Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15 “Crushed, Part Three”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Takeshi Miyazawa

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Charles Beacham, Sana Amanat, Axel Alonso

“I gave him power over me – power over what I do, power over my identity. No more.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15)[1]

“You think being tough is the same as being mean. I thought you were this romantic hero. But you’re just a villain. You’re just a bad guy’s lackey in a pair of nice shoes.” (Kamala Khan to Kamran, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15)[2]

“I’ve faced giant robots, bird-men, Viking dudes…never a broken heart. I don’t know how to fight this feeling. I’m just glad I don’t have to fight it alone.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15)[3]

The story continues where the previous issue left off,[4] with Kamala facing the three Inhumans who have kidnapped her: Kamran, Kaboom, and Lineage. The latter is very obviously the leader of this group. This group of Inhumans wants Kamala to join them and it’s revealed that they have resorted to kidnapping to try to force her to do so. Kamala disagrees, fights back, and escapes with her friend Bruno.

Is it possible to write a metaphor to address victim blaming and rape culture in a positive way? Yes, it is, and the creators of this issue do it wonderfully. There are multiple moments in this issue that clearly reference and comment on situations in which victims are blamed for harm that others do to them; this issue challenges the victim-blaming narrative. Kamala’s actions in the previous two issues were the perfect set-up that would lead some people to wrongly conclude that a victim deserved to be raped or otherwise taken advantage of. (She went out with the boy willingly, she was out in the middle of the night, she disobeyed her parents, and so many of the things we hear.) In this story, Kamran uses victim-blaming language to make it seem that he did not do anything wrong in deceiving Kamala by offering to give her a ride to school and then taking her to their headquarters instead. Anyone who’s ever heard these types of arguments will recognize the phrases that Kamran uses, to try to guilt the victim into not holding the wrongdoer responsible for their actions. Kamala doesn’t believe him. The story is squarely on Kamala’s side, and that’s something I really love.

There’s another reason I really appreciated the direction that the creators decided to go with this story line. They had the courage to address and challenged an assumption that some parents have: that their children should automatically be able to relate more to someone of their own background rather than someone of a different background. The sexuality of Muslim girls and women is much discussed but very seldom do we get to see story in which a Muslim teenage girl gets to make her own decisions without being blamed for others’ actions towards her. Often, these stories are told in a way that privilege cisgender men: either privileging white men by showing them as the real hero of the story with the Muslim woman as a side character who is overly sexualized and needs rescuing, or privileging Muslim men by challenging stereotypes about them while leaving stereotypes about Muslim women an unchallenged part of their religion and culture. Muslim girls and women do face sexism, and it was relatable to see a story that acknowledges that and challenges of the common arguments put forth as apart of male privilege: the idea that women belong to men of their own race or religion. In this story, we see the situation from Kamala’s perspective, and she is allowed to make her own decisions without being blamed for the actions of others who try to hurt her. When she realizes the situation she’s in, she realizes that the way Kamran has treated her is unfair. She is portrayed as strong and confident.

G. Willow Wilson’s writing addresses the theme of this issue and this arc in a nuanced and sympathetic way that will have readers relating to Kamala and cheering for her to succeed. We want to hug her to make the sadness go away and simultaneously laugh with her at the jokes (including references to Star Trek and Star Wars). Takeshi Miyazawa’s artwork in this story arc is really great, showing the character’s emotions through the artwork really well. The various situations (such as conversations between characters and action scenes) are both really well done. The characters and backgrounds are both detailed. Ian Herring’s colors are really bright and fun; they’ve been a constant for this series, even when the line work artist has changed, and it’s so fitting for Kamala’s story.

The end of the issue sets up the storyline that will be the focus of issues #16 to #19, Ms. Marvel’s Last Days story arc. Several Marvel series have Last Days story arcs that tie in to the Secret Wars event; as might be expected, Last Days shows what the heroes were doing in during the last days before the Marvel Multiverse crashed and burned iridescently.[5]

I look forward to each issue of Ms. Marvel with the same anticipation I felt about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series – perhaps even more. I’m very much looking forward to the conclusion of this volume and the beginning of the next volume of the Ms. Marvel series.

[Originally Written: 23 August 2015]

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Miyazawa, Takeshi; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15 “Crushed, Part Three”. Marvel, 13 May 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15.

[3] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15.

[4] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14 “Crushed, Part Two”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-14-crushed-part-two/

[5] Secret Wars. Marvel Database Wiki. Retrieved on 23 August 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Secret_Wars.

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Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14 “Crushed, Part Two”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Takeshi Miyazawa

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring

LETTER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Charles Beacham, Sana Amanat, Nick Lowe, Axel Alonso

“I’ve broken more rules in the last twelve hours than in the previous sixteen years of my life combined…and it feels pretty great.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14)[1]

“My parents love you, Bruno. You’re like their adopted gora nephew or something. They think you’re upstanding and hardworking and smart. They trust you. But they’d never be okay with you and Kamala – you know.” (Aamir Khan to Bruno Carrelli, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14)[2]

At the end of issue #13, Kamran revealed to Kamala Khan that he is also an Inhuman.[3] Kamala is excited to find that there’s someone like herself in the universe – another “nerdy, Pakistani-American-slash-Inhuman”.[4] In this issue, Kamran shows up outside Kamala’s bedroom window, in a cute scene out of a romantic comedy, and they go out together. (He even puts her shoe back on, like she’s Cinderella, when her feet shrink back down to their usual size after her jump out of her bedroom window.) Kamran shows Kamala a spot that gives them a great view of the city, and then shows her his Inhuman powers as well. Kamala is incredibly awkward during what might unofficially be her first date, and we cringe and laugh along with her as she tries to find the right words to say and the right way to interpret the feelings that she’s having.

The next morning, Kamala is tired from her late night out with Kamran. Noticing her feelings towards Kamran leads to a conversation between Kamala’s friend Bruno Carrelli and her brother Aamir Khan, while Aamir is waiting at the bus stop for a ride to his job interview. (His father’s been trying to get him to find a job since issue #1).[5] Readers already know that Bruno loves Kamala, and it’s revealed that Aamir knows how Bruno feels. Aamir is quite insistent that a relationship between them will never work, because the Khan family is Muslim and the Carrelli family is Catholic. Aamir’s views really struck a nerve with me, because I have heard people in the real world make the same argument. People will argue that they are trying to preserve their culture as their reason for opposing romantic relationships between people of different religions, cultures, and races. It’s implied that mixing with others would somehow ruin the wonderful nature of their culture, and the culture of a person’s parents and ancestors is placed above individuals’ rights. People from a minority group (such as Muslims in the United States) can make it sound hypothetically reasonable, an attempt to preserve their traditions despite being a small group, but the real world effect on people can be very limiting and discriminatory. In this case, Kamala has not expressed a romantic interest in Bruno, so Aamir is not breaking up an actual couple, but Bruno comes across much more sympathetically to me, even as someone coming from a Muslim family. Though Aamir bothered me, the way the conversation was written was very realistic, and I appreciate that the creative team was willing to address this very contentious issue directly in the series.

The ending of this issue reveals another surprise about Kamran. He believes Inhumans are better than everyone else, and he kidnaps Kamala (tricking her by offering her a ride to school) to bring her to the group he’s a member of. The issue ends on another cliffhanger, as Kamala finds herself facing the trio of Lineage, Kaboom, and Kamran. It’s a fitting surprise, given the setup. There was a lot of focus in the beginning and middle of the issue on Kamala’s religious and racial background, and superficially, it would seem as though Kamran is very much like her. Superficially, she also has a similar background as the other Inhumans. However, the most important thing is what a person’s values are, and it turns out that Kamran doesn’t share Kamala’s views of helping others; he instead supports the idea that a group he’s a part of is superior to everyone else.

This was a fun middle issue, building on themes introduced in the previous issue and serving as a bridge to the conclusion of the story arc. Readers get to see Kamala trying to do regular everyday things, like going on a date and talking with a boy. Like anyone would be, she’s both excited and awkward. The story also addresses some experiences, both funny and serious, that many teenagers have while growing up.

[Originally Written: 24 May 2015]

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Miyazawa, Takeshi; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14 “Crushed, Part Two”. Marvel, 15 April 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14.

[3] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13 “Crushed, Part One”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-13-crushed-part-one/

[4] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #14.

[5] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #1 Meta Morphosis”. Homeworld Journal, 17 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-1-meta-morphosis/

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13 “Crushed, Part One”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Takeshi Miyazawa

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring with Irma Kniivila

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Charles Beacham & Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat, Nick Lowe, Axel Alonso

“You know those days you sometime have? The days that seem totally ordinary when you wake up, but by the time you go to sleep that night, your whole life is divided into before that day and after that day? This is one of those days.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13)[1]

“Just when I was starting to get comfortable with the idea of being Inhuman…I find out that even aliens have their fanatical extremists.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13)[2]

After some Valentine’s Day superheroics,[3] Kamala Khan does some training in New Attilan and then goes home to find out that Bushra Aunty and Irfan Uncle (old family friends) are moving back to Jersey City with their teenaged son Kamran, who is apparently a very impressive young man (according to her parents). Kamala initially doesn’t have a very good impression of Kamran (based on her memories from when they were five years old) but when she sees him, she immediately develops a crush on him. He’s handsome, plays the same MMORPG video game (World of Battlecraft) that she plays, and likes Bollywood films (such as Sholay, which is an actual movie).[4] He seems perfect. What could possibly go wrong?

During the story, Kamala convinces her parents to her go to the DVD store with Kamran by insisting that her older brother Aamir will go with them. During their outing, Aamir tries to keep them from getting too close together, insisting that, “When a man and woman are alone together, the third is Shaytan!”[5](This is something I’ve actually heard people say in the real world, by the way.) While Aamir is trying to give Kamala a lecture, a villain called Kaboom shows up and Kamala has to sneak away to transform into Ms. Marvel. Kamala has a cool Superman moment as she reveals that she’s been wearing her uniform under her clothes in order to be better prepared to face villains. Kamala wins the fight (after telling Kaboom to “take your new world order crap back to Manhattan, where it belongs”),[6] but feels conflicted about it, since she seriously injured Kaboom. The issue then ends with a surprise regarding one of the characters.

This issue, like many others in the series, contains some passages that address what it’s like to be a first-generation child of immigrants – specifically a first-generation daughter of immigrant parents with some socially conservative views. Kamala’s parents are hesitant to let her spend time alone with Kamran, even for a trip to the store, and only relent when Aamir agrees to go along. This is an experience that many girls and women can relate to, when male family members are given more freedom and even given authority over their female family members. The story also shows how teenagers try their best, given the beliefs of their parents, to find a way to maneuver around their parents’ expectations, to find their own identity, and to make their own decisions. Both unquestioning obedience of parents and total rejection of the family are not usually the option that people take (though the second one may be needed in certain situations). Usually, kids and teenagers try to find a way to make their own decisions despite their parents’ disapproval while also trying to stay close to a family that they care about. As I’ve mentioned previously, I appreciate that Kamala’s decisions are her own.[7] Her story is not an apologetic tactic for either Muslims or those who would discriminate against Muslims. She’s trying to be herself, just as her fans are trying to be themselves, in a world that tries to stop them.

This issue also continues Kamala’s journey to figure out the best way to be a superhero. Related to her conversation with Logan/Wolverine in issue # 7 about whether it’s possible to help people with hurting others,[8] Kamala again finds that being a superhero is not as easy as it may seem. It may be easy (especially with superpowers) to punch someone as hard as possible, but it’s not as easy to see an ambulance take them away and still think of oneself as a hero who fights for justice. Superhero fans know that with great power comes great responsibility,[9] as Ben Parker said to his nephew Peter Parker/Spider-Man,[10] and Kamala Khan is learning that as she tries to figure out how to be the best superhero (and the best person) she can be.

Both the artwork and writing in this issue were really fun. G. Willow Wilson’s writing was wonderful, as usual. She can make the readers laugh, roll their eyes, and feel shocked along with Kamala all within a few panels. Takeshi Miyazawa and Ian Herring’s artwork was really great. I really like the way the characters are depicted in this issue; the feeling and themes of the book are really portrayed well. The cover art by Marguerite Sauvage shows Kamala looking different than she usually does, which surprised me (especially due to proportions), but I liked the little touches like mehndi on her hand and older comics issues of Ms. Marvel in the background.

This was a fun issue that’s setting up a three-part story arc. At this point, issues #14 and #15 have already been released, so I know what happens later in the story (to be discussed in the reviews of those issues). I will say here that this issue does a good job of foreshadowing later events in addition to being yet another really enjoyable installment in a great series. If my reviews are repetitive on this point, it’s because the series really is that good, and I highly recommend it. The first two trade paperbacks (collecting the first eleven issues between them) have been released so far; new fans have a great opportunity to join in the fun.

[Originally Written: 24 May 2015]

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Miyazawa, Takeshi; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13 “Crushed, Part One”. Marvel, 11 March 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13.

[3] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 “Loki in Love”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-12-loki-in-love/

[4] “Sholay”. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sholay.

[5] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13.

[6] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #13.

[7] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #9 “Generation Why, Part Two”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-9-generation-why-part-two/

[8] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #7 “Healing Factor, Part Two”. Homeworld Journal, 25 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-7-healing-factor-part-two/

[9] “Uncle Ben”. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Ben#.22With_great_power_comes_great_responsibility.22.

[10] “Benjamin Parker (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Benjamin_Parker_(Earth-616).

Book Review: S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2 “The Animator”

WRITER: Mark Waid

PENCILER: Humberto Ramos

INKER: Victor Olazaba

COLORIST: Edgar Delgado

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

DESIGNER: Jessica Pizarro

EDITORS: Jon Moisan, Tom Brevoort with Ellie Pyle, Axel Alonso

“I lurk on every super-hero fan site there is. I admin on two. I know my stuff.”

“Clearly.”

(Kamala Khan and Phil Coulson, S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2)[1]

“It’s all right. Don’t panic. I can guess what you were about to say, anyway. Your family doesn’t know about your…other life, right? I can respect the position that puts you in.”

(Jemma Simmons to Kamala Khan, S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2)[2]

Our intrepid young heroine Kamala Khan makes a guest appearance in yet another book, after her visit with Peter Parker/Spider-Man[3] and her time teaming up with Logan/Wolverine in issue #6[4] and issue #7[5] of her own book. This time, Kamala teams up with Agent Jemma Simmons[6] and Agent Phil Coulson[7] of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistic Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) when they are on a mission at Coles Academic High School, where she is a student. This volume of the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics,[8] though set on Earth-616 (the Mainstream Continuity of Marvel Comics),[9] is very much inspired by the television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.[10] set on Earth-199999 (better known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe).[11] Issue #2 “The Animator” was released on 14 January 2015, technically in between Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 issue #10 and issue #11. Since Ms. Marvel was in the middle of a story arc at the time, this seemed a better time to review it, since issue #12 (the topic of my previous Ms. Marvel review)[12] was a one-part story and issue #13 begins a three-part story arc.

Agent Jemma Simmons goes undercover as substitute teacher Ms. Stenanko in Kamala’s AP Biology class. It becomes apparent rather soon that there are some mysterious things going on at Coles Academic High School, involving supervillain gadget contraband, including animated pizza dough. There’s plenty of action, but the best parts are the character moments, which are both hilarious and touching, as Kamala interacts with the agents. Kamala gets to use her nerdy superhero knowledge and superheroics to contribute to the mission after the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are initially reluctant to let her participate in the fight due to her age. Readers also find out some more about Jemma Simmons, whose Earth-199999 counterpart[13] is one of my favorite characters on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show. She and Kamala have a touching moment at the end of the issue, regarding their need to hide their secret jobs from their families. I love it when new superheroes meet adults who have had similar experiences, and when the adults can provide some advice to their younger counterparts.

The writing and artwork in the book are fun. It’s enjoyable to see Kamala having a chance to explore some more of the Marvel universe in which she lives, earning notches in her belt and having the opportunities to meet with other heroes. There were certain parts that resonated due to my familiarity with the television show with alternate-universe versions of the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters, but I don’t know how this issue ties in with the other issues in this series. We don’t get to see how this story might influence the overall storyline or other relevant information; I’m especially curious about S.H.I.E.L.D.’s knowledge regarding Kamala, which Agent Coulson mentions briefly. Overall, it was a fun side story.

I’m really enjoying reading about Kamala meeting different characters in the Marvel Universe. I’d recommend this issue to fans of Kamala Khan, even those who may not be reading the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. series. I’m looking forward to reading the books Kamala visits next.

[Originally Written: 20 April 2015]

###

References

[1] Waid, Mark; Ramos, Humberto; Olazaba, Victor; Delgado, Edgar; et al. S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2 “The Animator”. Marvel, 14 January 2015.

[2] Waid, Mark; Ramos, Humberto; Olazaba, Victor; Delgado, Edgar; et al. S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 3 #2 “The Animator”. Marvel, 14 January 2015.

[3] EAS. Book Review: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #7 “Ms. Marvel Team-Up; and #8 ‘Ms. Adventures in Babysitting”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-amazing-spider-man-vol-3-7-and-8/

[4] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #6 “Healing Factor, Part One”. Homeworld Journal, 25 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-6-healing-factor-part-one/

[5] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #7 “Healing Factor, Part Two”. Homeworld Journal, 25 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-7-healing-factor-part-two/

[6] Jemma Simmons (Earth-616). Marvel Database. Retrieved on 20 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Jemma_Simmons_(Earth-616).

[7] Phillip Coulson (Earth-616). Marvel Database. Retrieved on 20 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Phillip_Coulson_(Earth-616).

[8] S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol 3. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/S.H.I.E.L.D._Vol_3.

[9] Earth-616. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Earth-616.

[10] Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Marvel’s_Agents_of_S.H.I.E.L.D.

[11] Earth-199999. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 19 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Earth-199999.

[12] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 “Loki in Love”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-12-loki-in-love/

[13] Jemma Simmons (Earth-199999). Marvel Database. Retrieved on 20 April 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Jemma_Simmons_(Earth-199999).

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 “Loki in Love”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Elmo Bondoc

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Charles Beacham & Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat, Nick Lowe, Axel Alonso

“Friendship is something real and good and anybody who doesn’t understand that needs a dictionary.” (Bruno Carrelli, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12)[1]

“I can’t believe I let you drag me to this patriarchal capitalist display of fake affection.” (Nakia Bahadir, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12)[2]

Contrary to the title of this Valentine’s Day issue, the story actually does not focus on Loki being in love with anyone. After the end of the previous story arc,[3] Freyja, the All-Mother of Asgard, sends Loki to Midgard (Earth) to investigate and find out if any of the students at Coles Academic High School are still allied with the Inventor. (There’s a hilarious bit of dialogue about New Jersey having been “too long neglected by the gods”.[4] I think this is likely related to G. Willow Wilson’s comments about Kamala feeling like she’s a second-string superhero from Jersey City, NJ which is in the shadow of New York, NY.[5]) Loki shows up in Jersey City right before the Valentine’s Day Dance at the high school and proceeds to interfere in people’s love lives rather than working on the mission he was sent there to complete.

This issue was hilarious. From Kamala claiming she should get extra credit for physical education (which she’s failing) because of her superheroics to Bruno calling Loki a “Hipster Viking” to Kamala and Nakia’s conversations,[6] this issue kept me smiling all the way through. Despite my enjoyment of the previous issues of the series, I genuinely wasn’t expecting this and was pleasantly surprised. There’s always the issue of how to handle a Valentine’s Day story without being too cliché – either by creating a bland love story without anything to distinguish it from the many other similar ones or by being so cynical that even some people who don’t celebrate the holiday will think it’s a bit much. On top of all of this, in a story with a Muslim protagonist whose parents don’t let her date, there are a lot of ways the story can go wrong. I was kind of nervous about how this would be handled.

The creators deal with this by situation by focusing a great deal on friendship in this story. There’s lots of interaction between Kamala and Nakia and Kamala and Bruno. Although Bruno likes Kamala and wants to ask her to the dance, he still defends friendship when his brother Vick brings up the “friend zone” argument. Kamala and Nakia are hanging out together and discussing the mysterious love letter (written by Loki on behalf of Bruno, despite Bruno’s protests) that Kamala received. We get to see these two friends talk about boys and dating in a relatable way, their experiences obviously influenced by their families’ religious beliefs but also similar to teenagers of other religions as well. When they sneak out to the dance, Loki is spiking the punch with truth serum, and Kamala has to become Ms. Marvel to fight him. I feel I should add that there are also a nice couple of panels showing a same-sex couple at the dance, which I thought was nice; as always, I hope that there are more LGBTQ+ in more stories. My only criticism of the way the story in this issue is handled is that the issue of Kamala’s differences with her parents regarding relationships cannot be put off forever. However, it does seem like the upcoming story may deal with this,[7] and I hope that it’s addressed well there. Overall, I really liked the creators’ approach to this issue, because they took what could have been a boring or frustrating concept (a holiday issue) and made it fun.

This issue has artwork by Elmo Bondoc, and I really liked the way that the artist drew the story. Though I often get used to seeing the characters drawn a certain way by the main artist, the artwork in the issue immediately pulled me into the narrative and fascinated me. The coloring was by the usual colorist for the series, Ian Herring, so the artwork still had similarities with the previous issues. I wasn’t as big a fan of the cover art by Kris Anka, mostly due to the way that the characters’ faces are drawn. The writing was lots of fun, and G. Willow Wilson’s work continues to be among my favorites.

This issue was a one-shot holiday story, and as far as holiday stories go, it was rather impressive. I enjoyed the focus on character development, fun moments between friends, and a storyline that was connected with previous development. I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue, which is due out tomorrow.[8]

[Originally Written: 10 March 2015]

###

References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Bondoc, Elmo; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12 “Loki in Love”. Marvel, 18 February 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12.

[3] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11 “Generation Why, Part Four”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-11-generation-why-part-four/

[4] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12.

[5] Arrant, Chris. “G. Willow Wilson’s New MS. MARVEL – Teen, Muslim, Jersey Girl, Fan Girl!” Posted on 6 November 2013 at Newsarama. Retrieved on 9 March 2015 from http://www.newsarama.com/19488-g-willow-wilson-s-new-ms-marvel-teen-muslim-jersey-girl-fangirl.html.

[6] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #12.

[7] “Ms. Marvel Vol 3 13”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 10 March 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Ms._Marvel_Vol_3_13.

[8] “Ms. Marvel Vol 3 13”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 10 March 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Ms._Marvel_Vol_3_13.

Book Review: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #7 and #8

#7: Ms. Marvel Team-Up and #8: Ms. Adventures in Babysitting

PLOT: Dan Slott

SCRIPT: Christos Gage

PENCILS: Giuseppe Camuncou

INKS: Cam Smith

COLORS: Antonio Fabela

LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos

“Man, that woman has some die-hard fans.” (Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #7 “Ms. Marvel Team-Up”)[1]

“I can’t believe we beat her by calling the principal.” (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #8 “Ms. Adventures in Babysitting”)[2]

“Relax, kiddo, you’ll be fine.”

“As a super hero? Or the whole Inhuman thing?”

“As a teenager. You remind me of a web-headed whippersnapper who always wondered how he was doing. And he thinks you’re doing great.”

(Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #8 “Ms. Adventures in Babysitting”)[3]

Kamala Khan, better known as Ms. Marvel, is one of the newer superheroes, and so she’s been meeting and teaming up with some of her more well-known predecessors. In Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #6 “Healing Factor, Part One”[4] and #7 “Healing Factor, Part Two”,[5] she teamed up with Logan of the X-Men. It was only a matter of time before she teamed up with the superhero who she’s often compared to: Peter Parker, better known as Spider-Man. In Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #7 and #8, Kamala was a guest in Peter’s series, as one of the most famous former teenage superheroes (who’s now an adult).

To provide some context, each of these two issue contains two stories; the first story in each issue is the team-up between Peter and Kamala and the second story in each is part of Edge of Spider-Verse, the lead-up to the Spider-Verse event. The Edge of Spider-Verse stories were fun to read, but I don’t have much to say about them, as I’ve not been following the Amazing Spider-Man series. This review will focus on the team-up.

Minn-Erva/Dr. Minerva[6] is a villain who’s attacking a medical facility along with a group of henchmen in green uniforms. Her criminal activities lead to the team-up between Peter and Kamala, because a member of the Carol Corps posts about a villain who’s committing crimes in Carol Danvers’ old Ms. Marvel costume. Kamala decides to intervene and heads to New York City. Meanwhile, Peter Parker is trying to focus on his non-superhero priorities (such as running Parker Industries) on the advice of Anna Maria Marconi.[7] Cindy Moon/Silk[8] decides to head out on her own, separate from Peter, to make her own life. The villain’s actions cause the superheroes to meet up and do what superheroes do best, leading to a fun and sweet ending, which includes tricking the villain into leaving Earth and finding out that one of her henchmen wants to turn his life around.[9]

This story definitely knows who its audience is going to be. The creators seemed to appreciate that Kamala’s fans would be picking up these issues and included some fun references to the Carol Corps, the fans of Carol Danvers.[10] Kamala asks Peter questions about Carol Danvers, because she knows that the two of them know each other and once dated. Peter motivates Kamala to stay in the fight by encouraging her to help him with a team-up move that he has previously done with Carol Danvers. There’s a sweet conversation between the two of them at the end of the story, in which Peter tells Kamala he thinks she’s doing great.

The character Cindy, though I don’t know too much about her, is actually really fascinating in this issue, as she’s trying to build up a life for herself and finds that Natalie Long,[11] one of her colleagues at Fact Channel,[12] wants Silk to be for the Fact Channel what Spider-Man was to the Daily Bugle. As is the way of superhero stories, Natalie Long doesn’t know that the woman she’s talking to is actually the superhero she’s referring to. This story is not developed as much, but it’s a fun reference to an ongoing joke in the Spider-Man universe: the news outlet that doesn’t know that the superhero they’re covering is one their employees.

Another interesting character is Clayton Cole, who’s the henchman who has second thoughts when realizing what’s inside the cocoon that Dr. Minerva has stolen. It’s a sweet moment showing that even those who’ve gone astray can change their lives, and it’s very much in keeping with the positive theme about choosing one’s own destiny that’s been a staple of both Peter and Kamala’s stories.

Despite the fun elements, this story feels a bit like filler because, well, that’s kind of what it is. One of the best things about team-ups is that the characters are in some way affected or changed by meeting or working together with another character; it provides a chance for some character development. There was certainly a lot of character development for Kamala in her team-up with Logan. In this story, one feels that neither Peter nor Kamala are going to leave it changed or affected in a way that will affect their future story arcs. The Ms. Marvel series was (and is) in the middle of a different and unrelated story arc and the Spider-Verse event was about to happen in the Spider-books when this team-up happened.

This is the first story about Kamala Khan that I’ve found decent, but not that great. I don’t regret reading it but it also wasn’t as good as it had the potential to be. The characters don’t get space for a more well-developed story, because it feels very much like a little vignette that was squeezed into a set number of pages while the creators’ focus was on the big Spider-Verse event that was about to happen. Fans of the Amazing Spider-Man series will likely read these issues anyway, and fans of Ms. Marvel will likely read these issues for more stories about a new character who doesn’t have decades of back issues yet. I hope that Peter Parker and Kamala Khan meet again, perhaps along with some of the other Avengers. Here’s to hoping that meeting will be a more well-developed story.

[Originally Written: 21 December 2014]

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References

[1] Slott, Dan; Gage, Christos; Camuncoli, Guiseppe; Smith, Cam; Fabella, Antonio; et al. “Ms. Marvel Team-Up”. In: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #7. Marvel, 8 October 2014.

[2] Slott, Dan; Gage, Christos; Camuncoli, Guiseppe; Smith, Cam; Fabella, Antonio; et al. “Ms. Adventures in Babysitting”. In: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #8. Marvel, 22 October 2014.

[3] Slott, Dan; Gage, Christos; Camuncoli, Guiseppe; Smith, Cam; Fabella, Antonio; et al. “Ms. Adventures in Babysitting”. In: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #8. Marvel, 22 October 2014.

[4] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #6 “Healing Factor, Part One”. Homeworld Journal, 25 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-6-healing-factor-part-one/

[5] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #7 “Healing Factor, Part Two”. Homeworld Journal, 25 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-7-healing-factor-part-two/

[6] “Minn-Erva (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 21 December 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Minn-Erva_(Earth-616).

[7] “Anna Maria Marconi (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 21 December 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Anna_Maria_Marconi_(Earth-616).

[8] “Cindy Moon (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 21 December 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Cindy_Moon_(Earth-616).

[9] “Clayton Cole (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 21 December 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Clayton_Cole_(Earth-616).

[10] “Carol Danvers (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 21 December 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Carol_Danvers_(Earth-616).

[11] “Natalie Long (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 21 December 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Natalie_Long_(Earth-616).

[12] “Fact Channel News (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database wiki. Retrieved on 21 December 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Fact_Channel_News_(Earth-616).

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11 “Generation Why, Part Four”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Adrian Alphona

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat, Nick Lowe, Axel Alonso

“It’s handy to have friends who are as weird as you are.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11)[1]

“The world comes at you fast. You gotta stay light on your feet. Know who your friends are. And never be afraid to ask for help. Nobody has the right to give up on a whole generation before it’s even had a chance to prove itself. We’re all in this together, and we gotta remember that.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11)[2]

In this, the last chapter of the “Generation Why” story arc, Kamala Khan and her crew of teenage allies (recruited to her cause in the previous issue)[3] face off against the Inventor in order to save the teenagers he has kidnapped and tricked into joining his cause. Readers find out with Kamala that her friend Nakia Bahadir is one of the teenagers who have been kidnapped by the Inventor, and Kamala must think of a clever strategy to fight against the Inventor’s robots. This issue was mostly a fight scene, but with lot of quiet moments as well.

I’ve been enjoying the way that the creators of Ms. Marvel handle the fight scenes. There’s an emphasis on coming up with a clever way to fight the villains, including teamwork and strategy, not just going in punching everybody. Kamala uses the strategy she learned previously, making herself smaller instead of making herself bigger, in order to fight the robot from the inside out.[4] As with the previous issue, there’s a nice message of people working together. Kamala and the other teens work together and also get assistance from the police and paramedics in the end. I love superhero stories in which it’s not all about the main character always saving the day and instead about people and their choices. Most important is people’s decisions to do the right thing. It’s more about helping people instead of about detailed and lengthy fight scenes. Personally, I do sometimes enjoy the longer fight scenes in other books, as long as the book also has an actual story with character development, but I also enjoy books like Ms. Marvel that focus moreso on other aspects.

This issue also continues to show the difficulties in the life of a superhero. There’s a heartbreaking moment when the paramedics are taking the captured teenagers to provide them the medical care they need. In a panel with a close up of Nakia unconscious on a stretcher, Kamala realizes, “I can’t go to the hospital with my best friend. She’ll recognize me. And that’s when it hits me. This isn’t just a costume anymore. This is a parallel life.”[5] Superheroes with secret identities always have this problem of having to live two lives, keeping secrets from the people closest to them. It’s a very touching moment that acknowledges this theme with a young character for whom this is a new experience.

One of the things I love about the Ms. Marvel series is how unabashed and thoughtful it is in its inclusion of positive messages for readers. There will be moments in the story that are obviously intended to have a positive message, especially for teenaged readers. This is done in a way that seems true and relatable, with Kamala’s internal monologue narration containing many observations that are similar to things that I remember thinking as well. The reason I love superhero stories is because of those positive messages, and so I appreciate that they are delivered in an effective way in a good story.

The ending of the story suggests that (of course) there will be more stories to come – because as any fan of stories about heroes vs. villains knows, evil never dies. There’s always another fight, another obstacle to overcome, and another chance to do the right thing. This book was a nice ending to this story arc and tied together various elements that were set up earlier in the story. As always, I would definitely recommend reading this series.

[Originally Written: 9 March 2015]

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References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Alphona, Adrian; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11 “Generation Why, Part Four”. Marvel, 4 February 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11.

[3] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #10 “Generation Why, Part Three”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-10-generation-why-part-three/

[4] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #5 “Urban Legend”. Homeworld Journal, 25 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-5-urban-legend/

[5] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #11.