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Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) glowing giant fists

Ms. Marvel

(Kamala Khan) (Profile #1 - Absolute beginner)


Power Level: ,
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game


Qu'ran 5:32

(We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.
— Quran 5:32)


Context

Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) is part of Marvel Comics’ efforts to draw the interest of a younger, more female, more diverse readership. Those stepped up during the 2010s, and Ms. Marvel seems to have been quite successful, especially in digital sales.

She is a nerdy girl from New Jersey and a huge Avengers fan (particularly Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)) with body-morphing  powers. Kamala struggles to reconcile her everyday teenage life with her need to be a heroine, and against a sense of isolation caused by being a Muslim in America.

This profile covers the first half of the 2014 volume of Ms. Marvel. It includes S P O I L E R S.


Background

    • Real Name: Kamala Khan
    • Marital Status: Single (Minor)
    • Known Relatives: Aamir (older brother), Yusuf (father), Muneeba (mother), Bushra (aunt), Irfan (uncle), Kamran (cousin)
    • Group Affiliation: None
    • Base of Operations: Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ
    • Height: 5’2” Weight: 115 lbs.
    • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers & Abilities

Kamala is somewhat obsessive about computer games (especially MMORPGs) and super-hero lore (especially the Avengers). She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the latter, down to the sort of trivial minutia that is normally the hallmark of a writeups.org or marvunapp.com  researcher.

That’s about the extent of her skills. She’s otherwise a sheltered girl with an ordinary life.

She is smart and a superior, straight-A student. But unlike with many fictional depictions of nerds she’s not abnormally intelligent or technologically gifted. Howbeit, Kamala has a knack for applying high-school-level physics to her superheroic activities.

She’s also fluent in Urdu  (mostly because her mother prefers to speak Urdu to her daughter), and can thus more or less communicate in Hindi (and sing along most Bollywood musicals).

Her most notable quality is probably her altruistic bravery, which comes naturally to her. On the other hand she’s a mediocre liar, due to lack of practice.

Inhuman power

Ms. Marvel is one of the New Inhumans (often infelicitously shortened to “NuHumans”). These are Humans with distant Inhuman ancestry. These genes are not normally remarkable, but are sufficient to react to the Terrigen Mist and mutate the person – which happened worldwide in 2014.

Kamala seems to be one of the most powerful and versatile New Inhumans. Since the “condition” is hereditary, relatives of her were also activated by the Mist – her cousin Kamran and, in a way, her brother Aamir.

Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) giant fist

Ms. Marvel can compress, expand and reshape her body – not unlike Mister Fantastic crossed with Giant Man. The main applications are :

  • Growing to giant size (at least 3 stories tall) or shrinking down to the size of a small ant
  • Expanding only a specific part of her body, such as making giant hands or feet, or extending her legs like she’s Stilt-Man. She apparently draws additional mass from an extradimensional source when doing so.
  • The giant fists thing strikes with superhuman power thanks to the additional mass, and the extended legs allow her to run quickly (probably about the speed of a moped)
  • Changing her appearance, though she cannot precisely do likenesses
  • Disguising herself as common inanimate objects like Plastic Man does
  • A minor healing factor , though she has to eat and drink a lot when she uses it. Further, having it active weakens her other powers, especially appearance alteration. This is because her healing factor is fixing her body back to its baseline state, and altering her body at the same time is working at cross-purpose.
    The healing factor also drains from her life force, leaving her weakened and depleted (but not physically wounded, that’s the point) when used.
    Nevertheless, Kamala is very proud of her healing factor since it means she’s like Wolverine (James Howlett). A little bit.
  • Enhanced durability and speed – she’s as tough and fast as a fully-grown, highly athletic woman with extensive combat training and experience. She can also take superhuman punches and kicks – but not for too long.

Modest attire

Ms. Marvel’s costume was modified to stretch along with her, using a “biokinetic polymer” that is presumably derived from Reed Richards’ unstable molecules.

Even ordinary clothing will enlarge and shrink with her – presumably Kamala emits a tiny cloud of Pym particles when she uses her powers. But doing that requires some concentration, whereas the stretchy costume does it on its own.

Ms. Marvel also has a good smartphone with an extended data plan, usually kept in one of her boots. She is highly proficient with it and it regularly plays a role in her adventures, mostly to provide her with information.


History

Kamala Khan’s parents are from Karachi. Her father managed to emigrate to the US to make a better life for his family, and found a stable job as a bank employee in New Jersey.

Though his wife remained wary of their new country, they had a son – Aamir. The delivery did not go well, and it was obvious that a new pregnancy would be too dangerous.

Kamala thus happened accidentally, but the childbirth — 5 years after Aamir’s — went fine. Relieved, her father called her “Kamala” ( كمال ). This is an Arabic word for “perfection” rather than a conventional Pakistani girl name.

Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) near her high school ushanka

(Incidentally this means that her name follow the alliterative tradition of the likes of Peter Parker or Reed Richards. It also follows the popular fiction tradition of characters with ludicrously fitting names – since to the exceedingly literal-minded “Kamala Khan” can translate as “princess of great integrity”).

Kamala grew up as an ordinary, if somewhat isolated, Jersey upper working class girl.

Inhumanity to man

In 2014, the 16-year old Kamala sneaked out of her house to attend a student party on the shore. It didn’t go well as idiots made fun of her religion’s prohibition against alcohol. She sulked off. But before she could get too far, she found herself lost in a strange mist.

The destruction of Attilan had released banks of Terrigen mist worldwide. Like a non-trivial number of Humans, Kamala had distant Inhuman ancestry. This heritage was nothing directly detectable, but enough for the Terrigen mist to mutate her.

Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) giant legs training

After hallucinating an encounter with her heroes (Captain Marvel, Iron Man and Captain America), a confused Kamala discovered that she had body-altering powers.

She morphed herself into a facsimile of Ms. Marvel – with the black leotard and thigh-high boots costume. Kamala then rescued one of the high school’s mean blondes – whom her drunk boyfriend had accidentally pushed into water. Kamala then fled and regained control over her body.

Ms. Marvel the younger

Thanks to her passion for super-heroes and determination to serve the greater good, Kamala Khan quickly found her footing as the newbie Ms. Marvel. She uncovered a local villain called the Inventor, rescued her best friend’s kidnapped brother, worked with Spider-Man (Peter Parker) against Dr. Minerva to rescue a baby, and teamed up with a depowered Wolverine to rescue kidnapped mutant students.

Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) and her Captain Marvel poster

Wolverine realised that the new Ms. Marvel was unknowingly an Inhuman, and warned Queen Medusalith Amaquelin of the Inhumans. Recovering and protecting emerging Inhumans was a high priority, and Khan clearly was a strong potential. Thus, Medusa dispatched her faithful Lockjaw to watch over Ms. Marvel. Not realizing Lockjaw’s nature, Kamala adopted it as a (rather huge) pet.

Later, Ms. Marvel was nearly killed battling a giant robot sent by the Inventor against her high school. Lockjaw and Medusa had her evacuated to New Attilan for emergency care. However, Kamala decided to return to Jersey immediately. She saw it as her personal responsibility to rescue other youths kidnapped by the Inventor.

(Continued in ).


Supporting cast

Kamala’s non-heroic life plays an important role in the comic. There are clear parallels between Ms. Marvel and the early Spider-Man run, though the slice of life/soap opera aspect is much more modern thanks to decades of television refining the concept.

  • Abbu (Urdu for “dad”) is a mustachioed and mightily-paunched gentleman of considerable stature. He’s a loving and caring father, but is also very conservative and wants his daughter to be a proper Muslim girl.
  • Ammi (Urdu for “mom”) is a small, skinny hausfrau. She was feeling more comfortable in Pakistan than in the US, and often still speaks in Urdu (though she’s comfortably fluent in English). She’s a worrier, fears the influence of Shaytan  behind everything, and is convinced that all sorts of terrible things will befall her children. Apparently this is a result of the awful conditions and terrorism in Pakistan back when the Khans lived there.
  • Aamir is Kamala’s big brother. In recent years he grew enamoured with the aesthetics of salafi Islam, and now dresses like a preacher man and spends much time praying, and studying the Book and hadiths. This makes his parents grumpy since they’d rather see him get a job. Aamir is protective of his kid sister — but not overprotective like Abu and Ammi Khan — and is more serious and perceptive than most people realize.

Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) and Lockjaw

  • Nakia Bahadir (aka “Kiki” though she hates it) is Kamala’s best friend and one of the few Muslim girls of her age in the area. She’s Turkish-American, and much taller and less nerdy than Kamala (neither being difficult). She has an aura of aloof, pragmatic cool – and Left-wing views.
  • Bruno Carrelli is Kamala’s other childhood friend. He’s a fellow nerd, and an aspiring biochemist. His high school science project, a “biokinetic polymer”, intended to help with his college application, makes fabrics much stretchier and was used for the Ms. Marvel costume.
    Bruno is in love with Kamala, but of course he’s too shy to tell her and she’s clueless because it’s a teen drama. His family came from Italy but 2 generations ago.
    Bruno is one of the employees of the neighborhood Circle Q small convenience store, where many of the Coles Academic students (Kamala and Bruno’s high school) get to-go coffee and food.
  • Sheik Abdullah is a minister at the local mosque (or rather masjid – same thing, but in Persian). Though Kamala was convinced he was an authoritarian ogre, he turned out to be supportive of her efforts to do good. Now that she has major responsibilities, Ms. Marvel gained a better understanding of some of his teachings, which she previously considered to be boring and too abstract.

Description

Kamala is 16, but she’s petite and on the mousy side. This makes it easy to assume she’s 14 or so. She wears normcore teen clothing, but her favourite jacket sports the large lightning bolt symbol that was on Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)’s black leotard costume.

She also has a Ms. Marvel messenger bag, a Captain America sweater (looking like Cap’s costume), and presumably other classic Avengers-themed pieces of clothing. During the biting Jersey winter she wears an ushanka, and often sports a brown leather flight jacket with an “X” arm patch (like the X-Men wore during the 1990s).

She doesn’t normally wear a headscarf, except of course for a minimal one when she goes to the mosque. On the other hand her strict upbringing means she exposes very little skin. For instance for physical education classes she wears tights under her sports shorts.

One assumes that Kamala has a Jersey accent, though it’s not reflected in her speech bubbles.

Ms. Marvel

The Ms. Marvel costume is actually a modified burkini – an extremely conservative swimming suit. Though Kamala would die of embarrassment rather than wear it to swim, it made a surprisingly good base for her costume, with the addition of boots and the Ms. Marvel pectoral lightning bolt.

Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) giant stride

The Ms. Marvel red sash would look stupid on a burkini, so she wears a red light scarf instead – which also evokes Carol Danvers’ earliest costumes. It’s the same one she uses when going to the mosque. As often in comics, the length of the scarf is highly variable depending upon what’s artistically pleasing in any given panel.

Ms. Marvel first wore her barely modified burkini along with a simple mask and fanny pack, then a more super-heroic customization of the burkini done with Bruno’s help and sporting the Ms. Marvel lightning bolt.


Personality

Kamala is a nice kid with an ordinary life, but who has trouble fitting in and always feels a smidgen off-kilter. She sincerely loves her family, but also feels some resentment about her culture and religion always making her different, and getting in the way of her being one of the cool kids.

As a consequence, most of her preferred activities are online, where she can be pseudonymous as a gamer and fanfic writer. She doesn’t have many friends IRL, and there’s no Pakistani-American community in her corner of Jersey (most people at the masjid seem to be Turkish-American or Iranian-American). She’s proud of being a Jersey girl, though.

With her education, Kamala has a very strong moral core and sees helping people as a super-heroine as an almost holy mission. The surah at the beginning of this profile is her favourite, though it’s probably the only one she knows by heart. She’s reluctant to use genuine violence, even against animals, and will do anything she can to save all lives.

Her people skills are all over the place, since she’s at once somewhat shy and spontaneous. She can be a wallflower one minute and take center stage the next. The second often occurs due to her determination to do the right thing. She’s a natural at standing up to help other people and act heroically.

Absolute beginners

Kamala was always daydreaming that she was like Captain Marvel – tall, White, blonde, buxom, powerful, independent, respected. However, once she got her powers she quickly adapted to being very few of those things.

Soon, Kamala decided that she would be herself, not Carol Danvers – and grow into her role by herself, with her own values and her own outlook. After all, the Ms. Marvel ethos is to do things your own way.

Ms. Marvel comics (Kamala Khan) and Agent Coulson

Khan is quite stubborn, and highly responsible. She’s never impolite or disrespectful about it, but even adults will quickly see that she cannot be pressured into renouncing her moral priorities. She is also funny – though like a real-world teen nerd would be, rather than through comedian-style dialogue.

She’s a total beginner, but she’s enthusiastic about being a super-hero and 100% committed to the “job”. She finds the mask and power to be liberating, and is much louder, defiant and assertive as Ms. Marvel than she is as Kamala.

She likes being out there and taking action by herself and doing it her own way – when she’s being Ms. Marvel in her own way, she’s free, content and unafraid.

Ms. Marvel sees herself as the protector of Jersey City – she’s a local and one of the very few heroes on this shore of the river.


Quotes

(Imagining that she’s talking to Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)) “I want to be beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated. I want to be you.”

(Trying to orient herself during her first super-combat) “Just like a boss fight in World of Warcraft… just like a boss fight in World of Warcraft…”

(Discovering her healing factor) “I’m hungry like I’ve never been hungry before. Ravenous. Starving. Seriously, I need a thesaurus.”

“Time to level up.”

“’Good‘ is not a thing you are. It’s a thing you do.”

“This is Jersey City. We talk loud, we walk fast, and we don’t take any disrespect. So don’t mess.”

“I don’t like hurting stuff. Even giant sewer alligators. I mean… is it possible to help people without hurting other people ? Or, you know… reptiles ?”

(Hurriedly changing from her Ms. Marvel suit to formal clothing) “Super-hero costume: +5 to Dexterity. [But] shalwar kameez: +5 to bling.”

(Doing the Kermit the Frog flail  (video)) “You’re Wolverine !! My Wolverine-and-Storm-in-space fanfic was third-most upvoted story on Freaking Awesome last month !!” (lowers the squeeing a notch) “Wow. Such athletic. Very claws. So amaze.”

(Facing a giant robot) “I’d say ‘come at me bro’ but I have a feeling you’re gonna do that anyway.”

Ms. Marvel (examining a weapon): “It’s the good plant-gun, too ! The animator Plant-Man used against Sub-Mariner, not the vege-ray he used on the Human Torch !”
Agent Coulson: “You’re mistaken. That’s the vege-ray.”
Ms. Marvel: “It’s not ! The vege-ray has a longer barrel ! This is the one the Maggia made for him !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Ms. Marvel

Dex: 04 Str: 02 Bod: 05 Motivation: Responsibility of Upholding Good
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: High school student
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 001
Init: 013 HP: 025

Powers:
Chameleon: 02, Growth: 08, Regeneration: 04, Running: 05, Shrinking: 12, Stretching: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Both Growth and Shrinking can apply to selected body parts
  • For instance she often grows just her hands, which has most of the effects of full Growth use but one AP lower (or two APs lower if she only enlarges one hand)
  • Growth has no land speed component – use Running instead (and Running is Contingent Upon Growth)
  • Chameleon can mimic inanimate objects (such as a mannequin or even a sofa)
  • Chameleon has a one CS penalty to OV/RV when attempting to do the likeness of a specific person or item
  • Regeneration increases her nutritional needs by as many APs when active – for instance 2 APs quadruple her necessary intake
  • Regeneration decreases her APs of Chameleon and Shrinking by one AP for every active AP of Regeneration, and her Growth APs by one AP for every 2 active APs of Regeneration

Skills:
Artist (Writer): 02, Artist (Video games): 03, Charisma (Persuasion): 04, Scientist (Research): 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
Charisma (Persuasion) only to convince others that she will not be swayed from her path

Powered skills:
Acrobatics: 04, Martial Artist (AV): 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
All Powered Skills are Contingent Upon her Powers

Advantages
Buddy (Bruno), Conditional Soaking (Unarmed attacks), Familiarity (General Muslim traditions, Video games of the 2010s (particularly computer RPGs and primarily World of Warcraft), Internet memes and social networks, Basic physics, Major Bollywood movies), Expertise (Super-heroes and super-villains), Insta-Change, Language (Urdu), Lightning Reflexes, Schtick (Wounds rejection), Misc.: Wound suspension

Bonuses and Limitations:
Conditional Soaking, Insta-Change, Schtick (Wounds rejection) and Misc.: Wound suspension all become inactive if she’s depowered

Connections:
Princess Sparklefists Forum (Captain Marvel online fan community, Low)

Drawbacks:
Age (Young), MPR (farsighted – wears glasses to read), Power Loss (DEX and BODY would drop to 02 if her Powers were offline), Secret Identity, Misc.: various religious restrictions such not consuming pork or alcohol, doing the Ramadan, etc., Misc.: social OV/RV raised by one CS for rolls where Kamala tries to lie, due to lack of practice, Misc.: if Kamala doesn’t have a sufficiently stretchy costume, she takes a -1 on all her rolls due to her concentration (either to make her clothing expand and compress along her body, or to morph part of her body into a costume)

Equipment:
She keeps her smartphone in her boot.


Wound suspension

If she is wounded, Kamala can suspend all pain, blood loss, etc. by sticking to her baseline form and not using her powers. Wounds do not transfer to her normal form, and heal “in the background” while Khan is in her normal form. She can use her Regeneration as Kamala to heal her Ms. Marvel wounds (Regeneration is assumed to include Stabilization).

However, her wounds return in their current state of healing as soon as she uses any of her Powers beside Regeneration.

As noted in the P&A section, using her healing factor leaves her depleted. In game terms, this corresponds pretty well to Ms. Marvel using her HPs for Last Ditch Defense.


Levelling up

Kamala started with a respectable 020 HPs despite her inexperience. At the very beginning, her INT, WIL, INF and AUR were one AP lower than the listed values.


Cunningly impersonating generic objects

The Bonus to Chameleon to assume the likeness of objects is iffy, but giving her Self-Manipulation: 00 just looked… weird. But heh, you can use that instead if you prefer. Liberty and prosperity, right ?


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: First half of the 2014 volume of Ms. Marvel

Helper(s): Bryan Gittens, Roy Cowan, Peter Piispanen

Writeup completed on the 30th of September, 2015.

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