“Ms. Marvel” Issue #1 Review – Meet the new Muslim Ms. Marvel
Marvel Comics grabbed headlines around the world when they announced they would be making a new superhero a Muslim, but not only that – a Muslim woman! There were mixed opinions across the board, some readers citing the progressive nature of this move as a plus, others calling it a gimmick to draw attention, and some even saying it’s just killing two birds with one stone by having a female minority heroine. Others just flat-out called it a bad idea and could not support such a concept.
No matter what your opinion might be of the gimmick, the good news is that “Ms. Marvel” is off to a great start and I think we will be seeing quite a lot more of her in the future. I will do my best to keep this spoiler-free, but this review does include a brief plot synopsis (that does not reveal the ending) so you have been warned about that if you want to stay totally fresh to the book when you pick this up.
Written by G. Willow Wilson and drawn by Adrian Alphona, Kamala Khan is your average teenage Pakistani girl living in New Jersey. Except for the fact that she is a huge nerd who writes fan-fic’s about “The Avengers” and has strict parents who do not like their little girl growing up as fast as she might want to. One night after escaping from her house to go to a party that does not end well for her, Kamala and many of her classmates are hit with the Terrigan mists, and from there, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen next.
The fact that Kamala is far from a way to sell books, but it is also not the only part of it. If anything, kamala is more relatable as a quirky and nerdy teen girl that is trying to find acceptance in a world that does not understand what her characteristics are, and not defined by what God she believes in. Kamala’s home and school-life is very interesting to demonstrate that, with a brother who is a devout Muslim that refuses to work and would rather spend his time learning about his religion, while her parents are more reformed, although still conservative in their views on raising kids. Kamala’s bestie, Nakia, is just discovering her own roots, while her antagonizing classmates have decided that Kamala “smells like curry” and is a novelty to be mocked.
Kamala is clearly aware of her background, but it’s not a driving factor for her, merely a part of her that does not solely define who she is. This is a very strong part of the book, is that it plays on your expectations that this comic is thrusting you, the reader, into the world of a Muslim girl, while in reality, the book is throwing you into the life of an outsider that is trying to determine who she is – a Muslim, a nerdy fangirl, a super heroine, or all of the above?
The writing is spot on, but what really attracted me to the book was Alphona’s artwork, which has a sketchy and energetic style that really defines the way I read all of the characters voices. Combined with the beautiful coloring done by Ian Herring that always sets the mood, the visuals in this book fit the attitude and story by keeping it grounded in a realistic way, but can be shifted suddenly into a fantasy world that is in our protagonists head, or occasionally in real life.
We do not actually see Kamala wearing her new outfit by the end of the first issue, although we do see her wearing something that is quite a shock for her. I am excited about this being a five-part origin story since it will allow our protagonist to really get grounded in her new role, as well as pace things nice and easy for the reader to enter her world. Culture shock is clearly a theme in this book, but it will not be the only thing we read about, as Kamala deals with her newfound powers and attempts to just be accepted for who she is, not what she is. I highly recommend picking up “Ms. Marvel” #1, and can not wait for the second issue!