I’ve been through a rough six weeks. My grandma, who I loved very much, passed away suddenly. I’m sick, dealing with little infections that like to make me uncomfortable. It’s the end of the year, which means deadlines galore! The news is showing humanity at its worst. Life is crazy, sad, and just plain hard. Right when I thought I reached a boiling point, Ms. Marvel saved me.
It’s easy to take stories for granted. There are so many of them, and we take them in, let them out, and move on to the next one. It’s when a story or a character resonates greatly with you and your personal struggles you realize just how powerful storytelling can be. And how important it is too.
The new Ms. Marvel debuted last year and caused a little (unnecessary) controversy when it was announced that the main character would be a Muslim. Kamala Khan is a teenage Pakistani American, living in Jersey City. Like many ethnic parents, they run a strict household and the Marvel superhero fanatic in Kamala doesn’t always act according to her parents’ ideals. Regardless, she respects them and their culture. In turn, just like many of us, she finds a way to fuse her parents’ culture with American culture.
Besides all that, Kamala also is a superhero. After the Terrigen Mist is unleashed in Jersey City, she receives the abilities to enlarge and stretch her limbs. A vision of Captain Marvel helps explain to Kamala about her new powers, and like her role models, Kamala happily takes up superhero duties and protects the streets of Jersey City.
Kamala Khan is incredibly charming, smart, and genuine. You can’t help but adore her from the very first page, and G. Willow Wilson, along with Adrian Alphona, do so much to make Kamala feel and look like a real person. She’s the most familiar superhero character I’ve ever read. She represents a bunch of young women who find themselves on the edge of something huge, along with respecting the customs of their home life and the values that come with it. (Her parents and their religion and culture are never used as a punchline.) Coming from a multi-cultural household, do you know how difficult it is find someone truly like yourself or your family in any major medium? I was floored by the fact that a comic captured that so thoughtfully.
Representation and the lack of diversity in entertainment has been written about time and time again. I’m really just here to tell you how FRUSTRATING it is. Not why it’s not diverse enough (we know why), why industries don’t try harder (we know why), why audiences don’t speak out more (we know why). Just that it’s annoying and bad, and when I get something like Kamala Khan as a badass superheroine, I’m going to embrace it with everything. It’s important for you to as well. Because if we give characters like this the attention they deserve, we can get more of them. In exchange, you can learn more about people, cultures, places, and things that you may have yet to ever encounter. Exploring and getting to know different characters and stories can help tap into your own humanity. It can make you realize that you’re either not alone or can appreciate the gifts others can bring in to enrich your lives.
Ms. Marvel is a completely engrossing and enriching experience. Kamala will make you laugh, cry, worry, and smile. Like all of us, she goes through ups and downs. She sometimes makes bad decisions or gets overly excited to see a fellow superhero. She’s beautifully imperfect. Most importantly, she can heal you; she can save you. Kamala Khan is one of the truest heroes ever, and that’s why you should pick up Ms. Marvel right now.
Ms. Marvel Volumes 1 – 4 are now available wherever comics are sold.