Book Spotlight: Ms Marvel

Updated: Jul 31

Written by: Joshua Lim

Published: July 31, 2022

The much-anticipated series “Ms. Marvel” based on Marvel Comics’ titular character Kamal Khan / Ms. Marvel and the comic of the same name, had its season finale on July 13, 2022.


I have talked about this character before (see Comics and Classrooms & Asian Superheroes Making Headlines). When Ms. Marvel was put on the ACENet catalogue, we were still waiting for the first episode to air. The show is one of the latest instalments in Phase 4 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) and department from traditional superhero stories while retaining superhero elements. It focuses heavily on the character’s racial and religious backgrounds in the style of a coming-of-age and campy teenage-angst plot rather than save-the-day action. The relatability of the show draws from the comic source material and portrayal by Canadian actor Iman Vellani. In an interview with the BBC Asian Network, Iman recognized and acknowledged the importance of her role and representation in superheroes. Iman is a Canadian actor who grew up in the same city as me (Markham), went to the same high school (York Region District School Board’s Unionville High School), and frequented the same comic book store (Heroes’ World). Like the other recent MCU shows, Ms. Marvel features hidden QR codes (Perine, 2022). The first episode features a code that provides a free online version of Ms. Marvel (2014) #1, the focus of today's spotlight.

For more comics and graphic novels about Asian superheroes, click here.


Ms. Marvel: Story

"Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City - until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to handle? Kamala has no idea either. But she's comin' for you, New York!"

This graphic novel is the first volume containing the first five comic issues of a total of thirty-eight issues or ten volumes.


Tips for teachers - Buy the graphic novels or Omnibus, not the comics. Graphic novels and Omnibuses collect multiple comic issues! Remember that with superhero comics, the characters make appearances and play different roles in different series. Check out this page from Champions #3 (2020), not to be confused with Kamala's debut as Ms. Marvel in Champions (2016) that was mentioned in Asian Superheroes Making Headlines.


Ms. Marvel: Classroom Usage

The show makes several big deviations, which is perhaps a good thing that students can't just watch the show instead of actually doing the reading for their lessons. Kamala Khan is Marvel's first Muslim superhero to headline her own comic, and her relatable teenage story fits well with class lessons.


A host of lessons can be found on TeachersPayTeachers. Found here.


An English Second Language plan for the first five issues (or first volume). Found here.


A guide for teaching different topics by the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund. Found here.


Ms. Marvel: Authors & About

Gwendolyn Willow Wilson is an award-winning author of novels and comics. Her fascination with comics and superheroes occurred in the fifth grade while reading an anti-smoking pamphlet featuring the X-Men (Hankins, 2015). Wilson, alongside Sana Amanat, co-created Kamala Khan. They drew on their experience as women, Muslims, and in Amanat's case, a Pakistani-American, to create the character and her stories.

http://www.gwillowwilson.com/


Ms. Marvel: Awards

Over Wilson's historic five-year run on Ms. Marvel, she has won and been nominated for various awards, most notably listed below:

  • Winner, Hugo Award: Best Graphic Story 2015

  • Nomination, Eisner Awards: Best New Series 2015

  • Nomination, Eisner Awards: Best Writer 2015

  • Nomination, Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity 2015

  • Nomination, Harvey Awards: Best Writer 2015

  • Nomination, Harvey Awards: Best New Series 2015

  • Nomination, Eisner Awards: Best Writer 2016

  • Winner, American Book Award 2019


References

Hankins, R. (2015). Islam and Science Fiction. Retrieved from http://www.islamscifi.com/islam-sci-fi-interview-of-g-willow-wilson-part-i/

Perine, A. (2022). Ms. Marvel features another hidden QR code for a free comic. Marvel. Retrieved from https://comicbook.com/marvel/news/ms-marvel-hidden-qr-code-free-comic/

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