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Marvel pushes for diversity with newest superhero, a teenage Muslim girl

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Marvel's newest superhero will be just a little bit different from most of her predecessors. The new Ms. Marvel will be a 16-year-old named Kamala Khan, a student in Jersey City who comes from a Pakistani Muslim family. It's the first time that a Muslim character has been the star of one of Marvel's comics, and its writer, G. Willow Wilson, says that her religion will factor into the story. "Islam is both an essential part of her identity and something she struggles mightily with," Wilson says on Marvel's blog.

"She feels torn between two worlds."

Wilson explains that Khan won't only be struggling with supervillains. She'll also be addressing what it's like to live as the child of immigrants in New Jersey, in addition to the standard difficulties of high school. "In a sense, she has a 'dual identity' before she even puts on a super hero costume," Wilson says. "Like a lot of children of immigrants, she feels torn between two worlds: the family she loves, but which drives her crazy, and her peers, who don't really understand what her home life is like."

Kahn's power will be feats of body-morphing, though Wilson isn't letting on yet how that'll play into the story. Her series will debut in February of next year, helping to expand Marvel's efforts in reaching new readers. Its most notable effort began just over two years ago, when the publisher began a new series of Spider-Man that featured a black Hispanic teenager named Miles Morales as the hero. According to The New York Times, the original Spider-Man series is still the better seller, doing around 80,000 copies for its September issue, but Morales' comic performs pretty well on its own, doing around 32,000 copies that same month.