In only a few short weeks, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel has become an absolute must-read title for me, one that I count on every time to deliver on the promise and expectation of a title that is meant to be funny and comedic, a book that features a non-traditional character in comics. Kamala Khan has quickly become one of my favourite characters to read about every month and while the title hasn’t exactly pulled in the big numbers for Marvel, it has certainly gained quite a positive reputation, one that makes me really glad and also hopeful for the future.
This week’s Ms. Marvel #5 picks up from the cliffhanger of the previous issue and it is even more melancholic than any of the previous issues for it deals with Kamala dealing with her powers and also connecting with her mother and father in a very personal way, one that is dependent on how teenagers see themselves in today’s hyper-hyped world of expectations of behaviour and comportment. G. Willow Wilson’s writing and Adrian Alphona’s art are both the best that they’ve ever been in this series, and they certainly prove their mad skills yet again.
The big idea here, as the first arc of the new series comes to a close, is that Kamala’s big rescue for her best friend Bruno’s brother Vic fails quite spectacularly and then she has to spend some time fine-tuning her powers and become more comfortable with them before she goes back for a second story. It is quite a classic plot, but feels fresh given the character at the center of the conflict and Kamala Khan is truly the star of this comic, as she should be. The best thing is that G. Willow Wilson totally gets this character and that even though she has created her from scratch, she feels entirely as if she’s been around for a good long while. That is not something that is easy to do, especially not when the character’s identity as a superhero is that of an older character with a great pedigree in comics.
One thing that I really liked in this issue was that Wilson didn’t spend too much time focusing on Kamala learning to deal with her powers. She’s sprinkled this throughout the series thus far and with the way that the story plays out this time, it allows her to move forward with the main event and not get lost in details, which this issue would most likely have played out in the end otherwise. She gives us the characters and the conflict from the get go and then goes about executing all of it.
Then there’s the entire sequence with Kamala’s father lecturing her on how to be a proper girl, but his definition of those two words is thankfully not what you’d expect it to be. He wants his daughter to be her own person and not bow down to the pressures of he world around her, especially not one where young girls have to act and behave in a certain way to feel justified. He basically tells her to not worry so much about societal pressures and just carry on. It is all a really heartfelt moment and kudos to Wilson for writing it as she did.
The comic ends in a really great place and it introduces the series’ first major villain, someone I don’t recognize but am looking forward to seeing more of in due course. Wilson’s writing is often very “traditional” in its feel to comics from a couple decades back, but with a modern twist, so it ends up being really great.
As always, we have Adrian Alphona on the artwork while Ian Herring does the colours and VC’s Joe Caramagna does the letters with Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson doing the cover. No complaints about the artwork this time except that the mask that Kamala wears during her first attempt at saving Vic looks entirely comedic and even faked, as if it has been photo-shopped. The problem I think is that the colour just doesn’t come off as being natural. Other than that small thing, every scene and page of this comic was top-notch and proved that this entire art team is really solid. And that fantastic cover? It reflects the inner contents really nicely and also the melancholic nature of the story.
In short, truly amazing!