By G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Ian Herring
Fun seems to be the name of the game, the theme behind the All-New Marvel Now direction. In this week’s installment of fun, nothing but fun, Ms. Marvel busts onto the shelf with a shockingly amazing display of creativity and wit. Beyond the teasers, tidbits of info, and news articles, and coming in with absolutely zero expectations, this comic can very easily pull the rug out from under your feet. Its has a lovably charming cast, the pace and drama are expertly well crafted, and it has enough meat to stand alone as an individual story. From just about any angle you can look at it, Ms. Marvel is a knockout success.
From a writing perspective, Wilson has an extremely ambitious task: develop a character who is relatable and likable, and drop her into a story potentially able to be appealing for multiple age demographics. And to make things more difficult, this particular character has an ethnic background outside the standards of “normal” for mainstream superhero comics. Clearly Wilson is up for the challenge. Kamala Kahn, her friends and family, are all presented with loving dedication to telling a story about people, one of which will have some extraordinary experiences. The fact these characters’ have a different background than most Anglo-descended comic cast members is completely irrelevant to the story being good, nor is it overstated. We read them having normal day to day experiences, normal family meals, and enduring normal high school drama nonsense. Where this all becomes so successful stems from Wilson’s willingness to show just how skewed an understanding of “normal” can be.
On the art side, Alphona and Herring deliver a one-two punch, creating an amazing balance between cartoony and serious. Character emotions are so successfully conveyed it’s almost impossible not to feel smiles, scowls and eye rolls, as if they were happening in a face to face conversation. Using an exaggerated approach to Ms. Marvel’s realism, Alphona and Herring are free to play around with displaying characters with calm, life-like expressions, or outrageous hyperbolic outbursts depending on the needs of the panel. This flexibility enables the art team to attempt a huge array of styles to make every story sequence feel fresh and different. In particular, the scene where Kamala encounters the Avengers reciting Amir Khusro’s “Sakal Bun” drops onto the page out of left field, turning an otherwise dramatic moment into one deserving a fit of giggles. And of course, for those with a keen eye, small references and jokes are plentifully hidden in almost every page’s background.
As a whole, Ms. Marvel #1 is one of the most impressive comics Marvel has released in recent years. Wilson, Alphona, and Herring are setting out to create a comic capable of uniting an unbelievable spectrum of comics fans. Its welcoming and fun story is nearly impossible to resist smiling at while reading, and Kamala is the type of character who’s extremely difficult to dislike. It’s not often a single issue is capable of instilling such a powerful feeling of anticipation for the next issue, but 30 days seems like far too long to wait for Kamala’s next adventure.
Now if only there were someone selling those sloth angel stuffed animals…