One word review: Fantastic!
Ok lets write a bit more than one word shall we… I woke up at 4 this morning and couldn’t sleep more, so instead of turning and tossing I went on to Comixology and picked up one of the comics on my wish list: Ms. Marvel #1 and seriously I am soo glad that I did. I loved Captain Marvel, but Ms. Marvel blew me away! I had vaguely heard that Marvel was doing a muslim-American female superhero months ago and forgotten all about it. So when I opened the issue I was surprised and delighted.
Our heroine, Kamala Khan, is 16, lives with her parents in Jersey City, goes to high school and just want to be like the other girls. Unlike her friend Nakia who seems to own her muslim identity – Kamala struggles with hers. Kamala is a huge fan of Captain Marvel and writes fan-fic about her and the other Avengers. There is a snippet of it included in the comic and it is an awesome My Little Pony crossover with the Avengers. She fights with her parents over wanting to go to parties. Her parents fight with her older brother(?) who is way more religious than the rest of the family and they are in general as functional and dysfunctional as any other family with teenage children.
I will not spoil the plot for you other than to say that Kamala somehow gets superpowers at the end of the issue, but the rest of the issue is all about Kamala, her family and friends. It feels so very down to earth and real and isn’t boring for a second! I can’t wait for the next issue to come out, I think I might have to subscribe to this comic! Which is a first for me.
I think it is brave and wonderful of the Marvel team to have a muslim girl as one of their heroes they can get so much flack from this both from people who hate that she isn’t all white and conventionally beautiful (blond, big boobed, long-legged, white) and from within the culture thinking they are getting it wrong. Because of course they are going to make mistakes with this – writing about minorities is hugely difficult even from within the minority. So brave move and a wonderful one at that!
I love the art by Adrian Alphona, it is somehow really fitting to for the comic that it isn’t old-school clean lines and saturated colours but rather something softer and more dynamic. The faces of the characters are super expressive. The coloring is also superb. Look at that glowing sandwich display (Kamala is smelling bacon).
The dialog is great with easy banter between the friends and very real interactions between Kamala and her parents. And nobody is doing exposition or filling up the page with monologuing. I don’t like huge amounts of text in comics in general – to me that speaks of not understanding the medium you are in. So it is always great to see people getting it right.
I very much recommend the comic. Please go and read the first issue because it is wonderful. I think 2014 will be all about diversity and not just gender or sexuality diversity but a broader diversity. I know it already is in my reading.
But don’t take my word for it, go read the great review over on Comics Alliance by Joseph Hughes. It made me want to read the comic again. Also notice the seagulls.
The author: Female, white, muslim, USA
The protagonist: Kamala Khan, female, muslim-american, superhuman, high school student.