Hanna Lafferty ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
In Ms. Marvel’s third issue, “Side Entrance,” Kamala Khan must deal with the consequences of rescuing Zoe Zimmer after her impromptu debut. With a cover by artists Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson, Kamala’s strong pose and flowing scarf show that she is finally ready to take on the Ms. Marvel mantle.
And it looks like she’s going to have, too, sooner rather than later. The plot is starting to move more quickly in this issue, as Kamala faces balancing her new-found powers with her life at school. Kamala is slowly starting to gain control of her shape-shifting abilities, and she deals with her loss of control by smashing the ceiling of the girl’s locker room. Bruno’s backstory also comes into play in this volume. He has invented a biokinetic polymer for a scholarship application, which is supposed to make the objects it’s placed on stretch beyond their normal ability (so, it can be assumed that this is going to come in handy for Kamala’s official costume). Bruno’s bad-egg brother Vick is also introduced and gives Kamala the chance for her second official rescue. It also introduces Kamala’s first nemesis, the nefarious-sounding Inventor.
Kamala must face the fact that her life is about to change drastically from here on out, and that she is really on her own. Her clumsy attempts to explain what happened to her after Zoe’s party to her best friend Nakia are endearing, but they also show how afraid Kamala is that she may no longer be able to fit into the same place she has always held in the life of the people around her. This is a journey she will have to make mostly alone. Nakia brushes aside her worries, and her family is far too worried about her new-found “degenerate” status to make the idea of confessing palatable. One of the few people who might believe her is Bruno, but when she goes to the Circle Q to talk about his betrayal (calling her parents about her getting lost at Zoe’s party) they are interrupted by a robbery.
“Side Entrance” also touches on the different perspectives of how women are perceived in Islamic culture. Kamala and her brother attend a youth lecture at their Masjid (also known as a mosque) that focuses on maintaining chastity as a teenager and even uses the news story on Zoe’s rescue as an example of the evils of mixing teens and alcohol together. When called upon during the lecture, Kamala brings attention to the use of a partition between men and women. While Sheikh Abdullah says that the partition and the side entrance are used to maintain the women’s modesty and dignity during service, Kamala argues that during the Prophet Muhammad’s time, women and men were allowed to sit in the same room and walk through the same door. This addresses a question often raised in Islam about whether the partition is really necessary. The use of a partition is not common in all mosques. The partition infuriates some Muslim women, who say that it is used for purely sexist reasons, but opponents argue that the partition is meant to give men and women the security of being able to worship without any untoward distractions. The fact that a comic book is bringing attention to this kind of conversation is a testament to the forward thinking of Marvel at this moment.
The Ms. Marvel team has handled questions of cultural differences and Kamala’s faith admirably in the past two volumes, and once again rises to the occasion in Volume 3. Kamala questioning the use of the partition in the mosque shows a young woman reconciling the values of her faith with her modern sensibilities. This shows a lot of maturity on Kamala’s part, and sets up further discussion of how Kamala will continue to grow her faith and her values throughout the series. This maturity can also be seen in her realization that as a superhero, she “is 911.” Kamala is starting to realize that she can truly make a difference with her new alter ego, and says when she is rescuing Bruno that her powers “feel like they mean something. Something scary, but good.” She now feels “big enough to have greatness in [her].”
Ms. Marvel has really exceeded expectations of fans with its witty dialogue and wonderfully human characters. The buzz that Kamala has generated has found its way onto YouTube, with a spot on the thought-provoking PBS Idea Channel, with their segment “How is Ms. Marvel Changing Media for the Better?”. The creator of the Ms. Marvel series, Sana Amanat gave a talk called “Myths, Misfits &Masks” for TEDxTeen 2014 which discusses what the big idea was behind the new Ms. Marvel.With an intense cliffhanger, it will be heavily anticipated where Ms. Marvel #4 will go next.