Writer: G. Willow Wilson / Artists: Paolo Villanelli and Ian Herring / Marvel Comics
I’m going to be 100% up front here about Ms. Marvel. I love Kamala Khan. I love Carol Danvers, even after she went off the rails in Civil War II. So a comic that unites these two Ms. Marvels for one quick adventure is pretty much guaranteed to get me fangirl squee’ing for about 20 minutes. This comic is exactly as advertised. But better than that, Wilson is at the top of her game and the art by Villanelli and Herring is so on point it gave me flashbacks. (Yes, I *remember* the 1970s; I was *there*.) This is a great addition to any Ms. Marvel collection, old or new.
The comic starts with us meeting Carol Danvers as the Editor-in-Chief of a women’s magazine called, oh yeah, Woman Magazine. This sets us squarely in Carol’s 1970s era, when she’s left NASA and the Air Force behind, but before she’s joined any official superhero unit. Kamala, um I mean Karina, has landed at the magazine as an intern:
Pause to appreciate the perfect use of “Record Scratch. Freeze Frame. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.” It is one of my favorite Internet memes and I love seeing it jump genre to genre and media to media and yet always be right on time. How Kamala ended up in this situation is well… Wilson attributes it to “sci-fi reasons,” which is as good a reason as any. She knows she doesn’t have to suspend your disbelief with a plausible explanation. We’re here for the characters, Kamala and Carol, the what/why of it all is secondary. And Wilson delivers on the characters. Kamala is impulsive and teenage, with those flashes of insight and moments of wonder that make her so endearing. Carol is a total boss, even in the moment when she finally has to admit “Yeah, I needed help. Thanks.” This is Danvers at her DeConnick-style greatest.
Together, Carol and Kamala fight off a Shi’ar hostile takeover of the magazine, while also saving it from financial ruin, in a classic 1970’s newspaper style moment — Kamala writes the perfect article. In the process, she finally real comes to grip with her breakup with Captain Marvel in her real timeline — their different priorities took them in different directions, but maybe there’s unity somewhere? Only Wilson would use the conflict between 1970s (second wave) feminism and modern 2010s feminism (what wave are we on now?) as the metaphorical vehicle for Carol and Kamala’s reunion. It is perfect for these two women, both feminist icons in their own ways, to find middle ground in the struggle for women’s rights.
The art is perfect 1970s. Colors are muted, as if they are printed on newsprint. The still frames are static, with very little movement *within* each panel. The panel layout is straight-forward and square. (Even with the 1970s aesthetic, you’ll notice there are plenty of people of color in the comic. It is like someone’s willing to admit we existed back then.) Villanelli and Herring really did their homework and they put together a comic that looks straight out of the past but that doesn’t lose modern readers.
I enjoyed the hell out of this comic. The only thing I can say bad about it is that the villain clearly only exists as an excuse to bring the Marvels together. But really, there’s a Peter Parker cameo, so that balances it out. If all of the Marvel Generations titles are this fun, they’ve got a series-spanning winner on their hands.
Reading Ms. Marvel? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.