Marvel Comics' newest character is a New Jersey Muslim teenage girl. According to the new comic's writer, G. Willow Wilson, Kamala Khan's story will focus on "the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are."
The fictional Khan, whose family will have Pakistani roots, will discover her superhero powers in her Jersey City home, while dealing family members all exerting their strong opinions on what they believe her identity should be.
"Her brother is extremely conservative," Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor told The New York Times."Her mom is paranoid that she's going to touch a boy and get pregnant. Her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor."
The initial idea for Khan's character came as the result of a discussion of Amanat's Muslim-American childhood, between her and her fellow editor, Steve Wacker. As the idea grew, they decided to bring on Wilson, who herself is a Muslim convert.
Khan's superhero moniker will be Ms. Marvel, a name originally given to superhero Carol Danvers, a blonde, blue-eyed, and one-time number 29 on the "Sexiest Women in Comics' list, who first appeared in 1977.
Wilson indicated that Danvers, in many ways, projects the alter ego to which Khan aspires.
"She's strong, beautiful and doesn't have any of the baggage of being Pakistani and 'different'," said Wilson.
The editorial team has recognized that there's a likelihood that not everyone will be fans of the new character.
"I do expect some negativity, not only from people who are anti-Muslim, but people who are Muslim and might want the character portrayed in a particular light," said Amanat.
Indeed, Wilson confirmed that one of the tensions of the series, would be showing Kamala trying to reconcile her religious and cultural beliefs with her superhero status.
"This is not evangelism," said Wilson. "It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith."
Overall, Kamala's story profile is unique in the comic book world. Marvel Comics introduced Dust, a young Afghan woman superhero in their X-Men books in 2002. In 2010, DC Comics created Nightrunner, a Algerian-French Muslim character.