Kamala Khan was first introduced in Marvel Comics in 2014. Since then, she’s made multiple appearances throughout the Marvel Comics universe along with a few series of her own. Yes, the Ms. Marvel Disney+ series is right around the corner with a June 8 premiere date. But it is never too late to learn more about the marvelous Kamala Khan. You can follow her comic story while seeing how her life unfolds in live-action! Here are some essential comics to get you familiar with Ms. Marvel, a.k.a. Kamala Khan’s, journey.
Ms. Marvel (2014-2015)
Of course, there is the iconic first G. Willow Wilson comic run for Ms. Marvel. The series features a litany of artists, including Sara Pichelli, Jamie Mckelvie, Chris Akna, Marguerite Sauvage, Jake Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona (who also takes on penciling duties) to bring Kamala to comic life. It’s been said time and time again, but Ms. Marvel is truly a breath of fresh air with a weird, wild origin story. Kamala, an Inhuman, is exposed to Terrigen mist and becomes a polymorph—someone who can change their shape at will. After being a fan of the Avengers for so long, Kamala gets to be a superhero herself. But she learns (rather quickly) that superhero-ing is not as easy as it seems.
The first volume—No Normal (#1-5)—is full of heartwarming moments as we follow Kamala on her journey of self-discovery. One of the most impactful moments in this particular series is her choice to save people as herself rather than her blond-haired, blue-eyed heroine Captain Marvel. She learns to be proud of herself and that she can be a hero too. The series also depicts her religion and community with love. And it demonstrates how much Kamala is shaped by the love of her community of fellow Muslims, Pakistanis, and of her home, Jersey City. We also get the storyline with the duplicitous Kamran, who will appear in the upcoming Disney+ series.
Another highlight from the series is Vol. 4, Last Days (#16-19). The world is ending… or so everyone thinks. This collection features Kamala’s first meeting with her idol as it seems worlds (literally) are about to collide. This volume also features one of the most touching depictions of Kamala and her family. They scramble to look after each other and Kamala assesses what is really important to her. What does one do on the last day of their life?
Ms. Marvel (2015-2019)
G. Willow Wilson returns with another Ms. Marvel series (with writers Hasan Minhaj, Rainbow Rowell, and Saladin Ahmed co-penning #31), this time with more for Kamala’s story, along with a tie-in to Civil War II. This time, artists Cliff Chiang (of Paper Girls fame), Takeshi Miyazawa, Nicole Leon (penciler), David Lopez, Adrian Alphona, Cameron Stewart, Mirka Andolfo, Francesco Gaston (penciler), Nelson Blake II, Marco Failla (penciler), Valerio Schiti, Diego Olortegui, Elmo Bondoc (penciler), Robert Quinn (penciler), and Gustavo Duarte (penciler) join in for the epic run of fun.
This 38-issue series dedicates more time to exploring how Kamala’s “extracurricular activities” have impacted her relationships, as she struggles to keep up her grades, stay present for her friends, and be a superhero and Avenger all at the same time.
Issue #8 of this series begins with a depiction of the Partition of India into India and Pakistan, the largest mass migration in history. Kamala’s great-grandmother Aisha journeys from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Karachi, wearing the same bangles that Kamala later adopts as part of her costume. Harkening back to a civil war that tore a country apart, the issue reflects on the aftermath of what a war like that, this time between superheroes, could become, and how there still may just be hope.
Issues #7-11 are Ms. Marvel’s Civil War II storyline, where Kamala learns her hero isn’t all she made her out to be. Ulysses, an Inhuman, can predict the future, but the greatest heroes of the planet cannot agree on whether his visions can be trusted. Tony Stark believes that Ulysses’ visions are too subjective; however, Carol Danvers believes they should serve as a means of preemptive justice. The comic brings up some interesting moral questions of who is perceived as a criminal and what is perceived as a crime. It also forces Kamala to finally face what happens when her hero Captain Marvel, turns out to be not quite who she hoped.
This particular storyline allows for Kamala to explore who she wants to be, without just modeling herself on Captain Marvel. She decides to stand up for what she believes is right. The fight gets personal for Kamala as it impacts the people that she cares about most, and she does something actually quite difficult – she stands up against her idol.
Another highlight of this series is Vol. 8, Mecca (#19-24). Among preparations to celebrate Eid, Kamala has to face a whole new problem in her community. This volume also tackles the impending gentrification of Kamala’s neighborhood amidst new foes for her to face.
Champions (#1-27, 2016)
Living with the consequences of Civil War II and the rift between her and her idol Captain Marvel, Kamala is adrift. She has become disillusioned after her time with the Avengers, and has struck out on her own, along with her friends Nova, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Viv Vision, Amadeus Cho, and Cyclops, to become a new kind of team: the Champions!
Writer Mark Waid and artist Humberto Ramos manage to pull off a seemingly odd collection of youthful heroes quite well, as they learn to face new threats, but in new ways. And it’s not just by beating people up (as the Avengers have quite often done), but by providing help to those in need even after the bad guys are dealt with.
After some significant bickering, Kamala takes on the mantle of team leader. Champions gives her an even bigger chance to grow as we see her take on newer challenges. (And become almost as good as Captain America at motivational speeches.) The Champions don’t seem to be coming to the MCU anytime soon; however, the series is definitely a great way to get to know Kamala and see her become a leader in her own right.
Magnificent Ms. Marvel (2019-2021)
This 18-issue series is penned by Saladin Ahmed with penciling/artwork by Minkyu Jung as well as Eduard Petrovich, Joey Vasquez, and Alex Arizmendi. It features Kamala now dealing with being prophesied as the savior of an entire planet, the onset of her father’s sudden incurable condition associated with his latent Inhuman gene, and a sentient robot with powers like hers. The beginning of this series features some truly moving moments as Kamala’s parents both learn of her identity as Ms. Marvel, and get to see her in action.
This series also features a new hero, Fadi Fadlalah, a.k.a. Amulet, who is an Arab-American superhero from Dearborn, Michigan. His design is based on the “nazar” (literally meaning “sight”) a symbol thought to protect wearers from “the evil eye”. He makes for a fun pairing with Kamala as they face strange and mystical threats together in Jersey City.
Want more? Other series with Ms. Marvel in more team-ups include the All-New, All Different Avengers series (#1-5) and Outlawed (2020) #1. You can also look for Beyond the Limit (#1-5, 2022) to read the latest of Ms. Marvel’s comic adventures. Enjoy her journey and watch how it lines up with Ms. Marvel as we learn more about the hero’s impact in the MCU.