Advance Review: Ms. Marvel #1


When writer G. Willow Wilson (another of my 30 Creators To Watch In 2014) was assigned to write a reboot of Ms. Marvel, interest peaked for a few reasons. One was Wilson’s much lauded writing talent; the other was the religious slant of the project. Wilson is a practicing Muslim, and her main character in Ms. Marvel will also be part of the Muslim community.

Wilson pulls off a hefty magic trick here by getting in front of the Muslim aspect of the issue and not allowing it to over take the story. Her main character, Kamala Khan, is a teenage girl, raised on the full tilt day-to-day ideas of America, but within the construct of a Muslim family. Her parents are practicing but not devout, while her brother has immersed himself in the culture. Kamala simply wants to be a regular teenager, which makes her the key to Wilson’s story.

Kamala is not hateful towards her culture, which would have been an easy out. She’s also not excited with the restraints it puts on her. She wants to try certain foods that are forbidden. She can’t see boys, and she’s not allowed to go to parties. Though it involves a religious idea, Kamala’s trials and tribulations are universal and instantly relatable, no matter who you are. She’s also a dreamer, and a dedicated nerd who lives for the Avengers, making her ultimate destiny much cooler.

Ms. Marvel #1 is an introduction story. Wilson does a very graceful job of setting up the varied identities of Kamala’s friends. The dialogue is very real, which allows even familiar characters to not be stereotypes. The jock guy and cheerleader girl are ignorant and possess a teenage ability to be inadvertently cruel, but they aren’t mean. You might not be excited about what they do, but you don’t hate them. Wilson makes very sure that no character is treated with a simple definition.

The pages where Kamala becomes Ms. Marvel are wonderful, one of the more imaginative superhero origins I’ve come across. Wilson is blending not just cultures, but also two different mythologies. Part of that is Wilson’s writing, but a large part is the gorgeous artwork from Adrian Alphona. The new Ms. Marvel has a strong fantasy vibe to it, and Alphona nails it with the pencils. Delicate line work, with exquisite detail and some slightly bizarre uses of anatomy all come together to give Ms. Marvel a wholly original look. I must also tip my hat to Ian Herring’s colors, which elevate the dreamlike state of the whole book.

With so much slam-bang noise being made by the other Marvel Now issues exploding onto the screen. Ms. Marvel makes an impact with a quieter style that’s more elegant and charming.

(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)