With this final installment of Ms. Marvel, Then and Now, we’re taking a look at the history and present of she who bears the name of the House of Ideas. We’ve covered Ms. Marvel’s lowest moments of writerly depravity, the character’s restoration to greatness under the pen of Chris Claremont, and finally Carol Danvers’ last hurrah as the lead character of the Ms. Marvel title in 2006. Now, Carol isn’t going anywhere – it’s just that she’s gotten a bit of a promotion, you see. Carol Danvers is now Captain Marvel, and has a movie coming out with that title next year… so you can bet her new superhero name isn’t going anywhere. However, the moniker Ms. Marvel lives on through someone else… someone that I’ve written about before here at Blastoff.
KAMALA KHAN is Ms. Marvel.
The last time I spoke about Kamala as Ms. Marvel, I covered the first arc of the run. Those issues established Kamala as one of my favorite modern superheroes by creating a real, genuine character behind the costume. In true Marvel fashion, the reader got the chance to invest in Kamala before she even got her powers. First and foremost, Kamala was a fan of the superheroes in her world – in fact, she even wrote fanfic featuring the Avengers. That’s why she bears the title Ms. Marvel. Carol Danvers was her favorite superhero, so Kamala picked up her old name to honor Captain Marvel. Now, fast-forward to the second Ms. Marvel #1, and times have changed for Kamala. Because now… she is an Avenger. Let’s see how she’s coping.
Willow Wilson returns as writer, and I’m glad. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since Marvel briefly resurrected CrossGen comics as an imprint, where G. Willow Wilson wrote a fantastic reinvention of Mystic. The art is split by Takeshi Miyazawa drawing the first half of this double sized issue, with Adrian Alphona – the artist I remember from the first arc – on the back end. They’re stylistically similar but have different enough approaches that I did, I admit, wonder what happened that led to this split. On colors, Ian Herring does a great job continuing the unique earthy pastels that make this series visually distinctive. Joe Caramagna is on letters.
This issue feels very Spider-Man. A lot of Kamala’s stories do, because they balance the high school drama / family life / superheroics in a way that undoubtedly evokes the web-slinger, but this one seems to lean ever harder into that now that Kamala is an Avenger. She’s busy with everything, so she finds herself unable to be present in anything. She is tired in class, falling asleep while doing homework, missing family obligations due to gigantic creatures that need punching, and failing to realize that her close friend and will-they/won’t-they possible love interest has been dating someone else… for six weeks. Meanwhile, as Kamala’s struggle to balance her regular life with her duties as Ms. Marvel intensifies, she finds herself in the midst of another problem. A strange company has arrived in her town with plans of gentrification, and they’re using her likeness for their billboards now that Ms. Marvel is a symbol for the public. To complicate things, it seems that this company has other evil deeds in mind, considering guards that work for them have glowing batons that wouldn’t look out of place in the hands of a supervillain.
Overall, I liked this issue – but there is a lot going on, and the action overlaps with the character drama in pretty complex ways toward the end. I would recommend Ms. Marvel to anyone, and I’d even go as far as to say that Kamala is my favorite take on this title… BUT I suggest reading it from the first #1 rather than jumping on at any later entry point. Ms. Marvel is, to me, very much about the journey. It’s not the various villains I love to see her fight, though they’re always cool – but what makes Ms. Marvel special is that we’re watching a hero have her defining moments now. It’s Kamala’s journey toward becoming an Avengers and then how she copes with the reality of her dream that is fascination, only because of how she got there. This is a series you’ll want to read from the start and not miss a single issue.