Friday, February 19, 2016

Ms. Marvel #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I don't know how I didn't read "Ms. Marvel" in its first run.  I mean, I loved Kamala every time that I saw her in a guest appearance.  Plus, she's from Jersey City.  City of my birth!  But, I was invested in a lot of other comics at the time.  With the reboot of the Marvel Universe post-"Secret Wars," I was probably the most excited about the possibility of getting a good jumping-on point with Kamala.  (I hate myself for saying that, since it validates editors' views that continuity can serve as a disincentive for people to try out new characters.  But, for now, I'm just going not to analyze that too much.)

The good news is that I wasn't disappointed.  Wilson's Kamala is recognizable to everyone that is, or ever was, an overachieving teenager.  Sure, it's taken to an extreme, since she's trying to balance her superhero career in addition to her physics homework.  But, it's all the same emotional notes.  New readers learn that Kamala rejected her best friend, Bruno, when he confessed that he loved her just before "Secret Wars" began.  Now, Kamala is floored to discover that he's fallen in love with a girl named Mike.  He met her when Mike saved him from getting squashed by a falling bus, a consequence of Kamala's fight with a large frog (or, as she calls it, a "psycho amphibian").  She had barely been holding it together, but this revelation pushes her over the edge.

The problem for her is that she still doesn't have time to address it.  A real-estate company has taken over a block of Jersey City literally overnight, evicting a group of small-business owners to build the dreaded "multipurpose complex."  Kamala's particularly horrified when the use her image in their advertisements, causing residents to turn against Ms. Marvel.  But, Wilson makes matters all the more interesting by implying that someone might be screwing with time here as well.  After all, Kamala missed for six weeks that Bruno was dating Mike.  We originally think that she was just busy, but the developers managing to build an entire complex overnight raises some questions.  (It's also an amazing metaphor for gentrification that made me LOL.  Well played, Willow.  Well played.)

My favorite part of the issue, though, is how real Kamala is.  Wilson has her make a crack about Mike's weight, appalling Mike and Kamala herself.  Wilson clearly uses it to convey how rattled Kamala is, but it's not many authors that would allow her hero to have this sort of moment, particularly in a world where every hero has to have fully embraced all aspects of social justice and never judge anyone for anything ever.  Kamala is still at the end of the day a teenage girl, and I can't wait to learn more about her.

*** (three of five stars)

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