Kamala Khan is a pretty ordinary geeky teenager from Jersey City, until she’s suddenly given the extraordinary powers of the superhero Ms. Marvel. She’s both excited and confused. Can a Muslim girl even be a superhero? She certainly feels that the outfit could be a bit less revealing. How is she going to combine the responsibilities of fighting crime, rescuing people and righting wrongs if she also has to worry about obeying her parents and keeping cerfew?
Before she’s even entirely aware what she’s doing, she uses her powers to save a class mate. The press catches wind of it, and soon everyone is wondering about the identity of the new Ms. Marvel. After trying to rescue her friend Bruno from a botched convenience store robbery, he discovers her new secret identity and promises to help her in any way he can. There’s some hints about a sinister new villain, but as this trade only collects the first five volumes, it’s mainly an origin story.
I really liked Kamala and while I’ve seen a lot of people claim that all the other characters are stereotypes, I’m not sure I agree. I would assume that since G. Willow Wilson herself is a Muslim, she’s a bit more sensitive to the cultural stereotypes than some other authors might be. I work with teenagers from many religions, and thought most of the teen characters rang true. Stereotypes are built on generalities, but a lot of girls of Pakistani descent DO have protective parents. Their brothers are traditionally allowed a lot more freedom and it can be a tricky thing to have a foot in two cultures.
The comic is fun, but not perfect. I’m still not entirely sure how or why Kamala actually got her superpowers, that bit was a bit vague. I am assuming that the supporting cast will be fleshed out as necessary in future issues and that readers will also discover the motivations of the villain. I don’t know a whole lot about the Marvel comics universe, having only really watched the films, but am unsure if this is the comic that will really make me more familiar with the whole of it. I supect it will mainly focus on Kamala’s adventures in Jersey City. The series certainly seems more diverse in its representation than a lot of comics, and is clearly aimed more at a middle grade to YA audience. It’s still refreshing to see a comic about a young woman that doesn’t play up the physical aspect or overly sexualise her. I liked the writing and the art, and will be looking for the next volume soon.
Crossposted on my blog.