Marvel Comics is bringing back Ms. Marvel, a character that first appeared in 1968, as a 16-year-old Muslim girl named Kamala Khan.
The new Ms. Marvel is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in Jersey City, and according to the book's editor, Sana Amanat, the character was created out of a "desire to explore the Muslim American diaspora from an authentic perspective."
It's also part of Marvel Entertainment's efforts to reflect diversity among its readers, AP reports. There are few Muslim superheroes in mainstream comics: DC relaunched its Green Lantern series with Simon Baz, an Arab-American Muslim, last fall, and Nightrunner is a Muslim hero of Algerian descent who also features in some DC books. Marvel has Dust, a young Afghan woman who appears in some X-Men books and can manipulate sand and dust.
But the creative team says that while Khan's experience growing up Muslim is an element of the story, it's not the central foundation.
"I wanted Ms. Marvel to be true to life, something real people could relate to, particularly young women," said series writer G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam who has worked on the graphic novel Cairo and the Air series from Vertigo. "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."
"It's for all the geek girls out there and everybody else who's ever looked at life from the fringe."
The idea originally came out of a discussion between Amanat, who is Muslim, and Marvel senior editor Stephen Wacker, in which they compared stories about their childhoods. Artist Adrian Alphona will do the artwork for the new book.
The original Ms. Marvel character first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #13, published in March, 1968. Her alter-ego at the time was Major Carol Danvers, a non-superpowered member of the U.S. Air Force. In 1969 she gained powers thanks to a genetic fusion with an alien race, and in 1977 she got her own comic book, when Ms. Marvel #1 hit the shelves.