I was going to talk about the first volume of Jessica Jones today, but I wanted to read something more upbeat. That seemed like the perfect excuse to finish the first big Ms. Marvel hardcover.
Let’s start with the basics since this iteration of Ms. Marvel is a new character. Kamala Khan is an Inhuman, Pakistani-American, high school student in Jersey City. She does not become a hero because of trauma (which is a smart choice by Wilson), but because she is a nerd—and superheroes are her fandom of choice. Because she idolizes Carol Danvers, when she gets her powers she becomes Ms. Marvel.
That happens in a very literal sense—she has the ability to shape-shift, and without meaning to or trying to, she actually turns into the her hero. That starts off the overarching theme of Ms. Marvel: how can Kamala be a hero and still be true to herself? The question of identity is the heart of this book, as Kamala balances who she is with who her family, friends, and heroes want her to be. And given that she’s a teenager in the first place and still figuring out who she is, that search for identity becomes a central character trait, even outside of her solo title.
But the book is not as serious and introspective as that makes it sound. It’s still a superhero book, with plenty of bad guy-punching and team-ups. Plus, Kamala’s first super villain is a millennial-hating clone of Thomas Edison with a cockatiel head. Wilson may tackle realistic ideas, but Ms.Marvel still knows how to have fun.
Regular series artist Adrian Alphona’s line-work is fluid and expressive. It excels at giving action a sense of motion and conveying Kamala’s stretchiness when she embiggens herself. Wyatt’s lines in #6-7 take a different approach to motion; it is inkier and more exaggerated. The difference is noticeable, but those two issues' style works well with heavy, lumbering sewer gators (and a similarly heavy, lumbering Wolverine). Herring’s colors connect the two different styles well, providing visual consistency between the two.
If you like superhero books at all, you should check out Ms. Marvel. Kamala’s lot in life is reminiscent of Peter Parker’s when he still struggled to balance school, Spidey, and his home life. Ms. Marvel has become one of my favorite characters in All-New, All-Different Avengers, Champions, and her other appearances, and her solo book is charming, clever, and funny.
- Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal (#1-5)
- Ms. Marvel, Volume One (#1-11, material from All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1)
Writer: G. Willow Wilson | Artists: Adrian Alphona (1-5, 8-11), Jacob Wyatt (6-7) | Colorist: Ian Herring | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Covers: Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor (1), Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson (2-3, 5-9), Jamie McKelvie, Kris Anka (10-11) | Assistant Editor: Devin Lewis | Editor: Sana Amanat