Religion

An Invitation to Read Ms. Marvel with Us!

Join Dale of Mad Art Lab along with me in our conversation about the next issue of Ms. Marvel (available at comic book stores or through Comixology). We will be having the conversation this Wednesday, March 19th, at 7pm PDT, the day the comic is slated for release. We’ll be using Google Hangouts on Air and will be on for about half an hour. You can view it via Youtube both during and after the broadcast; we will be creating a transcript as well. Questions can be tweeted during the conversation or emailed beforehand to heinous.heina[at]gmail[dot]com.

Like every comic-book-related thing, this idea has an origin story.

When new Ms. Marvel was announced to be a teenage girl of Pakistani Muslim background, I was apprehensive but also excited. When it came out, I was, for the most part, impressed. She might be a young woman of color navigating the cultural divides both within and outside of her family, but above all, Kamala is a relatable teenager. This is in line with way in which superheroes are treated more and more humanly over time, i.e. more like the fallible Greek gods than omni-everything Yahweh.

When I saw that Dale over at Mad Art Lab wrote an excellent piece about the issue and included some concerns, I immediately wanted to talk to him about it. Namely, I wasn’t sure if I saw the white characters as quite as flat as he saw them, or the Muslim family as quite as nuanced. I saw the white characters as background characters fleshed out as much as, or perhaps even more than, background characters of color traditionally are in comics featuring white characters. As for Kamala’s family, I saw them as each embodying different stereotypes of Muslims — in other words, providing the reader with a variety of stereotypes instead of the usual single one for characters of color.

Through the conversation, what I mostly saw was that the resolution or further development of a lot of both his and my concerns are contingent on the direction in which the comic will go. I also thought that it was an awesome conversation, since Dale is a comics person with some understanding of Islam whereas I have the Muslim background and some understanding of comics.

Thanks to commenter zylla for astutely pointing out that it’s PDT, not PST.

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Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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6 Comments

  1. I purchased Ms. Marvel #1 the day it came out, but not because Kamala is female, Muslim, or Pakistani. Don’t get me wrong, I love that superhero comics are trying to tell different stories. It’s just that I live in Jersey City and would have purchased it (from a local shop in downtown Jersey City, no less) had it been a white male superhero. We haven’t had a superhero since the Toxic Avenger, so it’s nice to be on the map again (not that Toxie isn’t awesome). Of course, since Jersey City is one of the most racially diverse cities in the US (#1 for population > 100,000), it probably wouldn’t feel right if a white guy got the job.

    Also, it’s available at Marvel.com where you can get a subscription.

  2. I loved Ms. Marvel #1, and I love the conversations it’s opened up.

    [picking nits: we’re on Daylight Savings Time, so that’s actually 7:00 PDT isn’t it? or is it an insider’s code for 6:00? ;) ]

  3. Also, just read #2 and the take on body image issues is great, especially with the sudden cut at the end between ‘I have so many teenage problems’ and ‘Whoa I just did something amazing and good’.

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