Ms Marvel and why it's important to challenge Muslim stereotypes

On the 5th November 2013, Marvel comics made an announcement. This announcement wasn’t just met with response from readers; it even reached the likes of the New York times. Such was the response. You may be asking why, what could cause such an international response to a comic book? Well its pretty simple.

The main character was Muslim.

Kamala Khan was announced to be debuting in Ms. Marvel, taking the mantle from another revolutionary character, Carol Danvers. Danvers is the same person that is set to headline Marvel's first female superhero picture and has changed the way women are seen in comics. Just look at the Carol Corps, a devote group of mostly women who love comics.

Some of the response was simply shocking. Comedian Conan O’Brien claimed that the character would have “so many more special powers than her husband’s other wives”, such is the world we live in. This tweet simply captures what is wrong with the Western world when it comes it Islam. Stereotypes.

Another to harshly target the series was Stephen Colbert, joking that a “Muslim cannot be a superhero”. Others were less careful with their wording and its fair to say that many thought it to be a doomed project. Many fans were willing to try it, praising Marvel for bringing in a realistic story: a young American-Pakistani struggling with religion and identity.

The first issue was met with critical acclaim, with significant praise being given on the handling of the character. Not only did it focus on the fantasy of the entire story, tt also tackled her life, her religious father and struggles to fit into American culture.

It was revolutionary.

In October 2014, the series was the best-selling graphic novel and it reached 2nd on the New York Times bestseller list. Not bad for a series that many ridiculed.

It is extremely pleasant to see something like this; too often Muslims are tarred with a vile brush and branded the same. Yet many are working hard to break down that image,.

Tower Hamlets is a borough with a high Muslim populace. I know many hard-working Muslims who are decent people also. You only need to meet one to be reminded that the media depictions of Islam are distortions of the religion and its followers.

Praise must be given to both Marvel comics and G. Willow Wilson. It is the latest in a range of projects introducing diverse characters, changing the perception of how see things and including a growing diversity.

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