Written by: Sitwat Azhar Hashmi
A Muslim superhero? A Pakistani-Muslim superhero? A female Pakistani-Muslim superhero?!
You can only imagine the frequency of my screams and the height of my excitement when Marvel announced their plans of a new superhero that embodied everything that I was.
Female – check.
Pakistani – check.
Muslim – check.
Immigrant/Third-culture Kid – CHECK!
Growing up female is not easy. Growing up female and Pakistani is hard. Growing up female, Pakistani and Muslim, is near goddamn impossible. But here she was, in glossy pages and inked glory: Kamala Khan, a relatable superhero comes to print at last!
Kamala Khan is not only relatable due to the aforementioned qualities. She is so because Marvel does a brilliant job at portraying the lives of immigrant and third-culture kids through her. The very first thing our superhero-to-be admits to is feeling like she belongs nowhere. Feeling out of place and out of touch back home in Pakistan because she is too American for them, and then feeling the same in Boston, America, because she enjoys a bowl of curry more than an average American. Exhausted and frustrated, the protagonist gives up her values in return for being accepted by her peers. This backfires; suddenly Khan finds herself as the butt of every joke among her peers. This feeling was one that I resonated with on so many levels. Though I have (somewhat) come in terms with my life and the cocktail of a human that I have become, there are times when even I feel so cripplingly alone – not alienated but much too literally like an alien itself. Thus, to read a comic where someone feels just as out of place as you (and isn’t from planet Kryptonite) is a weird but warm sense of reassurance.
Khan’s family’s dynamics are beautifully written and illustrated as well. Demonstrating the struggle between her identity, culture and religion, a scenario that is a reality for many across the globe, Marvel also benefits from this opportunity and gives a peak into a Muslim household. A picture that for me, was very very very much on the mark. Here are a few stripes for you to see for yourself:
Besides all the serious and solemn themes and conversations that Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, brings to the table, it brings these issues to us through a teenager’s eyes – a teenager who is utterly obsessed with fanfics.
So of course, Marvel did they only thing that would have had made sense, they initiated Kamala Khan’s powers through the superheroes that she wrote fanfics about. And because Marvel is badass, they took it to a whole another level by making Khan’s favorite superheroes come together and sing to her in her mother tongue, Urdu (this technique is also applied to the dialogues throughout the comics). That bit had me squealing so hard I had my mother second guessing herself if she had indeed birthed a human and not a swine.
If I were to go on about these comics, I am afraid, I would ruin the story for you. But in case you needed any further persuasion, here’s my list:
SITWAT’S LIST OF PERSUASION:
- Just read it!
- No seriously, stop reading this and read the new Ms. Marvel comics.
- No! Why are you still here?
- Fine. If you are still here, please know that you are missing out on some serious Ms. Marvel and Spiderman quality time. Ahan – I told you to read!
- Still not convinced? Kamala Khan’s comics were ranked the most inspirational and influential comics of last year.
- I’d award it most relatable too but unfortunately, I am not qualified to give out such honors. Whatever that means!
- The comics have a very high rating across all platforms, Goodreads, IGN, A.V. Club, My Own Club, you name it, and you will find the comics there, showering in rave reviews.
- Marvel meets all her fanfic favs. Read for that sake alone. In fact, here’s a sneak:
I hope I have convinced you to give these comics a go for I have nothing but good things to say for them (even if they tend to be too simplistic at times). These comics have absolutely and completely won me over and I am forever screaming and crying out of joy because finally, I can be a superhero too.