Marvel comics introduce Muslim superheroine - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 6 November

Marvel Comics creates Muslim superhero

Marvel, comics, Islam, Muslim, superhero, heroes, graphic novels, media, islamophobia

Marvel comics introduce Muslim superheroine

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 6 November

Photograph: AP

Darren Evans

Marvel Entertainment is introducing one of the first ever female Muslim comic-book superheroes in an effort to explore what it means to be a Muslim growing up in modern America.

The character Ms Marvel, who had her debut in the late 1960s, is being brought back as Kamala Khan, the 16-year-old daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in Jersey City.

Marvel has always attempted to make its characters relevant to contemporary audiences and to reflect the times in which they are living. But the new Ms Marvel also reflects a growing diversity among comic readers and will no doubt appeal to American Muslims who have felt increasingly alienated in their own country after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in 2001 and the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this year.

Other Muslim superheroes have appeared in recent years. In 2011, Marvel’s rival, DC Comics, introduced Nightrunner, a young French Muslim hero of Algerian descent. And last year, the Arab-American character Simon Baz took over as DC’s Green Lantern.

Marvel editor Sana Amanat said that the new Ms Marvel series sprang from a “desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective” while also telling the story of a teenager struggling to fit in and dealing with superpowers.

The new Ms Marvel has been compared to Peter Parker, a teenager trying to find his own identity, whose alter ego is Spider-Man.

Writer G Willow Wilson said: “I wanted Ms Marvel to be true-to-life, something real people could relate to, particularly young women.

“High school was a very vivid time in my life, so I drew heavily on those experiences – impending adulthood, dealing with school, emotionally charged friendships that are such a huge part of being a teenager.”

Ms Marvel will have the power to grow and shrink her limbs and her body, and will eventually be able to shape-shift into other forms.

Photograph: AP


1. What are the benefits of having a diverse range of genders and ethnicities represented in comic books?
2. What effect will this new superhero have on Marvel Comics as a company?
3. Discuss other ways that comics can help society?
4. Some people argue that comic books aren’t “real literature”. Explain whether you agree or disagree with this statement.

Related resources

Teachers TV: Using comics in the classroom

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Superhero Unit

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Research the history of comics

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How to read a French comic

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