Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17 “Last Days, Part Two”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Adrian Alphona

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Charles Beacham, Sana Amanat, Axel Alonso

“What she’s saying—weirdly, it makes me think of one of Sheikh Abdullah’s lectures. We all face the end alone, he said. And we alone have to account for our time on Earth. The good and the bad. ‘What will be in the book of your life?’ he used to ask. ‘How will you be remembered?’” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17)[1]

“You seem very…at home in your powers.”

“It took me a long time to get here. For a while, I just kind of felt weird and gross.”

“And now?”

“Now I feel weird and awesome!”

(Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17)[2]

“I know our job sucks sometimes. Sometimes we have to choose between a bad thing and a worse thing. But you have to remember to take care of yourself. You’re important. People need you—people love you. More than you probably realize.” (Carol Danvers to Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17)[3]

“You know what I’ve gotten really sick of over the years? Moral relativism from second-rate bad guys.” (Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17)[4]

What happens when Kamala Khan meets Carol Danvers when the world is about to end? She freaks out with excitement and doesn’t quite know what to say at first, which would probably happen to a lot of us in that situation. Then, the two of them head off to rescue Kamala’s brother Aamir, who was kidnapped by Kamran in the previous issue.[5] During their search, they have some fun conversations together and encounter some challenges.

This is the team-up that fans of Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers have been looking forward to. Carol is Kamala’s hero, and when they finally have a chance to meet (outside of Kamala’s imagination), Carol gives Kamala advice on their journey through the city while looking for Aamir. As was the case in Kamala’s team up with Logan/Wolverine in issue #6[6] and issue #7,[7] Kamala learns from the older hero and has an adventure. During the middle of the issue, Kamala and Carol encounter some people who were going around the city stealing supplies and give them a productive job to do, helping out at the high school, where lots of civilians have gathered for shelter. I liked that the story shows heroes during an emergency situation trying to handle real-world problems (such as civilians becoming fearful). There’s also a sweet moment when they find some cats; Kamala wants to save them, but Carol explains to her that one of the difficult parts about being a superhero is that you can’t always save everyone. We get to see how far Kamala has come in terms of being a superhero and feeling more comfortable being herself, as well as how eager she is to learn even more.

Later in the issue, they encounter Kaboom, one of the people working together with Kamran. I have to admit that, after often hearing people accuse those who believe in equal rights of “moral relativisim”, it was nice to hear a superhero turn the accusation around and use it against the villain Kaboom who’s hypocritically lecturing Kamala about letting Aamir make his own choices when the Inhuman group Kabooms is part of has been using force to try to get people (including Kamal and Aamir) to join their group. It’s a good example of turning the arguments of the bad guys around on them.

This arc is about how superheroes face the end of the world. In the words of Kamala Khan, “Jersey City’s finest are still out in force.”[8] Even at the end of the world, they still have a job to do. Although this issue is more focused on Kamala and Carol looking for Kamran and Aamir, the creators incorporate aspects of Kamala’s faith. The Islamic concept of the angels on each person’s shoulders writing in that person’s book of life[9] is one of the things I actually remember from my sporadic religious classes. Religious or not, I think many of us think about how we’ll look back on our lives at the end. Superheroes like Kamala and Carol inspire us to live a life that we’d be proud to look back on. That is, after all, what superheroes are about.

[Originally written: 27 November 2015]

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References

[1] Wilson GW, Alphona A, Herring I, et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17 “Last Days, Part Two”. Marvel, 5 August 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17.

[3] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17.

[4] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17.

[5] EAS. “Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #16 “Last Days, Part One”. Homeworld Journal, 4 September 2016.

https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-16-last-days-part-one/

[6] 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/

[7] 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/

[8] Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17.

[9] “Kiraman Katibin”. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 12 October 2015 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiraman_Katibin.

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #16 “Last Days, Part One”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Adrian Alphona

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Charles Beacham, Sana Amanat, Axel Alonso

“When I said a broken heard feels like the end of the world … this isn’t quite what I was talking about.” (Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #16)[1]

Kamala’s still feeling upset after Kamran’s betrayal,[2] but she doesn’t have much time to be sad, because the Marvel Multiverse is about to crash and burn iridescently in the event known as Secret Wars,[3] before reforming in the (exciting but laughably named) All-New All-Different Marvel.[4] People are panicking as chaos descends on the Earths, and Kamala tries to step up and act as an organizer to get people to work together. She doesn’t exactly know what’s happening herself, but she’s trying to figure it out. If the end of the Multiverse wasn’t enough to be getting along with, Kamran shows up again with a devious plot. Kamala has to figure out how to save her brother, save the innocent civilians threatened by the end of the Multiverse, and figure out how to be a superhero in a situation that we know she will not be able to stop.

This story arc will feature the team-up fans have been waiting for: Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. The story ends with a page that is sure to make fans feel elated. Kamala is standing on a rooftop and suddenly a familiar superhero is standing beside her – in the last panel of the issue. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this story arc, due to the team-up between Kamala and Carol. Throughout the series, since the very beginning of Kamala’s story,[5] we have known that Kamala was inspired to become a superhero because of the other heroes in the Marvel Universe, such as the Avengers, and especially Captain Marvel. As fellow superhero fans, we get excited for Kamala to be able to meet her favorite superhero and look forward to reading about their story together.

One thing I wanted to mention was a little moment in the story during the conversation between Kamala and Kamran that I could really relate to: Kamran tries to make Kamala feel guilty for not being able to protect her family when he’s the one who drugged her parents to kidnap her brother Aamir. This is a familiar tactic that wrongdoers and manipulators use against their victims, trying to make them feel guilty. They know just what will hurt their target the most. Many people will be able to relate to this, but I think the fact that Kamala is a teenaged girl adds another aspect to that passage, as girls are sometimes told they have to preserve the “honor” of their family and blamed if others hurt them. It’s a good follow-up to the previous story arc, in which Kamran tries to blame Kamala for his own actions.[6]

We see lots of civilians in this story, as everyone is trying to figure out what to do. Characters are trying to gather everyone at the school, which is being used as a shelter. I found it interesting that teenagers are organizing everyone. Where are the adults in the situation? I guess it’s one of the conventions of stories with teenaged superheroes: the adults aren’t around so that the teenagers can be the heroes. It’s also possible that, hopefully, the adults are trying off-panel to figure things out on a larger scale to try to stop the end of the Multiverse. Of course, Kamala and other characters are trying to help the civilians, which is what superheroes should do.

During these efforts by the teenagers, there’s a moment between Bruno and Josh that I found interesting. We know Josh from earlier in the series, including issue #1[7] and issue #2.[8] Bruno is Kamala’s friend and has been in the series throughout. Bruno and Josh are working together to get the civilians to the school and fight off looters. There’s a moment when Josh calls Bruno a “geeky guido” (with “guido” being an insulting reference to Bruno being working-class Italian-American). Bruno points out that it’s an insulting term, and Josh says it’s an “old habit”. It’s not mentioned again, as they have other things to focus on at the moment, but I found it interesting. We don’t know as much about Bruno as we do about Kamala, since he’s not the main character, but there are moments earlier in the series when we found out some facts about his background: he’s working during high school to help support his family;[9] he’s trying to get a scholarship so he can go to college;[10] he’s a grandson of Italian-American immigrants.[11]

There are immigrants in the United States, and in every country, from wide variety of backgrounds, and I appreciate that the series acknowledges that. Too often, in political discussions, this fact is brought up disingenuously, to promote discrimination rather than promote equality and solidarity between people. Certain groups of immigrants, usually people of specific racial and religious backgrounds from certain European countries, are considered acceptable immigrants, while other groups are considered unacceptable, with variations due to time period and other contexts. When people discuss discrimination they face, others who are now more accepted (by being more-recently included in the “white” category in some contexts) will bring up their own background to tell others to stop complaining about discrimination. In this series, Kamala and Bruno are friends. When Bruno mentions his immigrant background, he does so to point out a similarity between his family and the Khan family, not to deny the existence of discrimination. Bruno’s family doesn’t have as much money as Kamala’s family and he does face stereotypes due to his background. At the same time, Kamala’s appearance makes it clear to others that she’s not white, so she would face discrimination in certain situations when Bruno might be considered white. She also faces discrimination due to her religion in a way that would probably happen less often to Bruno, since she’s Muslim and he’s Catholic in a majority-Christian country. The series acknowledges (albeit briefly) that European-American immigrants also face discrimination and socioeconomic marginalization in society, but also does not use it as an insult against non-European immigrants like the Khan family. Learning a little about Bruno’s background in the series has made me curious to learn more about the experiences of his grandparents when they moved here and his experiences as well. In the tradition of Steve Rogers, who’s a child of Irish immigrants (or Superman who’s literally from another planet) there are superheroes who are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Issues of social justice are nothing new to superhero comics; we’ve just decided we can include these issues more clearly and with greater diversity.

This issue mostly sets up a premise that will continue in the remainder of the story arc. One of the interesting aspects of the Last Days stories is that, because they are being published after Secret Wars is already underway, we know that the superheroes will not be able to stop the end of the Multiverse. Therefore, this is a story about how people react when something disastrous happens and about how people keep trying, even right up until the very end. Superheroes are supposed to do the right thing, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how two of my favorite superheroes deal with the end of the Multiverse.

[Originally Written: 29 August 2015]

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References

[1] Wilson GW, Miyazawa T, Herring I, et al. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #16 “Last Days, Part One”. Marvel,

[2] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15 “Crushed, Part Three”. Homeworld Journal, 30 May 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-15-crushed-part-three/

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

[4] All-New, All-Different Marvel. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 23 August 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/All-New,_All-Different_Marvel.

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

[6] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #15 “Crushed, Part Three”. Homeworld Journal, 30 June 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-15-crushed-part-three/

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

[8] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #2 “All Mankind”. Homeworld Journal, 22 June 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-2-all-mankind/

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

[10] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #3 “Side Entrance”. Homeworld Journal, 22 June 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-3-side-entrance/

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

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]

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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.

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]

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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]

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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.