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The Courtauldian

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The Courtauld Institute of Art

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London

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Ms. Marvel: The Hero I've Been Waiting For

 Photograph from author

 

Avengers; Guardians of the Galaxy; X-Men. I’ve seen and enjoyed most of them. I began and continued to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and cannot wait for the brilliant Agent Carter and Daredevil to return. I have consumed superhero stories in their television and film formats, but it wasn’t until this year that I decided to read the comic books that inspired these bold, colourful, and thrilling cinematic adventures. What previously seemed to be an unnecessarily complicated world with multiple superheroes of the same incarnation with story arcs that I could not follow or comprehend became less scary and increasingly intriguing when I found out about Ms. Marvel.

 

The Ms. Marvel I discovered was not Carol Danvers or Sharon Ventura but Kamala Khan. The Ms. Marvel whose journey I started following was a Pakistani American from New Jersey who discovers that she is an Inhuman with shapeshifting abilities.

 

I began reading the comics and discovered that I could relate to Kamala in a way that I couldn’t really relate to any character in the movies and shows. I could see myself in her brown skin tone, her salwar kameez and could hear my family in her parents’ references to chai and in their opinions of boys and dating. Little things like the inclusion of urdu words alongside a larger consideration of the Islamic culture and faith really struck me as I read the comics. They also dealt with more universal issues - the difficulties of growing up, struggling with one's identity as a teenager and dealing with changes big and small.

 

Ms. Marvel is of great significance; it is revolutionary. It is the first solo comic series to have a Muslim female character as its lead, but it doesn’t rest on this remarkable achievement to make its sales. Kamala’s story is written well and illustrated beautifully. The comics present a world of adventure and discovery with Kamala in front and centre, leading the charge against whatever villain she faces that day.

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