Title: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Norman
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Genre: Graphic Novels, Comics
The creative team behind the development of Ms. Marvel consists of two women and two men. Which, in the comic book world, historically dominated by white men, could be considered progress in and of itself. Much of the heart of the Kamala Khan story comes from the life experiences of Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor on the creative team.
Kamala Khan is a 16-year-old Jersey girl, a Pakistani-American teen who likes superhero fan fiction and like most teens, wants to feel like she belongs. I love that the first scene we see in her home is of Kamala sitting at her computer writing Avengers fanfic. When she is suddenly bestowed with superhuman, shape-shifting powers, she begins an adventure of her lifetime.
Writer G Willow Wilson said in 2013, “I wanted to make a story in which the Muslim woman narrates her own life.” But Kamala’s story is also about being a geeky misfit, and confronting the labels that have been assigned to her. In Volume 1, Kamala has to directly confront how she is seen by others, and how that influences the way that she interacts with the world around her. How she can do so while remaining true to herself.
This inner turmoil is a big part of Volume 1. In fact, we don’t get much of a hint of who or what the villain is until the very end of the volume. Much of the story is Kamala’s conflict within herself and her family when she expresses her wish to be like other American teenagers at her school. Or how she deals with people like Zoe, a white student that passive-aggressively taunts Kamala and her friend Nakia about their “otherness”.
The one issue I did have with Volume 1 is the portrayal of Kamala’s devout older brother. To me, I felt that it bordered on stereotypical, particularly because he seemed to be portrayed in a way that was almost ridiculed: the lazy, religious family member that mooches off of everyone else. Based on the reviews I have read, Kamala’s family and the friends and religious leaders from her mosque are more fleshed out in the next few issues. I hope that is the case.
Overall, I really liked Ms Marvel! Kamala is very relatable, and I quickly became interested in her journey, and where she will go from here. While the villain has yet to be fleshed out, I love her friends Bruno and Nakia. And I find Kamala’s family very sweet, although her dad seems to have more depth than her mom, so I hope that is improved upon in future volumes. Her parents are loving but overprotective, much in the same way that mine were growing up (I grew up in a strict Christian household).
I have also heard that fans of Agents of Shield will have a better understanding of how exactly Kamala gains her powers. Anyone out there want to help clarify that aspect? I am not that well versed in the Marvel universe…although after watching the amazing Doctor Strange last weekend I will certainly be rectifying that!
Rating: 4/5 stars