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Marvel's newest superhero is a Muslim-American teen

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 11:13 AM EST, Fri November 8, 2013
Spider-Woman, a.k.a. Jessica Drew, was introduced in 1977. Marvel Comics announced a makeover for 2015.
Spider-Woman, a.k.a. Jessica Drew, was introduced in 1977. Marvel Comics announced a makeover for 2015.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ms. Marvel, aka Kamala Khan, is a Muslim-American teen from New Jersey
  • She uses her powers to become like her idol, Captain Marvel
  • It's "a tale about what it means to be young, lost amidst the expectations," editor says
  • The series "stemmed out of a desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora"

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Comic book fans meet Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comic's first Muslim-American superhero.

Kamala Khan, a fictional New Jersey teenager, transforms into Ms. Marvel in the debut of Marvel's new monthly series in January, the comic book publisher said.

"At her core, Kamala is just a 16-year-old girl, exploring the many facets of her identity when she is suddenly bestowed with super-human powers that send her on the adventure of a lifetime," Marvel Comics Editor In Chief Axel Alonso said.

Kamala uses her powers to become like her idol, Captain Marvel, which "challenges the very core of her conservative values," Marvel's announcement said.

Marvel Comics creates Muslim superhero

"Like any teenager, all of her opportunities are in front her and she is full of potential, but her parents' high expectations come with tons of pressure and has led Kamala to carve out a future that she has little interest in," Marvel said.

Ms. Marvel will be "true-to-life, something real people could relate to, particularly young women," writer G. Willow Wilson said.

"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." Wilson said. "It's for all the geek girls out there, and everybody else who's ever looked at life from the fringe."

The inspiration for the character "stemmed out of a desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective," series editor Sana Amanat said.

"This story isn't about what it means to be a Muslim, Pakistani or American," Amanat said. "Those are just cultural touchstones that reflect the ever changing world we live in today. This is ultimately a tale about what it means to be young, lost amidst the expectations bestowed upon you, and what happens when you get to choose."

Islamic superheroes change perceptions

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