A Few Graphic Novel Mini-Reviews for #DAReadaThon

Ms. Marvel, Volumes 2 – 5

Author: G. Willow Wilson
Genre: Graphic novels, Comics

I reviewed Volume 1 of the Ms. Marvel series a few weeks ago. After reading that one, I definitely wanted to continue with the series! I found the perfect opportunity to catch up on some of the later volumes on New Year’s Day, during a 9-hour drive home from Florida to North Carolina. Here is a very quick run-down of what I thought of each of them.

Volume 2: Generation Why – What an excellent sequel! The Inventor storyline continues into Volume 2, and one of my favorites, Wolverine, makes an appearance in this one! The Wolverine cameo and Ms. Marvel’s fangirl reaction was a ton of fun to read. And Lockjaw! I’m personally not a fan of big, slobbery dogs, but I’ll make an exception for Lockjaw. I also love how G. Willow Wilson writes Kamala as a character who is both an incredibly strong female superhero, and a teenager dealing with teenager problems. The positive message at the end alluding to the stereotypes against the millennial generation….EXCELLENT! Rating: 4/5 stars

“A hero is someone who tries to do the right thing, even when it’s HARD. There are more of us than you think.”

Volume 3: Crushed – The Ms. Marvel volumes keep getting more and more fun! This volume was Valentine’s Day themed and featured a cameo of Loki (adopted brother of Thor) and the God of Mischief. There was also an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D bonus comic at the end, which made me all the more interested to watch the TV show. Rating: 4/5 stars

Volume 4: Last Days – By far, my favorite of the series so far. Titled Last Days, this is the Secret Wars story arc that spreads across the Marvel Universe. But what I love about this volume is not the tie-in to a huge Marvel universe event, but the hyper-local focus on Kamala, her friends, family, and hometown. Most especially, the relationship and bond between Kamala and her mother. This volume was very much about relationships, and it was so, so  good. Rating: 5/5 stars

Volume 5: Super Famous – I’m kind of confused about the back story of what takes place in the Secret Wars in the greater Marvel universe, which occurs between Ms. Marvel’s Volume 4 and Volume 5, but it doesn’t seem to have a huge impact in Ms. Marvel’s Jersey City. Volume 5 picks up 8 months after Last Days, and Kamala is officially part of the Avengers, which creates a lot of difficulties in balancing school, superheroing, and family. Super Famous also marks the beginning of a new story arc featuring Hope Yards Development & Relocation (HYDRA). The new character additions, Mike and Tyesha, are both awesome. Although I am definitely shipping on Bruno and Kamala, Mike is very, very cool. Rating: 4/5 stars

Diversity Spotlight – 15 December 2016

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly feature hosted by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Each week, you discuss three books featuring diverse characters or authors, that fall into each of following three categories:

  • A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  • A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  • A diverse book that has not yet been released

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Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

I loved the first book in the Ms. Marvel series, and we have volumes 2 – 5 out from the library right now! You can find my review here.

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Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful.Kathryn Erskine has written a must-read gem, one of the most moving novels of the year.

It’s not often you come across a book that is from the perspective of a girl with Asperger’s. A story that also covers the aftermath of a school shooting, and how on family deals with it. I plan on reading this one before the end of the month for #diversitydecbingo.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

A book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement? Yes, please!

Book Review: Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

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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.

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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”.

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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