By G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon & Ian Herring
What happens when Kamala Khan isn’t taking up duties as Ms. Marvel anymore? New Jersey still needs a protector, right? Although Kamala doesn’t actually appear at all she is still very much the main focus of this particular issue as we see other characters trying to take on the role of Ms. Marvel to mixed results, whilst wondering where she is all the while. Few know her whereabouts and fewer are willing to disclose them, but to make things interesting – the new hero known as the Red Dagger has come along and Kamala may soon find herself not needed at all.
G. Willow Wilson has been knocking it out of the park with this series and Ms. Marvel #25 is another winner. Even though Kamala isn’t present the pace remains smooth and the characters are fun, and likeable. Teenage Wasteland opens with the population of New Jersey slowly starting to realise that hold on, Ms. Marvel may not be Ms. Marvel anymore. The main reason why this book shines is thanks to the strength of Wilson’s diverse supporting cast, focusing on Gabe, Mike, Naika and Zoe with often amusing results. It also allows for plenty of humorous jokes and comic relief as despite the opening which teases something darker on the way, most of this issue is largely light-hearted. It’s helped by how well Wilson manages to write the dialogue, to the point where it almost feels like a teenager is writing it rather than an adult. There’s a particular scene in here that would have been very noticeable if written poorly and could have stood out like a sore thumb, but Wilson avoids that and keeps everything flowing nicely. Seeing the different supporting characters facing their own struggles whilst wearing the costume was a nice touch too, as not everyone handles the responsibility suit in the same way. Red Dagger is there to show just how inexperienced they are, but even he isn’t exactly an Avenger-level character just yet either.
The artwork from Nico Leon and Ian Herring on pencils and colours feels right at home in Ms. Marvel’s small corner of the Marvel Universe. The exaggerated expressions and reactions to various events help make the characters feel more like the teenagers they are. Herring’s colours are slightly darker than Marvel’s usual style, but he is able to craft a distinctive voice that helps make it stand out from the rest of the crowd, whilst at the same time, keeping a consistent look and feel with the rotating artists that have lended their talent to Ms. Marvel in the past.
Ms. Marvel #25 opts for an interesting approach on the Legacy theme with effective results. It’s hardly a new question in the superhero genre but it’s something that Wilson has answered really well here, setting the tone for an exciting new arc that takes the series in a bold direction – ending on a note that makes the wait for the next issue, and Kamala’s return all the more unbearable. But in the meantime the supporting cast are strong enough to more than make up for her absence.