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Gentrifiers are the real world villains featured in the all-new 'Ms. Marvel'

Charles Pulliam-Moore Nov 24, 2015. 0 comments

Kamala Khan isn't just the newest Ms. Marvel, she's also an Inhuman-descended, Pakistani American teenaged girl from Jersey City.

Following the events of Secret Wars, Kamala joins Sam Wilson, the new Captain America, Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man, Jane Foster, the new Thor, and Sam Alexander, the half-Latino Nova as the newest member of the much more diverse, All-New, All-Different Avengers.

As a newly-minted Avenger, she spends the bulk of her time fending off super criminals and jet-setting across the New York metropolitan area. In the latest issue of Ms. Marvel, though, writer G. Willow Wilson's keeping some of Kamala's narrative focus grounded in one of the reasons that she was created: sharp social commentary.

After months of defending Jersey City from various Inhuman-related threats, Kamala finds her now famous alter-ego being co-opted by a shady real estate development interested in "cleaning up Jersey City." Despite the upbeat ad's implications that it's just like Ms. Marvel in its interest in making Jersey City safer and more livable, the city's current residents see the ad (and the developer) as an insidious threat.

Here in the real world, gentrification has been on the minds of Jersey City's residents for some time now. Like so many cities across the U.S., parts of Jersey City are being revitalized thanks to increased interest from developers who buy up land, displace residents who tend to be poorer and browner, and replace their homes with expensive, modernized real estate.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop's "Make It Yours" campaign is unabashed in its attempts to entice young people away from bigger cities like New York in hopes of filling the city's growing number of luxury apartments. As rents in Downtown Jersey City have skyrocketed, though, grassroots campaigns to "take back" the city and art exhibitions unpacking gentrification's effects have sprung up in response.

"It's almost like a command: make it yours, this is your time, this is your time to come in here and to take something that's not yours," Devyn Manibo, founder of the JC Take It Back social media campaign, told NJ.com. "To forcefully make something, this city, your own. And I feel like that's really detrimental to the community that's been here all along."

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