Monday, February 23, 2015

Ms. Marvel Year One

A lot can happen in one year of a girl’s life. She might sneak out of the house for the first time and go to her first party, get enveloped by a mysterious mist and get superpowers (origin story, descended from alien/human hybrid species called Inhumans). She then might rescue someone for the first time (that popular girl who acts nice but really isn’t) and take her first steps as a superhero (epic fail, gets shot). Make another big superhero moment, this time with official costume (another fail, lots of tiny robots). Then get her first team-up with a legendary hero (Wolverine! ONLY #2 on her fantasy hero team-up bracket), get her first villain (hybrid clone of Thomas Edison and a cockatiel, but still counts), find out she is descended from aliens (she thought she might have been a mutant, so new info to her), get her first dog (that is huge and teleports, also an Inhuman), and even meet a queen (in this case an queen of the Inhumans, so technically her queen?). A lot can happen in one year of a girl’s life. (Realizing her best friend who happens to be a guy is in love with her not one of them) A lot can happen in one year of anyone’s life. But in this case, this is year one of Ms. Marvel.

This also happened. Meeting Agent Coulson in SHIELD #2

In my review of issue #1, I compared Kama Khan to Peter Parker. This comparison is still very much valid. Kamala lives in the real world. (The "real" comic book world where superheroes exist, but still) She has to sneak out to be heroic. She has to sneak back in to go to school in the morning and be completely unheroic. But before she was "special", Kamala wanted to be like the “normal” kids. Go to parties, with boys, eat the legendary infidel meat called bacon, etc. But being a racial and religious minority doesn’t help. More to the point, having conservative parents doesn't help. Being a fangirl nerd helps even less. But now Kamala has super powers. And even though she lacks Peter Parker’s science skills, she still has her good friend Bruno to fill in that gap in her superhero life. (If you haven't read the series, yes, Bruno is the friend secretly in love with her) However, there is still no super power that can defeat the teenage awkward phase. She is a real teenager.

The first ark in the series finds Ms. Marvel taking on the mystery of teens being kidnapped by The Inventor (the before mentioned bird/man). He has an army of small to super sized robots powered by the teenagers he seemingly kidnapped. (Think The Matrix. And "seemingly" because it's a tad more complicated than that) Along the way she is assisted by Bruno and her canine/Inhuman sidekick, Lockjaw. The tome is light and and entertaining. The writing and art is great. It's a solid series.

Creators G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona created a great series and character. And it is breakthrough in that Kamla Khan is the first Muslim character to headline a series. But the great thing about the series is that her religion is not a focus of the series. It's treated as just another detail that makes up the Kamala Khan character. She could have been a white, blond, christian girl and the story and humor would still work. With a few detail changes of course. But Ms. Marvel being a person of color and a non Christian is important. It is important to be able to see ourselves in the heroes we look up to. They don't necessarily have to look like us but it's nice when they all don't look the same. It helps us believe we can be like them.

I've also mentioned before that another great thing about the series is that it is a good entry point for fans. Ms. Marvel exists in the main Marvel Comics universe but you don’t need to catch up on decades of Marvel history to know what is going on. Yeah her powers came as a result of a big story in the Marvel Universe but the focus of her story is her local world of Jersey City. The bigger world will keep happening and Kamala Khan will occasionally experience some of the fallout.... kind of how she will face the end of the Marvel Universe in the upcoming Secret Wars event. Easrlier this month Marvel announced the Last Days story arc that Ms. Marvel (and other heroes/titles) will be experiencing. Although this isn't the end of the series or Kamala Khan. It's just a big end of the universe type thing Marvel is doing. Long story, these things happen in comics, but Kamala will be back. So... The goings on of the Marvel Universe will bleed over into the Ms. Marvel series. But I suspect it will be a while before Kamala Khan takes a major role in a major crossover event. The series is too much fun and too new to get into the complications of the bigger world. Hopefully Marvel will allow the character to grow and thrive before she gets called up to the big leagues. This has been a great first year for Ms. Marvel.  Now well see how her legend unfolds.