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?
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!