Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel in Marvel Comics

When Was Kamala Khan’s First Appearance?

I love her wherever and whenever she pops up.

Ms. Marvel has landed! With the release of the first episode of the new Disney Plus series Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan has made her MCU debut. The series follows Kamala as she lives a normal teenage life in Jersey City, navigating high school and trying to keep her overprotective parents happy while indulging in her love of Captain Marvel and the other Avengers. When Kamala finds a bangle in a box of heirlooms and adds it to her Captain Marvel cosplay outfit, she suddenly finds herself with the ability to manipulate cosmic energy.

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The Disney Plus series is based on the colossally successful comic series of the same name that began in 2013. So far, the series is staying more or less true to the spirit of the comics, albeit with some differences in Kamala’s powers and some attention paid to the Blip and other events in the MCU. If you’re enjoying the series and need more Kamala in your life, you may be thinking about picking up the comics. You should absolutely do so! But, surprisingly, you won’t Kamala’s first appearance in her own title.

So when did Kamala’s comic book counterpart make her debut?

Did Kamala Debut in Ms. Marvel #1?

The first issue of Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson and drawn by Adrian Alphona, came out in February 2014. The first issue contains the major events of the first episode, with Kamala sneaking out for a party and coming home suddenly endowed with superpowers. In that first issue, Kamala is exposed to the Terrigen Mist and has a vision of Carol Danvers, Captain America, and Iron Man. She tells the vision how much she wants to be a superhero, saying, “I want to be beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated. I want to be you.” That moment, coupled with the Avengers fanfiction she writes for freakingcool.com, is Kamala’s origin story: she gets exactly what she’s always dreamed of, and finds out that superhero life is much more complicated than she ever thought.

You may be surprised to find out, though, that Kamala’s origin story isn’t her first appearance in the Marvel universe.

Kamala’s Cameo in Captain Marvel #14

As a Carol Danvers superfan, Kamala takes her superhero moniker from Carol’s previous identity, Ms. Marvel. In the MCU, Carol becomes Captain Marvel right away, but in the comics, she spends some time as Ms. Marvel before taking on the Captain Marvel title.

In Captain Marvel #14, which came out in August 2013, Carol is fighting off Yon-Rogg, and she tells some gathered civilians to go hide in a basement. One of those civilians, placed prominently near the front of the panel, is Kamala Khan.

Captain Marvel tells civilians to hide while Kamala Khan looks on.
image: Marvel

It’s true that Kamala looks pretty different from Alphona’s eventual design for Ms. Marvel. She looks older and more mature, with her hair pulled back and large hoop earrings. Over the years, some readers have even doubted that it’s Kamala at all. However, that really is Kamala in the foreground. In an interview on 3 Chicks Review Comics, Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick revealed that the cameo was intentional, so that readers would see Captain Marvel protecting people from harm. “Kamala is in the background of a scene in Captain Marvel 14,” DeConnick explained. “She is very deliberately placed in a position where she sees Carol protecting civilians from Yon-Rogg.”

The cameo was most likely meant to be a way of showing that Kamala’s idolization of Captain Marvel had a clear origin. However, readers who first met Kamala in Ms. Marvel #1 weren’t confused. Kamala’s love of Captain Marvel is portrayed as simply part of her personality, so it makes sense whether or not readers were also reading Captain Marvel and noticed the cameo.

Kamala even had a second cameo before her own title was released. In Captain Marvel #17, which came out in November 2013, one page shows Kamala from the back, looking at Captain Marvel’s insignia and then flexing her own muscles, which burst through her shirt. We also get a glimpse of Kamala’s signature lightning bolt. Again, the character design was obviously still in flux, since Kamala’s powers in the comic include the ability to stretch and grow. Giant muscles have never really been Kamala’s deal.

(image: Marvel)


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Author
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>