Ms. Marvel – Old But New

Comic books, like any other form of fictionalized media, are used by many of its readers as a means to escape reality.  Superheroes are the most well known characters to grace the pages of comics and the writers and illustrators show us worlds where people have these extraordinary powers such as flight, super strength, super speed and laser vision to name a few.  They craft stories of how these super powered individual go about saving the world and protecting the innocent because they have been given these extraordinary gifts.  For those of us that are fans of the stories, there have been many times where we sit around and discuss questions like “If you had a superpower what would it be?” and “If you had a superpower what would you do?”.  For the longest time, superheroes stood apart from regular people. Sure there where certain qualities that made them relatable but being a superhero always seems just out of reach of the readers: they are geniuses or rich or possess an almost inhuman skill-set even though they are merely human (I’m looking at you Hawkeye).  This all changed when G. Willow Wilson decided to come up with a superhero for the new generation of readers: the millennials.

The whole idea of the superhero has blown up in recent years from the internet making comics and events like Comic-Con more accessible to the general population to the the bring of the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes.  The character proposed by G. Willow Wilson was Kamala Khan: a Pakistani-American girl in high school that is obsessed with superheroes.  Now what makes Kamala that much more relatable to the everyday person is that a lot of the tropes that are used in a traditional superheroes origin are largely left out.  Kamala has no tragic backstory.  She grew up in New Jersey in a stable, Muslim family.  Being in high school she also doesn’t have everything figured out.  Many times superheroes are depicted as stable and knowledgeable people.  They always seem to know exactly how to come out of any situation and this gives them a maturity that a lot of the younger fans of comics can’t relate to.  Kamala, on the other hand, really wants to help but she doesn’t know how to and this is shown really well in the No Normal and Generation Why story arcs that introduce her.  There are plenty of times where Kamala is shown defeated or stump about the situations she’s going into.  One of the biggest deviations from a classical superhero that I really enjoy in Ms. Marvel is that she has a very high emotional intelligence (EQ).  What I mean by this is that Kamala Khan is very aware that she is not perfect and she is always looking to grow and better herself despite her failures.  This is a quality that is not portrayed in a lot of the more traditional superheroes like Batman.  Batman is birthed from the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents right in front of his eyes.  The darkness of such an act is portrayed very well in the character but there is not a lot of self improvement to Batman’s character.  Most of the time he uses that pain and darkness as a driving force and that means that it will be ever present.  Another aspect of Kamala Khan’s high EQ that I love about her character is that she is very observant of the people around her and their potentials.  In the scene after Kamala has rescued the missing kids from the Inventor’s safe house she gets blasted by them because they are all there by choice.  They all believe that they are doing the only thing that makes them useful to society.  Kamala retorts by pointing out all of their skills and what their potential futures could look like.  This observance comes from Kamala’s own journey of discovering her capabilities and it allows her to become an inspiration on a more personal level than someone like Superman.  Kamala’s ability to connect personally with people in particular is what makes Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel the superhero for the millennial generation

1 thought on “Ms. Marvel – Old But New

  1. I do agree with your points here. I thought it was interesting that you had picked up on and mentioned the EQ level with Ms Marvel. It is something that isn’t emphasized as much in other comics and superheroes. I also think it worked really well with Ms Marvel because she is so unconventional and starting off without the knowledge of how to do it all. Whereas, other superheroes (like Batman and Superman) you typically know their stories of how they became to be and so most portrayals of them are during their intense or peak moments in their superhero careers and so those stories tend to focus on their abilities than on them as a character, if that makes sense. Anyways, I liked your discussion here!

    Like

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