Ms. Marvel: A Comics Guide to Kamala Khan

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<i>Ms. Marvel</i>: A Comics Guide to Kamala Khan

With a new live-action version of Ms. Marvel garnering rave reviews on Disney+, longtime fans of her comic book roots have been rewarded with multiple visual moments that feel almost ripped from the pages of several of the Marvel comic series following the Pakistani superhero. Scenes featuring Kamala Khan’s family, best friends Nakia and Bruno, and the Circle Q can be found in many of the comic book issues she’s starred in since her debut in the pages of Captain Marvel in 2014.

Much like Peter Parker before her, Kamala has to balance the daily perils of being a modern teen with the newfound responsibilities of superherodom. Previously an Avengers superfan with a penchant for fanfic, Kamala now battles alongside the heroes she once looked up to after her latent Inhuman genes are activated by a strange mist. Imbued with polymorph powers, she can grow or shrink to match whatever the situation requires. She can stretch and manipulate her body like Mr. Fantastic, and she can even heal herself quickly like Wolverine.

If you’re being introduced to Ms. Marvel for the first time on Disney+ and want to learn more about what makes this latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe tick, Paste is here to provide a fun reading guide to to the best of one Miss Kamala Khan. A protector of New Jersey and a team member of the Champions, Avengers, and Inhumans, Ms. Marvel has amassed a ton of Marvel history in less than a decade. Let’s take a look!

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Kamala’s First Appearance: Captain Marvel and more

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Kamala Khan first appeared in issues #14 and #17 of Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Filipe Andrade 2013. Positioned towards the end of the run, Kamala appeared with two small cameos. The first, in Captain Marvel #14, is a single panel that shows the teenager in the foreground as Captain Marvel surveys the wreckage of a battle. She appears again in the run’s final issue, in the last four panels of the book, looking at a poster of Captain Marvel while she flexes her powers.

Kamala Khan didn’t fully appear as Ms. Marvel until the one-shot All-New Marvel Now Point One in January of 2014, which collected a number of stories, effectively setting the stage for the Marvel Universe moving forward. In the short story “Garden State of Mind” by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Kamala, a.k.a. the new Ms. Marvel, makes short work of a monstrous trash compactor with her polymorph powers before realizing she’s late for her brother’s wedding party.

Kamala’s Early Days as a Hero

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Kamala Khan hit the ground running in 2014. Shortly after making her first appearance in Point One, artist Humberto Ramos and writer Mark Waid recruited her for their second issue of S.H.I.E.L.D, starring Agents Phil Coulson and others in February of 2014. In the story, Ms. Marvel helps take down a supervillain weapon smuggling ring at her school, Coles Academic High School in Jersey City. But Kamala’s story really begins in 2014’s Ms. Marvel . 3), in which we get to fully meet her parents Yufsef and Muneeba Khan, as well as her older brother Amir. Kamala’s best friends Bruno Carelli and Nakia Bahadir offer support as she navigates the world as a second-generation Pakistani American teenager.

Issues arise when Kamala learns that not only is she an Inhuman (an advanced race of humans created by the Kree) but she also has superpowers after she’s hit with the mysterious Terrigen Mist which activates her latent abilities. Wilson and Alphona’s run is incredibly fun and serves as a direct inspiration for the new show.

The series runs through issue #19 and introduces the avian villain, the Inventor, and one of Kamala’s early crushes, Kamran. No stranger to team-ups, Kamala works with Wolverine, and Lockjaw and even jumps over to help Spider-Man (2014’s Amazing Spider-Man #7-8) take on the villainous Dr. Minerva dressed up in Carol Danvers’ old costume. If you’re just looking for an easy way into the world of Ms. Marvel, look no further than the TPB Ms. Marvel: No Normal and its subsequent volumes.

Kamala the Avenger

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In 2015, post-Secret Wars (Marvel’s major crossover event combining the multiverses back into one singular Marvel Universe), Kamala got another solo title with Wilson and Alphona joining a rotating stable of artists including Takeshi Miyazawa in Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Superfamous. Kamala also starts life as an Avenger alongside new versions of Captain America (Sam Wilson), Thor (Jane Foster), Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Nova (Sam Alexander). All New, All Different Avengers by Mark Waid, Andy Kubert and Muhmud Asrar is fun read and showcases a Ms. Marvel who is still learning the superhero ropes while balancing life within a team of juggernauts.

Meanwhile, in the pages of Ms. Marvel, Kamala has her superhero life reset after the events of Secret Wars and when she returns to school, she’s met with a new normal that’s tough to swallow. New villains emerge through the first two volumes until Kamala is faced with a choice that will decide what kind of superhero she wants to be.

Champions

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In Marvel continuity, Civil War II centers around a new hero, Ulysses, who can predict the future. Captain Marvel and friends think he should be used to prevent crime before it happens while Iron Man and his ilk understand that such a move could lead to disaster. Kamala sides with her hero Carol Danvers but it leads to some serious consequences for everyone involved.

Ms. Marvel #12 (Vol. 4) which was also launched as a new #1, starts a new arc for Kamala and kicks off with a trip to her homeland where she meets a new superhero, the Red Dagger. You can find that story collected in Ms Marvel: Damage Per Second.

After the fallout from Civil War II, Kamala leaves the Avengers and joins up with Miles Morales a.k.a. Spider-Man and Nova to form a new team. The subsequent Champions. Vol 1: Change the World, written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Humberto Ramos, focuses on the life of a superhero teenager, and is heavy on both personal drama and explosions.

Kamala is joined by Viv Vision (the Vision’s daughter), a new Hulk (Amadeus Cho) and a young version of the X-Men’s cyclops as she steps up as one of the team leaders alongside Miles and Sam.

Outlawed

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Kamala Khan finds herself at the heart of controversy in Champions: Outlawed(by writer Eve Ewing and artist Kim Jacinto) when the team inadvertently destroys her high school in a brawl with the evil corporation Roxxon.

In the battle, Kamala is critically injured and left in a coma after saving a teammate. After the very public disaster, the government passes the Underage Superhuman Welfare Act, outlawing superheroes under the age of 21.

Around this time Marvel relaunched Kamala’s solo series with writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Minkyu Jung, which kicked off with an extraterrestrial tale re-examining her powers and family origins. It’s also a great place to jump on if you’re looking to get caught up quickly with the character. There are three volumes of Magnificent Ms. Marvel, starting with “Destined.” During this run, Ahmed also introduces the new Middle Eastern hero Amulet and dives into Kamala’s Kree connection with a new symbiotic suit, Stormranger.

Extra Credit Reading

Ms. Marvel Team-Up (2019). A fun entry point for casual fans that pairs Kamala up with the likes of Spider-Man and Captain Marvel. Written by Eve Ewing and illustrated by Joey Vazquez

Exiles (2018). This series is so much fun it’s not fair. There are countless variants of your favorite Marvel superheroes including the first appearance of Peggy Carter: Captain America, Hippy Namor and an old lady Kamala Khan. Written by Saladin Ahmed with art by Javier Rodriguez, Álvaro López and Chris O’Halloran

Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit (2021). Kamala goes on a multiversal journey as she tries to figure out why her powers are going haywire. Written by Samira Ahmed and illustrated by Andres Genolet.



Dana Forsythe is based in Boston and is a longtime reporter covering art, comic books and culture.