Most women my age are conversant in The American Girls. Or the American Girls as they were a bunch of historical young women trying to navigate the specific challenges to their time period. Samantha, a young woman trying to navigate the astounding changes in the US in 1904 and 1905, Kirsten a Swedish immigrant in the mid 1800s working a farm in Minnesota, Felicity Merriman, a bad ass daughter of an American Patriot who did awesome stuff like refuse to drink taxed tea at finishing school and steal horse. (I had Kirsten but Felicity was secretly my favorite.) I could go on, but the franchise (again, as it existed in my childhood), was cool because it was filled with characters who were simple archetypes but detailed in small ways that made them relateable.
Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, feels kind of like an American Girl. Kamala is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, grew up in Jersey City (NJ REPRESENT!) and is trying to balance living life as an American teenager with her family’s culture and religion.
Of course, Kamala is also obsessed with The Avengers and even wrote a ridiculously awesome fanfic about them. And when she sneaks out of the house to attend a party and finds herself in a strange cosmic circumstance where she’s confronted by Iron Man, Captain America and Captain Marvel. When she comes to, Kamala has been transformed into Ms. Marvel. She looks like the classic version of the character, in black leo and high heeled boots and blond hair.
This doesn’t happen until the last page.
Like an American Girl, Kamala has a bunch of surface characteristics that could define her, Muslim, Teenager, Daughter of Immigrants, fangirl, but it’s obvious even in her first few panels that Kamala is more than that. She’s funny. She goes to the deli every morning to smell the “sweet, sweet infidel meat!” (Bacon) She is clueless that her friend who works at the deli Bruno has a crush on her. She’s jealous of the pretty blond popular girl but not willing to change or compromise who she is in order to fit in. Her parents seem to be loving and supportive and her older brother is very serious about Islam.
Ms. Marvel is the first comic series that I’m following from the beginning, or following period. Yes, I read trades, but they generally come out six months to a year after the issues and I usually have some idea of where the story is going. This is new territory for me and I’m psyched to move down it. This isn’t a dam I’m opening lightly. Hope you guys enjoy the ride!