Pugilist, champion, leader, prophet, husband, father, excellence. Muhammad Ali earned many titles. But only two words adequately define him: The Greatest!!
It’s been quite a while since I’ve contributed anything, but with the news that Iron Fist has a showrunner and also with Donald Trump wasting our time and being overtly bigoted, I thought it was an opportunity to look at the importance of introducing more POC characters in our fiction, and the importance of identity, on a wide range of levels.
As you know, we’re pretty big fans of Kamala Khan’s turn as Ms. Marvel around here. And last week, the original inspiration for the character — Marvel editor Sana Amanat — became the inspiration for even more people when she addressed a TEDxTeen 2014 in New York.
The 16-year-old superhero has hit #1 on the digital comics charts, proving that readers around the globe want to see comic book heroes reflect the world we live in. We begin with Kamala’s origin story, Metamorphosis, the first of five tales of her superhero beginnings.
(BTW — hard copies are dope, but digital joints are $2.99! And the artwork by Adrian Alphona and coloring by Ian Herring are top notch, and it’s nice to see Marvel has gone all out to honor writer G. Willow Wilson’s vision for the series.)
The opening scene is one that’s close to my heart. We’re at a deli in Jersey City, where Kamala and her friend, the proud, beautiful Nakia, stop by their friend Bruno’s shift to smell the forbidden BLTs just within Kamala’s reach. I remember staring at pepperoni pizzas as a kid and being jealous as hell of my pork eater friends. And, any vegetarian will tell you — often the thing that breaks ’em down is bacon.
I admit: I’m a lightweight comic book geek. I was always down for X-Men, Batman, and Wonder Woman. I just watched The Wolverine and Man of Steel* on an ultra-long international flight. My biggest gripe (don’t worry it wasn’t Henry Cavill)? Every story revolves around white men saving the world. So, when I heard that Marvel Comics’ new series, Ms. Marvel, features a 16-year-old Pakistani-American Muslim superhero, I was elated.
In the series, set to debut February 2014, Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old from Jersey discovers her latent superpowers — she shape-shifts — setting in motion her meteoric transformation into Ms. Marvel.
At the heart of it though, she’s just a regular teenager, right?
Yesterday, Marvel Comics made a splash by announcing the launch of Ms. Marvel #1, written by G. Willow Wilson with art by Adrian Alphona (best known as the co-creator of Marvel’s Runaways). And while launching another Ms. Marvel book isn’t usually big news, the reason for all the attention this time centers around the teenaged girl assuming the mantle — Kamala Khan. In order to process this announcement from Marvel, we convened a “roundtable” of fellow Nerds of Color to talk about their thoughts on this new series from Marvel.
Borne from the childhood experiences of Marvel editor Sana Amanat — who will also edit the new series — Ms. Marvel will tell the story of Kamala, a Pakistani American teen from Jersey City who idolizes Carol Danvers (the original Ms. Marvel who now goes by Captain Marvel). Kamala takes on Danvers’ old codename after she discovers her own shape-shifting super powers. The new Ms. Marvel is part of Marvel’s ongoing quest to spotlight more women and characters of color in their books. After all, Ms. Marvel is coming out on the heels of Mighty Avengers and the all-female mutant X-Men. Overall, I think it’s a net positive to have a high-profile book be fronted with a teenaged girl of color who is also Muslim. Whether or not the narratives inside the pages fall victim to old stereotypes remains to be seen, but I think Marvel deserves credit for making the continued attempts to diversify their superhero roster.