Kamala Khan is about to learn the truth in the old adage, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Your Major Spoilers review of Ms. Marvel #2 awaits!
Previously in Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan is a nice young lady from New Jersey, raised in a Muslim household, with a deep love of unicorns, comic books and the Avengers (especially Captain Marvel.) Foolishly sneaking out of her house to attend a party, she is caught in a cloud of Terrigen Mist, and dreams that Captain Marvel herself had descended from the sky to offer her boon. When she awoke, Kamala Khan was transformed into a dead ringer for Ms. Marvel, right down to the blonde hair and thigh boots, but will it prove to be more than she bargained for?
IT PROVES MORE THAN SHE BARGAINED FOR
This issue picks up moments after last issue’s shocking final panel, with Kamala transfigured into her idol, only to realize with horror what has happened. There’s a lovely series of moments that try to explain how it feels to be in another person’s skin, including the lovely metaphor that her skin is “one big muscle, and that muscle has tensed up.” Adrian Alphona outdoes himself with the visuals again, as Kamala finds herself transforming without control, shifting and changing back and forth from her regular self, to Ms. Marvel to a melange of the two with chest symbol and mask. G. Willow Wilson does an excellent job of putting us inside the head of a sixteen-year-old girl, as Kamala once again butts heads with the mean girl who drove her away from the part last issue, only to have to save her life, as the drunken girl nearly drowns. Her attempts to control her powers are wonderful, as is the realization that she can transform herself just by thinking about mean-girl Zoe, which makes her wish she was someone else. The Marvel Universe is built on a foundation of Peter Parker, maladjusted teenage loser with a secret, and Kamala/Ms. Marvel fits right into that sort of mold, especially as she ends up running home in the dead of night, wearing a sweater she borrowed from a homeless man, because Ms. Marvel’s uniform is embarrassing, uncomfortable and most of all, cold.
The second half of the issue once again shows us her home life, deepening her family dynamic, with her big brother ready to gather his friends and beat up whomever hurt her. Unfortunately, Kamala’s safe passage home doesn’t negate the fact that her parents know she snuck out after curfew, against their direct instructions, leading us to a situation where our hero is grounded in her second appearance. I love the little touches of the Khan family, reminding me of how few super-heroes aren’t tragic loners, orphans or from a dead planet. Kamala’s culture/family issues are handled as strongly as the superheroics, and her shape-shifting powers are very uniquely shown by Alphona’s art. I especially like the way her proportions remain relatively similar, even in a Ms. Marvel costume, and her realization that being a superhero can also mean “an epic wedgie,” but her heroic moment (driven by the memory of something her father once told her) is still an impressive feat, and as the issue ends, it seems clear that, grounded or not, Ms. Marvel is about to embark unto a superhero career in emulation of her beloved Captain Marvel.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A VERY MARVEL COMIC
If you have had any issues about Ms. Marvel based on the very visible hype machine, I urge you to overcome those reservations and pick it up. Far from being an example of editorial caveat, Ms. Marvel is a lovely character, believable, fun and well-designed on both the visual and writing front. There are a couple of different possible superhero looks on display this issue, which makes me wonder what she’s actually going to WEAR once she starts going into battle, only one of the many questions I hope to see answered in this book. Ms. Marvel #2 is a book that reminds me of early Spider-Man, Nova and New Warriors comics, positing an interesting young hero (with the bonus of her being both female and a person of color), earning a very impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. It’s a book I want people to support, so that it will last a good long time…