Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ms Marvel: Vol 1: No Normal

Ms Marvel Vol 1: No Normal
By Wilson and Alphona
Published by Marvel Comics
120 pages
$15.99/$12.16 at Amazon

So Ms Marvel has been out for a while already. I snagged the first few volumes when they went on sale in kindle format.

The art is handled by Adrian Alphona internally and Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor handle the cover art. In a way, this is a HUGE bait and switch.

The cover art is very 'standard' if you will of Super Hero styles. It's heavy on the colors and bright in the colors and standard definitions of what the character looks like.

The internal art is much more... interesting. I'm not saying interesting like bad, I'm saying it like it is interesting.

That's an example, taken from the main character's fan fiction of the Avengers. Yes, Kamala, Ms Marvel herself, is a teenage fangirl of super heroes.

It's not that it's bad but it's a different style. It grew on me as I read the series. It helps set a different tone than say a standard Jim Lee or John Bryne version.

I'd have loved it if the whole series was like the cover. The cover artist has a style I enjoy:

What about the writing? Rings true for me. The family, the friends, the 'evil' dialog from the bad guys all hit home. It doesn't suffer from the dreaded 'talking head' syndrome where you'd swear that the writers were just padding issue after issue to wait for the trade but rather moves the story and the characters forward so that the reader gets a better idea of how these characters act and what maks them tick.

The story?

Well, in many ways it's a standard young kid gains superpowers and uses them to help others. The nuts and bolts are a little different but let's look:

Kamala: The young woman who gains super powers. She's a Muslim but isn't a religious fanatic. As a young person, she gets into disagreements with her parents about what she should be allowed to do and what she can do. Her brother is a bit more on the religious side but isn't working yet and this causes tension with the parents as well. Poor parents. Trying hard to bring their kids a better life and they don't appreciate it eh?

Those are pretty standard things in most cultures. Staying out late? Heck, things have probably changed a bit as I'm 46 this year, but my mom didn't want me out late. Not to mention the whole curfew thing of which police did snag me a few times back in the day.

Kamala has family. I don't want to spoil it but the writers thus far have done a great job of keeping them relevant and insuring that the family love and struggles are a part of Ms Marvel's growth as a character.

Kamala has friends. One of those of the opposite sex, Bruno, from a different culture. The old starr crossed lovers bit in play.

Kamala also has ideas of what being a super hero is supposed to be about. She enjoys it. She enjoys the idea of it. She's energetic about it. When she first discovers her powers, she thinks of a saying from the Quran, "Whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind and whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind."

That's what launches her to save someone whose unintentaionlly tried to humilate her several times at this point. To not argue about what makes a person good, but to DO good.

Maybe it's a push back from the gritty grim 90's w here everytime a new love interest or something was intorduced they'd 'frdige' them or something, but damn, it was pleasant to see a new character with a positive outlook on things.

Her super hero name of Ms Marvel? Remember when I mentioned that she loves the fan fiction of her heroes? Well, Ms Marvel's original outfit is one of her favorites.

Her origin? It's weak at best in that she's an Inhuman. Now it's not bad to use being an Inhuman as a launch point. Many years ago Dazzler came out and her origin was she's a mutant. It's similiar in that we have a 'generic' starting point, but then it's on the writer to make it interesting.

In the first volume, which collects issues 1-5 and the special Marvel Now Point one, we get a bit more background on Ms Marvel's family. How she interacts with her friends. How some of those f riends fall into traditional bully roles and potential friend roles.

We have the learning phase and the introduction of a new villain, the Inventor. We have the slow build up of foes starting with the simple gun totting robber to super science villains.

I was glad to see that her initial role and costume are home made.

That she doesn't just come out of the gate swining at 110% efficiency. That she has a learning curve. That she has to learn how to use her powers and actually has to taste defeat a time or two before getting better.

All in all, it's a solid start for the series. It acts as a good foundation. I've mentioned it for other series, and I'll say it again here.

Having Ms Marvel be a part of the Marvel Universe is great in that it allows her to interact with the history and events of it. In these first five issues, she's not dragged into crossover after crossover. She's not suddenly derailed from her own story to star in something else. Like the original Runaways or the original Young Avengers, this allows her some space to grow.

Personally, if I had space, I'd rather have bought the omnibus edition. It's a solid hardcover that collects the first eleven issues and the special. Sigh. Curse you lack of space.

If you're looking for your super heroes to be a little more upbeat and looking for something a little non-standard, then Ms Marvel is for you.