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Story Review: Ms. Marvel “Garden State of Mind” (Vol. 3 Preview)

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Adrian Alphona

COLOR ARIST: Ian Herring

LETTERER: Joe Caramangna

EDITORS: Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker

“My name is Kamala Khan. And I’m here to take out the trash.” (Kamala Khan’s narration in “Garden State of Mind”)[1]

“I am a shape-changing, mask-wearing, sixteen-year-old super ‘Moozlim’ from Jersey City. Some people get to hide out in space stations. I get a Circle Q.” (Kamala Khan’s narration in “Garden State of Mind”)[2]

“The legend has returned!”[3] Ms. Marvel is back, and this time the person behind the superhero name is sixteen-year-old Kamala Khan.[4] The original Ms. Marvel was Carol Danvers (who is now the new Captain Marvel),[5] and the superhero name has been used by several other characters over the decades,[6] including Sharon Ventura[7] and Karla Sofen.[8] Kamala is the latest lady to take on the mantle; her new series, Volume Three[9] of the Ms. Marvel comics[10] is currently four issues in (with #5 set to be released next week on 25 June 2014). “Garden State of Mind” is a short story in All-New Marvel NOW! Point One #1,[11] a comic book released in January 2014 which contains previews of series that are part of the All-New Marvel NOW! relaunch.[12] “Garden” is the preview of Kamala’s story, released a month before issue #1 of Volume Three. So, it’s here that I’ll start my reviews of the new Ms. Marvel.

“Garden” takes up only eight pages of the comic book of which it’s a part, but that’s enough to interest me and make me want to know more. We see Kamala fighting a villain and also interacting with her family, as her secret superheroics make her late for a family event. It’s a common plot device, perhaps, for a superhero to be late for some event, but its familiarity feels welcoming. For a series that has largely been promoted and discussed in terms of its title character’s differences from most superheroes, to start the story in this way reinforces the idea that we all have so much in common, despite our differences. It’s a situation that many readers can relate to: staying out later than you meant to, and then receiving that phone call from a parent wondering where in the world you are, asking why you’re not at some important event that you totally forgot about. That it happens to superheroes makes it even more amusing; many kids and teens, regardless of their background, wish that they were superheroes and that they had secret superhero responsibilities to take care of, without their parents finding out. The elements related to Kamala’s ethnicity and religious beliefs are incorporated in a way that’s fun and humorous, explained in comments that read like something that a sixteen-year-old teenager would believably say when explaining her family background to her friends. Both the writing and artwork go really well together.

When I first heard about the new Ms. Marvel, I was both excited and nervous. Kamala Khan isn’t the only, or even the first, Muslim superhero (Monet St. Croix/M,[13] Sooraya Qadir/Dust,[14] and Simon Baz/Green Lantern[15] come to mind), but she’s one of very few Muslim characters in stories published in the United States. She’s in even smaller company if we focus specifically on superhero stories in which the Muslim character is the main protagonist; Kamala is Marvel’s first Muslim superhero with her own title. More often than being heroes, Muslim characters are used as default evil villains, and so I was excited to hear about the new Ms. Marvel series, since there is so much potential for more diversity in media. At the same time, there are so many potential mistakes that can be made; there are so many ways that even the best of intentions can lead to badly-written stories.

Still, I’m really excited. This preview story is really fun, and it seems that the response to the series has been generally positive, from what I’ve read and heard. I love superheroes, so the addition of a new character to the superhero pantheon is big news. That Kamala is from several underrepresented demographics, including some I’m part of, makes me smile and feel that maybe things are getting better in the world, in some little way. Anyone can be a superhero, and it’s a about time our stories reflect that fact.

[Originally written 21 June 2014]

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Recommended Reading

I recommend listening to this discussion between Heina Dadabhoy and Dale DeBakcsy about Ms. Marvel Vol 3 #2: “All Mankind”.[16] A transcript is available here.[17] I was already excited about this series, and this video added to my excitement.

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References

[1] Wilson, G. Willow; Alphona, Adrian; Herring, Ian; et al. “Garden State of Mind”. In: All-New Marvel NOW! Point One Vol 1 #1. Marvel, 8 January 2014.

[2] Wilson, G. Willow; Alphona, Adrian; Herring, Ian; et al. “Garden State of Mind”. In: All-New Marvel NOW! Point One Vol 1 #1. Marvel, 8 January 2014.

[3] “Ms. Marvel Vol 3 1”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Ms._Marvel_Vol_3_1.

[4] “Kamala Khan (Earth-616). Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Kamala_Khan_(Earth-616).

[5] “Carol Danvers (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Carol_Danvers_(Earth-616).

[6] “Ms. Marvel”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Ms._Marvel.

[7] “Sharon Ventura (Earth-616)”. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Sharon_Ventura_(Earth-616).

[8] “Karla Sofen (Earth-616)”. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Karla_Sofen_(Earth-616).

[9] “Ms. Marvel Vol 3”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Category:Ms._Marvel_Vol_3.

[10] “Ms. Marvel Comic Books”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 21 Jun 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Category:Ms._Marvel_Comic_Books.

[11] “All-New Marvel NOW! Point One Vol 1 1.NOW”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/All-New_Marvel_NOW!_Point_One_Vol_1_1.NOW.

[12] “All-New Marvel NOW!” Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/All-New_Marvel_NOW!.

[13] “Monet St. Croix (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Monet_St._Croix_(Earth-616).

[14] “Sooraya Qadir (Earth-616)”. Marvel Database entry. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Sooraya_Qadir_(Earth-616).

[15] “Simon Baz (Prime Earth)”. DC Comics Database entry. Retrieved on 21 June 2014 from http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Simon_Baz_(Prime_Earth).

[16] Dadabhoy, Heina. “Ms. Marvel Issue 2 Discussion”. Posted on 19 March 2014 at Heina Dadabhoy’s YouTube channel. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I96fp7JxCSs.

[17] daledebakcsy. “Ms. Marvel #2: Heina Dadabhoy and I Talk Islam in Comics, and the Demise of the Spinebreaker” Posted on 20 March 2014 at Mad Art Lab. Retrieved on 20 June 2014 from http://madartlab.com/msmarvel2/.

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