Kamala faces the media coverage of her heroic deed in the guise of Ms. Marvel, being grounded to the end of time, an inability to control her new powers and the chance to be a heroine for the second time in as many days. Will any of it go well?

detailMS. MARVEL #3
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Colourist: Ian Herring
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Price: $2.99

 

 

 

 

IDENTITY CRISIS

 

Kamala Khan is just about the least excited newly discovered superheroine ever. In a flurry of media activity her rescue of classmate Zoe Zimmer Kamala fears that her own identity will come to the surface and she will be grounded until approximately the end of time. While attending a lecture by her neighbourhood Islamic Leader (Sheikh Abdullah), Kamala tries to tell her best friend Nakia about her newfound terrigen mist-induced shape-shifting abilities without coming outright and admitting that she has superpowers … and it goes about as well as one would expect.

I very much appreciate G. Willow Wilson having Kamala be apprehensive about admitting to her powers. If this were another book by another writer Ms. Marvel #3 would have the lead (probably teenaged), character gushing dramatically in an enthusiastic display of all the cool things they can do now. Kamala’s reaction is certainly more tempered, but it is exact quality that makes her feel a lot more human than many of her contemporaries – even to the point where she carries a grudge toward her friend Bruno for tattling to her parents through the remainder of Ms. Marvel #3.

When Kamala’s powers come to life at school during her free period (she has a pesky hand that keeps shifting not only skin tone, but scale), she flees to the nearest locker room into order to compartmentalize exactly what is happening to her. As someone who was once a girl in high school this reaction feels very true to life and Wilson once again endears Kamala to me as a person I might know out in the world. Amidst an issue of struggle and confusion in the presumed safety of the locker room Wilson allows Kamala a moment of joy to explore just how cool – as much as terrifying – it would be for a nerdy fangirl to suddenly discover herself of equal abilities to her heroes. Kamala tests her shape-shifting (mostly growing), and the proportional strength that comes along with it.

Ms. Marvel #3 chugs along with Kamala landing in detention (in case we weren’t sure that this is the worst day ever), although by the time of her release she has decided to go and talk to her friend Bruno and, hopefully, patch up their friendship. As she walks toward the Circle Q (a convenience store where Bruno works), Kamala ponders the implication of her new shape-shifting abilities. If she can change her outside does that have equal implications internally? No matter what body and face she puts on is she still Kamala? It’s refreshing to have a young heroine struggle with her place in the world beyond the scope of with great power comes great responsibility. Wilson writes Kamala’s confusion close to the chest and, again, it feels very genuine and only serves to endear her to the reader more (particularly a female reader).

When Kamala reaches the Circle Q Bruno is working … and also being held up by an assailant wielding a gun. The identity of the assailant is important, but I don’t want to spoil it for you; suffice it to say Kamala takes it upon herself and her Danvers-inspired Ms. Marvel identity to intervene and it goes about as south for our heroine as possible when a firearm is involved.

The ending of Ms. Marvel #3 is about as far from what I was expecting as possible and it hardly seems fair to have to wait weeks and weeks for the fourth issue to come out.

LOOKS LIKE AN INDIE BOOK

 

It just does and I think, in this case, it is a strength. A lot like Kamala’s tempered reactions to all the craziness swirling around her everything from the way Adrian Alphona draws characters to the way he layers the panels and frames them makes Ms. Marvel #3 (and the entire run of the series thus far), feel as though we are peeking into Kamala’s diary. It feels intimate and the world – especially as coloured by Ian Herring – feel attainable, as though we might very well walk out our own front door and find ourselves on Kamala’s street … except I don’t live in Jersey.

Alphona also deserves a lot of praise for drawing Kamala (and Carol Danvers, when she’s wearing that mask), like a teenaged girl and, yes, I’m talking about breasts – particularly in the wake of so much controversy over cover art. Kamala is beautiful and short and (amazingly), not Caucasian and while that earns Ms. Marvel #3 (and the series as a whole), more attention at a glance than it should in the 21st century, it is so well executed that it bears mentioning.

 

READ THIS BOOK

 

Alphona and Herring understand as much about Kamala Khan and her journey to becoming Ms. Marvel as Wilson and they blend their respective talents together seamlessly. If you are a female comics fan and you’re not reading Ms. Marvel you are missing out. If you are a male comics fan and you’re not reading Ms. Marvel you are missing out. This book is also ridiculously PG – so buy a copy for you and some little girls you know as well!

The Author

Ashley Victoria Robinson

Ashley Victoria Robinson

Ashley Victoria Robinson is a Canadian girl by day and Robin by night. She lives in Los Angeles now and stars as Ensign Williams in THE RED SHIRT DIARIES, co-hosts the GEEK HISTORY LESSON podcast and writes for Top Cow.

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6 Comments

  1. April 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm — Reply

    Is anyone else a little disturbed by the fact that she continues to turn into a blonde, white girl when using her powers? I understand this may have a lot to do with her “identity crises” as it were, but with Marvel making such a huge point of letting everyone know the lead character is Muslim, it comes off as strange and seems like it’s sending the wrong message. “We’re progressive and have a lead who isn’t white. But not proud enough that when they’re a superhero they’re white.” I like this book a lot but I’m hoping they address this in future issues.

    • April 19, 2014 at 7:31 pm — Reply

      Must be something Freudian as she said. I mean, in her defense; she had to turn into Carol Danvers since well, she had to disguise herself as somebody.

    • April 19, 2014 at 7:40 pm — Reply

      In the Ms. Marvel Infinite, Kamala is powered up (fighting a trash monster in a junkyard) and she looks like herself; my guess is that by the end of this first lil arc, she’s going to transform but as herself, not into a blonde

    • April 19, 2014 at 11:44 pm — Reply

      It’s a story-told-out-of-order thing if you consider what Matt said (about the Infinite Comics issue), but even without that, #1 established that it’s not her transforming into “a” blonde, white girl but rather appearing as a specific superhero who is both part of Kamala’s personal superhero Trinity and THE central figure besides Kamala in #1’s “vision”, with both #1 and #2 addressing her idolization of said woman (and #3 making it an early plot point). Also, #3 has her specifically trying to transform into someone else BESIDES “Carol Danvers redux”… not into who she intended, but at least not Carol Danvers!

      I admittedly don’t feel disturbed if only because I feel that a bunch of the necessary context was provided both in pre-debut promotion and in the first two issues.

      (Anecdote: The final issue of the previous Captain Marvel volume concluded on an unnamed Kamala appearance where she manifested her shapeshifting to change her muscle tone and mass but not skin color.)

      • April 22, 2014 at 10:50 am — Reply

        All great explanations, some I’m aware of, others I’m not (the Infinite Issue appearance). My main point is for all the hype Marvel gave it, so far her heroic appearance has only been as Carol Danvers, a blonde white woman. When I have people coming into the store to pick up the book specifically to check out a Muslim superhero, I’m curious as to how they’ll feel when they read the story. It’s more my problem with Marvel’s hype machine. I could be (and probably am) the only person a little bugged by it, so what the hell.

    • April 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm — Reply

      I am in complete agreement. It is laughable that they have this muslim character whose alter ego is a blond white demigoddess.

      Can you imagine if Wonder Woman span around and suddenly transformed into… a man. I put this on a level with that as an absurdity of the highest order.

      I also find the way they have written her as a muslim borderline racist. My family are muslim, but they are all wrong, the only way to live is to try and be more westernised because they are right and my clearly stereotyped family are hideous and nasty.

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