Review: Ms Marvel #1 (2014)

Ms Marvel #1

Ms Marvel #1

 

When news broke out that the character of Ms. Marvel was to get a reboot and that she would be Muslim, it immediately made headline news on all the major news channels.  With all the cat and mouse games the Big Two play, it’s refreshing to see actual fresh, buzz-worthy content come from either one of them.  So is it worth all the hype?

Writer G. Willow Wilson’s concept that the next Ms. Marvel would be of Pakistani descent isn’t really that new.  Marvel has a history of integrating different nationalities even between countries with histories of war.  X-Men members, Nightcrawler and Colossus are German and Russian, respectively.  The lead character, Kamala Khan, is a Jersey-born Pakistani girl in high school who loves art and design and who like most of us, struggles with fitting in.   She has to deal with how people stereotypically label her.  She learns how people may act courteous and tolerant of her faith and background can later bully and openly despise her when in a large group.  Other than her background, Kamala is universally relatable – She has parents who have high expectations of her; She has dreams and aspirations of her own, but her parents wouldn’t approve; She has friends who understand her and support her; She wants so badly to just fit in and be accepted by her peers.  And like all of us, Kamala just needs to realize that she is who she is.  The harder she tries to fit in, the more of a misfit she becomes.  But unlike all of us, she gets the ultimate chance of a reboot, by becoming Ms. Marvel!

First off, the cover by Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor is spot-on.  The cover has Kamala in a t-shirt with the iconic Ms Marvel bolt, carrying books appropriate to her interests and background – US History, Hadith To Live By, and Illustration & Design.  We get a taste of who Kamala is, an American Muslim who loves art and design.

Ms Marvel Panel

Artist Adrian Alphona (who also penciled another teen-hero book, Runaways) does an awesome job with this book.  Keep an eye out for easter eggs in the art that are easy to miss but are often hilarious, reminiscent of Rob Guillory’s work in Chew (is that bird wearing a hat?).  Alphona’s pencils fit the concept well, faces are highly expressive and it’s got an overall fun tone to the linework.  The book’s art looks somewhere between the works of Rob Guillory and John Romita Jr.  All the panels have a very nice pop to it, thanks to colorist Ian Herring.  I love the unique washed-out grainy watercolor look.  One of the most fun panels is the scene where having left a party where she sipped from a cup of OJ and vodka, an apparently drunk Kamala is visited by Captain Marvel (AKA Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel), Iron Man, and Captain America.  In one super-fun panel you see it all – Carol Danvers looking more like Aphroditie and speaking Urdu to Kamala, Zen-master Captain America with a goldfish on his shoulder (wait, what?),  and Peace-sign-gesturing Iron Man toting a flying pig (I know, impossible, right?).  It’s a whimisical, fun, culture-bridging piece of work.

This image also brings up a plot hole, which is probably intentional, by the writer.  As Kamala leaves the drunken douche-fest of a party, a strange blue fog comes out of nowhere and envelopes the city.  This doesn’t seem to be just in Kamala’s mind, since we see that people in the party also see it.  But they possibly drank the same stuff the Kamala did, so who knows what it is.  We just know that the fog descends and the Heroic Trio appears bestowing the powers of Ms. Marvel to Kamala.  How or why this happens is still a big mystery.  Perhaps this is one of the big draw for us readers, but to me, it comes off a bit hokey.  Strange plot hole as it is, it doesn’t totally derail me from enjoying the book.

The latest Ms Marvel is a very relatable, modern America story disguised as a Superhero comic book.  It’s a fun, unexpected title to come from Marvel and I’m hoping to see more unique titles like this from Marvel.  And for me, it’s lived up to the hype so far.  Buy it!

Marvel Comics – Ms Marvel #1 – Written by G. Willow Wilson, Art by Adrian Alphona (pencils), Ian Herring (color)

VERDICT:  Art 5/5 – Story 4/5 – Overall 4.5/5

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