by Dalton Martin

Marvel Comics for the past few years has attempted to diversify its ever-growing gallery of personalities. Whether introducing characters like the new Spider-man Miles Morales, who is of African-American and Hispanic descent, to even having older characters succeed popular names, such as how Laura Kinney aka X-23 recently took up Wolverine’s cowl and name, it is easy to see that Marvel has definitely stepped up their game. While many of these new heroes have garnered attention and headlines, none of them have quite made the impact as much as Kamala Khan, otherwise known as Ms. Marvel, has in popular culture and beyond.

Created in 2014, Kamala was introduced to the world of comics and was quickly adored by fans and critics alike. There was something about the shape-shifting Muslim-American teen that was learning to become a hero that resonated with audiences. In a nation that struggles with Islamophobia, it was refreshing to finally have a hero of the Islamic faith represented. Within a year of her inception, Kamala was not just the first Muslim American superhero to get her own solo title in Marvel history; she had also become a symbol against the rampant Islamophobia that plagues Western countries.

In 2015, a street art activist group that goes by the name Street Cred used Kamala’s likeness to fight back against racist bus ads put out by the anti-Muslim group the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Street Cred members covered up the hateful and negative words and imagery with images of Ms. Marvel and hearts as well as including messages to stamp out bigotry and racism.

Flash-forward two years and the world is not much different, with a volatile political and cultural climate spreading across multiple nations. No country is probably more tumultuous than the United States after the election of President Donald Trump and his recent executive order that has been called the “Muslim ban” by many. With many citizens outraged and saddened by this order, Kamala emerged to the forefront as one of the leading cultural symbols used to resist this ban along with Captain America and Wonder Woman.

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Many artists utilized Kamala’s likeness on social media to voice their displeasure with the President. Some depicted Ms. Marvel ripping up an image of Donald Trump, a callback to a similar variant cover from the Civil War II series, to panels of her urging citizens to resist. During the protests surrounding the ban, one protestor even was photographed carried a sign proclaiming “Khan for President.”

Ms. Marvel continues to inspire new generations, and will most likely continue to do so for quite some time. Quickly becoming one of the most recognizable heroes of this latest generation, Khan will not only be a symbol of justice and equality, but one of which both young girls and Muslim-Americans can continue to look up to during these testing times.

 

 

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