Thursday, May 14, 2015

Comic Review: Ms Marvel Volume 1: No Normal

I've been hearing great things about this comic for a while but it didn't occur to me to look for the collected issues at my library until I stumbled across one. I also didn't realize that the second collected set is also out now so be assured, as soon as I find that I'm reading that one too and bemoaning how short these volumes are compared to the manga volumes I'm used to.

Ms Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona

Superheroes are real but when life gets weird people adjust and just find a new normal for themselves. Jersey City's normal doesn't usually involve superheroes unless they're inside of Kamala Kahn's fanfics but after sneaking out one night she's ended up with powers of her own. Kamala has her own, typical teenager struggles, working out what part of her family's Pakistani-American beliefs are important to her and what she wants to do differently and her new shapeshifter powers are amazing and terrifying at the same time. If you don't know what you want to be and could be literally anyone then what do you do with that?

In a sentence, these people nailed it, they really got what being a teen is like. I was able to buy into the idea of Kamala being a real teen immediately and never once felt a dissonance between Kamala's dumber actions and her more heroic actions and it's really hard to write a character whose both smart and dumb even though that's almost the definition of being a person. She's just a really likable character and I'm thrilled that the people behind this series fully understood that you can't write a character without knowing their background and manage to work it all in with ease. I was a little surprised how quickly her "origin story" was glossed over (and I would like a few more details, is that the Inhuman-creating-gas that we also see in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?) but the internet assures me that she does meet up with other superheroes later on and I'm looking forward to that. I like the reoccurring characters that have already been introduced well enough but it's still a small cast at this point, I want to see Kamala bounce off of other characters and get take on even bigger villains. 

The one moment that felt off to me was when someone comment's on Kamala's cousin's headscarf and she has a line about her family wishing that she would end this phase already. I can see why a family in modern day US wouldn't want their daughter wearing a headscarf but the way the line was introduced, it's in the first few pages and the set-up was a bit forced, made me feel like it was there to reassure the new readers who were suddenly not so sure about reading a comic about a girl with a clear Muslim heritage and it was an attempt to keep those readers in a bit longer. I'm also not super-duper in love with the art style for the comic but it grew on me more quickly than I expected, I've heard the artist changes for an issue or two in the next volume which just sounds odd, a comic is story told by art so why would you change something that vital to the end presentation?  

I am completely on-board for this series and plan to pester my library to get the next volumes if they don't have it already. I'm not sure I can commit to reading other Marvel series if she's in cross-overs though I don't even know where to start looking up things like that outside of wikipedia and it's rather daunting. I'm also interested in the original Captain Marvel comics now too and have even less of a clue where to start there (The book Smugglers had the same idea I did but they're having trouble finding the start of the series with all the reboots), guess I'll cross my fingers that Wikipedia can help there too.