Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #18 “Last Days, Part Three”

WRITER: G. Willow Wilson

ARTIST: Adrian Alphona

COLOR ARTIST: Ian Herring

LETTERER: Joe Caramagna

EDITORS: Charles Beacham, Sana Amanat, Axel Alonso

“A lot of people think you’re something special, and now I see why.” (Carol Danvers to Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #18)[1]

“Good luck, Ms. Marvel. For what it’s worth – I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks, Captain. For everything.”

(Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #18)[2]

“I have something to tell you. I’m telling you now because I might not ever have a chance to tell you again, and I don’t want – I don’t want to die without telling my Ammi. I don’t want the last thing the angels write in my book to be a lie…I am Ms. Marvel.”

“Oh, beta…I know.”

(Kamala Khan and Aisha Khan, Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #18)[3]

I love stories about mentorship, and this issue was such a wonderful portrayal of a mentor-and-student story. Stating where the previous issue left off,[4] Kamala and Carol rescue Aamir from Kamran’s experimental attempt to activate his genetic Inhuman powers. After escaping from Kamran’s gang, the three of them head back to Coles Academic High School to try to get help for Aamir and to wait for the end of the world to occur.

There’s a passage in this issue, near the beginning, in which Aamir says to Kamran that he doesn’t blame Kamala for Kamran’s actions. Kamala is surprised, because she thought that Aamir hated her, but Carol reminds her that Aamir’s her brother. The reader can tell that this scene was an attempt at the usual resolution of sibling rivalry that often happens in family stories, and in some ways, it was incredibly sweet. On the other hand, it does sidestep the issues that were a source of disagreement between the two of them. Aamir is a self-described Salafi (an adherent of a very conservative interpretation of Islam).[5] Aamir and Kamala’s rivalry earlier in the series was not just a couple of kids arguing over some silly disagreements that siblings have; they were due to his interpretation of Islam, including his views on gender[6] and religion[7] in relationships. There’s also this moment in the issue when Aamir says he doesn’t want superpowers, since he’s happy as he is, and that he will turn to his faith to help deal with these new powers that he has due to Kamran’s actions. It was an odd blend of respectable and also sadly reminiscent of people trying to pray away aspects of themselves they don’t like. As a reader of superhero comics, one can’t help siding with Kamala on this one. Still, their interactions in some ways were very relatable, as even siblings can be very different from each other. One of the things I really appreciate about this series is that it shows Muslim characters with differing views. It also shows how dedicated people can be to defending family members who are in danger, even though they might disagree with each other.

Fortunately, the interactions between Kamala and Carol in this issue are incredibly heart-warming and made this one of my favorite issue of the series. Kamala gets to meet the person she admires for the first time. This issue shows how much it means to kids and teenagers to have adults in their lives who understand what they’re going through and who are willing to be on their side. When Carol tells Kamala that a lot of people think she’s special, one can’t help thinking that it has a double meaning: referring both to the readership that Kamala has gained since her debut and (because of that readership) the place she’s earned among her fellow heroes in her universe. There’s also a nice acknowledgement in the issue that the mentors and students both gain something from the relationship. Carol gives Kamala a gift (a necklace that also functions as a GPS locator), and it’s a touching gesture that Kamala really appreciates. With the end of the world about to happen, the reader can’t hope that somehow the superheroes will be able to find each other, and especially that the adult superheroes might be able to help out the younger generation heroes. Kamala’s going to join the Avengers after Secret Wars,[8] and I’m incredibly excited to see further interactions between her and her favorite superheroes.

I had so much fun reading this issue, and it ends with a nice surprise that made me smile and eagerly anticipate the finale.

[Originally written: 27 November 2015]

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References

[1] Wilson GW, Alphona A, Herring I. Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #18 “Last Days, Part Three”. Marvel, 9 September 2015.

[2] Ms. Marvel Vol. #18.

[3] Ms. Marvel Vol. #18.

[4] EAS. Book Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #17 “Last Days, Part Two”. Homeworld Journal, 4 September 2016. https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/book-review-ms-marvel-vol-3-17-last-days-part-two/

[5] “Salafi movement”. Wikipedia entry. Retrieved on 27 November 2015 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi_movement.

[6] 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/

[7] 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/

[8] EAS. Book Review: FCBD 2015 “All-New, All-Different Avengers”. Homeworld Journal, 5 September 2016.

https://homeworldjournal.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/book-review-fcbd-2015-all-new-all-different-avengers/

Book Review: FCBD 2015 “All-New, All-Different Avengers”

WRITER: Mark Waid

ARTIST: Mahmud Asrar

COLOR ARTIST: Frank Martin

LETTERER: Joe Sabino

EDITORS: Joe Moisan, Tom Brevoort, Wil Moss

“Our point is, the Avengers exist to protect people. To preserve innocent life. That is job one.” (Sam Wilson/Captain America, FCBC 2015 “All-New All-Different Avengers”)[1]

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is a yearly event held on the first Saturday of May. As the name implies, it’s a day when free comic books are available at participating comics shops. Comics publishers often release specific free comic books for the event.[2] This year, one of Marvel’s FCBD books was an issue that contains two short preview stories for upcoming series: The All-New, All-Different Avengers and The Uncanny Inhumans.[3] Since I plan to read the former, I decided to review the first preview story.

Our new Avengers team features seven main characters: Sam Wilson/Captain America, Jane Foster/Thor, Iron Man, Vision, Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales/Spider-Man, and Sam Alexander/Nova. (Whether or not the person inside the Iron Man armor is Tony Stark is unknown and has been the topic of fandom discussion. There’s a side comment in this issue that suggests it may not be him.) The story begins hilariously with Kamala Khan issuing the command “Avengers Assemble!” – followed by Miles Morales wondering if they’re allowed to say that yet. It’s Kamala Khan, Miles Morales, and Sam Alexander’s first day as Avengers.

Our heroes are investigating an attack on Manhattan’s Federal Reserve Bank. Sam Wilson sends the three teenagers inside to find the criminal while the four more-experienced Avengers fight the dragon outside. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned, and the villain Radioactive Man escapes. Initially, Sam is furious at the teenagers, but then they explain that the villain escaped while they rescued a civilian from falling to his death. After hearing this, Sam says that he knows he recruited the right people to join the team, because they gave first priority to saving a person’s life.

It’s a short but sweet story, and one that nicely sums up what it means to be a superhero. It will likely appeal to readers like myself who like superheroes who are trying to be idealistic and do the right thing – characters who are flawed and have seen horrors, but who still believe in good. The younger characters are clearly excited to be Avengers, and the adults are trying to give them advice and train them. The writing is funny and the artwork is bright and colorful. The creators efficiently used the limited space they had (half an issue) to tell a story that does what it’s meant to: get fans excited for the upcoming story about this new team.

The All-New, All-Different Avengers series is going to start after the Marvel Multiverse is finished crashing, burning, and reforming.[4] Despite the fact that the long title makes me laugh, I’m really looking forward to this story. This team consists of characters I’m excited to read more about. I tend to like superhero teams with some adults and some teenagers, because it provides the opportunity for a lot of heart and humor as the older, more experienced superheroes mentor (or try to mentor) the younger ones. This FCBD story has already caused me to start imagining possible stories in my mind.

Avengers Assemble!

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References

[Originally written: 24 May 2015]

[1] Waid M, Asrar M, Martin F, et al. Free Comic Book Day Vol. 2015 “The All-New, All-Different Avengers”. Marvel, 2 May 2015.

[2] “FCBD Site FAQs”. Free Comic Book Day. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/984.

[3] “Free Comic Book Day Vol 2015 Avengers”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Free_Comic_Book_Day_Vol_2015_Avengers.

[4] “Secret Wars”. Marvel Database. Retrieved on 24 May 2015 from http://marvel.wikia.com/Secret_Wars.

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).