Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel looks to defend her home of Jersey City from the nefarious Thomas Jefferson/Cockatiel clone the Inventor. As ridiculous as that sounds, it's no more ridiculous than a billion other things you see throughout comics (Spider-Ham anyone?). The hybrid man-bird has been kidnapping teens from around New Jersey and using them as power sources for his giant robot inventions (I really need to invest in a thesaurus). Last issue Ms. Marvel had her very first official team-up with Wolverine (cause whats a team-up if it’s not with Wolverine?), who brought Kamala’s existence to the attention of Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans. While Wolverine asked the Inhumans to let Kamala retain her independance, but still looking to keep an eye on her, Medusa sends the Inhuman dog Lockjaw to act as Ms. Marvel’s protector. Of course Kamala falls instantly for the massive lump of a dog.
Now comes the difficult part: convincing Kamala’s Ammi and Abbu (mom and dad) to keep him. Something that’s not so easy as dogs are seen as impure in the Muslim religion. That and the fact that Lockjaw is the size of a horse. Kamala and Lockjaw make a great pair, the superhero Turner and Hooch if you will. Personally I hope they keep the two of them together for a good long while. Ms. Marvel’s investigation into the kidnapped teens leads her and Lockjaw to one of the Inventor’s hideouts. The two run afoul (Get it? Afoul? Fowl? Cause the Inventor’s a bird/man? No? Ah forget it) of one of Inventor’s robots. What seems to be a quick and easy fight may end up having serious repercussions for Ms. Marvel. The issue ends on a heck of a cliffhanger with Kamala’s school in ruins, her powerless, and injured, and no idea on what to do next.
Issue 8 sees the return of artist Adrian Alphona, and he hasn’t missed a beat. While issue 6 and 7 saw Jacob Wyatt adeptly handle art duties, this book just works best with Adrian at the helm. Alphona’s art continues to be very unique, with a cartoony gestural quality. Not to be all hipster “I liked him before he was cool”, but I’ve been following Adrian’s work since issue 1 of Runaways. His style is ideal for the lighthearted Kamala. He gives her a geeky feel, with just a bit of hipness. Little touches that are pure Alphona are peppered throughout each issue, like Kamala’s furry hat, or the winged sloth that drapes her chair. While issue 1 and 2 felt a little tighter art wise, the book doesn’t suffer from Alphona’s looser pencils. I find Alphona’s art works better without an inker like when he was on Runaways, and Marvel seems to realize it too. Adrian and colour artist Ian Herring have a great balance and work well together. The book doesn't look flashy and has a nice softer almost watercolour look that blends well with the overall tone of the story.
Writer G Willow Wilson has done something remarkable with Ms. Marvel, she’s taken classic comic book tropes and made them feel fresh again, in a similar way Brian Michael Bendis did 14 years ago with Ultimate Spider-Man. Teenagers look and sound like actual teenagers, which is a problem in some books that feature younger characters (see New 52's Teen Titans). The book is fun without being too silly, and it has a broad appeal that new and old comic fans can appreciate. Kamala Khan is such an endearing character that you can’t help but love her and root for her. It must be what people felt when Peter Parker first made his appearance in 1962.
Ms. Marvel’s supporting cast is fleshed out and are strong characters themselves, be it Kamala’s doting if somewhat stern parents, her devout albeit lazy brother Aamir, or her best friend, confidant, and de facto sidekick Bruno (who not so secretly pines for Kamala. Think Ducky from Pretty In Pink, without all that annoying Jon Cryer-ieness). Kamala is of course completely oblivious to poor Bruno’s affections, and that’s a bit of a unique twist on the teen superhero trope. Instead of the protagonist pining over the love interest, you have a best friend pining over the protagonist. Naturally Kamala being Kamala, she is too engrossed with being a superhero to notice. She’s a fan girl whose received her ultimate wish. Now she gets follow in the footsteps of her favourite superhero Captain Marvel.
I really admire G Willow Wilson for creating a character whose religion and race, while important factors to who she is, are not what defines her. Too often do you see a character who is Black called something like Black Panther, or Black Lightning, or Israeli named Sabra, or Iraqi named Veil. It’s like the creators are trying to say “Oh we get it, diversity.” and completely missing the point. A hero can be Native American without being called Apache Chief.
When the new Ms. Marvel was announced, a professor from University of Liverpool, Dr. Leon Moosavi worried that Kamala’s parents would reinforce strict Muslim parenting stereotypes. Moosavi misses the fact that yes, her parents are Muslim and they are somewhat strict, they are also PARENTS. They worry about their daughter. They want what’s best for their children. Want to keep her safe, and healthy, and happy. Kamala’s father in fact inspires her to help people with the passage from the Talmud: “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world”. It’s Kamala’s own “With great power, comes great responsibility”.
Photograph: Kenneth Wilson
Go read all of G Willow Wilson’s work. Cairo, Air, Alif the Unseen. ALL OF IT!
As of late Marvel has been going to great lengths to diversify their stable of characters. Be it with Miles Morales as Ultimate Spider-Man, Sam Wilson becoming the new Captain America, and the mystery woman taking up Mjolnir and becoming the new Thor. This initiative is to be applauded as comic readers are becoming more and more diverse, and conversely needs to have broader appeal to survive the current comic climate. The decision to make Ms. Marvel muslim was somewhat controversial. Racist backlash popped up on message boards, similar to when Marvel announced Miles Morales as Spider-Man in the Ultimate books. But much like Miles, I think that the new New Ms. Marvel has won over skeptics and as for the racists, well they can eat a Lockjaw turd. Kamala is a great addition to the Marvel universe and is one of my favorite characters to come about the past few years. Wilson and Alphona are a fantastic team who are creating something unique and fun, it’s really a book that should be on every superhero fans read pile.
- Return of Adrian Alphona on art
- Ms. Marvel continues to be endearing
- Not much.