G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
Marvel Comics (2014)
Following the epic events of INFINITY, a 16-year-old Muslim girl from New Jersey discovers extraordinary body-morphing powers and follows in the footsteps of her idol, Captain Marvel, to become the new Ms. Marvel.
Earlier in the week I reviewed Captain Marvel: in pursuit of flight and found it a little wanting. It had good intentions, good writing, and rather uninspiring art work. Carol Danvers shook off her Ms. Marvel origins, became the captain and left me underwhelmed. This Ms. Marvel, did exactly the opposite and it had very little to do with the much tauted first headliner Muslim character.
Kamala Khan, sixteen, is the lead character and title character of Ms. Marvel. She is a Pakistani-American girl just trying to survive the toxic nature of high school and those that populate it. Regardless of her ethnicity, it is Wilson's fierce grasp on her adolescence that strongly shines through the pages. For one, Kamala writes Avengers fan fiction. If you've spent any time on Tumblr whatsoever you would know that this is standard...I am just shocked Loki wasn't mentioned (poor, poor Tom Hiddleston.) Secondly, she's conflicted on bacon and lastly, she wants the passive-aggressive blonde girl to like her (even if the girl is a complete troll.) Kamala is utter relatable but it's her sarcasm and zip that make her such a refreshing addition to the Marvel line up. She admires the Avengers and very much wants to be like Captain America, Captain Marvel and Iron Man. I admire her.
The use of Urdu in the hallucinatory scene, the commentary on the hijab and the bacon sniffing all brilliant sketch out Kamala's world. Humour is ever present both in the social commentary and the depiction of character. Nothing Wilson has written is superfluous, it's bedded in character and narrative. Creating a rich world in which Alphona has grabbed by the hand and run with. It's a great start to this new series; a series I will be following quite closely.
I loved every page, every cell, every line. It is beautiful work by Alphona, depicting the boldness of youth, clarity of action, and a zippy swagger that is all Kamalas. It's a saturated style that reminds me of my beloved Saga, realistic and yet distinctly cartoon. There's a boldness that really captures the imagination and melds lovingly with Wilson's words. It makes me wish he had worked on Captain Marvel as I much prefer his rendering of Danvers.
Ms. Marvel #1 is the first in a series to which I am very excited to follow. Wilson and Alphona bring a new Marvel character to life with such vitality and strength that I am clamouring for more. There is plenty more of the story to see; from Kamala's grasp of her powers, her navigation of the high school social ladder, Bruno (of whom I adore already), and potentially her place in a team amongst those she admires. Ms. Marvel can go any which number of ways and I am willing to trust.