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Marvel Comics Introduces Its First Muslim Teenage Girl Superhero

posted 6 Nov 2013, 14:31 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 6 Nov 2013, 14:32 ]

Marvel Comics set to release its first series featuring a Muslim teenage girl superhero.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (NOVEMBER 06, 2013) (REUTERS) - Move over Black Widow and step aside She-Hulk, Marvel Comics is introducing a new superhero, a 16-year-old Muslim-American girl named Kamala Khan, to reflect the growing diversity of its readers.

The character, who will be the new Ms. Marvel, lives with her Pakistani parents and her conservative brother in New Jersey. She will make her debut in January and appear in a monthly series starting on February 6.

Marvel editor Sana Amanat said it's important to tell stories that reflect the ever-changing world.

"It's to create a story for all those little girls out there who don't see a version of themselves. Particular in pop culture and entertainment because that's where they're looking, they're not looking in the news. And if they do look in the news I don't want them to see what they are seeing about Muslim-Americans. But it's really not just for Muslim-Americans it's for all little girls."

Although the inspiration for the new Ms. Marvel series came from a desire to explore the Muslim-American experience, she said the new superhero does not represent all Muslims, Pakistanis or Americans.

"Kamala Khan is not just a Muslim and she's not representing all Muslims. She's just representing one perspective. And that's something I'm familiar with and it's something that a lot of people in my community back home might have been familiar with, and are familiar with. You know, and even my nieces, I think that they're familiar with it too."

Khan is a big comic book fan and after she discovers her superhuman power she takes on the name of Ms. Marvel. The title had previously belonged to Carol Danvers, a character Khan had always admired.

"Essentially she can grow really, really tall. Grow really, really big. And can also shrink to a small size. She can extend her arms. She can make her fist into a really, really large fist, so she can bunch the bad guys. Extend her legs so she can jump and do really long jumps. So she's got a bit of everything and she also - she will have the opportunity to also shape-shift if she channels it right."

The idea for the new character stemmed from a casual conversation Amanat had with her senior editor, Steve Wacker, about her own experiences growing up as a Muslim-American.

Writer G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam, and artist Adrian Alphona are the team working on the project which started about 18 months ago.

Wilson said she wrote the character as a true-to-life person so that people, particularly young women, can relate to her.

Khan experiences the usual teenage angst, feelings of confusion and being an outsider, dealing with the expectations of her parents and problems at high school.

Kahn is not the first Muslim-American character in the superhero world, which has been largely dominated by white males, but Amanat said she is being pushed to the forefront of the Marvel universe.

Amanat believes the options for the new character, and others like her, are limitless.