This week perturbed me. For one, Batman was a near suicidal gorp in “Forever Evil” but I don’t get to mock him for an entire article because more important comics came out. Second, “Punisher” is a dirty mess—and not in the, “I cut out his intestines and fed them into a fax machine” kind of mess that can be fun with Frank Castle. More like, “Nice guy with a gun” mess that makes Frank seem disconnected from that whole murdered family business. So instead I’m reviewing “Ms. Marvel” which is F&%$ing great and everybody knows it’s F&%$ing great but it’s still an incredibly important comic book to talk about.
A few months ago, Marvel announced a second wave of new books. There were quite a few interesting titles thrown into the mix with cover art that was gorgeous. But there was one cover that made the entirety of the internet give a standing ovation; the new Ms. Marvel was clearly from the Middle-East—okay, the educated and decent people on the internet gave a standing ovation. There were some mentally deficient cuddle fish who belched hate like a Red Lantern with indigestion. But most responses have been overwhelmingly positive with the general feeling summed up as: “It’s about time.” So with all the hype, did “Ms. Marvel” live up to the expectations? Heck yeah!
This book brings back that portion of super hero life we don’t usually see, their lives. While someone like Tony Stark is always speaking about the Avengers, our new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan—well she does too but it’s because she’s a super fan girl. There’s a great page where we glimpse into her head as she reads over her Avengers Fanfic, which is an awesome story in and of itself. It really brings home what Marvel is trying to do with its comics that DC is floundering with. Marvel now has a few books out that gives us a view of these character within the purview of this universe. Yes they have characters confronting diabolical terrors and space aliens, but these other books—“Hawkeye” and to a lesser extent “Wolverine and the X-Men”; give contextualization and characterization to the heroes behind the mask.
“Ms. Marvel” kicks off with Kamala Khan buying some breakfast before class and within two pages we know her personality, her outlook on life, and her place in the world. What’s even better is we’re not beat over the head with the fact that she is a Pakistani American. Marvel isn’t giving themselves a pat on the back for having a character from the Middle-East—technically DC did it first with the newest Green Lantern WHO IS TERRIBLE AND STUPID AND FOR PETE’S SAKE IF YOUR HERO IS MUSLIM WHY NOT MAKE HER A WOMAN BECAUSE A HEAD SCARF IS SUPER LOGICAL FOR A MASK AREN’T THERE FOUR MALE GREEN LANTERNS ALREADY… ahem, I’m sorry, how did that get in there? Anyway, the fact that she is Pakistani is really only relevant to show her isolation from her peers, which is a common theme of teenage super heroes. And that’s what is important here, this is a regular hero who happens to be a Pakistani American and she can be both that and a hero because why not? What is stopping her? Well after she gets her powers, not much.
One thing with Marvel I am not enthusiastic to applaud is their forceful attempts to push the “Inhumanity” events into all folds of the universe, but here it pays off. If you haven’t read “Inhumanity”, here’s a quick summary: superpower gas bomb. But with this avenue they don’t need to come up with some convoluted tale to explain Kamala’s super powers. What they do instead is have her interpret the events through her own prism of experience, melding her ancestry and love of the Avengers into a fevered dream that cushions the mental blow of discovering super powers. So yes, there wasn’t much fighting in this issue, practically none but it does tell a compelling story about a girl whose life is about to be turned upside down.
When comparing super hero to super hero, Mark versus Kamala is an easy comparison to make. In “Invincible” Mark’s life is explored in detail, showcasing the consequences of his super life on his normal one. Kamala looks to be heading that way as well and in both cases it builds a more intricate fabric to weave this tale of heroics. Mark still has the advantage in this arena however because he is growing older and we have a timeline of life experiences to compare his normal life to his super life. Kamala lives in a world of perpetuity so even if she does proceed into the future, her growth is doomed to be stinted. So though I am enthusiastic, I need to see where this goes.