So this is happening, and while I kind of can’t do most of it, I can write about why Kamala matters to me. Thus the following, because Kamala really does matter to me and I love Ms. Marvel and want to celebrate its one year anniversary.
The easiest answer to why Kamala matters to me might be that she finally got me into comics. This whole weirdly wonderful world of art and literature that seems so exciting and so willing to do the daring and new, all exists to me because of her. Thanks to Kamala, I managed to take the plunge and discover such unashamed, fun stories like Young Avengers, epic tales like Saga, and deep and moving narratives like Boxers and Saints. But that answer also doesn’t get at the reason why I love Ms. Marvel, why it’s the only book I buy month after month, why I flip a table when a month goes by and a new issue hasn’t come out, why my biggest question regarding Secret Wars is how does this effect Kamala Khan?. And the answer to that is simple: I connect with Kamala.
In my almost two decades of way-too-much-to-be-healthy media consumption, there’s only about three characters I’ve ever really connected with. Sure, I sympathized with Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, and yeah I loved following the adventures of Ed and Al Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, but in terms of finding a character who I actually connected with, who I felt was a total human being who I want to come out of the page/screen/panel/whathaveyou, its been slim pickings. So why do I connect with Kamala so much? Well, I certainly understand having an idol that one looks up to and even wants to emulate. Hell, “become Stephen Colbert” is pretty much the closest thing I have to a life goal at the moment. But it goes deeper than that. We’re both trying to figure out things like “identity” and “religion” and also figuring out a way to stumble into adulthood as gracefully as one can when they have no idea what to do with their lives. We’re both trying to figure out what and who we are, how big a role religion plays in our lives if any, how much we’re a part of the nation we live in, how “normal” we want to be, how we fit into anything, how to honor our parents while also being happy, how to follow in the footsteps of our idols while forging our own path. These are all struggles that both Kamala and I are facing in some way or another. These struggles are what let me connect to Kamala despite the superficial differences. Sure all of this has been done before in fiction, and sure other characters deal with these experiences, but Kamala is the one I discovered. Plus I can’t help but cheer the “teens matter” theme of the current arc. Most of all, Kamala is a constant reminder of the humanity in us all. The white, catholic, Irish-American boy from Louisiana connects with the Muslim, Pakistani-American girl from New Jersey. She reminds me that humans aren’t the labels or roles society assigns them, that they’re more complex than the words that we use to describe outselves.
These are the reasons Kamala matters to me, why I care about her, why I read her books, why I follow any news about her. And now as she celebrates a year of being published and I turn 20 and come up on my 1st year of being “into” comics, I’m happy and look forward to future where so much more looks to be in store.