Hello again you lovely Iggles! I’m sorry I missed you last month, the new year just snuck up on me. But I’m back and happy to see you all on our lovely new website. I know I’m the resident DC Comics blogger, but I’m going to stray into Marvel territory today. Big news – Ms. Marvel #1 came out on Wednesday. Have you read it? Do you know why it’s big news?
So let me back track just a bit. Back in November 2013, the news broke that Marvel would be introducing a new Ms. Marvel in the form of Kamala Khan, a teenage Muslim girl from New Jersey. The news went viral very quickly and from what I saw, mostly supportive (of course there was/is negative backlash, as there always will be, but I choose to focus on the positive).
Ms. Marvel #1 (created by Sana Amanat, written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring) starts with Kamala savoring the scent of bacon and a friend’s yoda-like joke about eating it or not and not smelling it. Kamala is a normal teenage girl struggling to fit in and live up to her parents’ expectations while also finding her own way. She writes fanfic and argues with her parents. She struggles with the differences that set her apart, some coming from her religious beliefs. As such, she is no different from anyone else. And that really is the point here. She may be Muslim, and her religion certainly defines her in some ways, but mostly she’s just another person trying to find where she fits in the world, much like every one of us.
And this actually brings me back to the age old debate about Marvel versus DC. When you talk to most people about their favorite books and the reasoning behind that, you find people often like Marvel because of the humanity in the characters. And they like DC because of larger than life archetypes. Granted that is a gross oversimplification and generalization, but that’s a very common argument. And one that is reinforced by the willingness to bring more characters who are not white males with super powers.
As a brief aside, a recent Sword and Laser podcast with Ian Tregillis, author of the Milkweed Triptych, talked about the trope of teenagers or other young people with superpowers wanting to be normal. He noted, “What the hell? If I, at age 17, if a radioactive spider bit me, I would have been such a jerk. I wanted to fit in when I didn’t have super powers now that I can walk through walls and fly screw that noise, people want to be like me.“ He went on to further talk about how that common story line feels like a false tension between your protagonist and other characters. I’m very interested to see where Ms. Marvel goes when it begins with a ‘normal’ character trying to fit in. Perhaps with her newfound powers she will actually feel ‘normal’? How will she react to those that teased her?
Oh, and can we talk about the cover for one second? Who else is in love with her scarf? And the overall art in the book is also pretty splendid. There are small details like the nametag of the convenience store clerk, the headlines in the paper Kamala’s father reads, the tea cup on the table. All these small things emphasize the normal daily life of this girl and her family. And the art reflects and enhances the story perfectly.
Overall, I think the book set out to do exactly what it intended. I’m extremely interested to see where they take this story, but it does feel very much like a young adult book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but may alter the depth at which some issues are tackled as the story progresses.
Did you check out Ms. Marvel #1? What do you think?
And finally, because I can’t go without giving some DC love. I just wanted to remind everyone that this month 20 books are getting Steampunk themed variant covers. I know I’m personally hoping to pick up the Wonder Woman (see how gorgeous it is?), Superman/Wonder Woman, Batgirl and the Batwoman books. You can take a look at all the covers over at Nerdist.