From Kitty to Kamala
April 10, 2015 11:38 AM   Subscribe

This is A Cool Article, but I'm not sure I buy his version of history at all. Jubilee was supposedly popular with the same female readership who liked Kitty, but no mention of freaking Rogue or Wolfsbane/Rahne, and barely a passing namecheck for Dani freaking Moonstar?

This honestly seems like someone whose start with X titles was during the Morrison run, sort of trundled backwards through history and decided what it meant without actually being there.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:50 AM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Heck, I'd say she's more reminiscent of early Spidey than anyone they listed.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:59 AM on April 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

Or Speedball.
posted by SPrintF at 12:07 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

What? No mention of Doreen Green, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl? In her current college-age incarnation, not only one of Marvel's most likeable characters ever, but also one of the most irreverent. (And an even more popular launch than Kamala's Ms Marvel, I believe)
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:16 PM on April 10, 2015 [8 favorites]

Squirrel Girl is an interesting case in her own right, but a very different animal (sorry) from Kamala. Of course, that's also true of the examples listed.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:22 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Heck, I'd say she's more reminiscent of early Spidey than anyone they listed.

I think that's the biggest part of the Big Deal that is Kamala Khan. Her predecessors were all either Captain Ethnicity stereotypes or The Spunky Newcomer Chick in a team setting, but she's just doing the classic leading-hero Spider-Man arc and it's paying off huge.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:39 PM on April 10, 2015 [9 favorites]

What's nice about the resemblance to Peter Parker is that it's terms of personality, Kamala and Peter aren't all that much alike. But the relationship between her superhero life and her regular life, and the way that the two are constantly brought into tension with one another, is reminiscent not just of Peter Parker, but specifically of Peter Parker as depicted by Lee and Ditko way back in the day.

Giving that treatment to a female Muslim character is stroke of genius. It's maybe the most Marvel-like comic that Marvel has published in decades, and beyond all that just an incredibly fun read.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:50 PM on April 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

lpsifendus, I think that's even more important than the leading-character vs. team thing (although one is related to the other). We never really got to know Kitty Pryde or Rogue in a "normal" setting living among "normal" people. (Jubilee, at least, had a few adventures on her own territory with Wolverine before getting sucked into the X-gang.)

There's so much more to identify with when you've got a character for whom superhero stuff intrudes on her everyday life instead of going off to boarding school and bouncing around the cosmos with a superhero gang.
posted by straight at 1:48 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kamala is a hero and she is Muslim and she is a girl. And she is all of those things wholly and equally and independently and coincidentally. She wouldn't be Kamala without any of them, but her story isn't dependent on any of them either. That's what separates her from a lot of the predecessors mentioned here.
posted by maryr at 1:49 PM on April 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

(The collection with issues 6-10 are shipping to me in the mail tomorrow! Eeee!)
posted by maryr at 1:51 PM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Heck, I'd say she's more reminiscent of early Spidey than anyone they listed.

This. She ticks all the boxes for this: teenager having to hide her powers and superheroism from her family, rebellious but with a strong sense of justice and fairness, rooted in real life but not afraid to get her in over her head as well and most of all, likeable.

The only thing that's really missing is a good cast of villains.

And really, for all the people they mentioned, only Kitty and Jubilee are comparable in terms of fan interest.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:05 PM on April 10, 2015

I'm kind of surprised to hear the attribution of all of this love for Molly of the Runaways, whom I felt wasn't really developed as a character in the couple of years worth I read.

(But gotta love her punching the Punisher where you'd expect a 7-year-old's blow to land on a grown man and as he lay doubled-over and moaning complaining to the others "you GUYS! Why didn't anyone tell me he didn't have POWERS?")
posted by Zed at 4:27 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

The only thing that's really missing is a good cast of villains.

Which is a concern, as the heroes with staying power all have memorable and intriguing villains.

You should want to read a whole issue just about the villain, and the best ones could actually carry it off - Magneto, Dr. Doom, The Joker, every one of the sad-sacks on the Rogues' Gallery (The only reason The Flash is still alive is that they all agreed not to kill him), basically every Spider Man villain Lee and Ditko created...

The iconic heroes who seem like they should be A-listers but just aren't usually wind up there because of unmemorable badguys. Kamala Kahn needs her nemesis!

It should be a villainess who checks the same boxes she does - fun and ebullient, intelligent and dedicated, grotesque and a bit unnerving in the nature and scope of her powers. Only she takes a turn for the much, much worse for complicated and compelling reasons. Since this is Marvel, she should be much more powerful than the heroine, but inherent flaws in both hero and villain allow her to be vanquished, but only at great sacrifice.

The hypothetical Anti-Marvel should be a new character rather than a retread, tho Big Zero, the no-kidding white supremacist size-changing computer hacker could fill the bill in a pinch if handled by a writer like G. Willow Wilson.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:53 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Anyone else think the yellow accents on her red sleeves might be a subtle tip of the hat to Plastic Man?
posted by vrakatar at 8:11 PM on April 10, 2015

Princess Powerful was WONDERFUL in Runaways, and I don't want to hear lies.
Lies, like Jubilee was ever popular.
(Really, Was she?)

Her predecessors were all either Captain Ethnicity stereotypes or The Spunky Newcomer Chick in a team setting, but she's just doing the classic leading-hero Spider-Man arc and it's paying off huge.

Sadly, she's being added to the New Avengers, along with a rag-tag bunch of young heroes.
We can only hopes its more New Mutants and New Warriors.
posted by Mezentian at 9:09 PM on April 10, 2015

Lies, like Jubilee was ever popular.
(Really, Was she?)

Among the target demographic for the original airings of the X-Men animated series of Fox Saturday mornings, I got the impression that she was, yes. She's the reason Generation X #1 was the first X-title I ever bought.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:17 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't read many comic books, but I hang out with people who do, and this is my understanding of the situation: every generation has a younger X-Man designed to serve as a "hook" for younger readers. Everybody loves the one they grew up with and hates the one who came after (i.e., if you were an '80s kid you love Kitty Pryde but think Jubilee is immature and obnoxious. If you were a '90s kid, you love Jubilee but hate Armor or whoever). That's the impression I get, anyway.

Incidentally, I've heard so many good things about Ms. Marvel, but this picture is what's finally convinced me to start reading it.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 8:59 AM on April 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also disagree with a lot of the assumptions made in Steve Morris' Comics Alliance article. (I grew up reading X-Men comics as Jubilee emerged and, yeah, nobody was ever Team Jubilee. It was obvious from the start that she was a gimmick.)

But that aside, I think this is still a great piece in how it strings together these characters into an evolving continuum. Doing so demonstrates that there has always been a need for vibrant introductory female characters in comics, and while this need feels internally true for a lot of individual comic book fans, it's articles like this that provide important external evidence.

I hope he does DC next. I'm not as familiar with those comics and I'm curious whether the same continuum of characters can be found in their line.
posted by greenland at 9:27 AM on April 11, 2015

nobody was ever Team Jubilee.

I was Team Jubilee!
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:56 AM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

I liked Jubilee a lot when I watched the X-Men cartoons (note: I am not a "real comics fan"). I think a lot may have been her youth - who are the other girls, Rogue and Jean Gray? So much drama! Well, I mean Rogue had some good lines, but god Jean's dull.

... those are the only three women I remember from the cartoon. Huh.

(Also, IIRC, Jubilee had decent voice work.)
posted by maryr at 10:04 AM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Jubilee is the Stannis of the Marvel universe. Much more popular with show watchers than readers.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:59 AM on April 11, 2015

Heck, I'd say she's more reminiscent of early Spidey than anyone they listed.

Something I love about Ms. Marvel is how, at least in the first ten or so issues I've read, she's often wondering if she's super-heroing correctly - taking the proper precautions, striking the appropriate chords with the public and a superhero community that largely takes no notice of her, that kinda thing. Kamala has to learn to superhero on the fly and come up with unvetted solutions on her own because there's never time to check in with the young avengers or whoever the hell. There's never time and maybe she can't save the day but she's the only one in a position to try so she's gotta try - it's great stuff.

Something I remember from the Spider-Man comics I read as a kid was Pete struggling with these same feelings. I can remember thought balloons where he'd wonder what Cap or Iron Man would make of his decisions. This was before he'd been on ten teams or so with both of them, before the movies, before they'd fought a civil war to decide which superhero clubhouse Spidey would hang out in. I'm not trying to do the regressive old fan thing - superheroes don't change or grow nearly fast enough. But that said, it's tougher to sell that Can I Prove Myself? anxiety with Spider-Man now, no matter how many marriages and grownup stuff get flushed down the devil's timewarp. Spider-Man's not an unproven teenager anymore because he's been in constant publication across nearly every conceivable media format for 53 years. You done good Pete - now go spend some time with your wife and family, would ya?

So in terms of that note of the Spidey Formula, of the reader believing in the heroism that the character doubts, of that irresistible point of connection and character relation that says we're all gonna face things bigger than us that we can handle if we're brave and quick and clever, I would say that sometimes Kamala is more "spidey" than Peter Parker.
posted by EatTheWeek at 12:48 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe its because I'm from there, but Jersey seems like the biggest (and best) part of Kamala's identity.
posted by unmake at 1:20 PM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

To me, Kamala's identity would be unchanged if she was from New York, but that's because I've never been to either place, and it could be generic big city, and it seems slightly less part of her character than the new Nova who lives in semi-rural Arizona (if I remember).

I've only read Ms Marvel's first 7-8 issues, but what I remember most is her strong sense of family (I mean both her parents are alive! And happily married! Oh, some future writer will have fun with that!) and a dash of religiosity, which is closer to Nightcrawler's catholicism than Firebird's devotional brand of Christianity, in that it's part of the backdrop of her character, integral perhaps, but she'd not fundamentally change if it were effectively ignored for long stretches.

Lazy writers, however, could easily make a hash of it.
posted by Mezentian at 4:13 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

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