Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

Man, it is such a shame that all these female superhero comics are coming out now instead of twenty years ago when I was a teen. Teen me would have loved these. But instead, the closest I ever got to an empowering superhero figure was magical girl manga. Not that there is anything wrong with magical girl manga. But I must say, there is something incredibly satisfying about having the gate to geek country swing open in welcome with decent rep. MS. MARVEL is an especially huge win because the heroine is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, and a Muslim with brown skin. At one point, she even dons a superhero costume that consists of the hated "burkini" that her mother bought her. Love.

Kamala Khan gets her powers one mysterious foggy night after receiving a mysterious vision that appears to be the Avengers, only speaking in her parents' language. As if that weren't trippy enough, she suddenly gains the ability to stretch and shape-shift, and her dark hair turns blonde and golden and she gets a fab outfit.

There really isn't a lot of plot to this story, apart from the fact that Kamala experimenting with her powers (and her desire for freedom as a teen) leads to repeated groundings and punishments from her parents who, while strict, are actually quite warm-hearted and kind, and it's clear how much they want to love her and understand, even if they are at somewhat of an impasse.

Kamala also has a friend named Bruno who obviously has a crush on her, but his brother, Vick, is into some shady shit that ends up getting all three of them into trouble. The book ends right when the shady shit begins, so I suspect the reason a lot of my friends felt so ambivalent about the first book is because it's literally all origin story and world-building. As far as origin stories go, this one really isn't that unique, and Kamala's funny character was the only thing that kept me reading. Some comic books neatly incorporate the origin story into the plot but sadly, this one ended up feeling front-heavy, and very light on the actual plot and climax.

I'm not sure I'll read more into the series, but I did love Kamala and her family. Even if this book weren't a superhero novel, and was just about them and their interactions with one another, I'd probably still have read it and liked it.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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