I put a few of the Hugo Award nominees on hold at the library and yesterday Ms Marvel arrived. Can we just note how awesome libraries are for a moment?
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
This comic is delightfully playful and full of Easter eggs and small side details in the frame. The plot is cohesive and moves along nicely. It presents a superhero origin story inside the normal sphere of being a teenager and the world a teenager is most likely to face. There is the hint that challenges and villains will grow greater over time. I like that the main character experiences but doesn’t get caught up in a lot of the side effects of heroism like “who gets credit” and “what to tell your loved ones.”
The very passing of the mantle aspect of it reminds me of Alan Moore’s Promethea. I know that this particular comic is being marked as revolutionary in it’s choice of who should carry the Ms Marvel mantle but I feel like it’s revolutionary in the way that short skirts were revolutionary – within a narrow time frame and hopefully not revolutionary to the younger generation at all.
My favorite part of this comic is how it glides over the difficult landscape around identity, as a teen, within the realm of ethnicity, and also what identity means to superheros. Yes, they wear masks but how much do they mask themselves really? If a superhero like Superman could look completely unlike his daily self (Clark Kent) making it unnecessary to wear a costume would he? Why wouldn’t he? What does wearing a mask mean to a person who has a strong personal identity? Not just how does a mask effect our behavior or moral choices but how does a mask effect who we are as compared to shape shifting to appear to be someone else.
Ms Marvel is a nice little jaunt into the realm of super heroes with the decency to ask some meta questions about humanity.