A hero from Jersey City – the other Ms. Marvel

When Carol Danvers used to fight bad guys in a black bathing suit and thigh high boots as Ms. Marvel, I never really paid much attention to her. I mean she looked great, but she always seemed to be defined by things that happened to her, and not by anything she ever actually did in the Marvel Comics universe. She went through several changes of wardrobe, names and powers, and in 2012 she took on the mantle of Captain Marvel. Kelly Sue DeConnick focused more on Carol Danvers military career and abilities as a leader, and far more interesting in the process.

So, the Captain Marvel movie opens in just a few weeks and with all the hype surrounding it’s release I thought I’d draw some attention to Kamala Khan, the teenage girl who picked up the name Carol Danvers left behind. Ms. Marvel.

Kamala Khan is a teenage Muslim American girl who acquired super powers during Marvels “Inhumanity” event. A huge fan of Captain Marvel (active on her fan forums and writer of Avengers fanfic in her spare time) she wanted to follow in her example and help people, so she adopted her old code name and fashioned a costume inspired by the lightning bolt symbol.

Representation is important. It’s hard for most white dudes like me to really comprehend that. The majority of the main characters in TV shows, movies, books and comics in the western world are white dudes, so if you’re not Caucasian or male, there are very few major comic book characters who look like you, and spare me any “whataboutism”, just look at the percentages. Most superheroes who are female or people of colour are members of a team, very, very few have solo title books. Fortunately things are changing, especially at Marvel, there is slowly more diversity in the characters being written because there is an increase in the diversity of the people telling the stories, and it is a very big deal when there is finally someone you can look up to who looks like you, or is from the same neighborhood as you, the same culture, the same experiences, background, social circumstances. Hell it even feels good when a character people look up to shares the same hobby as you. Kamala does that for young girls. She does that for non whites and she does that for non-Christians. She gives them an avatar in the super hero world.

What makes Ms. Marvel worth reading to everyone however, is just how awesome a person she is. Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker and G. Willow Wilson created a character who captures a lot of the essence of Peter Parker when he was first created. A young person with incredible powers who wants to help people. Someone who makes mistakes, but tries their best to do the right thing, even when it means going against her hero and mentor by quitting a team it had been her lifelong fantasy to be a part of.

Unlike Spider-man however, Ms. Marvel is not afraid to ask for help or advice when she needs it and she’s not a loner. The writers also created a fantastically diverse group of friends and family to accompany Kamala on her journey from regular teen to one of Marvels greatest heroes.

The writing really is the best part. It’s not the stuff about fighting bad guys that makes her books so compelling, it’s the personal relationships that really draw you in. It’s about dealing with parents, school, friends, falling in love and addressing social and cultural issues.

Young girls are the obvious target market for her books, but I think everyone would like them, and if you know a boy who doesn’t want to read “girls books” you can surreptitiously introduce them to the character by giving them a Champions book. She co-founded the team with Spider-man (Miles Morales), Nova (Sam Alexander). Unhappy with the events of Civil War II and disillusioned by the actions of the heroes they looked up to, these young people started their own team with the aim of fixing the world.

We’re in a war for a better tomorrow. Join us. Help us to not take the easy road, and I promise we’ll fight every fight they can throw at us. Help us win the hard way — the right way — not with hate, not with retribution, but with wisdom and hope. Help us become champions.

Ms. Marvel – Champions #1

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