Worlds lived. Worlds died. Nothing was ever the same again. In that Kamala Khan now gets to hang out with Miles Morales and… actually, pretty much everything else feels the exact same. Still, when you had such a strong character and creative team to begin with why fix what ain’t broke?
Read on for our full, spoiler free review of the new “Ms. Marvel” #1!
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa & Adrian Alphona
The internationally-beloved, butt-kicking, smack-talking, most adorable super hero makes her triumphant return. Look out world, Kamala Khan is back and officially an Avenger! Yup, the dream to end all dreams has happened for Kamala. She’s toe to toe with the best of the best, but will being one of Earth’s mightiest heroes be everything she imagined? Is being a celebrity hero as wonderful as Kamala has hoped? Plus, who is that with Bruno? Welcome back, Kamala Korps. We missed you!
There continues to be a morbid hilarity in how many of Marvel’s new #1s coming out that take place after “Secret Wars” – despite the fact that “Secret Wars” hasn’t ended yet and we don’t actually know how it will end – feel like basically nothing that happened during that event has really impacted the new landscape of the Marvel Universe. Sure, there’s a new roster of the main Avengers team of which Ms. Marvel is a member and, sure, Miles Morales is part of it too, but in terms of big status quo changes? There’s almost none. Now, while the Secret Warrior in me is entirely disappointed that the net effect of “Secret Wars” was that Miles Morales is now hanging out with the Earth-616 characters and literally nothing else, the “Ms. Marvel” fan in me if pretty much delighted that it feels like nothing has changed.
G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona and colourist Ian Herring all return to chronicle Kamala Khan’s time as Ms. Marvel post-“Secret War” and here they create a first chapter that appeals to both new and established readers alike. Through Kamala’s narration, Wilson is able to bring all readers up to speed about who the character is, where she is in life and what she’s been doing since “Secret Wars” ended all while keeping things lively through the character’s charm and sense of humour. Add to that, Takeshi Miyazawa’s art which is lively and expressive and brings a vibrancy to the comic thanks to Ian Herring’s colours. It’s everything you loved about “Ms. Marvel” before, just more of it. And what more could any of us ask for, really?
This issue actually focuses on Kamala’s life more than Ms. Marvel, with the her time as an Avengers only briefly shown in the beginning before shifting the focus to her school life and the main plot of the issue involving Ms. Marvel’s image being used as part of a plot to gentrify New Jersey. There’s no big supervillain here and that’s both surprising and yet very appropriate as Wilson and Miyazawa focus the story on how Ms. Marvel has become a symbol and how symbols can be used by the people for their own gain, outside of the original intent of Kamala. It would be an interesting story for any superhero to explore, but adding the layers of Kamala being so young and so new to being a superhero gives Wilson and Miyazawa a lot of depth to explore here and while this first issue only scratches the surface of that, it does so while combining humour, genuine human emotion and a ton of action befitting a stellar superhero comic.
The only snag is that this issue has an epilogue drawn by Adrian Alphona that transitions from the main story into a flashback showing the start of a relationship between two supporting characters. Now, the epilogue itself isn’t a problem as it’s fantastically put together and it’s great to see Wilson and Alphona collaborate on more Ms. Marvel stories, but the way it ends the issue is kind of strange. The whole gentrification plot that was just getting start is put on hold before the artwork transitions mid-page from Miyazawa to Alphona in a way that’s actually hard to miss and the rest of the issue is made up of the epilogue that ends without really giving any closure to the build-up of the gentrification plot. There was a feeling where the last page wrapped up the epilogue and my only thought was “Wait, but what about the whole gentrification thing you were introducing?” before turning the page to be immediately told to just read the next issue to find out more about that.Continued below
It’s a strange feeling as it leaves the issue without a hook to draw the reader into the next issue. The issue kind of ends up relying simply on the charm of the character, the writing and the art to keep the reader hooked and while I, as an established fan of the series and creators, was sold on that long before reading this issue, it leaves much of the plot this issue was building just kind of up in the air without a sense of closure or segue into the next chapter.
Still, this is a character that Wilson, Miyazawa, Alphona and Herring all know like the backs of their collective hands and it shows here. They all get back into the swing of things incredibly easily and create a fun ride of a first issue that feels like a natural starting point for new readers while keeping established fans of the character interested and engaged by taking her to new places and giving her new challenges to face. Challenges that, interestingly, will explore Kamala’s moral character more than her ability to simply punch things showing that Wilson and Miyazawa are interested in exploring much more than just the physical side of Ms. Marvel, but also what it means to be a superhero. It may be a bit of an awkward ending, sure, but it’s an easy thing to overlook when the rest of the issue is so strong and there’s the promise of more to come.
Final Verdict: 8.6 – Fun, charming and witty, this is a strong return for a beloved character.