By Andrew Wheeler
A new hero comes to the Marvel Universe next year with her own all-new solo title. Following the epic events of INFINITY, a 16-year-old Muslim girl from New Jersey discovers extraordinary body-morphing powers and follows in the footsteps of her idol, Captain Marvel, to become the new Ms. Marvel.
|Ms. Marvel designs by Adrian Alphona|
From the creative team of G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, MS. MARVEL launches in February 2014. We spoke to Wilson and series editor Sana Amanat about what readers can expect
Marvel.com: Who is the new Ms. Marvel, and what makes her different?
G. Willow Wilson: The Ms. Marvel mantle has passed to Kamala Khan, a high school student from Jersey City who struggles to reconcile being an American teenager with the conservative customs of her Pakistani Muslim family. So in a sense, she has a “dual identity” before she even puts on a super hero costume. Like a lot of children of immigrants, she feels torn between two worlds: the family she loves, but which drives her crazy, and her peers, who don't really understand what her home life is like.
This makes her tough and vulnerable at the same time. When you try to straddle two worlds, one of the first things you learn is that instead of defending good people from bad people, you have to spend a lot of time defending good people from each other. It's both illuminating and emotionally brutal. That's what makes this book different.
Marvel.com: Where does this new Ms. Marvel fit in to the Marvel Universe? Will we see her interact with Captain Marvel?
G. Willow Wilson: We will see her interact with the wider Marvel Universe, and since Captain Marvel is a personal hero of hers, that's definitely in the mix.
Sana Amanat: Also, as you’ll discover in the story, Kamala is a part of a much larger event in the Marvel U—which she won’t really understand the ramifications of until later down the road. We will definitely get there; we just want you to get to know Kamala first.
Marvel.com: What's Kamala up against in the first storyline?
|Ms. Marvel designs by Adrian Alphona|
G. Willow Wilson: In the first arc, Kamala is her own primary obstacle. She has to grapple with overwhelming new powers, decide whether it's safe to tell anybody, and juggle becoming a teen super hero with the expectations of her conservative, Pakistani family.
It's an origin story in every sense of the word. She's so young—only 16—that the normal trials and tribulations of being in high school are still very much a part of her life, even as she's becoming something different and amazing. Crises. Kebabs. Coming-of-age. It's all there.
Marvel.com: You're working with the extraordinarily talented Adrian Alphona. What does he bring to the title that makes it special?
G. Willow Wilson: Adrian totally “gets” what this series is about. Kamala is, as he himself put it, “an off-kilter girl with off-kilter powers,” and his distinctive style is so suited to Kamala's story—it really works. I love seeing his character sketches pop up in my inbox because they're such a visual treat. He has a real sense of the unexpected. I'm very excited to be working with him.
Sana Amanat: It’s absolutely amazing to have Adrian onboard. He’s already proved himself to be a master at imagining new settings and distinctive characters. With MS. MARVEL, he does the same and pushes the boundaries even more. Adrian will introduce you to a world so authentic and visually stunning; you’ll be constantly entertained and enchanted.
Marvel.com: This is the first time a Muslim character has headlined a book at Marvel. How important is the character's faith to the title?
|Ms. Marvel #1 cover by Sara Pichelli|
G. Willow Wilson: Islam is both an essential part of her identity and something she struggles mightily with. She's not a poster girl for the religion, or some kind of token minority. She does not cover her hair –most American Muslim women don't—and she's going through a rebellious phase. She wants to go to parties and stay out past 9 PM and feel “normal.” Yet at the same time, she feels the need to defend her family and their beliefs.
Sana Amanat: As much as Islam is a part of Kamala’s identity, this book isn’t preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It’s about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It’s a struggle we’ve all faced in one form or another, and isn’t just particular to Kamala because she’s Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself.
Marvel.com: Do you think this book faces any unusual challenges?
G. Willow Wilson: I think it faces some unusual challenges, but they come on top of a whole bunch of usual ones, i.e., getting people to pick up a book with a fresh face on it. Convincing readers that new and different can be new and good.
So, readers! Let me put your minds at ease: this is new and good. We have put a ton of energy and hilarity and pathos into this project. The last thing I wanted to do was write some grim manifesto about a Muslim girl in America. To me, the first rule of Write Club is, "make it fun to read."
For more on MS. MARVEL and the All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, visit our official hub page