Ms. Marvel episode 4 goes deeper into the history of Kamala Khan’s ancestors the Clandestine, while also introducing Red Dagger – or rather the Red Daggers, a group dedicated to fighting the machinations of Kamala’s secretly sinister extended family.
But Red Dagger isn’t new for TV, and Red Dagger’s comic book history with Kamala Khan goes even beyond friendship into will-they-won’t-they romance territory.
Most recently, Red Dagger appeared in Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1 in 2021, though he hasn’t been prominent in Kamala’s life for several years. The two have a complicated relationship, as teenagers often do, but one thing’s for sure: his presence in the streaming series will bolster and expand the Ms. Marvel lore, and give the MCU yet another young hero to work with later down the line.
Now that Red Dagger and his crew have made their debut in the Ms. Marvel Disney Plus series, here’s everything you need to know about his origins, his abilities, and his relationship with Kamala Khan.
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Red Dagger’s comic book origins
Created by G. Willow Wilson and Mirka Andolfo, Red Dagger AKA Kareem first appears in Ms. Marvel #12 (2016). After her best friend, Bruno, moves to Wakanda, Kamala takes a trip to Pakistan – purposefully sans Ms. Marvel costume – to visit family and figure out the missing pieces in her life.
There, she meets Kareem, who describes them as “friends-in-law” because her aunt went to school with his mom. He says he’s living with Kamala’s family while he studies for his university entrance exam.
When Kamala discovers the corruption and violence happening in Karachi, she dons an improvised Ms. Marvel costume and attempts to do some superhero work. She’s interrupted dealing with a group of bandits by a knife-throwing, red-scarf-wearing hero named Red Dagger, who tells her point-blank that she’s overstepping by trying to solve problems in a country she doesn’t actually understand.
Fast forward to Ms. Marvel #23 (2017), when Kareem participates in an exchange program and – surprise! – temporarily moves in with Kamala’s family in New Jersey to attend high school alongside her. He and Kamala learn each other’s superhero identities when he finds her in the middle of an attempt to save a runaway train, and they’re both quick to put the pieces together.
Unlike Kamala, who receives her superpowers through exposure to Terrigen Mist – at least, in the comics – Kareem decides to become a costumed superhero because he just wants to help. He learns his knife-throwing and physical combat skills from YouTube tutorials and seems much more confident in his overall heroic abilities than Kamala does at this point, which puts them at odds.
Still, they work well as a team and even develop a flirtatious relationship that nearly becomes something more, until circumstances make it so Kareem decides to leave Jersey City – at least, for a while. His last appearance is in Ms. Marvel #30 (2018).
How Red Dagger fits into the MCU
Now that Ms. Marvel has joined the MCU via her own Disney Plus series, Red Dagger is following fast. Although his role in the comics is relatively small, given that he only appears in a handful of issues across a decade of Kamala stories, he seems to play a larger role in the TV series with a whole organization of Red Daggers dedicated to opposing Kamala’s ancestors the Clandestine at his side.
In Ms. Marvel episode 4, Kamala Khan travels to Karachi, Pakistan with her family to explore her roots, quickly encountering Red Dagger and his group who shed some more light on Kamala’s family history.
However, it seems that the Red Daggers may be in trouble, and Kareem, the group’s main enforcer, could be the only one left to stand side by side with Kamala in the fight against the Clandestine, making him one of her strongest allies, just like in comics.
Kamala’s MCU powers aren’t quite the same as they are in the comics…