MS. MARVEL #1/ Written by G. WILLOW WILSON/ Art by ADRIAN ALPHONA/ Colors by IAN HERRING/ Letters by VC’s JOE CARAMAGNA / Published by MARVEL COMICS
Ms. Marvel is possibly All-New Marvel NOW!’s most anticipated – or at least publicized – new project. Though the new Ms. Marvel is certainly filling a decidedly popular legacy, this is the first time in a while Marvel has pushed an original character on a solo title. Ms. Marvel fills a lot of niches – she’s a teen heroine, she’s a she, and she’s a particularly underrepresented ethnic and religious minority (Pakistani and Muslim). That last bit caused a minor controversy upon announcement, but for the most part everyone was interested and excited. Especially once it was announced award-winning writer G. Willow Wilson would head the title. With all the coverage in both geek and mainstream presses, Ms. Marvel has a lot going for it and a lot riding on it. Good thing for everyone involved it’s amazing.
For those not already in the know the new Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, a sixteen-year-old gal from Jersey City and the biggest Avengers fangirl out there. She’s fun, lively, goofy, energetic and instantly endearing. She’s not unlike the reader – she loves the Avengers (just like you!), wants to be cool and popular (just like you!), and desires independence and acceptance from her peers (just like you!). More than anything, Kamala wants to be a peer of her role models Carol Danvers and the other Avengers. She’s a big old sweetheart bundle of energy and wins over readers with her charm by page one.
Issue one introduces a wide supporting cast for our girl, and while they naturally don’t get as much story or depth as Kamala, you get the jist. Brother Aamir is a pious layabout, Mom and Dad are overprotective because they want the best for their daughter (which means no parties and certainly no parties with boys). Kamala’s sisterly bestie Nakia is more practical and street savvy, while sweet convenience store clerk Bruno has it bad for Kamala. Add in a high school mean girl and rival alliterative, Zoe Zimmer as an antagonist and Ms. Marvel has a real and full world. And that’s even before the Terrigen mists roll out and flip everything upside down.
G. Willow Wilson’s writing is terrific, with familiar characters and natural, easy dialogue. Everyone has his or her own distinct voice which makes it easy to tell who someone is and what they’re about. Wilson’s script and Adrian Alphona’s art are paired perfectly together. Editor Sana Amanat lauds Alphona’s pencils and inks as wacky and enchanting and Ian Herring’s colors as playful, which are apt descriptions of their work and talents. Particularly charming are Alphona’s little world details. For instance, Bruno’s convenience store’s work hours are labeled as “all of them” and his register says “cashiers are not interested in your stories”; Abu’s newspaper headlines declare a cricket doping scandal and an approved tax on the color orange (ugh, finally).
The story is part one of five, so what occurs is mostly groundwork for what’s coming over the next few months. It’s an excellent act one, but it brings to light what could be a potential problem for its sales. Ms. Marvel #1’s cliffhanger ending is great… if we were coming back from a commercial break in three minutes, not a month. In a lot of ways Ms. Marvel’s first issue feels like the beginning act one of a TV pilot (Dear Marvel and Disney: please make Ms. Marvel into an animated TV series). The TV-esque pacing isn’t new to comics and works to varying effectiveness, but it’s definitely a potential risk to do it here. As a brand new character entering into a market that has a reputation for disliking change and new things, Ms. Marvel #1’s cliffhanger could turn off a few readers.
A five-part intro story means Kamala’s going to get a big, presumably impressive introduction to the Marvel Universe and its readers. But an all-new character with a complicated origin who currently isn’t appearing in any other of Marvel’s more established or proven books may run the risk of losing readers’ interest over the next four months. Though, it’s totally possible this hand-wringing is for naught! But given Iron Patriot’s pre-release stealth cancellation – it was just downgraded from an established ongoing to a five-issue miniseries – it’s a little hard not to be worried about Kamala’s future.
Whatever the risk, you the consumer can tilt the odds in Kamala’s favor by picking up Ms. Marvel #1. The book is terrific on just about every level and Kamala has a real potential for greatness. So sign up for the Kamala Korp today – you won’t regret it.