With Ms. Marvel’s Episode 4, entitled “Seeing Red,” the series’ connection to Ms. Marvel comics is on full display. In Episode 1, we looked at how the series adapted from the comics the moment Kamala’s powers were activated; for Episode 2 we delved into the comics’ and series’ introduction and handling so far of the character Kamran; and in Episode 3 we looked at the interesting source material for the series’ villains, the Clandestines. This week, we look at the Red Dagger(s) introduced and how they compare to Red Dagger in the comics.
In the show, Kamala meets the Red Dagger while in Karachi. When she is investigating the train station looking for answers about the train in her vision, she is attacked by the Red Dagger. He then reveals that he knew she was Djinn because he could sense the Noor energy she was using. When he found out she was related to Aisha, he took her to the base of the Red Daggers where she met fellow Red Dagger Waleed. He explained to her that Clandestines come from another dimension that exists all around ours, but with a veil of energy that separates the two.
Red Dagger and Kamala bond in civilian mode as he introduces her to his friends at a bonfire. Ultimately, by the end of Episode 4, the Clandestines had tracked down Kamala and attacked the group, seemingly killing Waleed before Kamala is transported to what appears to be a 1947 Karachi train station.
What They Kept From the Comics
In Ms. Marvel, Kamala also meets Red Dagger while visiting Karachi. She does not know his true identity for quite some time, but his name is Kareem and he is a family friend. He acts as a vigilante in Karachi similar to how Ms. Marvel patrols Jersey City.
His look and skillset are incredibly comic accurate, and his role in Kamala’s life may track that seen in the comics. The two were introduced in both iterations when Kamala visited Karachi in an attempt to figure out who she was. In the comics, Kareem gave her a new and optimistic perspective on her role as a superhero in Jersey City. Here, he may ultimately be a significant spark in Kamala fully embracing her hero identity.
Kareem is also a romantic interest for Kamala in the comics, and subtle hints of that can be picked up in Episode 4. Kareem is an instrumental figure in advancing Kamala and Bruno’s romantic storyline—Kareem ends up living in Jersey City for some time, creating a love triangle—which is certainly a dynamic Ms. Marvel seems like it could lean into.
What They Changed
The most obvious difference between the live-action and the comics is that Ms. Marvel introduced the Red Daggers as a society with advanced technology working to protect people from things that cannot be seen. In Ms. Marvel comics, Red Dagger is simply Kareem, who is a solo vigilante-type hero. The dramatic expansion of Red Dagger in the live-action likely speaks to the need to aid and support Kamala’s mysterious and complex background/origin mystery. Introducing the Red Daggers certainly seems to have added to and advanced that aspect of the story, while still paying homage to the source material.
As to other differences, in Ms. Marvel, Kamala meets Kareem/Red Dagger extremely early on in her hero journey. She does not even have the Ms. Marvel mantle yet or donned a full costume. In the comics, she meets him as a well-established hero and Avenger struggling to come to terms with her self-identity and confidence as a hero.
In her meetings with Red Dagger, she learns humility when she botches a hero job in Karachi because she did not understand the workings of the area. In Jersey City, she struggled with feeling replaceable as Red Dagger immediately got the media’s attention after they stopped a runaway train.
The character’s story will continue throughout the rest of Ms. Marvel at least, but there is every reason to believe Red Dagger can serve as a sort of reflection point for Kamala like he does in the comics, but with more emphasis on her beginnings and growth into a superhero in the first place.
The first four episodes of Ms. Marvel are now streaming on Disney+.