Ms. Marvel #1:
Just An Ordinary American Teenager...
Let's get the controversy out of the way right off the bat: our would be Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, is Pakistani and her family practices the Muslim faith. Said faith makes exactly one appearance in this book, and it leads to a derisive argument between father and son, something I imagine is not too unfamiliar to anyone, no matter where you are from or what beliefs you hold onto.
What this book does brilliantly is present a teenager struggling to uphold her family's traditions and values, while trying to fit into the culture around her. She's torn between two worlds, and both are important to her. Sound familiar? Like something that the entire line of Marvel Comics was based on from the start?
This theme is presented to the reader by writer G. Willow Wilson on the very first page. Kamala is enjoying the smell of "delicious infidel meat," while obviously not able to taste it. Already she is chided by her friends to either stop faking it or stick to her "rules." Again, who hasn't had this internal struggle?
Kamala's family is what I would imagine modern immigrants to be (if I'm wrong, please correct me). They hold onto the traditions that make their culture unique, but also must adapt to their chosen place of living. Kamala seemingly wants none of it, more concerned with her Avengers infatuation and heading out to a party. Pakistani or not, anyone can relate to going through this at some point, yes?
Adrian Alphona's art is crazy detailed and a lot of fun. There is loads to see in the background, and he doesn't skimp on the details. Look at the convenience store the book opens with. Or the Khan's dinner table. Kamala's room. Abu-Jaan's newspaper. The NYC skyline. Gorgeous.
This is old school Marvel in all the best ways. It's a return to the "fish out of water" type characters that made Peter Parker and the X-Men so great when they exploded into the pop consciousness. Kamala Khan will be a hero to lots and lots of young fans. And some older ones, as well.
No matter what news stories accompanied the announcement of the character in November, do not discount this book. It does what all great comics do: it makes you care about someone who isn't even real. But she's real to you.
This book was not really on my radar for any number of reasons, but now I cannot wait for issue #2!
Kris Koller works at Earth-2 Comics Northridge, 8967 Reseda Blvd. in Northridge, California, always happy to help you find the book you're looking for. You can also venture into Earth-2 Comics at 15017 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks.
As always, look to your local comics shop for the books discussed here on Fanboy Planet -- Earth-2 in Sherman Oaks and Northridge, The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, Illusive Comics & Games in Santa Clara, Hijinx Comics in Willow Glen would all be great places, and many do mail-order business.