MS. MARVEL #1 REVIEW
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 She’s also a fun, slightly naïve character who brings a youthful energy to a legacy that once felt a little outdated.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.