Well, it has been hyped for several months and now it is finally out. The mantle of “Ms. Marvel” has passed on from Carol Danvers for a brand new character. Kamala Khan, a New Jersey-Born Muslim teenager who gained superpowers after the unleashing of the Terrigenesis Bomb during Infinity. Written by G. Willow Wilson and with art by Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring, this book had many eyes on it since announced. After reading the first issue, all I can say is: “Wow!” This is amazing. This is a fantastic and very important issue, in my opinion. Why? Well, let’s begin:
5. Gateway Drug
Marvel have been doing their best to try to make series accessible to new readers. Their recent All-New Marvel NOW movement has brought in several new series and also instituted a “.NOW” system for ongoing series to show jumping-on points. Some of these endeavors have been better than others (Jonathan Hickman even acknowledged that Avengers #24.NOW is a terrible jumping-on point, to which I agree, even though I have been reading Hickman’s Avengers since day one).
Ms. Marvel #1 is not only accessible to the character, but in the Marvel Universe in general. The absolute only thing you may need to know is the Terrigenesis Bomb that activated the latent Inhuman DNA within millions across the world, but even that is not really necessary to know.
My point is, if you want to get your friends or family into comics, this is the perfect issue to get them into it. I am even seeing this process at work where people tweeting that Ms. Marvel #1 is their first comic issue ever. Welcome to our little hobby, everyone. We accept cash or credit.
As a DC Comics child of the nineties and teenager of the 2000s, I am a huge fan of legacies; of a superhero mantle being passed down to a new person, usually of a younger generation. (It also seems to me that DC is intending to wipe this whole concept from their line. Thanks, New 52.) Marvel has been taking great advantage with this concept, with mantles such as Nova, Power Man and Spider-Man, being passed on to another person.
I am always fascinated by how a new bearer will honor the mantle but also how they make it their own. We remember the famous scene where Wally West takes up the mantle of his dead mentor (You know, until that same mentor came back from the dead and then retconned Wally out of existence. Yes, I’m bitter!) Kamala has the same amount of potential in her for greatness and this issue is the first step.
Tangentially, Kamala inheriting the mantle of Ms. Marvel also helps solidify Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. She now has no mantle to go back to. I know there are some fans who want Carol to go back to Ms. Marvel, but considering the amount of backing this book has been getting, that won’t be happening for a long, long time. Frankly, we are all the better for it.
3. Creative Team Synchronization
I will be completely blunt about this: Adrian Alphona (Who you may remember from the incredibly awesome Runaways series with Brian K. Vaughn) and Ian Herring are the only ones who could have made this issue. There is no one else that would even compare. They create a kind of soft style that makes it flexible for down-to-earth scenes such as the scene in the beginning at a deli and go straight into the fantastical such as the Terrigen Mists.
We combine this with a wonderful editorial team. Editor Sana Amanat shows a clear passion and understands the necessity of such a series in every interview she gives. There is a clear co-operation with editorial and writer G. Willow Wilson that is so noticeable in the final product. In an era where editorial mandates seem to mess with the flow of many stories, this is a breath of fresh air.
2. Progressive in All The Right Ways
What do I mean by this? Well, I think G. Willow herself explains this perfectly (and I recommend you listen to this whole video. It’s brilliant.): when writing someone of an incredibly underrepresented minority, there is the temptation to write them as a perfect representative of their culture. Someone who is all perfect and happy e.t.c. e.t.c. Sadly, I have seen this being done occasionally.
But you know what this issue shows? It shows a multi-layered teenager. She has quirks. She has naiveté. She has conflict, both inner and outer. This is a person being written. “People are as onions. We have layers,” as Shrek taught us. That should be reflected in our media. It tends to be lost among the punch-em-ups that the superhero genre has.
1. IT’S FUN!
This is the simplest reason. Ms. Marvel #1 is an incredibly fun read. It has humor. It has pathos. It is easy to follow. Kamala is in no way, shape, or form a perfect person but she is likable and charming enough that we want to know what happens next in her story. This book has the kind of tone that I can share it with my younger cousins without any fear of what its contents may hold (for reference, the only other book in the Big 2 I feel safe doing that with is Nova, which has some similarities with Ms. Marvel).
I’m not saying every book should be light-hearted and kid friendly (in fact, one of my favorite books at Marvel is New Avengers and every other issue of that is emotionally draining), but they are in very short supply in mainstream comics. I cannot stress how important this is if we are to cultivate a new generation of readers.
Not only did this issue live up to the hype, but surpassed even that. The critical reception to this issue is astonishing. I am going to be very curious what the sales numbers for this and future issues will be (Comixology has Ms. Marvel #1 as the second bestselling book at time of writing, just behind Forever Evil #5). Like Miles Morales in the Ultimate Universe, Kamala Khan is a move in the right direction for comics in general and all it took was a passionate creative team and a compelling, layered protagonist. If you’re going to get a first issue this year, I implore you, get this one.
And if you’ll have me, Kamala Korps:
I’m in for the long haul. What about you?