New Ms. Marvel comic writer teases where she wants to take Kamala Khan
Samira Ahmed is the first female South Asian writer to tackle Marvel's premier Muslim superhero in a comic series. In an exclusive interview with EW, she discusses her plans.
Kamala Khan, the Muslim American superhero known as Ms. Marvel, is already a big part of author Samira Ahmed's life. The author tells EW that her group chat with her South Asian cousins routinely employs the acronym WWMMD: What would Ms. Marvel do?
"A lot of it will be about food, because we can all relate to Kamala on that level," Ahmed says. "Sometimes it will be about bigger things in life. She looms large in my familial culture."
Soon enough, Ahmed herself will be the person answering that question — what would Ms. Marvel do? — for comic readers everywhere. EW can exclusively announce that Ahmed will be writing a new Ms. Marvel miniseries that kicks off in September. The five-issue series will be illustrated by Andrés Genolet, and you can take a look at Mashal Ahmed's cover for the first issue exclusively below.
Ms. Marvel has felt like a big deal since the moment she first appeared in 2014 (first in an issue of Captain Marvel, and then her initial ongoing series by co-creators G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and editor Sana Amanat). As the first Muslim superhero to headline her own Marvel comic, Kamala has meant a lot to readers around the globe. In the years since her arrival, she's become so embedded in the Marvel pantheon that it feels like she's always naturally belonged there. Kamala starred in the recent Avengers video game, and will soon be coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (where she will be played by newcomer Iman Vellani).
Ms. Marvel comics have only been written by Muslim writers so far — first Wilson, and then Saladin Ahmed starting in 2019. But Samira Ahmed will be the first South Asian female writer to write a Ms. Marvel series, and so feels a particular connection to what Kamala represents.
"For kids of color, Muslim kids, there was literally zero representation when I was growing up," Ahmed says. "Just the fact that Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman was brunette and from someplace outside America was like, 'Wow, that's amazing!' So when Sana and Willow announced Ms. Marvel, I was just so stunned. My heart soars for all the kids who will have Ms. Marvel comics as part of their childhood. For me, what's cool about her is that she's a girl like all the other girls. She's balancing all this stuff: Parental expectations — which I can 100 percent relate to now even in adulthood — plus school, crushes, and then this extraordinary side job. I feel so much that that is teen life, where you're struggling to balance all those things and find your voice and where you fit in."
Ms. Marvel will be Ahmed's first comic. She's previously been known for YA novels like Internment (a dystopian story set "15 minutes in the future" of the United States where Muslim Americans are rounded up into camps, inspiring 17-year-old Layla Amin to begin a revolution) and Love, Hate, and Other Filters (whose Indian American protagonist Maya Aziz struggles to balance her parents' traditional expectations with her own dreams of film school in New York City).
"She fits in so naturally with many of my characters," Ahmed says of Kamala. "I always tell people that in all my fiction there's this through-line of the 'revolutionary girl.' What girl is more revolutionary than Kamala Khan? She literally has a giant fist that is punching through a glass ceiling! But at the same time, as she's doing that, she has the heart and the powers to protect people so that shards don't cut them on the way down."
Kamala's unique superpowers (which involve her ability to change the size of her body, either whole or in part) are one element Ahmed is most looking forward to exploring about the character. Kamala originally got her powers the Inhuman way, through exposure to the Terrigen Mists. Will that stay intact now that the Inhumans are no longer as big a focus for Marvel comics as they were in the 2014-2015 era? How about the fact that, at the end of Wilson's run, readers learned that Kamala's powers are a form of "molecular time travel"? Ahmed says she'll be asking questions.
"Her powers are a metaphor!" Ahmed says. "How many people have had those awkward moments as a teen where you wake up one day and start thinking, 'Wait, are my ears too big for my face?' Andrés is bringing the story to life in such a cool way. Fans that have been there from day one will love to see how we're playing around with her powers, exploring them, and maybe pushing them. I think it's cool for her to examine them a little bit. I don't want to give any spoilers, but there are gonna be some questions that arise about the source of her powers and what that means."
As for what else to expect from the new Ms. Marvel, Ahmed has some final teases: "We're definitely going to have some food in there, we're definitely gonna have some pretty striking South Asian cultural elements that people are gonna see right off the bat in the series. There are gonna be some familiar faces and fan favorites, but also some new faces. I've just been looking at the sketches, it's so cool seeing the story come to life with some new faces and maybe even new places becoming part of Kamala's world. Willow and then Saladin have created such an incredible world. I'm just excited to explore it and even push it out a little further."
Look for Ms. Marvel #1 on stands in September.