Book Review: Ms Marvel, Vol 1, No Normal (G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona)

Publisher: Marvel

Pages: 120

Release Date: October 30th 2014

Summary:

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!

Review:

As soon as I heard about this I knew I had to read it: it just sounded so different from any superhero comic I’ve read before. I was not disappointed.

I loved everything about Kamala. She was such a relatable character, with some of the traits we expect of a superhero – her comedic attitude and self doubt all felt pretty familiar – but also a lot that we don’t normally get. Kamala’s religion is new to me in superhero comics, as I’ve not come across a hero protagonist before. I really enjoyed this perspective, and it was so great to see more diversity in a graphic novel. I’m a firm believer in being able to see yourself and relate to characters in books, and I realise this comes easier to me than others, as a white, middle class is female. But I did grow up in a Muslim household and I loved some of the little touches in Kamala’s household that felt familiar to me. I also liked the fact that my sisters, who are British Muslims, would probably able to relate to Kamala more than your typical white superhero.

Another thing I loved was the lack of sexualisation of Kamala. So many female super heroes are all about the tight, sexy costumes and being drawn stick thin with huge boobs, and that just wasn’t present in this book. It’s another thing that makes Kamala more relatable: she’s just a normal girl, albeit with super powers. She has the same body hang ups and worries as any other girl her age. She’s also a huge superhero nerd, which I adored: I loved her writing Avengers fanfic and hoping to meet them.

Story line wise, this was a good introduction to the new Ms Marvel: it sets up Kamala’s character well and begins to introduce who I can assume will be her main antagonist: the Inventor. It all felt a little like it was over too fast, so I’m really looking forward to the next installment.

For negatives, I’d comment on the art style: while most of the time it looked great, there were a few times in big group or long shots where the details on people’s faces was really simplified. I’ve seen this in a few graphic novels lately and it just feels a bit lazy and looks really odd. I also worried that Kamala’s family were all a bit stereotypical: a devout Muslim brother and strict Muslim parents, but I guess that was part of the driving point of her story, and hopefully they’ll flesh out a bit in later issues.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this: it’s not like any superhero story I’ve read and I can’t wait to see where her story goes.

4