Ms. Marvel: No Normal
Women superheroes have long flowing hair, busty chests and costumes tighter than latex gloves, right? Well, think again. Kamala Khan of Marvel Comics’ Ms. Marvel: No Normal speaks Urdu, and fashions her costume out of a burkini and high-tops.
Kamala’s story opens as a shroud of mist engulfs Jersey City, bestowing superpowers upon our sixteen-year-old, Pakistani-American Muslim hero. With the ability to now shape-shift, she suffers an identity crisis as she decides what kind of superhero she wants to be: an exact replica of her hero Captain Marvel, or one where she can express herself and her religious beliefs. Enter Ms. Marvel.
Ms. Marvel hit me in a way that few graphic novels do. I connected whole-heartedly with Kamala’s superhero journey as she searched for identity and acceptance. She’s the perfect hero for the 21st century and has the potential to be one of the most important characters in young adult fiction.
Writer of other mega-comics like Superman, Mystic, and Wonder Woman, G Willow Wilson was born in New Jersey and converted to Islam when she was 20, making her a perfect person to develop the lovably complex and totally believable character, Kamala Khan.
But what makes this comic stand out even more, is Adrian Alphona’s artwork and Ian Herring’s coloring. Their style straddles the line between slapstick cartoony and super realism. At times, heads and hands are ballooned to Muppet-like proportions, while at others, facial expressions are meticulously accurate.
I was brought up as a Muslim. I spent my childhood lying about my faith because a kid called me a freak once. I pretended that the reason why I didn’t eat pork products was because I didn’t like the taste. I invented a Westernized middle name because my actual name was so different from other kids. I struggled to fit in – to be like the other Aussie kids. This is why Ms. Marvel affected me so much. It was wonderful and super comforting to read about a teenager who was going through the same issues as me – torn between the two worlds of my faith and my Western friends. If I had had access to a book like this as a kid, I wouldn’t have felt so alone.
Ms. Marvel: No Normal is fresh, dynamic and quirky. But most of all, it’s totally badass that a Muslim girl is the lead character in a Marvel Comic series. Kamala’s quest to be confident and happy with herself is truly inspirational. As she says, “I’m not here to be a watered-down version of some other hero… I’m here to be the best version of Kamala.” You tell ‘em sister!