Ms. Marvel #14

msmarvel14

I’ve been waiting every week for new issues of Ms. Marvel. This is my new favorite comic from Marvel today. The story just keeps getting better and better each issue. This one is no different.

This picks up from last issue when Kamala discovers the boy she has a crush on is an Inhuman as well. Before they really have a chance to commiserate about everything Kamala’s brother catches up with them. At this point he is their chaperone. I really appreciated how Kamala’s brother was portrayed in this issue. In the hands of a less skilled writer he could have come across as heavy handed and stern for the sake of being stern. Yet in G. Willow Wilson’s hands he comes across as nothing more than a brother who loves his sister and is concerned about her well being.

The beauty of this comic is the light it shines on an average American Islamic family. Guess what? They’re just like every other family out there. Kamala, like any teenager, goes through the same insecurities anyone else would go through. And like many folks, her faith helps guide her decisions. It also helps her realize that sometimes the decisions she makes may not be the best decisions but her heart forces her to go through it anyway. Like when Kamran, the boy she is interested in who is also an Inhuman, shows up at her window in the middle of the night and takes her out to talk.

Kamala has struggled through the series to balance both her duties as a superhero, as someone with power who owes it to the public to protect them from threats they may not be able to face on their own, as well as her duty to her family and her faith. So when she encounters a boy she is interested in she struggles like anyone would with the new feelings that rush over her like a tidal wave.

I remember being in love for the first time. The girl was nice enough and all and deep down I think I knew we had no future but I fell head over heels for her and got smacked in the head with reality quite quick. It was just…a relationship that should not have happened. I am glad it did in the grand scheme of things because this particular relationship I feel helped me wisen up and eventually find the right woman for me (Almost 13 years of marriage!). But again, I overlooked things that if they were happening to a friend I would have been screaming my voice hoarse that they were getting screwed over and making a horrible mistake.

Over the course of the issue we discover that Kamran is not all he is cracked up to be. By issues end he’s revealed himself to be in league with other Inhumans who, similar to Magneto in X-Men, feel that they deserve to be rulers of humanity, not its savior like Kamala is trying to be.

Kamala’s brother has another great scene when he tries his best to let Bruno, another boy who has a crush on Kamala down by telling him that he should not try and pursue a relationship with her. Whether you agree with what Aamir has to say or not is irrelevant. The issue is not trying to be a pamphlet for Islam. It’s just stating what immigrant families the world over would consider to be fact. I don’t see Aamir’s actions as being negative. I see him trying to do what Italian families or Irish families said to their kin back in the day. As immigrants, they want to be able to keep their culture alive despite being in a new country. I never got the sense that Aamir was trying to insult Bruno. Apart from religion, I think Kamala’s family would probably not have much of a problem with Bruno. But immigrant families can be quite protective. Being in a new country, they still find themselves wanting to keep their old ways and traditions. Hell, I’m originally from Michigan and am now living in Oregon and I find myself feeling similar feelings. While I am a citizen of Oregon, my home will always be Michigan. It pains me a bit for my kids to not like the same sports teams or call Pepsi Pop (when they call it soda I want to send them to the door. It’s not soda. It’s POP damn it!) You don’t want your vision of home to disappear. If you added in religion into that mix, I am quite sure that my feelings of sadness would probably border on despair. The future can be a harsh bitch. Not knowing how things turn out can be a motherfucker for control freaks like me.

The art was pretty solid. One feature I really liked was one little feature they dealt with in regards to Kamran. Throughout the story when he exhibits his powers the action lines on his powers show themselves to be white. Yet when he reveals himself to be not as nice as Kamala thought he was, he knocks her out with his powers. The action lines for his powers are drawn black. I know, a very small detail. But it’s little things like this that make this comic so good. As I stated in a review I wrote for the previous issue, I love how this comic really does come across as if Kamala is drawing it herself. It has that simplistic quality you expect from a beginning artist but it has such power in the small things like the action lines that you know there is real skill at work here. Well done.

Bottom Line:

If you are not reading Ms. Marvel you are missing out on one of the best comics going today. The characters are all well done and quite realistic. You can picture these people actually existing. In fact, I said it before that the superhero parts of the story end up being more of a distraction from the real story at hand which is a wonderful story about a young girl from an immigrant family trying to adjust to life in a new country while her family is trying their best to raise her in the old traditions. This is an important comic too because it portrays Muslims as people. Nothing more, nothing less. You don’t have the Afterschool Special type of lecturing some stories can give when they’re trying to create an “important” story. I think of 80’s sitcoms that had that very special episode. That one episode that dealt with a very serious topic but was dealt with in such a ham fisted way that the point they were trying to make was lost in the cheesiness of the garbage you were seeing. (Like Diff’rent Strokes and the bike molester episode.)

The reason I bring this up is this. America has a problem with Islam. Stoked like a campfire by pieces of shit politicians, the actions of a small group of Saudi Arabian men have now turned into a silly religious crusade that is simply being used by big corporations to make money off the lives off poor people around the world. I am not naive in thinking that there are not Muslims in the world who have done and plan to do very bad things. But the fact that I am more likely to die from a white guy who has one too many guns when he should be locked away being fed his medication through an IV instead of at the hands of a terrorist says a lot about our countries priorities. We want to demonize people just for the hell of it. The ONLY way that demonization will come to an end is when folks open their damn eyes and see the world for what it is. It’s filled with people who want to simply live their lives in peace. We may all have different philosophies on how to live life. In the end, most of us just want to be happy. This is a comic about just such a family. You have to read this series.

The art again is beautiful. Drawn as if Kamala herself drew it in a journal, the power in the details really brings out the emotions of the story. Like when Kamala holds Kamran’s hand for the first time. When she almost kisses him. This entire work is so alive. You are reading a series that will be studied for years to come. I love Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel #13

Ms. Marvel

I wanted to take a quick break from the Secret Invasion to talk about a comic that I fell in love with from issue 1. Ms. Marvel. When I first heard of what they had planned for this comic my first instinct was to cringe. Sometimes entertainment companies, in an effort to try and widen their audience, will set about creating something that appeals to a specific audience and in doing so create something that no one will like. But the creators of this comic have done their homework and have done it quite well. All the characters in the story feel real and are quite well created. The latest issue (from six months ago) was just released on the Marvel Unlimited app so here is my review.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Ms._Marvel_Vol_3_13

The Good:

This issue was kind of low key in a good way. The traditional comic book aspects of it are actually more distraction to the human story at hand which is not a bad thing. You start off at home with Kamala Khan and her family. They tell her some friends will be coming over with their son and she instantly reacts with scorn. Seems she feels her parents want to set her up with a boy of their choosing and like any kid she instantly rejects the idea.

Once she meets the guy however her opinion changes thanks to video games. They play the same game and discover they have other shared interests. The connection between the two seems quite real and I really enjoyed how the writer, G. Willow Wilson, made the instant connection seem real as well as making the reaction of the family quite real as well. Kamala and her family are Islamic and I absolutely LOVE (I had to go teenager girl internety with my writing there) how they’ve seamlessly blended their faith into the story without it seeming forced. It actually leads Kamala to continue as Ms. Marvel in earlier issues when her Imam pretty much comes out and tells her that as long as what she is doing does not break the rules of the Quran and is actually helping people than she should continue what she is doing.

If there is one group in our country that has been shit upon continuously without let up since 9/11 it has been the Islamic community. No group should have to suffer for the actions of a few bad apples but apparently in our country politicians feel it’s ok to demonize a group as long as it gets them votes and helps the military industrial complex continue their unending war effort to keep profits up. No Christian would want to have the whole of their religion to be mixed in with the acts of someone like a Jim Jones. The same goes with members of the Islamic faith, contrary to what douchebags like Bill Maher and Sam Harris believe.

This comic does a wonderful job showing that an Islamic family is no different than a Christian Family, a Hindu family, an Atheist family. They are good people looking to make their way in life without hurting people. They want to raise their children to be good people and want to make sure they find the right people to marry so they can lead happy lives as well. You can argue about the tenants of anyone’s belief all you want but at the end of the day people should be judged on their actions, not the actions of other douchebags who give a bad name to a mutual shared belief.

The end of the issue was great because the boy that Kamala ends up with a crush on is revealed to be an Inhuman as well. The start of this series involved what was called a Terrigan Mist being released over New York and certain people ended up having latent alien DNA become awakened in them. Kamala had her powers activated and is under the watch of the Inhumans. Kamran, her new crush, catches Kamala after she made an appearance as Ms. Marvel, and reveals to her that the mist affected him as well. Yet one more thing that brings them both together. I can’t wait for the next issue.

The artwork is crude but for this comic I think it actually benefits the story. It feels like a fifteen year old drawing the stories of her life which I like. It has a charm you don’t see in other comics that feel that being sloppy is the new way to show action. My favorite piece of work in the issue was the nod to the original Superman movie where Kamala reveals she has her uniform on under her shirt. It has the feel of anime as well in that image but again, it adds to the charm of the story because you could imagine a fifteen year old girl drawing herself like that.

Bottom Line:

I usually include what I didn’t like in my reviews because honestly you can nitpick and everything. A painter could look at the Mona Lisa and see some strokes that are off or something else to show that a master painter like Da Vinci was human like the rest of us. But that still doesn’t take away from the fact that the Mona Lisa is a classic painting.

I could take the time to find something wrong with that issue but I feel that would be taking away from everything good this comic had. This is a comic series that I hope we’ll see honored on the big screen someday. This is a comic series I think has a real chance of being the next Spider-Man in the sense that thirty, forty, fifty years from now we’ll still be talking about it. When you have a series that is written and drawn as well as this series is, you enjoy it for what it is. What flaws it may have actually make the piece greater. If you have not done so yet, find an issue of Ms. Marvel, read it and enjoy. This is what makes comic books so great to read.