Writer: Saladin Ahmed / Artist: Minkyu Jung / Marvel Comics
Ms. Marvel is not playing today. In the aftermath of an alien attack, Kamala Khan finds herself faced with her parent’s melting bodies. Compounded with the stress on their relationship that her revealed superhero identity has caused, Khan needs Bruno’s support to track down the responsible party. Along the way she comes across a fan, and then, a previously fought enemy (frenemy?). In different ways, both feel Ms. Marvel’s wrath as she lashes out. A much larger threat shows itself with almost comically linear progression. The book ends with Kahn finding the perpetrators, but the discovery creates more questions than answers.
Jung captures the tone of the book expertly in the emotional reactions of the characters. I took note of Ms. Marvel’s fight with Discord where I think it is the first time she enlarges to a Hulk-shape. I came to the realization that it must be fun for a good artist to draw Kamala. Jung utilizes are variety of Ms. Marvels abilities to shrink, grow, contort and the like during the comic. It makes for dynamic fight scenes that I’d love to see choreographed in animated form.
Kamala Khan is in good hands with Saladin Ahmed. All the strengths I’ve come to reflexively associate with Ms. Marvel comics are captured in this issue. The first and most refreshing is the fearless inclusion of Pakistani culture and language. Even in the simple use of the Arabic “Abu” to refer to her father contributes to the books dodging the “Black Barbie” effect. Characters of color can easily be written without respect to their unique culture and read like standard white, Americans just with darker skin. Ms. Marvel’s heroic nature is also deeply explored through the inner thoughts of her best friend, Bruno, in this book. He thinks along with the reader how impressive of a character she is. What’s striking in this issue is where she expresses empathy and compassion even while suffering great frustration and sorrow, personally. The book also nods to Ms. Marvel’s nerdism. Even in a high drama situation she observes the world through the lens of games. “That is the final boss battle” doesn’t read as light or comedic but rather the expression of her observation. The book ends with a promise of something fantastical. An odd choice for a book with a darker tone for Kamala, it’ll be a challenge to pivot to a “You are the chosen one” adventure out of “we kidnapped your parents and made you think they were dead”. I’m optimistic, though.
8 “Alien Chest Bursts” out of 10
Reading Ms. Marvel? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.
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