Kamala Khan, the Next Marvel Comic Book Hero

The publishing world had some exciting news on Tuesday. Kamala Khan, a Muslim-American teenage girl, will be the next Marvel Comics superhero, with a series about her adventures launching in February. The new character marks a conscious effort on Marvel's part to feature characters who are female and of ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Any time you do something like this, it is a bit of a risk,” G. Willow Wilson, the series author told The New York Times. “You’re trying to bring the audience on board and they are used to seeing something else in the pages of a comic book.”

Khan's storyline follows the traditional arc of many Marvel heroes. Khan, like Peter Parker, discovers she has special powers. And like Marvel's comics, more serious questions provide an intellectual undercurrent for the slam-wham-bamming. Khan, who can change shapes, longs to be like a woman named Carol Danvers, who uses the superhero pseudonym Captain Marvel. Hero-worship combines with racial and religious issues for Khan: “Captain Marvel represents an ideal that Kamala pines for,” Wilson told the New York Times. “She’s strong, beautiful and doesn’t have any of the baggage of being Pakistani and ‘different.’ ”

This series sounds promising, but of course, the sales numbers will be the true measure of whether a Marvel series that departs from its bread-and-butter subjects can succeed. Let's hope it does.

Image: aloha75/flickr