★★★★/★★★★★ Ms Marvel Vol. 1-4 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona.
“Why are kids like me always being drafted into wars we didn’t start?”
I was not the biggest fan of Ms Marvel when I first read the first volume. I found it too reliant on certain stereotypes for it to peak my interest. Then I bought the bundle on Comixology and re-read the entire first volume and all other volumes thereafter. I was so wrong! Ms Marvel uses the supernatural events as metaphors for everyday issues, including political and social movements, equality, religious freedom, being different, victim blaming, and the views of some on Generation Y.
Kamala Khan is your average Pakistani-American Muslim girl, except that due to Terrigen Mist she becomes an Inhuman, and therefore, develops some powers she is not sure if she can control, and her adventures begin. What I loved about this series, after finally analyzing the story-line, was that many of the issues facing society today were put on display, sometimes disguised as something else, and other times in plain view. I’ve read a lot of comics during my life, a lot of comics, and much like the early X-Men were used as the struggle for equal rights in the sixties, much can be said of Kamala’s adventures as the struggles, not only of the Millennial generation, but also of the issues of the current years. I have missed seeing this in comics, not everything has to be about fighting evil monsters from space, there are other things addressed in the earlier comics, things that resonated with people. This series will resonate with a lot of people.
In the first arc, Kamala must deal with becoming Ms Marvel and discovering her powers, while trying to find missing kids (with some awesome help), who are being used. These kids are letting themselves be used because they want to save the world, in an odd way. These kids are doing what they are doing because they are being left to feel like parasites and leeches, which is a term often used to describe the new generation. The issue is about Millennials being treated this way and written off as narcissist and self absorbed kids, who are destroying the world, and how this view is wrong, and dismissive of such a varied generation. the villain in the first volume speaks of how, if the things being said about this generation, was being said about minorities, it would be considered hate speech. I have to concur. There is also a glorious line in the comic, in which Kamala asks what they were good at before they did that thing and one of them says “I’m good at doing jobs nobody else wants because they are dangerous and stupids!” and she replies with : “Future president.” Yes, this series is quite funny too.
The more personal parts of the story derive from the issues that being a superhero causes between Khan and her family and friends. Only one of her friends knows about her secret identity, no one else she cares for knows, because that might put them in danger, and Kamala has to take the punishment and the looks. Her identity also comes to question a lot, her race and religion are made fun at first, and is a nice backdrop to the other volumes. The other thing I loved, was how, when I first read this, I felt that too much of her religion was depicted as the reason she was at odds with everything, and though it is sort of true, there is a lot much more there. Her religion and ethnicity make her an outsider, she wishes to become someone that will not be representative of her whole race, that does not come with stereotypes and “regulations,” but our wishes are not what we always dream off.
“There’s always that one group of people who think they have special permission to terrorize everybody who disagrees with them. And then everybody else who looks like them suffers.Not again. Never again.“Remember? Yes, things like this have been going for a long time, the massacres of the previous centuries, the Holocaust, the murder of innocent people who belong to minorities in America, Islamophobia, government oppression. Kamala knows of these events, she knows because her people are being persecuted, in an instance she even says she is afraid the NSA will put cameras in her Mosque. (I wonder where she got that from?)
There is a very powerful scene in the later volumes, in which Kamala is tricked into going somewhere she did not want to. When she asks to be taken back and the other person does not comply, she becomes scared, and the other person tells her that it does not matter, because no one would believe her if she said anything about it because she got in car of her own free will. This leads Kamala to question whether or not she is truly to blame for what is to happen. A metaphor for victim blaming, a big issue in today’s society. And, no Kamala, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
This series was stronger that I assumed it would be, I am glad I was very, very wrong.