Title: Ms. Marvel #5
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel Comics
For those of you who haven’t been checking out the new Ms. Marvel, you really need to start. Not just because it showcases a heroine from a Muslim background that rarely gets any representation in super hero books, though it does do that. Not just because it is empowering for teenage girls, though it is also that. People should be picking up this comic because it is all these things while also being one of the most genuinely charming, heartfelt, and all around fun titles on the shelves today.
Our story here picks up in the middle of Kamala’s first ever super hero “mission,” as she attempts to rescue her best friend’s miscreant brother from the clutches of the enigmatic Inventor and his gang. She quickly finds out, though, that she has bitten off more than she can chew, and is forced to retreat. In her defeat, though, we get to see her do something special: we get see her grow.
Throughout this first story-arch, we have been watching Kamala struggling, not only to adapt to her newly acquired shape-shifting powers, but to figure out who she is and who she wants to be, as we all have struggled to do at times. Kamala in particular has had to deal with the conflict of wanting to fit while staying true to herself, a choice made more literal when she gained the power to change her own face to mimic her idle, Carol Danvers. Indeed, she admits that her desire to conform to expectations was what drove her to charge into the villain’s stronghold in the first place, because “isn’t that what heroes do?” So it is that she is forced to sneak home, defeated, but is lifted back up (mostly) by her father, who reminds that she doesn’t have to be anyone other than herself.
Kamala’s moment with her father is an extremely powerful one that will likely resonate with many readers. Through them, she is able to come to an important moment of clarity: she shouldn’t try to be an imitation of someone else, but rather the best version of herself. One Training Montage and Internal Monologue later, she is able to fight the villains and stand proudly in the open as Jersey City’s new masked protector.
What makes this story so special is way the creative team infuse life and soul into the characters. Wilson gives Kamala an adorkable personality, and you just can’t help but root for her as she lives out a struggle that all of us relate to on some level, even with the shape-shifting powers and all. And all of this is handled beautifully by the talented Adrian Alphona, who thrives drawing Kamala’s powers, believably human emotions, and the nuanced details of the environment all simultaneously. This creative collaboration is perfectly suited to the story they are telling, with truly exceptional results.
Ms. Marvel is a book with a lot of heart, one that’s not afraid to be lighthearted and fun. It hits home with a simple but powerful message that we all need to be reminded of every now and then, expertly delivered. This comic is a real breath of fresh air, and one that you should most certainly experience for yourself.
Verdict: 5 out of 5