Get ready for Pakistan’s first full-length feature animated film, “3 Bahadur”

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 Audrey Magazine:

In 2013, we said hello to 16-year-old Kamala Khan. More commonly known as Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan was Marvel’s very first Pakistani-American Muslim superhero. And if you were happy with just one Pakistani superhero, we have some good news. Three more are on the way!

11-year-olds Saadi, Amna and Kamil star in Pakistan’s very first full-length feature animated film, 3 Bahadur. The title, which translates to “three brave,” is quite a fitting description for our young heroes. When the three children suddenly acquire superpowers, they decide to rid their city of all the evil that plagues it.

The film was created by Pakistan’s first Oscar winner, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. In addition to her Academy Award (which she won for her documentary Saving Face), Obaid-Chinoy also has an Emmy, a Livingston Award and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2012.

Almost 3 years ago, I had an intense desire to create an animated feature in Pakistan which would appeal to Pakistani children everywhere,” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy told NBC News. “As a nation, we have stopped producing quality content for our children. All of our content is imported and thus our youth grows up with mentors and heroes that are far removed from what they see around them in real life.

Obaid-Chinoy had made it clear that she hopes to inspire the youth of Pakistan. In fact, the official website, which features exclusive content and releases weekly comic strips, allows children to submit stories which showcase their own “bahadury.” These inspiring tales will be considered for publication on the official website.

“3 Bahadur is not just a movie. It is a movement,” Obaid-Chinoy explained. “The message we’re sending with this film is that ‘We shall overcome.’ Like these three kids (film main characters), we can face the challenges that come our way. You don’t need to be a superhero. You are a superhero.”

Olivia Munn joins ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ as Psylocke

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 Audrey Magazine:

While X-Men: Apocalypse is still in its early pre-production stages, the producer Bryan Singer has been utilizing Instagram to make some major announcements about the movie’s progress. For instance, we recently discovered that newcomer Lana Condor would join the cast as the hand sparking mutant, Jubilee.

But she’s not the only Asian American you can look forward to seeing in X-Men: Apocalypse. Adding onto the mutant list, Singer’s recent Instagram post welcomes Audrey cover girl, Olivia Munn, to the team as Psylocke.

Not familiar with Psylocke? Born with the name Betsy Braddock, Psylocke is the twin to Brian Braddock, better known as Captain Britain. By the time their parents died (murdered by the computer Mastermind), Betsy had become a charter pilot. While flying home with her brothers to escape an attack from Mastermind’s agent, Doctor Synne, Betsy fell victim Synne’s psychic attack, which caused her to crash her plane. It’s believed that the mental intrusions of Doctor Synne was the start of Betsy’s precognitive powers and the birth of Psylocke.

As Marvel continues to increase their number of Asian American female characters, like Ms. Marvel, Silk and many more, we hope to see just as many Asian Americans on the big screen in the near future.

Lana Condor will play Jubilee in ‘X-Men Apocalypse’

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Audrey Magazine:

Yesterday, X-Men: Apocalypse director Bryan Singer posted a picture of actress Lana Condor on Instagram to announce she will play the character Jubilee in the upcoming film. In the X-Men comics, Jubilee is a teenage mutant who attacks enemies using “explosive plasmoids” from her hand. She is most recognizable for her trademark yellow raincoat and goggles.

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Not much info can be found on this young actress since Jubilee will be her first role. Despite this, we are beyond happy to see more Asians in major comic book films and we can only hope that Lana Candor will have a big part as Jubilee in this upcoming film. After all, Chinese superstar Fan BingBing, who played the character Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past, had a rough estimate of two lines and five minutes of screentime in the overstuffed film.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Lana and for the possibility of more Asian American actors on screen soon. Lately, there have been an increase of Asian American comic book characters such as Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel, Silk and a few others. Since most of the blockbusters seem to be comic book adaptations nowadays, let’s hope the casting of Jubilee is part of an increasing trend!

Pakistani-American Marvel comic superheroine Ms. Marvel steps into the real world to combat Anti-Islam ads 

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 Audrey Magazine:

It looks like Marvel superheroes can exist in the real world after all. Citizens of San Francisco can now see Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani American Muslim teen named Kamala Khan, fighting against racism. How exactly is she doing this? By fighting back against Anti-Islam bus ads.

It all began when the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group that is sometimes classified as an extremist anti-Muslim hate group, purchased some offensive bus ads which correlated Muslims to Nazis.

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You may be wondering why these ads weren’t taken down immediately. Apparently, despite countless complaints from the public, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) could not take the ads down because of freedom of speech. In fact, Muni is even running it’s own campaign against the ads.

In the meantime, are citizens supposed to sit around patiently and just put up with the racist ads? Absolutely not. San Francisco street artists responded to these ads with none other other Ms. Marvel. The ads have been blocked with strong pictures of Ms. Marvel as well as statements such as “Calling All Bigotry Busters,” “Free Speech Isn’t a License to Spread Hate” and “Stamp Out Racism.”

This brilliant response even caught the attention of G. Willow Wilson, the creator of Ms. Marvel.

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So who says superheroes can’t exist in the real world? Ms. Marvel is certainly doing a good job with it.

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Amped Asia’s Top 20 picks of Marvel’s most magnificent Asian superheroines

Amped Asia:

In the last decade we have seen an unprecedented resurgence of comic books into mainstream culture. The once niche market that many erroneously believed only appealed to the stereotypical image of the nerdy anti-social comic book fan has now become a full fledged pop culture phenomena.

Amped Asia knows a little bit of what it’s like to have what was once considered nerdy suddenly be cool. Most of what we are passionate about within Asian culture has suddenly now become cool like sushi, Asian characters for albeit terrible tattoos, K-pop, and the list goes on. And this might be hard to believe, but before we became the incredibly handsome, muscular, genius, shooting machine guns while riding dinosaurs badasses we are now, we too could be caught reading a comic book alone in our nerd hovels.

You see we were once/still are nerds. So that being said, with the comic book craze at arguably its zenith and Asian culture rapidly becoming more and more popular, we wanted to give a little love to some of the top Asian female super heroes in the Marvel Universe!

20) Lotus Shinchuko (Japanese)

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With a name like Lotus Shinchuko, one kind of expects her to be the star of a weird “exotic far east” stag film than that of a character from the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu series. Wait, scratch that, her name sounds EXACTLY like what you would expect from that exploitative 1970’s comic book. The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu piggy backed off the kung fu movie craze of the times, giving us Lotus Shinchuko; a master of the martial arts who was as deadly as she was beautiful. She might not be the most well known character on our list, but can be seen making cameo appearances in the Marvel Universe, including working as a bodyguard for Luke Cage. Although seeing her maybe a bit of a rare treat, SWEEEET CHRISTMAS are they are treat!

19) Nancy Lu (Chinese)

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Nancy Lu first started off as a member of a rival basketball team against Peter Parker’s own daughter, May “Mayday” Parker in Spider-Girl#23. After May Parker discovered that Nancy Lu had been using her mutant powers of telekinesis to win games, Lu would be convinced by Parker to use her powers for good. Soon she would establish herself as a hero, adopting the name Push, and offered an invitation to join a group called the X-People. Fortunately for Lu, it was a future incarnation of the X-Men and not a group of people really into going to raves.

18) Dust (Afghani)

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Sometimes a little less is more, and although most of her is covered up, Dust is still one sultry super hero. A member of the X-Men and possibly the most modestly dressed comic book hero of all time, we respect Dust, AKA Sooraya Qadir’s decision to wear her niqab as a an X-Men, although we might not fully agree with it. You know, not at all because she is quite the looker underneath it all, but because.. freedoms, and Americas.. and women’s rights… yes..

17) Nico Minorou (Japanese)

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Next up is our favorite gothic character from the Runaways, and no we don’t mean Joan Jett. We are talking about Marvel’s own Nico Minorou. To say this Goth sorceress has some unusual character traits, especially in a comic book universe, would still be an understatement. You see, Nico like many Goths we know loitering outside our local mall’s Hot Topic, has a bit of an emotional, clingy, and anti-social personality. However unlike most Goths we know, she has the ability to ACTUALLY control magic, cast spells, and even has a powerful magic staff appear out of her chest whenever she bleeds! Yup EVERYTIME SHE BLEEDS.

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16) Omega Sentinel (India)

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Unlike a lot of the other X-Women on our list, Omega Sentinel, AKA Karima Shapandar  is one of the few members of the X-Men and later Excalibur, who is more or less human and not mutant at all. And we do mean more or less. You see Omega Sentinel, as her name would imply, actually started off as a human police detective in her native India, until she became a sleeper cell Sentinel agent thanks to Bastion of the Operation: Zero Tolerance program. This program, intended to hunt down all mutants across the United States, used nanite technology to augment her strength, speed, and reflexes to superhuman levels. It also equipped her with a bevy of powers including flight, regenerative abilities against damage, and built in cybernetic weapons which allow her to shoot energy blasts of radiation and electricity. She basically became a living human Sentinel however she chose to use her powers to help the X-Men rather than harm them. With all her doohickeys and power upgrades, it begs the question what other “enhancements” does she have? If she would like to test them, we will be waiting in the bedroom.

15) Honey Lemon (Japanese)

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It’s fitting to have our #15 and #14 on this list following the release of Big Hero 6. Who better embody the rise of Asian culture with the rise of comic book nerd culture than two of the characters from this great animated collaboration from Disney and Marvel? A lesser known but still very popular Marvel comic book, this is one of the few series in the Marvel Universe with a mainly Asian roster. Little is known about Aiko Miyazaki, the secret agent/genius scientist known as Honey Lemon. But we do know she has a Power Purse, or Nano Purse, that contains miniature artificial inter-universe wormholes that can be used at her discretion. She is like a hot Felix the Cat, although we would be afraid to tell her that.

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14) Gogo Tomago (Japanese)

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Another member of Big Hero 6, Leiko Tanaka, better known as Gogo Tomago, was a tough as nails youth from the streets before she joined up with Big Hero 6. It was with this team that she channeled her aggression into mastering her voice activated battle suit which allows her to absorb and amplify kinetic energy into thermochemical energy. She can even transform her body into a spherical “powerball” during which she has near invulnerability and can hurl herself at enemies, clocking in at speeds of 185 miles per hour. And as long as Gogo doesn’t hurl herself at our balls at that speed or give us blue ones, we will continue our admiration for her.

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13) Silk (Korean)

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Basically the female Korean version of Peter Parker, this web slinging heroine shares much of the same origin story as her male counterpart, even the radioactive spider that gave them their powers. However unlike Peter Parker, she creates organic web from her finger tips and in our humble opinion has a much more appealing costume. Hey maybe we are biased, but we at Amped Asia would much rather be caught in her web. Sorry Pete.

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12) Surge (Japanese)

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This electrifying member of the New Mutants is quite the survivor. Hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun, she fled to America in her teens, living on the streets until the X-Men found her and brought her back to the X-Mansion. A former drug addict, she beat her addiction to become a promising member of the New Mutants, former leader of the New X-Men, and one of only 27 mutants that retained their powers after the events of House of M story arc.

11) Karma (Vietnamese)

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Vietnamese mutant X’ian Coy Manh, better known as Karma, has the ability to take possession of the minds of other people and even animals. With this power she has the ability to change a victims’ perception of memories, command them, and basically take over their whole body to do her bidding. And as a member of the New Mutants and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., I am sure there are many fanboys out there who wouldn’t mind seeing her using those powers on say Maria Hill or one of the other hotties on our list. You know for national security and such.

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10) Kabuki (Japanese)

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Whenever we attempt to compile a list of pop culture icons, we understand a certain amount of our readers, will shall we say, “Voice their discerning opinions” on our entries. And by that I mean whine and bitch that we included/didn’t include their favorite character because of XYZ reason. Add in the fact that comics are especially rife with cannon/non-cannon and publication semantics our next entry may stir up some hullabaloo. The tragic yet beautiful tale of the young woman named Kabuki is a good example of this. Although she is not associated with the Marvel Universe per se, and was once an Image Comics property, she is now currently being published under Icon Comics, an imprint of Marvel. So now that that is cleared up we just wanted to include the masked mysterious heroine on our list because it is a pretty great read. So quit your bitching.

9) Black Widow (Chinese)

Hate to say we told you so Nick, but should have had her sign that prenup. Also when did you become 50 Cent??

The original Black Widow is a classic, no question about that. So to be the follow up act to the widely popular Natasha Romanoff was no easy task, especially since her character has been so fully fleshed out so to speak, with the recent live action portrayal by Scarlet Johansson. But we here at Amped Asia think that the Monica Chang version of the Black Widow has done pretty well for herself. First off, she is the ex-wife of Nick Fury and that alone deserves entry onto this list. Think about what the “irreconcilable differences” must have been for that divorce. What is the alimony like? Who gets the Helicarrier nights, weekends, and every other Thursday? Anyway she even helped capture both the Punisher AND Captain America at one point. And she was the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D before Norman Osborn burned her face off. We haven’t seen an Asian do such a bang up replacement job since the Arnel Pineda era of Journey. Well done Chang, well done.

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8) Colleen Wing (Japanese)

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Although Colleen Wing possesses no super powers of her own, except incredible athleticism and detective skills, she still holds her own among Marvels’ top heroes. Armed with a 1,000 year old katana and her wits, Colleen has appeared mainly in the Iron Fist series as well as aiding the X-Men in battle. This Hero for Hire makes reading Iron Fist a little more tolerable, and looks just as sharp as her sword in her skin tight white cat suit. How she keeps it clean when so many of her readers want to see her get dirty is beyond us.

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7) Yukio (Japanese)

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This being a list of Asian female comic book characters, you knew we would eventually have a ninja on our list. And boy what a ninja do we have for you! Yukio is equal parts badass as sexy. Her character is associated mostly with the X-Men series, specifically her encounters with Wolverine. Once tasked by Shingen Yoshida to assassinate Wolverine, Yukio instead developed a crush on the Canadian Casanova. Although her appearances were sporadic her influence never was. Her short hair, sense of style, and “madness” and lust for life even inspired Storm to rock her Mohawk punk look for awhile. She was even chosen by Wolverine to raise his adoptive child, Amiko Kobayashi. So to recap, badass sexy ninja, who even Weapon X himself thinks can raise his family. That is some BAMF status.

6) Jolt (Japanese)

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Before becoming the living embodiment of electricity known as Jolt, Hallie Takahama was just your ordinary girl who happened to be a super hero buff. Not only was she a huge fan of the superhuman heroes she aspired to be, but also memorized the details of the superhuman battles that took place. Although once only a spectator, Hallie would become no stranger to the often tragic origins of becoming a hero. After her parents were killed by Sentinels, Hallie would go into hiding until she would be captured by the villainous mercenary group the Rat Pack. Their leader, the not Frank Sinatra Arnim Zola, would experiment on her along with their other victims, leaving most of them either mutated or dead. That is except for Hallie, who due to the experiments, would gain superhuman abilities, such as hyperkinetic agility, transform any type of energy into physical strength and speed, and turn her body into living electricity, allowing her to fly and shoot electrical force blasts. With all these amazing powers, you would think that she could have stopped her costume from looking like she ripped off the design from a can of Jolt Cola. But hey nobody’s perfect.

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5) Mantis (Vietnamese)

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Mantis grew up in Vietnam at the Kree alien temple of the Priests of Pama, the latter which believe she would one day become the Celestial Madonna and mate with the eldest Cotati on earth, becoming the Celestial Mother. In other words, one day become the most important being in the universe. While prepping for this role she even found time to master martial arts, become a member of the Avengers, and even act as a counselor for the Guardians of the Galaxy. With all this life experience, her next role in the Marvel Universe may not be the Celestial Mother, but Marvels’ toughest Asian tiger mom.

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4) Armor (Japanese)

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Look, we hate stereotypes just as much as the next person, and well aware that a good amount of our list is comprised of characters that are either ninjas, wield katanas, or are throwbacks to Chopsocky Kung Fu exploitation flicks of the 1970’s. So naturally adding a Japanese female character whose mutant powers allow her to create a psionic mecha exoskeleton kind of puts us in an awkward position.

However the fact that this character was created by Joss Whedon, who as we all know would never use Asian culture for his own gain *coughFIREFLYcough*definitely makes up for it. Indicative of Whedon’s work, her character is as well written as it is interesting. We got to admit, her psionic mecha exoskeleton is pretty badass, and even though old man Logan gives her guff for her choice of codename, that Armor is one tough costumer. While surrounded by her exoskeleton she is nearly impervious, and has veteran X-Men such as Wolverine and Cyclops taking her under their wings. So all joking aside, ya did good again Mr. Whedon. P.S. Don’t mind that Firefly crack; we actually really enjoy that show here at Amped Asia.

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3) Jubilee (Chinese-American)

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With her giant yellow trench coat, oversized neon pink sunglasses, and mall brat attitude there seems to be no better representative on our list of the 1990’s era comic book industry than Jubilee. Hell she was even a member of GENERATION X, all she was missing was some superfluous Jim Lee inspired pouches, a can of Surge, and a copy of Nirvana’s Nevermind and she might as well be a Smithsonian time capsule of the 1990’s. But despite all that, and possessing mutant powers that fellow X-Men Dazzler would even find lame, Jubilee was one fiiiiiiine member of the X-Men. No on looked better in a pair of roller blades and walkman better than her back in the day.

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2) Ms. Marvel (Pakistani)

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Kamala Khan is not only the first Asian Ms. Marvel, but also the first Muslim character to star in her own series in the Marvel Universe. Debuting in Captain Marvel #14 in 2013, the new Ms. Marvel has helped shatter stereotypes of what Asian American heroes can be as well as Muslim characters. No small feat considering the post 9/11 political climate she debuted in, as well as high expectations set by the previous Ms. Marvels when she took over the mantle. Nothing has held this character’s raising popularity back. Kamala Khan has overcome ethnic and religious stereotypes and bigotry, and most impressive of all, proved that even someone from Jersey City, New Jersey could do great things. Seriously, NEW JERSEY. And that is a super power within itself my friend.

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1) Psylocke (Japanese-British)

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As with most popular comic book characters, Psylocke’s origins and story have been retconned and rebooted so many times it’s hard to keep up with what is cannon and what is not. What we do know is at some point the British born Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock became the Japanese Psylocke, becoming one of the most popular female X-Men as well as fan favorite of cosplayers world wide. And I think we can all agree that an Asian looking girl with a British accent parading around in a leotard is something we can all enjoy.

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Indian comic book heroine speaks out against sexual violence

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 Audrey Magazine: 

In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in Asian females entering the comic book world. Marvel, for instance, has created two Asian superheroines: Ms. Marvel and Silk. Well, it looks like there’s a new girl in town and unlike the Marvel super heroes, she’s fighting something much more realistic than mutated super villains. She combats the very real issues of rape, sexual violence and harassment in India and all around the world.

A beautiful woman, wrapped in a sari, sits calmly on top of a ferocious tiger,” NBC News describes. “This is how much of the world meets Priya, India’s newest superhero and a rape survivor.”

 

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From the talented mind of Indian American filmmaker Ram Devineni, Priya’s Shakti’s tale begins with a violent gang rape. As a result, Priya is ostracized by her family and community out of shame. This is when Priya sends an empowering message for women everywhere by not staying silent on the taboo topic. Under the guidance of the Hindu Goddess Parvati, Priya chooses to speak out against rape and other acts of sexual violence.

Devineni say’s he was first inspired to create this comic book after the infamous 2012 New Delhi gang rape. After speaking to a New Delhi officer, he was shocked to discover that many men thought the victim was the one who provoked the rape by being out so late.

In disbelief over this perspective, Devineni spent the following year traveling around India and Southeast Asia to get a closer look at the true nature of this very serious issue.

 

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Talking with several rape survivors, I realized how difficult it was for them to seek justice and how much their lives were constantly under threat after they reported the crime,” Devineni. told NBC News.  “Their family, local community, and even the police discouraged them from pursuing criminal action against their attackers. The burden of shame was placed on the victim and not the perpetrators.”

Devineni was motivated by real-life stories to challenge society’s fear of discussing rape. He made the comic book even more accessible by adding another layer to it. Viewers can scan the comic book and the animation comes to life. With the addition of sound and movement, he hopes that people will remember that these sort of violent acts actually happen in real life.

We want people to tell their friends ‘I stand with Priya,” Devineni explained, “and support women’s equality and the struggles of rape survivors to seek justice.

The comic will premiere at the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention from December 19th to the 21st.

 

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First look at the new Ms. Marvel: Marvel Comics’ newest superhero, a 16-year-old Pakistani American teenager from New Jersey

Wired:

Late last year, Marvel Comics announced that it would reboot Ms. Marvel in February and put an all-new superheroine at the helm: Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim girl who lives in New Jersey. WIRED has the first look at Kamala from her Ms. Marvel debut, a preview that also will appear in the All-New Marvel NOW! Point One issue on sale in print and digital versions tomorrow.

Kamala, a second-generation Pakistani-American, isn’t Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, but she is the first to get a solo title — and certainly the first to get the title of Ms. Marvel. Although the most popular superheroes tend to be white guys created decades ago, legacy heroes who pass their familiar names to new characters are one way publishers like Marvel and DC Comics have brought greater diversity to their fictional worlds. (They do tend to revert to their original hosts as time goes on, however, making the added diversity seem a bit more tenuous.) If you’re wondering what happened to the original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, she’s the star of her own title under the moniker Captain Marvel — another legacy title.

The new Ms. Marvel, which comes out in print and digital on Feb. 5, is illustrated by Adrian Alphona (RunawaysUncanny X-Force) and scripted by G. Willow Wilson, a writer and novelist whose work includes the comics CairoAir and Mystic, as well as the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Alif the Unseen. Wilson, a convert to Islam, spoke to WIRED about the challenges of writing a high-profile Muslim superheroine who struggles with identity issues even before acquiring shapeshifting powers.

WIRED: There’s been a lot of scrutiny of the character since the announcement, particularly because of her Muslim faith. Do you feel like there’s extra pressure to treat her as a representative for all Muslims?

Wilson: There’s a burden of representation that comes into play when there aren’t enough representatives of a certain group in popular culture. So the few ones that do exist come under increased scrutiny and pressure, because they’re expected to represent everybody. Obviously, you can’t do that with one character and you shouldn’t, because it would stifle the narrative and prevent them from becoming a fully-realized person. So I think in situations like that, you just have to tread lightly and trust your gut. Kamala is not a token anything in any way. She’s very much her own quirky, unique, wonderful person. She’s not a poster girl for her religion and she doesn’t fall into any neat little box.

If you put the shoe on the other foot and said we’re going to have one Christian character that represents all Christians, the ridiculousness would be obvious right away. Are you talking about white Methodists from Oklahoma? Are you talking about Anglicans in Africa, who are the fastest growing group of Christians on planet Earth? It’s patently impossible for a Muslim character to represent “all Muslims.”

WIRED: What sort of response have you gotten since the character was announced in November? Has there been any backlash?

Wilson: There’s been some hate from people who don’t read comics, which I ignore because in terms of this medium, they are illiterate. There’s this sense that [Muslims] shouldn’t even be there because it’s somehow un-American… Especially in comics, because [comics] are seen — by people who don’t read comics – as this wholesome, 100% “truth, justice and the American way” product. They’re not thinking about manga; they’re not thinking about all the changes that have occurred in comics over the last decade or so. They don’t know the history of the medium that well… and the medium has evolved.

On the other side, there’s a certain amount of apprehension from the Muslim community about whether or not [Kamala] is going to be a stereotype or a whitewashing. I think lot of Muslims have gotten fatigued by the way Muslim characters, even “positive” ones, are portrayed in the media. But I think that [apprehension] will go away when the book actually comes out, because no one’s actually read it yet! It’s something that we really put our heart and soul into. I’ve spent my entire adult life in Muslim communities of various kinds both abroad and here in the U.S. and these are issues that are really close to my heart. So I hope people will be pleasantly surprised.

WIRED: Do you think the fact that Kamala is a woman as well as a Muslim will provoke different reactions?

Wilson: Possibly yes. We have this conversation in the American Muslim community a lot. Because the traditional mode of dress for Muslim women is so distinct – the headcovering, which is not there for guys – women carry a greater burden of representation than Muslim men do in non-Muslim societies. So there is that extra level of scrutiny about things like how the character is dressed or whom she interacts with. In the case of Kamala, I really wanted her to be representative of young American Muslims as they are, not how we idealize them. Most young American Muslim women do not cover their hair, so she doesn’t cover her hair… The key thing is authenticity, and not trying to please everybody with a cardboard cutout that doesn’t feel like a human being with flaws and quirks and charms.

 

WIRED: There’s a long tradition of super-powered characters like the X-Men in superhero comics serving as metaphors for issues of societal prejudice. Is there a metaphor behind Kamala’s shapeshifting powers?

Wilson: At the very early stages, I [said] I did not want her to have stereotypical girl powers. Nothing’s going to sparkle; she’s not going to float. I wanted her to have something kinetic and physical that would look fun on the page. There was a lot of back and forth about what her power set should be, and we settled on making her a polymorph.

Polymorphs have a very interesting history in comics, though, because they’re most often bad guys. They’re painted in a negative light because their powers are considered somewhat sneaky compared to the classic power sets like being strong or flying or shooting lightning bolts. So when we decided to make her a polymorph, it was very fraught because she can use her powers to escape what she sees as the conflict in her life between her family and faith and being an American teen. She can hide [from it], and that temptation is there. She can use her powers to try and be all things to all people, which also isn’t healthy. In a way, you’re unpacking two stereotypes, one about Muslims and one about shapeshifters, which I thought meshed nicely with the storyline. But it was a big risk. And I’m still having conversations about what lines to cross and which ones not to cross.

WIRED: In terms of her faith or her powers?

Wilson Both. Actually, in a lot of ways I’m a less concerned about the religious aspect. I’ve been writing about religion for a decade now and I’ve had these conversations many times. But when it comes to a polymorph, that means that you can change the look of a character in ways that are often very intrinsic to identity. You can change the character’s outward appearance of gender, you can change the character’s outward appearance of race.

WIRED: Do you think that the negative associations with polymorphs come, to some degree, from a cultural fear about fluidity of personal identity?

Wilson: Yes, I think that’s a huge part of it. I think you’ve put your finger on it. We do like to put people in boxes. We do feel more comfortable when people are something we can define. That way we can know what to avoid, what to say or not say. When there is fluidity involved, it makes it more complicated. It’s interesting to be writing this particular character at this point in history when we are starting to have a lot of those debates about gender, about race.

My children are – well, there’s a whole debate about whether or not Arabs are white or not white that feeds into this whole conversation. But they’re half-Egyptian, so they’re of mixed ethnicity. And the year my older daughter was born, 2011, was the first year that the majority of the babies born in the U.S. were non-white. The entire makeup of the United States is starting to change. There is more fluidity. There are many more people now who are the children of multi-racial, multi-ethnic families. We are starting to grapple as a nation with this idea of fluidity. In more than one way, this is a character whose time has come.

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First look at the new Ms. Marvel, a 16-year-old Pakistani American teenager from New Jersey