The new Ms. Marvel is amazeballs

The last time I checked in with the comics world, Ms. Marvel looked like this:

The new Ms. Marvel is amazeballs

Nothing offensive, but everything from the arched back to her pointy Barbie-doll feet indicates one thing: this comic is not for girls. That’s not to say women never read Ms. Marvel; I’m sure some did. The hyper-sexy design is par for the course in the comic book world, and there’s really nothing wrong with that, but the unintended consequence is that women and girls tend to overlook comics like this one because they seem so overtly designed for male readers. No matter how interesting the articles might be in Maxim magazine, most women wouldn’t give it a second glance. We’re simply not the target demographic.

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But recently, the torch has been passed from Carol Danvers, the previous Ms. Marvel, to the unexpectedly Pakistani-American Kamala Khan. Although not the first Muslim hero of the Marvel universe, her character design has made a huge splash in the comics community.

The new Ms. Marvel is amazeballs

I mean, just look at her. She has brown skin, a small bosom, and narrow hips. She’s so drastically different from the usual pinup-style comic book Barbies that it’s almost hypnotic. Kamala’s design is intentional; giving her flaws is deeply humanizing and quite refreshing to comic readers.

But enough about her looks. Who is Kamala? She’s a sixteen-year-old girl living in Jersey City who just happens to get super powers one day. Her religion is established on the very first page, and it isn’t danced around as if it were a taboo subject. And while it informs her character and the choices she makes, it doesn’t define her entire identity.

The new Ms. Marvel is amazeballs

Kamala struggles with feeling like an outcast in a sea of white faces. One of those white faces is her classmate Zoe, a painfully out-of-touch blonde who treats Kamala and her friends like amusing brown natives. Zoe’s concern-trolling is cringe-worthy in its authenticity, because we all know at least one Zoe.

The new Ms. Marvel is amazeballs

I am painfully aware I’ve said something similar as a teen. UUUGGGH, the retroactive shame.

So far, the new Ms. Marvel has managed to be accessible while also introducing many readers to the normal life of a Muslim girl… well, minus the super powers part, of course. Readers empathize with Kamala’s yearnings to fit in and rebel against her family, while also being introduced to Muslim family life and how mosques work. She’s both refreshingly different while experiencing all the same teenage angst we did.

But most importantly, Ms. Marvel is a great gateway to getting more girls into comics. Especially non-white girls who have had very little representation in comics at all. Suddenly, they have an avatar, and a hero that relates to the very specific circumstances of their own lives. And with the exception of one particularly tasteless comment from Conan O’Brien (or more specifically, whoever tweets for him), the anti-brown/Muslim/women backlash has been minimal.

The new Ms. Marvel is amazeballs

This is why you pay your interns.

Did I mention the comic is funny? Because it’s really funny. (Kamala writes Avengers fan fiction, for God’s sake.) But I’m not just talking about the scripts; the backgrounds are also full of hilarious details. The art is done in a sketchy style that fits the down to earth tone of the comic, yet still manages to be breathtaking when needed. I found myself going back through each issue, squinting at the frames to find little nuggets of humor I had missed on the first pass.

The new Ms. Marvel is amazeballs

I’d also like to give props to my local comic book shop, which went above and beyond the call of customer service duty. When I came in asking about the first issue of Ms. Marvel, they were totally sold out. Luckily, I was able to special order from the next printing, and the clerk texted me to let me know when my comics were available. When I arrived nearly two weeks later, he not only remembered me, but was ready with a list of other comics he thought I might like (one of which was Rat Queens, a title deserving of its own article). I’d like to attribute this to my sheer feminine hotness, but it was most likely because my one-year-old terrorized the store’s cat. I’m still sorry about that, by the way.

As of this article, there are only three issues out, with the next going on sale May 28th. The new Ms. Marvel is both deeply humanizing and also extraordinary. Author G. Willow Wilson has renewed my interest in comics and opened me up to a world that’s often been exclusively for men. And you can bet I’ll be at my local comic book shop on the 28th to pick up issue #4.

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  • CAFR

    I was literally JUST Tweeting about this book. I’ll be honest, this book does nothing for me. I like hardly ANY of the characters, the constant Internet references set my teeth on edge, but mostly I just don’t relate to any of it as a 31-year-old man. It reads like a stray transmission from an alien planet. I’ve had this problem before. I’m the only person I know that REALLY didn’t like Runaways either, for most of the same reasons.

    • I am actually very thrilled to discover that Marvel is making a comic that a 31-year-old man can’t relate to.

      • CAFR

        I agree with you, believe it or not. We can’t complain about an industry failing to bring in fresh blood and then demand it only writes comics for, well, ME. That’s why I’m not complaining. I would GIVE this comic to a young person interested in comics, if I actually knew any. It’s just not for me.

        • Magdalen

          That’s an incredibly cool and grown up way to look at it. 🙂

          • CAFR

            Well, I’m incredibly cool and grown up.

            😉

            Seriously though, I love comics as a medium and want it to grow. If people love Ms. Marvel, beautiful. I’m happy over here with my Moon Knight and my She-Hulk.

            🙂

  • CaptainCalvinCat

    Oh, when we in g.o.G. (good old Germany) get the first issues (probably either 2 or more issues in one), I’ll buy it and have a look at it. From this review and the one of the L.A.G. it sounds really interesting.

  • Zorha

    Ultimate Nick Fury is now African American (and sick of these MFing Hydra agents masquerading as these MFing Shield agents)
    Ultimate Colossus is now Gay (Buns of Steel indeed! 😉 )
    Ms. Marvel is now Muslim.

    I’m good with all these changes, which (IMO) were long overdue!

    • CAFR

      There’s a Black Nick Fury in the original Marvel Universe now too. Well, mixed-race, since the ORIGINAL Nick Fury is his father, I believe… Original Fury is still around a tiny bit, too. It can get kind of confusing.

  • I’m not entirely sold on the costume but I like the character a lot. Kamala feels like a teen and her family dynamics are very interesting.

  • $36060516

    ” She has brown skin, a small bosom, and narrow hips.”

    Yeah, but in that picture they couldn’t resist giving her a gigantic right hand to please the right hand fetishists…

    That Conan O’Brien tweet is gross.

    Enjoyed the surface casual yet consise and well structured style of this article. Discusses these issues in a friendly and non-imflammatory manner that shouldn’t alienate any but the most intractably hostile to change white male comics fans.

    • maarvarq

      they couldn’t resist giving her a gigantic right hand to please the right hand fetishists…
      I was wondering about that, whether stretching was one of her powers, or it was just a colossal line art mistake.

      • Sofie Liv

        She’s a metamorphis, she can change shape, which means, yeah also stretching out body limps to her own desire, as well as changing her entire appearance if she wanted.

        Which actually also makes for a pretty interesting side not, She is in the position of being able to change her entire shape and become those big pin-up girls we are so used to in the comic books, but she chooses not to do so because, well it’s not really her. She has difficultly enough finding an identity as it is.. also looking like that would be uncomfortable in the long run if you’re not used to it.

        • maarvarq

          Thanks, both.

      • King Beauregard

        At least for now, her power set is shape-shifting that she doesn’t have great control over. She’s made that arm huge, she’s made it tiny. She’s shrunk and she’s grown, and she’s turned into classic Ms Marvel and her mom. Little of it has been completely deliberate.

        My guess is that her shape-shifting will ultimately distill into a few different forms, one of which will be her super-strong super-heroing self. I guess this because, if her power set doesn’t resemble Captain Marvel’s, why make her Ms. Marvel?

        • KLLRFRST

          Because she sees Carol as an inspiration and a role model (plus Marvel has to publish a comic with that name every so often in order to retain the rights to the name). The second CM (Monica Rambeau) didn’t have the same powerset as Mar-Vell, but no one complained about it back then. Shit, all the Blue Beetles had completely different power sets, and the name was pretty much the only thing they had in common (aside from possession of the scarab).

          • King Beauregard

            If we were talking actual random events, then yes, I could see the new Ms. Marvel’s power set having no relation whatsoever to the original. But Kamala was consciously designed, which is why I imagine she’ll end up having powers at least reminiscent of Carol Danvers’.

            Monica Rambeau may not have had all of Mar-vell’s abilities, but she had the photonic powers in common. And the new Blue Beetle may not have worked quite like his predecessors, but he did manage to build on their tradition by finally figuring out how to work the scarab (whose serial number, by the way, was Khaji-Da). Hell, even the Silver Age Atom shared shortness with the Golden Age Atom; that’s closer to the original than Plastic Man powers are to those of Carol Danvers and/or Mar-Vell.

            Also, another thematic nod to the Captains Marvel (including the original Shazam variety) is the whole body-switching thing. Billy Batson did it, Rick Jones did it, and Kamala does it too.

  • Guest

    What a terribly bland and intentionally non offensive costume. If we just demand that all characters become androgynous cubes then no one will be offended or able to relate to them in any way. Everyone enjoys cubes.

    • Magdalen

      Her costume specifically relates to Kamala as a character. She’s Muslim, and therefore not comfortable showing a lot of skin. But she wanted to keep the lighting bolt. It is her choice after all. Not everything in the world needs to be edgy and offensive to be good.

      • Hannah Desyn

        I don’t think that a fear of showing skin is necessarily tied to being Muslim. I also hope… well, to be honest, I find a cultural imperative that tells girls that they have to cover up more to please God is every bit as objectifying and icky as the cultural imperative telling girls they have to be scantily-clad sexpots, and I hope that the comic will not shy away from that just because this imperative is religious rather than commercial in nature.

    • Xalazi

      Because nothing shows personality and uniqueness like battle lingerie on a Jessica Rabbit look a like. God knows no one in the Marvel or DC universe fits that description.

    • $36060516

      Looks like a costume that could actually be worn in a live action movie by a real woman and not look ridiculous, unlike the previous version.

    • KLLRFRST

      OMG! A FEMALE CHARACTER IN COMICS DOESN’T HAVE HER TITS AND ASS HANGING OUT! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! SOMEONE CHECK TO MAKE SURE ROB LIEFELD DIDN’T HIT HIS HEAD WHEN HE PASSED OUT FROM SHOCK UPON HEARING THIS!

    • Maxine of Arc

      What a terribly refreshing and different costume. It looks comfortable, practical, and culturally appropriate.

  • Xalazi

    I think Ms. Marvel #4 comes out next week. And yes, this series is pretty great. G. Willow Wilson sure knows how to write a cliffhanger.

    • Magdalen

      Noted. That’s the last time I trust a fan site for release dates. How can I wait 7 more days!?

  • Sebastian Villegas

    Despite the fact that I’m a white, 20 something year old male, I see a lot of myself in Kamala.

    • King Beauregard

      Dude, half your age plus seven!

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It was not physically possible.

  • seiler88

    Good, maybe now that we have some comics that portray Muslims correctly (and that is NOT sarcasm) can we get an accurate Christian character? I mean I can only read a few “I’m a hate-monger because the author would rather cut off their own arm than read the New Testament” stories before my patience runs out.

    • Aaron Alcorn

      Daredevil is a pretty devout catholic. I think the Frank Miller comics reference this most, and they are definitely worth reading.

      • Sofie Liv

        Nightcrawler is a catholic to, and for him it becomes a central part of his character and the support he offers to other confused mutants when they loose their path.

        I think that that blue, demon looking, german, man is a very positive christian character!

        … Certainly shows that christianity doesn’t just belong to one single type of person and can be used in a positive way in any circumstance… I like Nightcrawler.

        • Jay_Bay

          Nightcrawler is awesomesauces. Too bad he didn’t get to be Pope.

          • Sofie Liv

            To bad we didn’t get to see more of him in the X-men movies, but Alan Cumming refuses to come back and they don’t want to re-cast him.. for reasons..

            Bullocks! They might only shared that one single scene, but I totally ship Storm and Nightcrawler in the X-men movies! It was cute!

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            As a native german speaker I have to admit, I cringed, when Alan Cumming tried to speak german. Somehow, that did not sound THAT authentic to me. Compare and contrast that with Pierce Brosnan in “Tomorrow never dies” – he struggles, too, but it works.

            But yeah – Storm and Nightcrawler were a cute couple. Imagine my surprise, when I read, that he was the son of Mystique. ^^

          • Muthsarah

            Well, Brosnan wasn’t supposed to BE German. Maybe that made all the difference.

            Anyway, is there some bad blood between Cumming and Singer? What are the …reasons. I figured he just didn’t like putting on all that makeup – that’s a common complaint.

    • $36060516
    • King Beauregard

      To be fair, from what I’ve seen, the Christians who wear their religion on their sleeve would also rather cut off their own arm than read the New Testament (except for the good parts where Jesus says it’s okay to hate on the gays and greed isn’t a sin). That said, I wouldn’t mind knowing that Clark Kent goes to church — he’s privately religious but he also has enough manners to not impose religion onto his do-gooding.

    • KLLRFRST

      Firebird from The Avengers. She’s a devout Mexican-American Catholic, and a very well-written character. Her shining moments were during West Coast Avengers 17-24, where she stopped Hank Pym from killing himself, gave him the confidence to rejoin the team as without a secret ID, and helped the rest of the team get back to the present. She openly prays and quotes scripture, but she’s not reduced to a parody or a mouthpiece for or against religion.

  • Solkir

    I’m absolutely in love with this new Ms. Marvel. It’s of particular interest to me as a more or less anti-religious person to see a religious family being presented from a fairly neutral perspective. Islam isn’t presented as this terrifying establishment that’s forcing her to be subservient or holding her back from her goals, though it seems stifling to her as a 16 year-old in a place where few share her family’s beliefs. Her parents are very conservative and strict, but not any more so than non-immigrant parents might be. It’s one of those books that everyone should be reading.

    Also, All of the fuck yes to Rat Queens!

  • Thomas Hayes

    It’s a great comic. I’m annoyed #4 has been delayed to next week, because coming out on the same day as Supergirl, Batwoman and Rocket Girl would have made for a great week of female-led titles.

  • Moppet

    I was never a fan, so I can only judge by the pictures. Keep that in mind.

    The only thing I wish they’d kept from the old design is the muscle tone. Maybe it’s simply the stylistic choice here, but she looks really skinny. I like everything else, but why do we still insist our female characters have to be skinny? If there is one thing the old design got right, it’s that she had some muscle tone. Not as much as they ever give the male characters, obviously, but at least there was some.

    I really like the costume though. It’s almost retro, it reminds me of costumes from much older comics, rather than modern comics, and I really really really like that look. I don’t know if the retro look was intentional, or just a byproduct of the intent to make a less revealing costume to fit her character/moral compass, but it looks great regardless of why.

    I like this design, but I hope they decide women can have muscles at some point, because this, put up along side the Wonder Woman casting in the new Superman movie, just makes me feel like we haven’t gotten past the, “Women have to be skinny” thing. I don’t even need muscles now, but as she grows as a character, down the line, and takes being a super hero more and more seriously, it’d be nice to see her start building up muscle. Not all at once, but as a long term thing that shows the dedication and maturity of the character growing as they take on consistent responsibilities like maintaining their physical health.

    I’d write the most boring comics ever. It’s a good thing I don’t write comics.

    • Guest

      Actually in her first official appearance, Captain Marvel #17, showed Kamala showing off her muscles. You see, Kamala’s powers are that she can shapeshift. So whenever it’s combiniant she can become very muscular, or large, or small, etc.

      And FYI, the events of Captain Marvel #17 take place after the first story arch of Ms. Marvel.

    • Guest

      Actually in her first official appearance, Captain Marvel #17, showed Kamala showing off her muscles. You see, Kamala’s powers are that she can shapeshift. So whenever it’s combiniant she can become very muscular, or large, or small, etc.

    • Magdalen

      It’s true, chicks with muscles are awesome. I would say the only reason why she does is because it doesn’t really fit the character. She’s 16, teens girls don’t usually lift weights. Although that reminds me, I need to go back to the gym. O.O

      • Moppet

        I agree. I’d just like to see it worked in as a long run thing, if possible. I think that’s why I thought of it in the sense of dedication and maintaining health, responsibility learned and maintained over time. Not instantly or at a base.

        Go show those weights who the boss is!

      • Muthsarah

        (EDIT: Not necessarily a reply to this comment, just a reply to everything thus posted, especially the original).

        I’ma admit I’m prolly a total fuddy-duddy here, but….

        DISCLAIMER: I ain’t got no problem with the new (certainly new to me, as this is the first I’ve ever heard of her, K while I’m here, are you an avid comics reader, I wouldn’ta figured you, not that I’d know the dif, ‘cuz I’ve been outta the industry for over a decade….) Kamala Khan/Ms.Marvel, but (testament to my out-modedness), I find it a lil’ bit distressing that one more traditional Marvel character is being re-written to be (hold it, just wait…….no, ain’t about race/religion at all…..truly) a teenager. Like there weren’t enough of them. I didn’t follow comics much during the 90s (AKA my childhood), but I grew up among those who did. Seemed at the time that most Marvel-at-least characters were in their 20s if not 30s. And tortured and brooding, but whatever, didn’t and still don’t mean much to me). Thus they nevertheless felt like fully-formed adults, with issues, and flaws they addressed, and not just hormonally-challenged-teens or very early 20-somethings with arrested development.

        No, I don’t have a coherent point here. Don’t hafta. Just commenting. Literally. I got no problem whatsoever with the new Ms. Marvel-izing (dunno if they’re rebooting/re-kajiggerring) the character, or just introducing a new surrogate daughter/follower of the previous version). From what I can glean here, there’s NO continuity between Carol Danvers (Jebus! I remember her name) and Kamala. The issue I take is with her age. Granted, I’m now WAY beyond the teenage-comix-reading demographic (by like, LOTS), but I’ve yet to hear, conclusively, that the industry’s target fanbase has decisively advanced beyond their 20-somethings (of whose membership I can still claim).

        Overall, Ms. Marvel isn’t a character I (in my limited experience) who I’ve had any significant problems with. Yeah, standard busty/hippy/curvy pin-up female design. That’s EVERYWHERE. Can’t escape it. Possibly one reason I never got into comics, but I ain’t gonna claim that’s here nor there). Just feel like I gotta ask – from a position of some unavoidable ignorance – why every new character gotta be a teenager? Seems like that’s the norm, now. Back in the day (literally, my grandparents’ day, because my parents don’t count), superheroes were adults (and almost-exclusively-male, but with minor token female inclusion at the very least), nowadays…..the movies are for the teens, the TV shows pitch to the kids, the movies…prolly both. I’m fine with most forms of inclusiveness/diversity….except for the age-ism. If all the superheroes of the future are teenagers….where does that place 20-somethings? It’s not like we’ve had a chance to rule the world (Marvel or DC or reality or otherwise). Things like this make me feel like part of my own Lost Generation (kids, seriously, look up ‘Lost Generation’, and bookmark for later; it’s totally worth your while to get to understand them).

        Never been a big comix-head….but I feel dis-included nonetheless. Great for Kamala to have found her place while bein’ a lil’ bit different from the (Highly Anglo-Saxon if not exactly Protestent) norm. But….maybe if this had come out ten years ago, it’da meant something. Just feels bad to have missed this kinda innovation, is maybe all I gotta say. Wanna boil this whole rambling post, do it to “I’m jealous of what kids today get to have”. Hopefully the kids today’ll appreciate it, if they have any appreciation of history. Woulda been nice, I think, to have been able to contemplate a new Ms. Marvel as a young’un. But ain’t so young these days.

        Just me bitching. No different from other rants. Hope some genuine meaning comes across. Ain’t hating on your article, Nycea. Just….can’t let it go, all the same. But could (n’t) only do so if’n I didn’t care. And your article, as is typical, got me to care. Prolly more than is healthy. But I enjoy that just as much.

      • Even if she was skinny originally, you would think that gainning superpowers would have manifested on her in someway like for example, increased muscle tone.

  • Alexa

    Never been a fan of Marvel in general, I just never grew up with it. But I think I am going to change my tune because this comic does sound awesome. Its nice to know that comic creators believe that you can balance humor and drama, and not brooding it all the hell up *cough* Didio *cough*

  • Dani(elle)

    I was so excited to see Ms. Marvel sell out at my store, especially when the owner didnt think we would need as many as we ordered. I’m really hoping that this shows creative teams what reader’s are really interested in and we get more books like it. I was impressed with this and the new She-Hulk title.

    YES RAT QUEENS! At first glance I was disappointed because there weren’t any rats in it but than a co worker said it read like a D&D campaign and I was suddenly having flash backs to middle school and needed to read it. It like the other titles I mentioned here are now my staple diet.

    • Magdalen

      IT REALLY DOES READ LIKE A D&D CAMPAGN!

      • Does this mean that she has a dump stat, if so which one?

  • The_Stig

    I love everything about it but the costume. It makes her look like she was bitten by a radioactive go-go dancer.

  • MichaelANovelli

    I like the design of the new outfit, but I wish they’d kept the old color palette. Blue and red don’t really pop, ya know?

    • Magdalen

      Really? I always thought they popped on Superman.

      • MichaelANovelli

        Well, Superman’s costume is really more blue with red accents, wouldn’t you say?

  • I like the new uniform as it’s nice to see a modest practical-looking costume that looks like you can fight in it without it shredding from a few small cuts, I would have forgone the cape but I do understand why they kept that part.

  • Sofie Liv

    Maaan, I need to get my hands on this comic book… Sigh.. all-right, going to England in September, they should have it at forbidden planet over there right?

    • $36060516

      As long as they haven’t sold out. It’s also available in legal electronic form from Comixology, though you would have to read on a screen and I don’t know one way or another what the legal status is of them selling to people in Europe.

  • jokmank

    Saying things like “delicious infidel meat” and writing fan-fiction about real people (for her anyway)?

    Is Kamala’s dad Bob Belcher?

    Conan O’Brien would never say something like that. His terrible opening monologue writer Mike Sweeney totally would, on the other hand.

  • Maxine of Arc

    I absolutely love this book. The art is terrific- even the background characters in any given panel all look like actual people. And it’s funny, too (I was glancing through #3 before leaving for work this morning and noticed a card in a shop window on “The Ur-Dos and Ur-Don’ts of Traveling in Pakistan” or something like that). I want to cosplay Kamala.

  • Dar

    “But most importantly, Ms. Marvel is a great gateway to getting more girls into comics. Especially non-white girls who have had very little representation in comics at all”

    How cluelessly racist of you.

    So now non-whites are this unified mass who relate to each other? You really think the average black girl would relate to a Pakistani Muslim? Why? Becuase they’re both “non-white”?

    Back in the 60’s when Stan Lee wanted to address racism he (co-)created the X-Men. Now the hack writers at Marvel have no such creativity or subtelty, they just hammer you with their intentions.

    Oh, and ofcourse she has a “smal bosom” she’s only 16.

    • Thinkink

      Why are you so offended?? I am from Pakistan and ever since this comic came out, I’ve been rather proud, because honestly, when do Western comics ever include South Asians?… and (to be specific) Pakistanis!?
      I was literally shaking when I found out that she was from the same City as me! I can -FINALLY- go to some comic con and not feel uncomfortable in some (usually) immodest costume made for a white/black/asian character. You don’t know how much this means to me… even though I feel like the comic was lazily made.
      However, I do agree with you that “Ms. Marvel is a great gateway to getting more girls into comics. Especially non-white girls…” this statement should be restated/reworded. Non-white is a VERYYY broad term.

  • DPPalbert

    “She has brown skin, a small bosom, and narrow hips. She’s so drastically
    different from the usual pinup-style comic book Barbies that it’s
    almost hypnotic.” “Kamala struggles with feeling like an outcast in a sea of white faces.”

    It’s like it was custom made for social justice warriors. The only thing missing is to make her gay, transsexual and wheelchair bound. Cause that#s what people want when they want to read fun superhero comic: social justice bullshit… You go guuuurl!

    • Thinkink

      As a brown girl from Karachi with a small bosom and narrow hips, I lol’ed. I do agree to some extent. I hope she gets big, and gets MAJOR costume redesigning, you can be modest without that costume, honestly… RED AND BLUE?! how basic can you get?