The new Ms. Marvel series has been getting a lot of well-deserved, positive attention that is translating well into sales for the series. The first issue, for instance, is into its sixth printing so far and is going strong. That’s some great news for any comic book fan who is looking for a relatable, endearing new story to read about a young girl, slightly weird and incredibly lovable, who stumbles her way through life like a proper teenage superhero…so anyone who is a fan of superhero comics or interested in getting into them will find much to love here.
Some people called this series risky for featuring the first ever Muslim superhero and her family of Pakistani immigrants, but Marvel offset that risk by hiring Willow Wilson to write the story. Wilson turns what I suppose could have been a Luke Cage-in-the-70s-type of wrongness into one of the most real feeling comics about a teenage superhero I’ve ever read.
If there’s any real danger involved in selling a comic book with a Pakistani, quirky teenager, it’s vanquishing the fear a potential reader has in thinking that they would have nothing to relate to there. Thankfully, Wilson’s poignant writing alongside Adrian Alphona’s artwork is striking and instantly draws the reader in. The reality is that Kamala Khan is an interesting character in the midst of a coming-of-age-tale that would be compelling regardless of whatever religion or gender she was.
The fact that Wilson can bring her experience to the table to give the character her own unique dash of flavor, and make her a weird, relatable geek, is icing on the ever-so-delicious cake that is Ms. Marvel. Kamala and her friends all have a voice and dynamic to them that make them instantly recognizable and Wilson makes it easy for us to fall in love with all of them. Kamala doesn’t feel like just a clone of the Peter Parker I grew up reading but rather she feels genuine and unique. I can’t help but feel excited and sure that this is the Peter Parker for a new generation of comic book readers.
Ms. Marvel feels a bit slow at times in terms of plot advancement via action and tension, but the origin story is handled with love and care and Wilson lets it breathe to great effect. Kamala learns about her powers slowly; she struggles with wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in and her powers are so deeply connected with her character and some of the dialogue is so well written that you’ll start to wonder where all the dust that gets in your eyes keeps coming from.
The ethnic and cultural touches enhance the story and add to Kamala’s characterization in the perfect way. It never feels like it’s a superfluous element or that it’s there to sell the comic, and it provides a unique look at certain aspects of a young Muslim girl’s life and makes for interesting new takes to classic storytelling. This first volume and the first five issues it contains is really well structured and the sense of an already-strong writer and artist getting better and better as the series progresses means this series has a bright future. This is one of the most endearing and fun comics you can get your hands on, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.