WRITER: G. Willow Wilson
ARTIST: Adrian Alphona
COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring
LETTERER: Joe Caramagna
EDITORS: Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat, Nick Lowe, Axel Alonso
“This is what heroism comes down to, Ms. Marvel. In the end, you’re all alone.”
“You’re wrong. A hero is just somebody who tries to do the right thing even when it’s hard. There are more of us than you think.”
(The Inventor and Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #10 “Generation Why, Part Three”)1
“Yeah, we’ve gotta do something drastic. But not this. This is not saving the world. This is admitting the world is over. This is saying our generation will never matter. But we have to matter. If we don’t, there is no future worth saving.”
(Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #10 “Generation Why, Part Three”)2
After the cliffhanger of the previous issue,3 Kamala Khan learns why the teenagers at the Greenville house have been voluntarily helping the mysterious villain known as the Inventor. He has formed what Kamala refers to as the “the Inventor’s indie band of doom”4 and convinced these teenagers to sacrifice their lives to provide an energy source from their electrical fields and usable body heat. The teenagers at the Greenville house have become convinced that the world is doomed, that the kids and teens of their generation are parasites, and that participating in the Inventor’s plan is the only way for them to do something good with their lives. Kamala proceeds to motivate the teenagers to have some hope for a better future that they can be part of and then convinces them to help her fight against the Inventor.
Similar to issue #8,5 there is content in this story which addresses negative attitudes towards teenagers. Some of it is a bit heavy-handed, but it’s balanced with amusing sections. There’s a sweet and funny passage in which Kamala is trying to motivate the other teenagers by telling them how their skills and traits could help them in certain jobs. They create a plan to fight against the Inventor, to stop his plot and to rescue Lockjaw. It’s nice to see Kamala working together with other teenagers to fight the villain; even a book with a solo superhero should have stories in which the hero works together with other people. With Kamala being from various demographics that are underrepresented and discriminated against, I found it interesting that the creators chose to use her age (rather than her race, gender, or religion) as the topic for this story arc. I’ve very much enjoyed the stories attempts to address racial, gender, and religious issues and hope that there will be more story arcs focused on them. However, it’s also nice to see a theme in Kamala’s story that teenagers in general will be able to relate to: the feeling that adults in power don’t seem to care about the state of the world they leave behind for future generations. I also like the idea of a hero motivating others to change their minds, instead of charing in and being the only one doing the right thing.
The question of people sacrificing themselves for a cause immediately reminded me the real-world question of how best to address problems. Heroes are often in dangerous situation when they try to fight the villains and do the right thing. However, there’s a difference between begin willing to die while doing the right thing to make the world better and intentionally killing oneself due to a belief that things cannot get better. The story shows how villains take away others’ hope and then try to manipulate them into doing something that is actually harmful to themselves and to society. The fact that Kamala was leading and working together with a bunch of other teenagers (who seem to be from various backgrounds) was a nice way to show that the best way to move forward is for everyone to work together and have hope for a better future.
So, the group of teenagers go to fight the Inventor. It turns out at the end of the issue that the Inventor is holding a whole bunch of teenagers prisoner. These prisoners are seemingly floating unconscious in the type of fluid-filled cylinders which are so common in the secret laboratories of speculative fiction. We have a dire scenario set up, and our team of teenagers will have to figure out a way to free the prisoners and defeat the Inventor. There’s also the question in my mind of whether the Inventor has some ulterior motive or unknown goal behind his action; does he actually believe that the planet is doomed if teenagers do not sacrifice themselves as an energy source, or is that just something he told them to achieve some other end? (As an aside, one character who I’ve been very curious about is Knox. He’s the one who, according to his own words in issue #6, synthesized the Inventor from the DNA of Thomas Edison, with some contamination due to his cockatiel’s DNA.6 This makes me wonder if Knox is somehow the mastermind behind all of this, or if he is the Peter Pettigrew figure who gave his master a new body. If it’s the latter, who told him to clone the Inventor? Did the Inventor exist in some other form prior to the cloning of Thomas Edison? There’s a possibility I’ve overanalyzing this, but that’s what fandom is about.) The Inventor’s operation has been shrouded in mystery, and I’m hoping we find out more about what’s going on, either in the next issue or later in the future.
Most of this issue is setup for the final battle at the end of the story arc. There’s a lot of conversation between the characters, including motivational speeches by Kamala and diabolical speeches by the Inventor. (The Inventor is one of those villains who apparently likes to go on explanatory monologues for the readers’ benefit.) I’m really looking forward to issue #11 of this series. I’m wondering how much will actually be explained and to what degree it will be just one fight with a recurring villain who will show up again in later story arcs. I’m also wondering if any any of the teenagers will become new recurring characters, perhaps allies of Ms. Marvel or friends of Kamala Khan.
Overall, this series, even in its setup issues, is still fun to read.
[Originally Written: 19 January 2015]
1 Wilson, G. Willow; Alphona, Adrian; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #10 “Generation Why, Part Three”. Marvel, 17 December 2014.
2 Wilson, G. Willow; Alphona, Adrian; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #10 “Generation Why, Part Three”. Marvel, 17 December 2014.
3 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/
4 Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #10.
5 EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #8 “Generation Why, Part One”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-8-generation-why-part-one/
6 Wilson, G. Willow; Wyatt, Jacob; Herring, Ian; et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #6 “Healing Factor, Part One”. Marvel, 16 July 2014.