Travelling Man's Blog

Review: Ms Marvel Volume 2-Generation Why by Travelling Man

Written by G. Willow Wilson

Art by Jacob Wyatt (Issues 6 and 7) and Adrian Alphona (Issues 8-11)

Colour art by Ian Herring

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Cover art by Jamie Mckelvie & Matthew Wilson (Issues 6-9) and Kris Anka (Issues 10-11)

Published by Marvel



The last time Marvel had a character with a rookie year this good, his second name was Parker. And you know what? I like Kamala much, much better. This book shows why.

Firstly, and centrally to this book, Kamala is a child of the 21st century. A New Jersey kid from a Pakistani family, she’s a nerd in a way that feels genuine. Kamala’s an immense superhero fangirl, idolizes Captain Marvel in particular, writes fanfiction, plays MMOs, the whole nine yards. Kamala is what we’d be if we lived in the Marvel universe and as a result she’s the most instantly relatable character Marvel have right now.

And yes, she’s a girl.

And yes, she’s Muslim.

Geek is a cultural community that likes to pay lip service to ‘everyone’s welcome here’ right around the time it starts telling people they can’t come in. Kamala, and her success, are the antithesis of that. She’s a geek in the purest, most open sense of the term. She’s us, and we’re her.

Secondly, she’s a teenager who’s actually written like a teenager. A huge part of this book revolves around not just Kamala’s age but how her generation feels. This may be the single piece of Millennial fiction that doesn’t want to make you, or them, gouge your own frontal lobes out. The idea that her generation of teenagers is incredibly connected, switched on and feels, somehow utterly distant from the world they’re inheriting is central to the book. The book, and Kamala, face this head on, acknowledge it and circumvent it. Everyone gets a say. Everyone gets agency. Everyone gets to decide who they are and what they do. Kamala’s heroism is grounded at least as much in her being the one to stand up and say that as it is in any villain she fights.

Thirdly there’s the lightness of touch when the book interacts with the Marvel universe. This volume sees Kamala find out where she got her powers, what that means for her and team up with Wolverine. The first two embody some of the best scripting I’ve seen in mainstream comics. Inside the first year, the main characters gets answers to her big questions and, like all good stories, they just lead to more questions. Wilson cleverly folds Kamala’s Inhuman status into her adolescence too, and one of the book’s sweetest moments comes when her not-quite (but working on it, kind of) boyfriend gently points out she really is from ‘a galaxy far, far away’. They’re both deeply weirded out by what they discover but, in the end, Kamala is still Kamala. She’s just coming into more focus, to herself, with everything she finds out. As for the Wolverine team up, it’s that rarest of beasts; one that makes sense. The interplay between the two is glorious and Wilson uses the arrival of the most famous mutant of all to throw new light on both him and Kamala. For Wolverine, this is very clearly a laying down of arms; he knows he doesn’t have long and he’s touched and heartened to see the next generation are as gutsy, kind-hearted and sensible as Kamala. For Kamala, SHE GETS TO TEAM UP WITH WOLVERINE and fangirls about it in the most adorable way.

Then there’s the moment below:

The entire scene with Sheikh Abdullah is wonderful but that line stands out for two reasons. The first is the straight-ahead, honest view of Islam that Wilson brings to the book. There’s no tub thumping, no hysteria one way or the other, just an ongoing dialogue with a complex faith from a complex human being. The second is simpler; that particular exchange is a perfect moment of fiction. Kamala is validated by the last person she expects to be, learning more about herself, Sheikh Abdullah and her faith as she does so. It’s the central moment in the entire Wolverine story and echoes down through the rest of the book. Kamala Khan is a hero and the people in her life who know, know her well enough to realize this is what she’s meant to do. That’s a Hell of a turn around, and an immensely welcome one, from the ‘I must shoulder this heroic burden alone’ nonsense that so many characters labour under. Kamala’s New Jersey’s girl, and New Jersey has her back whether it’s Sheikh Abdullah, the kids she rescues or the members of the JCPD.

Wyatt and Alphona’s art is loose, smart and clever stuff and Herring’s colours are rich and naturalistic. Caramagna’s lettering ensures multiple characters and dialogue types land with ease and Wilson’s script is never less than exceptional. This is one of the best teams working today, on one of the best books. Unique, immensely clever, very funny and crammed full of heart, Ms Marvel is the best superhero title on the market right now. Pick this, and the first volume up and find out why.

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[…] Ms Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by a small, brilliant team of artists like Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring and Joe Caramagna, is one of the most extraordinary mainstream comic books on the market. Kamala, the lead, is a New Jersey-based teenager from a Pakistani family who gains superpowers and does what every nerd would do; fights crime with them. While screwing up a lot. It’s an amazing, clever, kindhearted revolution of a book that’s been infinitely more successful than was anticipated and I’ve talked about it a lot elsewhere. […]

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