Ms. Marvel #1 – spoilers
Marvel Comics, February 2014
Writer – G. Willow Wilson
Art – Adrian Alphona
When Marvel announced this last year I was intrigued. ‘Muslim’ in the U.S. these days is more of a buzzword than a description of somebody who is an adherent of Islam. I didn’t think Marvel would let this be overtly political, and I’m not familiar with Wilson’s other work, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Turns out, this book presents a solid origin story along the lines of Jamie Reyes or Peter Parker. A teen, overwhelmed by her situation and wanting something, but not sure what, and finally being granted super powers.
The story opens with the main, Kamala Khan and a friend, Nakia, at the local convenience store, venting about not being able to eat a BLT due to the bacon. Enter Zoe, the vapid character used to lay some of the groundwork about life as Muslim in the modern-day United States, asking questions about Nakia’s headscarf and offering a party invite that is declined, since there will be alcohol.
Cut to after school, and we find Kamala writing Avengers fan fic and discover Ms. Marvel is her favorite. There’s a dinner scene where we meet her parents and more-devout-than-thou older brother and see some of the tensions present in any family. Kamala asks to go to the party, but when she tells her father there will be boys, he says no. This leads to a quick argument and dismissal to her room.
In her room she has an inner monolog decrying everything in her life that she feels makes her conspicuous among her peers. Not being required to attend Health class, special food at lunch, the ‘weird’ holiday. Everybody else gets to be normal. Why can’t she?
On that note, she sneaks out of her room to go to the party.
At the party she’s tricked into drinking vodka, which she spits out, and is told she smells of curry. The boy who is obviously smitten tries to help her, but just drives her away from the party.
As she storms away there is a loud thumping noise and a fog rolls in. Everybody at the party, including Kamala, passes out. Kamala then has a vision of the Avengers Ms. Marvel, Captain America and Iron Man. Ms. Marvel asks her about her actions and the consequences incurred and what Kamala really wants. Kamala admits she wants to ‘beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated’. She says she wants to be Ms. Marvel.
After this, the Avengers start to depart and Kamala realizes she’s in a cocoon. At this point, you should realize the timeline of this book fits in at the end of the Infinity story, this is the Terrigen Mists, and Kamala is an Inhuman. As she breaks out of the cocoon, we see she now looks like a young Ms. Marvel (in the old costume). Long blonde hair, thigh-high boots, long sleeves, bodysuit and red sash. And a very surprised look.
So, Kamala is an Inhuman but what exactly are her powers? Shapeshifter? Mimic? Something else? I want to know. This is the first of a five-part arc, and I’m certainly going to stick around for the conclusion.
On the whole, I enjoyed this issue. It was a solid, but not spectacular, origin issue. Wilson did a good job of mixing the usual teen issues and adding an Islamic layer to them. No parties with boys and alcohol. This is not a problem unique to the Muslim world, but it is used well here in Kamala’s argument with her father. Can’t eat the BLT. ‘Weird’ holidays. Wilson converted to Islam in her 20′s, and I hope she’s able to have a long run on this to keep Kamala’s perspective and problems, from an Islamic point of view, going beyond an origin and first arc. Marvel has always done diversity better than DC, and this is off to a good start. I hope Marvel will give this character a chance to succeed for the long term and not can the series if it’s not getting Avengers numbers each month.
The art is excellent. I loved Alphona on Runaways, and his work is excellent here.
If you’re a fan of Ms. Marvel and want to see a different take on the character now that Carol Danvers is Captain Marvel, I’d recommend checking this out.