To be totally honest, Marvel and DC aren’t a major geekdom of mine. But upon recommendations, first by friends IRL and again here at CannonballReads, I started the Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson et al. The library had the first 8 volumes, then a skip then a volume then skip one or two, so for now until I can get some blanks filled in I’m limited to volumes 1-7; I haven’t finished 8 yet. I’ll get that one in the next batch.
I think that the standout thing for me with Kamala as a character is how much more real she is than most superheroes, thanks primarily to having a reasonably normal backstory, being the first American-born child of immigrant Pakistani parents. Her parents worry about their daughter being a proper Muslim girl in the US, her older brother bugs her, she has typical high school drama with friends including best pal since about 2nd grade Bruno, and she also has to find her place in hero society, being a big fan of Captain Marvel and the rest of the Avengers. Her primary loyalty seems to be to her Jersey City community as opposed to anywhere and everywhere like a lot of the other major heroes, which again is kind of refreshing.
The other thing I’ve enjoyed so far is that some of the other characters besides Kamala get some character growth and their own stories but it still fits within the bigger Ms. Marvel narrative. Bruno especially with how he and Kamal meet, and how they feel about each other as young adults; bully Zoe has a crisis and decides to make some big changes in her life; Kamala’s brother Aamir at first seems like a lazy directionless 20-something who uses faith as an excuse to not get a job, but he does stand up for his little sister when he thinks she’s in trouble and he does eventually start to visibly grow up, especially once Tyesha is introduced. All of these characters fit in with Kamala’s shifting world and her having to start growing up more as well.
What annoys me a little is how superficial some of the main Marvel cameos are handled. Take Wolverine, the first major hero to run across Kamala. It could have been anyone else and the same little advancement for Kamala could have been made. Don’t get me wrong, Wolverine is one of my favorite X-Men, but it’s not just him who seems to be there just for the name-drop. Kamala suddenly ends up a tangential part of a version of the Avengers team but there’s no real explanation for how or why that happened in this particular story thread. Kamala’s also obviously a big Captain Marvel fan, but seeing Carol Danvers go down the totally stereotypical jaded hero path seemingly only to set up some conflict and force Kamala to take a side she knows is wrong or stand up to her childhood hero is rather cliché. So far, the Black Panther is the only real cameo that fits into the narrative and that’s a Bruno side-story.