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Muslim superhero Ms. Marvel emerges as a powerful symbol during protests

Kamala Khan has become the hero a lot of people need right now.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Many of the protesters who attended Women’s Marches around the world on Jan. 21 looked to Leia Organa as one of pop culture’s beacons of hope. Now some fans are taking inspiration from another hero in protests that emerged this weekend.

In the wake of immigration protests formed after President Donald Trump’s executive order banning Syrian refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, comic book fans turned to Ms. Marvel, Marvel’s first Muslim-American superhero, to display their message to Trump.

The ongoing series written by G. Willow Wilson and edited by Sana Amanat centers on Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani-American and superhero fangirl living in Jersey City, New Jersey, who gains the ability to shapeshift after encountering Terrigen Mist. It shows Kamala as a high school student, a superhero (and later an Avenger), how she interacts with her close-knit family, and even how they practice their religion. The comics have been praises by critics and fans alike for their positive representation.

Kamala Khan, who has stressed the importance of voting, has been previously used in street activism and political fanart. But more Ms. Marvel art and posters started to appear as thousands descended upon U.S. airports and protested in cities across the country.

One of the most prominent pieces of fanart to emerge online is from Phil Noto, an illustrator who repurposed his artwork for Civil War II #0 so that Kamala was ripping a photo of Trump instead of Captain Marvel.

Noto later told fans and admirers that his post wasn’t meant to be an official response to the protests, and it’s one that Marvel wouldn’t be able to endorse. He praised the Ms. Marvel team and has said he has some other ideas in the works that will be “easier to get out/print and won’t get me fired.” (Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter has donated to Trump previously and is reportedly joining Trump’s staff to advise on Veterans’ Affairs.)

Fans used illustrations from the comics of Kamala leading the charge or channeled her to illustrate how they felt. On some of them was a simple message: “Resist.”

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Others created fanart of Ms. Marvel in support of the protests and showcased Matt Stefani’s fanart that shows Ms. Marvel punching Trump.

Wilson even started to share some of the posters after initially resolving not to—and she has promised not to hold back in telling Kamala’s story.

The Daily Dot