Review: MS. MARVEL #1

Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring
Published by Marvel Comics

MSMARV2014001_DC11_LRA rebellious teenager, overbearing parents, morally questionable social situations… it’s not Footloose, it’s just Marvel’s latest female superhero book that has the potential to be what Peter Parker was in 1962.

Sure, that’s a pretty big shadow over the newest Ms. Marvel incarnation, Kamala Khan, however all the ingredients are there. Very quickly, Wilson and Alphona paint a picture of a sixteen-year-old superhero-nerd that wants nothing more than what she perceives as normal. That’s the key to this series and what has the potential to make this comic easy for so many readers to relate to our leading lady, both young and old. How many people, in their teens, feel like their life is normal? Even teenagers who do fit this definition feel like they are living on the outside of something. Wilson also addresses cultural stereotypes and pressures faced as a Muslim and as a girl. I remember being told by my parents that, unequivocally, I was not allowed to go and do the same things as my brother, because I was a girl. For me, this made Kamala’s desires to be with the other kids and understood by her family immediately identifiable.

Now, add in what long time Marvel fans would identify as Terrigen Mist  and some potentially divine intervention and a superhero starts to take shape.  Either as supernatural benefactors or massive hallucinations, reciting Amir Khusrau, the forms of Captain Marvel, Iron Man and Captain America appear and give Kamala the biggest twist ending.

It is merely part one of a five part arc and yet a stage has been set beautifully. There are characters that reflect traditional roles found in every outsider-come-to-power story such as the bully, friend/potential love interest, and parental-family pressures to fulfill roles all combating what the main character truly wants. Alphona’s art is expressive and exaggerates features on each character that is reflective of their speech and personalities in tight shots. On the flip side, there are quiet a few wide view panels or far away visual panels where Alphona drops details like the nose from a character’s profile. Instead of being a distraction, they help the reader to see that it is the setting that is actually center stage and making sure that the reader realize that the setting of New Jersey and what is happening there is as much a character in this book as anyone else. Ian Herring’s color work then brings a soft yet vibrant energy to the book that stands out and pops at the surprising ending.

There have been plenty of preview articles that have hinted at Kamala’s power-sets, but not at the trials she might have to endure to gain them or control them. The final flare at the end is fun and interesting to see how Wilson & Co. circle back around to bring us the hero we’re all longing to get to know.

The Verdict: 9.0/10


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