan and well, Kamala experienced the pressure of being “different” – not positively different, as a superhero, but negatively different, as a foreigner. She is a teenager in the world that belongs to adults. She’s a Muslim girl, surrounded by people of another religion and culture. Talking of her family, they do not quite help: a conservative brother, mother, who freaks out about her daughter’s relationships with boys, father, who also adds the pressure. Kamala looks up to Carol Danvers, a typical female superhero, who calls herself Captain Marvel. And as she discovers her own shape-shifting powers, she takes herself a code name Ms. Marvel and stands up to fight against evil.

Kamala is a challenge. She is everything but a typical superhero, so making a series with her is quite a risk. There may be negative reaction from anti-Muslims, as well as from Muslims, who think that a Muslim superhero should look and behave the other way. But who knows – she might become the new symbol, the one, which teenagers all over the planet need right now.

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