The Big Honking Deal about this comic was that it starred the first ever Muslim woman to headline a Marvel superhero story. This is a thing that I am all in for, and for the most part I liked it a whole heckuva lot. Kamala Khan (our newest Ms. Marvel) is smart, funny, and tough. Her origin story is action-packed and her friends are easy to like. I had many moments of YEAH BUDDY which is, let’s be honest, why many of us read superhero stuff to begin with. But, there were a couple of things that made me give Ms. Marvel a little touch of side-eye though. Kamala, at first, thinks that her power can only be used when she is in the original Marvel (very blond, very white) form, until she understands her own power…but I couldn’t shake the idea that no matter if Kamala eventually realizes the power within herself, the conduit to that power was, at first, bestowed straight from a white lady. Why’d she have to learn it from Barbie, is all I am saying. Part of me thinks this was a nuanced commentary on overcoming internalized racism. Part of me thinks that it isn’t. Shit be complicated, you guys. Here’s the other thing: I know that stories like this tend to be all TORN BETWEEN TWO CULTURES and I get that, I acknowlege that this can be an issue for a lot of people. BUT, it’s not the only thing. Some of us (a lot of us, actually) that are bicultural/multicultural don’t experience these various parts of ourselves as being in conflict with each other, or even as two distinct experiences that split our lives into two pieces at all, and I get sort of sick of that narrative. I AM OF TWO WORLDS, WHERE DO I REALLY BELONG? is so tired and reductive. It fits in nicely with the dual-identity narrative of regular person versus superhero, so I can see why it went there. Just: a lot of 2nd generation Americans don’t define themselves via a straddling-two-worlds inner conflict. That’s all.
All in all though, I am way excited to have Ms. Marvel on the scene, and I am def going to follow where she goes next. I just have to give side-eye sometimes. It’s my super power.