Why Kamala Khan Is Important: Bringing Relatability Back to Superheroes

There is another post on this blog about Miles Morales as Spiderman, and when I saw that, it made me smile. Not only am I a huge Miles Morales fan, but it also made me start to think of Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel series, which brought me to the greater thought of why it is so important to increase broader representation in comic books and graphic novels. Miles Morales and Kamala Khan both serve an important purpose, they prevent older comic works from getting stale, but they also provide new stories, and new heroes for the younger generations to look up to. Miles Morales, in terms of multiracial young men, and any person of color really. And Kamala Khan in terms of Islamic women and men, and, similar to Miles, in terms of any person of color.

Instead of explaining why and comparing the importance of both Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, I am instead going to delve more into Kamala Khan, for more information on Miles Morales go here for the blog article that was written on him (x).

Copyright Marvel Comics 2014
Copyright Marvel Comics 2014

The first Ms. Marvel comic of the Kamala Khan series was published on February 5, 2014. Since the debut of the comic there have been a total of nineteen issues planned, with the most recent issue coming out on October 14 of this year, and G. Willow Wilson has served as head writer for the whole series so far as it has existed (x). What makes Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel so appealing and so successful is that at its very core it is a story about identity and self-discovery with some self-confidence mixed in for good measure. When Kamala first becomes Ms. Marvel one of the first things she does is transform herself so that she looks exactly like Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel (now known as Captain Marvel in the Marvel Comics Canon). It takes her some time, but eventually Kamala reverts back to what she herself looks like, learning an important lesson about self-acceptance and that it does not truly matter what an individual looks like so long as they are completely themselves, even if they are a Muslim girl from Jersey City who gets thrust into being a superhero after attempting to attend a party. This haphazard quest that Kamala does not even realize is about identity at the time it is happen all happens within the first issue of the series, which almost automatically draws us into her story, and makes us love her character even more. It also makes us relate to her on an even greater level. At some point all of us have struggled with our identity, and like Kamala hopefully we come out believing in ourselves even more than we had before, ready to great a new day with new challenges with a shocking about of confidence and sense of self.

Copyright Marvel Comics 2014
Copyright Marvel Comics 2014

What makes Kamala even more interesting as a superhero, however, is what exactly her power is. She is a polymorph which is something that the head writer Wilson describes as a power most common in “…bad guys. They’re painted in a negative light because their powers are considered somewhat sneaky…when we decided to make her a polymorph, it was very fraught because she can use her powers to escape…” (x). Haven’t all of us has not wanted to escape from our lives at one point or another? This is just one more thing that makes Kamala Khan relatable to everyone that reads her stories. There are many other reasons that Kamala is a more relatable superhero than that which we have seen (she writes fanfiction, cue tumblr uses screaming happily everywhere), but to explain all those things that make her relatable would ruin the joy that anyone would receive by actually picking up an issue and reading her story.

For the longest time, it has been hard for anyone who is not a white man or white woman to find superheroes to relate to. Sure there have been heroes of color, but the amount has been limited and the number headlining their own series even more so. That age is starting to be over however, and we can see that with the rise of the relatable heroine we see in Kamala Khan.

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