Comic BooksReview

Review: Ms. Marvel #1

Hanna Lafferty ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Ms. Marvel #1 was released on February 5th in digital and in print, featuring a new character from Marvel Comics, Kamala Khan, taking on the title from the original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers. Khan’s origins created a lot of buzz for Marvel, since she is the first Muslim superheroine to have her own title series.

Kamala Khan with Bruno and Nakia.
Kamala Khan with Bruno and Nakia. Photo courtesy of Marvel.

This first issue starts off by addressing Kamala’s faith through the eyes of her friends and family. Labeled as an outcast by her friend Nakia because of her “weird nerd obsession” with the Avengers (which extends to writing fanfiction about the team defending Planet Unicorn from invaders), Kamala deals with how her religious values clash with what she considers to be normal teenage behaviors, like hanging out with boys and going to parties on a Friday night. A potential love interest is introduced in Kamala’s friend Bruno, as well as high school drama in the form of the two-faced Zoe Zimmer. Captain Marvel, Iron Man, and Captain America also make an appearance as representations of Kamala’s faith with a rendition of some Urdu poetry and a winged sloth.

Writer G. Willow Wilson (Cairo) and artist Adrian Alphonse (Runaways) were tasked with bringing Kamala to life and they do not disappoint. Willow captures Kamala’s desires in dialogue that is sharp and witty, while Alphonse and colorist Ian Herring make Jersey City and scenes from Kamala’s imagination a lovely, compelling backdrop for the story. Kamala’s background is brought up cleverly through her conversations with her family with the use of Urdu phrases. This also places focus on Kamala’s conflicting feelings about her cultural identity.

Kamala falling unconscious before the onset of her powers.
Kamala falling unconscious before the onset of her powers. Photo courtesy of Marvel.

While her family is Pakistani and Muslim, Kamala also identifies herself as a Jersey City girl. This clash of cultures and ideals is the core of Kamala’s internal conflict. Kamala idolizes Captain Marvel not just because she’s a strong female figure, but also because she represents what Kamala has been taught is the “norm”: blonde and blue-eyed, the typical American girl. A resolution of her self begins when Captain Marvel also appears to Kamala as a representation of her faith during her hallucination. Kamala shouldn’t have to make sacrifices to belong to either of the cultures she identifies with, and Captain Marvel braces her for the long journey she faces in dealing with her powers and how they will affect her identity further.

Ms. Marvel feels like it’s going to be a quirky, sweet coming-of-age story as Kamala learns to balance her life with her powers but it will also be filled with deeper meaning. At her core, Kamala Khan isn’t relatable only to the Muslim community, or even to teenaged girls. She represents an issue that many people face, an answer to the question of “Who am I?” Kamala shows that this cannot be defined through society, but through oneself. Already Ms. Marvel has made leaps and bounds by breaking through religious and racial barriers in the comic book world, and it will be a pleasure to see how the team at Marvel continues to address these issues through the rest of the series.

Emertainment gives this issue 9/10.

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