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Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Artist: Adrian Alphona

Review by Suzanne Nagda

Kamala Khan has the distinction of being the first legacy character based off of a female superhero in comics. That alone is huge considering how many legacy characters there have been over the years. She’s also part of the recent push to diversify the landscape of Marvel Comics. Ms. Marvel reflects a more diverse readership–one that wants to read about the life of a Pakistani-American from New Jersey.

Representation of minority groups in the media can be a tricky thing. At its worst, writers reduce minority characters to familiar stereotypes. (Yes, I mean you–NCIS). Thankfully, G. Willow Wilson goes out of her way to show the diversity of thought and belief that exists even within Kamala’s own family. In just a few pages, Wilson conveys how different Kamala is from her father and brother, Aamir. There’s a lot of touching moments here as well; I already love reading about Kamala’s home life.

Kamala hangs out with her friends at the corner store and has dinner with her parents. Like many teenagers, she doesn’t quite fit in with “blond and popular” kids. Her culture, her food, her values are all different and she’s tired of it. Insert typical teenage rebellion here–and Kamala sneaks off to a party with boys. And alcohol. Uh-oh. Terrigen Mists begin to fall on Jersey City and things look a lot more complicated for our conflicted heroine.

I think readers will appreciate this spin on a coming-of-age story. Kamala is trying to figure out her identity as a Muslim-American who feels split between cultures. She’s also a fun, slightly naïve character who brings a youthful energy to a legacy that once felt a little outdated. Kamala even calls out Ms. Marvel’s “classic, politically incorrect costume.” Adrian Alphona’s artwork perfectly complements the tone of the book–bright and slightly cartoony while still feeling relevant. He combines superhero and Bollywood elements into the same splash page. That just made my day right there.

My only concern is that this issue feels too “inside baseball” for the average reader. Concepts like usury in Islam are a little esoteric. Yet I’m glad that Wilson charges ahead without the burden of endless exposition.

The Verdict: Give this one a try! This book has a lot of potential and Kamala is endearing and engaging to read. As a Muslim, my expectations for Ms. Marvel are extremely high. As a comics reader, I want to read good stories about three-dimensional characters. I’m hoping I can have both in this new series.

5 Responses

  1. Will

    Thanks for this thoughtful review. I don’t read too many Marvel books, but I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. I agree that the creative team does a nice job of making Kamala a very authentic, accessible character. She wants to fit in, and has pressure from parents, peers, and has to figure out who she wants to be. Nothing seems too gimmicky, and I think many people can relate to Kamala’s identity struggles while the book introduces religious and cultural beliefs to many unfamiliar readers in a largely respectable way.

    • Suzanne Nagda

      Thanks, Will. I think the issue of identity and integrating aspects of your culture are things most readers can relate to. Whether you are a Caucasian, Roman Catholic from Virginia or a Pakistani, Muslim from New Jersey.

  2. Bob Reyer


    First off, kudos on a wonderful review! You’ve set out all the elements that would draw a reader to this new Ms. Marvel, as well as giving them a sense of the balance between them–very nicely done!

    I’ll spoil some of next week’s podcast here, because I want to help spread the word about great this first issue by G.Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona was! Kamala Khan is an engaging and feisty lead who reads like a genuine teenager trying to find her own identity, pushing at boundaries both familial and social.

    Ms. Wilson’s first issue is all set-up, but it never drags or seems to be talking “at us”, but instead provides a window into Kamala’s world. The art by Adrian Alpona is perfect for this series; charmingly playful, but he also captures the shifting emotions of the story to a “T”.

    What a superb way to start the series!

    • Declan

      Spot on review. Well said Mr Reyer! I would agree on the angst that Kamala showed was that of a genuine teen (having lived with one recently!). The art was superb, and the story did everything a first issue should do- be involved(without feeling ignorant of surroundings) felt comfotable with the new characters, it made me want to read on and it had the wit and balance of story that Captain Marvel had. I will for sure pick up issue 2.

    • Suzanne Nagda

      Thanks, Bob. I agree that this book really stands out as a first issue–it brings readers into Kamala’s world and makes her instantly relatable. She seems like a really promising character and I have high hopes for the series. As a Muslim, I’m a little wary of “tokenism” and the baggage of negative stereotypes. But acknowledging the differences between Kamala and (probably) the average reader is a strength of the series. My husband is a first generation, Pakistani American. I’ll definitely let you know what he thinks of Kamala as well.

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