Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) in the line-up of the All New All Different Avengers. Image taken from Ms. Marvel Issue #1 by Takeshi Miyazawa. Fair use rationale.

Kamala Khan is the fictional superheroine in the Marvel Comics series, Ms. Marvel, which debuted in its current format in 2015. Khan, who is a Pakistani-American, is the first Muslim character to headline in her own comic book. She originally appeared in Issue #14 of Captain Marvel in the background of a scene with Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel. The current series of Ms. Marvel takes place in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In recognition of her cultural identity, the current Ms. Marvel costume was influenced by the shalwar kameez. Marvel were also keen to make her much less sexualized than her predecessor out of respect of both their female readership and Khan’s religion. The Ms. Marvel series focuses on her conflicts with the villains of Jersey City, as well as challenges within her friendships and her religion. While the comic shows the struggle of a specific young Muslim girl, it is important to remember that these challenges are being faced by all young American women; an element that the writers are keen to express.

The backstory of the series begins with Khan joining the All-New All-Different Avengers as the alias Ms. Marvel. As a fan of Carol Danvers, the previous Ms. Marvel and new Captain Marvel, she began to emulate her. Khan had acquired her abilities following the “Inhumanity” storyline, where Terrigen Mists were released throughout the world and activated dormant inhuman cells in many people. Kamala Khan gains the ability of lengthening her arms, legs and changing the shape and size of her body. As we can see in the image of the All-New All-Different Avengers from Issue #1, Khan retains a youthful, eager appearance whilst being the focal point of the image. Her enlarged hands represent her strength, both physical and emotional. The first issue of Ms. Marvel explores the conflicts that being an Avenger has caused with her friends and her daily life. However, the smile on her face in this image shows that any internal conflict is irrelevant to her, while she fights for what she believes in.

As the Ms. Marvel series is focused on self-discovery and creating a comfortable personal identity, Khan is also included in the Civil War II storyline. Through this, she separates from Danvers and makes the Ms. Marvel alias her own. It was announced in July 2016 that Khan will be joining the Champions, a team of teenage superheroes who split from the Avengers. This new group features a characters of both genders and many cultures, showing that Marvel is taking fantastic steps towards an inclusive comic book world.

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