Lowdown: A 16 year old Muslim girl from New Jersey turns super hero.
I don’t normally go for superhero comics. I know I’m over generalising, but they provide a strong case for “read one, read all”. However, from time to time one does need to re-evaluate one’s core assumptions on such critical matters. When I read that the new Ms Marvel is proving a major hit, sales wise, I decided to give it a go. If any superhero can break through the wall of stereotypes, it is more likely to be a female one.
I was right, but it did not occur to me how right I was until I delved deeply in. The 2014 incarnation of Ms Marvel is not your average Peter Parker like nice person that turns into a superhero through some freak event. This Ms Marvel is a New Jersey 16 year old girl born to a family of Muslim Pakistani heritage. And that makes all the difference.
It was always sort of easy to identify with the story of the outsider turning into a superhero, but it is much nicer - and easier - when that outsider is a true outsider to “our” culture of the West. When the outsider has a name that the people around her can’t pronounce, when the outsider has problems fitting in because she doesn’t do alcohol, and when the outsider has to regularly deal with conflicts between her home culture and the culture of the majority of those around her – that is when yours truly can have a much easier time identifying with the superhero. Even before she turns into a superhero and her problems are magnified.
So yeah, we get the usual superhero vs. villain affairs, and past issue 5 (at the time of writing there are 9 Ms Marvels released) things turn into a more regular affair involving other Marvel superheroes. However, at its core the new Ms Marvel is still that immigrants’ daughter teenager with a twist. Which explains the sales figures and explain why I highly recommend this superhero.
Overall: Who would have thought this immigrant could find so much in common with a Marvel superhero? 4 out of 5 crabs for the new Ms Marvel!