Ms. Marvel #1: So Much More Than the Hype
There is no excuse to skip Wilson and Alphona’s Ms. Marvel. Not only does this Ms. Marvel add to Marvel’s recent move toward wider representation in superheroes, it is also a darn good story with an engaging protagonist.
In Jersey City, Kamala likes to hang out at the corner store and smell the infidel meat (which would be bacon). Her close friends Bruno, who works the counter at the store, and Nakia complete her circle of friends. Kamala’s family has strict rules for this sixteen-year-old girl. Homework is priority. Movies with Nakia are acceptable. In no way can Kamala go to a party on the waterfront where there will be boys and alcohol. However, the headstrong Kamala decides to sneak out to this party against parental mandate. Once there, some of her peers give her a drink with vodka despite knowing she can’t, and doesn’t want to have alcohol. It’s truly, a jerk move. Kamala’s eyes are opened to a new side of her schoolmates and their betrayal. As she runs from the party, a strange fog begins to fill the city. Kamala is overtaken by this toxic fog and passes out before reaching home. She is awoken by a vision of Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Iron Man. Captain Marvel and Kamala have a heart to heart about who Kamala is and wants to be. Once the superheroes disappear and the fog abates, she is trapped in what she believes to be some sort of a cocoon. When Kamala breaks free, she is the spitting image of young Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel. This is more than she bargained for.
Ms. Marvel is simply a book about a teen girl trying on a superhero role. Yet, expectations are high for this creative effort and it carries great amount weight on its shoulders. The inclusion of a superhero of the Muslim faith is groundbreaking. The fact that this Muslim character is also female is significant. The person Kamala is before she meets Captain Marvel is very important. And, how she changes and grows in her story arc will be noteworthy. Wilson invests a great amount of personality in this character. As a result Kamala is more than just the adjectives attached to her.
Teen protagonists are easy to connect to and most likely why Young Adult fiction is so popular. If you are in your teen years, they can be inspiration or kindred spirit. If your teen years are behind you, they can take you back to a time when you felt invincible and insecure simultaneously. For many adults, that insecurity never goes away, unlike the vanishing feeling of invincibility. I find teen protagonists to be a lesson in remembering where we all started and what so many of us still carry around. Kamala hit all those notes for me in Ms. Marvel #1.
Recommendation: For everyone teen and older! For fans of DeConnick’s Captain Marvel and those who like Batgirl. If you haven’t read Rocket Girl yet, Ms. Marvel and Rocket Girl would be a great one-two punch.