The Next Generation of Superheroes Done Right
My husband and I recently finished playing Marvel’s Avengers (well, finished the STORY; there is much more to be played) and Kamala Khan was such a joy to experience. It reminded me of why I love her, and why I love Miles Morales.
Why mention both, even though Miles isn’t in the game (yet)? Because they share a common beginning. They are both characters who came onto the scene as the next generation of a pre-existing hero: Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man.
I’ll give you the short version of the backstories I first knew, since both have more than one canon backstory now between various comics, shows, and games.
Kamala was a huge Ms. Marvel fangirl who ended up coming into her powers as an inhuman (I thought she was originally a mutant, but things get hazy with rights and whatnot, so maybe I’m wrong), and even though her stretchy powers are more like Mr. Fantastic, she assumes the name of her favorite hero, Ms. Marvel, when Carol Danvers becomes Captain Marvel.
Miles is from the Ultimate universe where Peter Parker was a teenager (the recent animated movie played things a little differently), but events still unfolded where Spider-Man is killed, and Miles ends up getting bitten by his own radioactive spider, taking on the moniker in Peter’s honor. The people who knew the previous Spider-Man are at first furious, because how dare some stranger call themselves Spider-Man after he died in the line of duty, but they eventually learn how deserved of the mantle Miles is.
Besides both of these young heroes having rich character and fun personalities, what really stood out to me is how never is their namesake made to look lesser to elevate them. They earn their place on their own merits, while fully adoring and respecting their predecessors.
Too often I’ve seen the opposite, where instead of giving a good story or personality to a new character taking on an old name, writers tear down the original in some way or make the new character somehow ‘better’.
Now, there are exceptions – Miles has a few powers Peter doesn’t, for example – but both he and Kamala feel organic and real to me, and the characters I love who came before them are treated with the reverence they deserve.
Don’t get me wrong, there are A LOT of things about current comics I’m not a fan of, but at the time of Kamala and Miles’ introductions, how they were brought onto the scene felt right.
I’d love to see more of the same, new characters getting to shine because they are interesting and written well, without bringing down old characters who have a special place in our hearts. After all, my favorite comic book character is The Flash—but Wally West, not Barry Allen or Jay Garrick, who came before him, yet I love them too and never need Wally to be the ‘best’ Flash in order to love him.
Who’s your favorite classic comic book character? How about favorite newer character? (but please don’t make me choose between Kamala and Miles, because I don’t think I could). ^_^