Last issue, Kamala Khan took control of her powers to save her friend from what looked like a life-threatening situation at her local convenience mart. During a struggle, a gun went off, and now Ms. Marvel gets to find out what a gunshot wound is like… Your Major Spoilers review of Ms. Marvel #4 awaits!
Previously in Ms. Marvel: “Kamala Khan has always felt different. Strict parents, nerdy hobbies and now… strange shape-shifting powers?
But maybe this is good! Maybe Kamala can do great things like saving Bruno from a robbery at the Circle Q posing as the original Ms. Marvel! Except…
…getting shot isn’t so great.”
THE UPSIDE OF BEING A POLYMORPH
Our story opens with Kamala-as-Captain-Marvel (thanks to her powers, mind you) bleeding in the middle of the Circle Q, with her friend Bruno and his idiot brother Vick (who, unbeknownst to Ms. Marvel was the ‘robber’ all along) trying to wake her up. Bruno responsibly dials 911 for assistance, but is shocked to see the Avenger morph into his friend Kamala. (Thankfully, her injuries disappear when she returns to her normal self, which makes me and our hero breathe a sigh of relief about how she was going to secretly treat a gunshot wound.) There is some really well-done panicky back-and-forth between them, which conveys the fact that they’re teenagers and old friends, and Bruno makes the point that so many internet commenters have been harping on for four months: The world doesn’t need another big blond superhero, but rather Kamala herself. In a moment that is truly hilarious and endearing as hell, Kamala awkwardly tried to retrieve the bullet, which has fallen down the back of her pants upon reverting to her normal form. With the help of a makeshift mask, Ms. Marvel and Bruno bluff the police about what happened, and Bruno convinces her to help him with brother Vick and his issues, starting with finding where he has gone.
“YOU CAN CALL ME… MS. MARVEL.”
Ms. Marvel slips back into her house, and pieces together a superhero costume out of bits of her own wardrobe, but an angry interaction with her mother leaves her with a limited amount of time to sneak out. Knowing that her mother will be getting up at 1 a.m. to check on her (which, by the way, revealing such a specific time seems like a tactical error on her mom’s part, unless it’s a ploy), Ms. Marvel nonetheless sneaks out to help her friend find his brother. Adrian Alphona’s art has been fascinating on this title so far, and the depictions of Ms. M’s shape-smithing powers has led to panels with giant hands, stretchy silly-putty arms and such, visuals that have been a little overwhelming to process in a superhero context. This issue settles that down a bit, with more uniform size-shifting by Miss Khan throughout the issue. There are still a few awkward moments visually, but Alphona’s wonderful rendition of Ms. Marvel’s expressive facial features makes up for it. The issue ends on an ominous note, with the implication that the Terrigen Mist explosions in Jersey City weren’t just a boon for Ms. Marvel, but the first appearance of our hero in her costume (and officially using her name) make for a pretty exhilarating read. If only she were in the New New Warriors…
THE BOTTOM LINE: WITTY AND UNIQUE
With this issue, Ms. Marvel finally has the arc that can make her a superhero, with a costume and a mission, and the brief conversation about how she needs to be a superhero as herself rather than as another generic blonde woman is important to where this comic seems to be going. I like the interaction between Bruno and Kamala, with its undertones of maybe-romance, and I like the fact that she’s trying to exist under the rules of her parents and her church rather than being an overtly rebellious jerkface teen. In short, Ms. Marvel #4 is another fun one from Wilson and Alphona, a book that is quirky and meaningful all at once, with some of the best character pieces in comics and the shouldn’t-be-as-rare-as-it-is central female person of color protagonist combining to earn 4 out of 5 stars overall. Ms. Marvel’s adventures are shaping up into something we don’t have nearly enough of in comics, and I recommend this title strongly for traditionalists and new-school fans alike.