I adore Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel. I am so glad that G. Willow Wilson is writing her. I’m so happy this all exists.
Kamala has come a long way from her exposure to the Terrigen mist and that first fan girly team up with Wolverine. Some members of her family know, she’s a member of the Avengers, and Jersey City has come to view her as their own superhero. But success and notoriety come with a price. Reputations can be changed with just a whisper, or a billboard.
While Kamala has been distracted doing triple duty as an Avenger, high school student, and daughter, things have changed. Her brother has fallen in love, her best friend has fallen in love, and a neighborhood redevelopment company has moved in and appropriated Ms. Marvel’s image. Kamala wants to be an Avenger, she wants Bruno to be happy, and she wants her family and community to be proud of her.
Suddenly, getting what she wants isn’t so great. Everything is complicated and Kamala is so tired. In the end, she can’t do it all and she can’t make everyone happy all the time. In this issue, she must battle evil gentrifiers, clones, and most of all, her own expectations.
Life is never easy for a teen superhero. Having achieved some work/life balance, everything gets turned upside down in Civil War II. Everything.
Captain Marvel was Kamala’s hero, so much so that before Kamala understood her powers, she shifted into Carol Danver’s Ms. Marvel.
While shifting from Desi girl into a gigantic white woman was ultimately not the way she wanted to go, she kept the name and has been proud of her affiliation with Captain Marvel. Kamala has earned the respect of Captain Marvel and Iron Man. As their relationship deteriorates, Kamala feels stuck in the middle. But Kamala’s Central conflict comes from an offshoot of the superhero civil war, not from the war between Captain Marvel and Iron Man.
Civil War II reminds us of both Kamala’s roots, and of the cost of violence. Kamala’s great grandmother is forced to flee to the newly created Pakistan on foot during the Partition. Throughout the issues collected in this volume, we get glimpses of Kamala’s maternal line. They are strong women. It’s a nice reminder to us, as readers, that Kamala wasn’t made strong by the mists, she comes from strength.
Like the teenager she is, Kamala often takes her mother and family for granted, but when events rock her world, her roots give her the strength to keep fighting.
Kamala has faced high stakes before, but Civil War II, ends on a note of loss. Kamala has lost two of her pillars of strength. But as her ancestor observed, “there is never no hope.” Kamala is Ms. Marvel whether she is wearing the costume or not. Even with her losses, Kamala will keep fighting for Jersey City, her city, whether they like it or not.
I find one of the legitimate criticisms of superhero comic books is that timelines are too easily reset or abandoned. I appreciate that G. Willow Wilson has slowly built tensions, which exploded in Civil War II. Kamala has thought that she could always fix things, put them back the right way. In this volume, she learns she cannot. She can only learn lessons and move on.