|Between Muslim and American Identity |
Kamala Khan, New Ms. Marvel.
I woke up this morning with a big surprise. As a part of my daily routines, I always check on my Feedly account and at around 8 am I read a post in Hufftington Post about a new character in Marvel universe. Marvel will welcome Kamala Khan, a Muslim woman and Pakistan immigrant to the US, as the new Ms. Marvel.
Yes, it’s a Muslim woman who is bestowed the title of Ms. Marvel. As someone who really loves superhero universe and American Studies, this event is a pivotal key in the ‘outgoing’ superpower country’s culture.
Ms. Marvel is a fiction character in Marvel comic books. Carol Danvers is the most notable character donning the mantle of Ms. Marvel. The hero has various abilities including superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, energy projection, energy absorption and flight. Therefore, Ms. Marvel, in my opinion, is one the most powerful character in Marvel Universe.
Now, what can Kamala Khan do as Ms. Marvel?
Unfortunately, Miss Khan will not be endowed with all the greatness of Ms. Marvel’s Carol Danvers. Khan will only be given a shape shifting power, through which she can resize any part of her body. She eventually will be able to mimic Mystique’s power, shifting into another person.
|Carol Denver as Ms. Marvel|
Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona was quoted as saying in The Globe and Mail that Ms. Marvel will reflect on Khan’s interpersonal life: dealing with superpowers, family expectations and adolescence. Meanwhile, new Ms. Marvel’s editor Sana Amanat says that the monthly comic book will “explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective.”
In my opinion, the series reflect so much about the lives in contemporary America. The fact that Marvel gives a green light to publish a Muslim (and female) superhero in its own title contains various significance.
|Muslim Green Lantern|
Member of Justice League
Both major comic book publishers in US, Marvel and D.C. comics, already feature Muslim characters. Marvel in 2002 introduced Dust, a female fictional mutant character in X Men universe having the power to transform her body into a cloud of dust. She is notable for her appearance, wearing traditional niqab. DC, meanwhile, in 2012 introduced Shimon Baz, Arab-American, as the newest human to wear Green Lantern suit.
|Soraya Qadir as Dust. Current member of Young X Man|
With Kamala Khan holds her own title, I want to argue the US society has tried to respond to the growing complexities of world issues. Islam, for as long as I can remember, is usually portrayed negatively in US popular culture. Those affiliated with Islam –in here, I am referring to Arab race – is often portrayed as terrorists in Hollywood’s movies and tv series. But now, it seems that the US is ready to embrace the diversity of Islamic world, suggested with the appearance of Dust, Shimon Baz and Kamala Khan. They are ready to be presented the fact that not all Muslims are bad guys. They are ready to embrace the complexity of postmodern values (which are currently unfolding vastly in the Western world).
Muslim world should probably thank to the masterminds behind Kamala Khan and other Muslim superheroes, which happen to be Muslims as well. They fight with their own jihad to make US society knows about the other side of Islam, ones that they will never see if they just rely on most of their news channels.
To be Muslim and American is complex. Noted political scientist Samuel Hartington has argued that the world is currently having a clash of civilization between the Western values and Islam. So, in the light of Hartington’s argument, Kamala Khan is born. It will be interesting to read how Marvel will construct Kamala as Ms. Marvel. It will be interesting to read how she will navigate between her Muslim, female and American identity.