Ms. Marvel #1 | G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring
This review comes three weeks late, delivered on broken promises, little sleep and utter head trauma. It now serves the point of distraction for the one typing because the invisible gun locked and loaded at my temple has gotta go. You could say I need a hero or maybe just a grain of belief in something other than self-sabotage, but the explosion and the tears that come after are all I truly want right now.Which is something to shame and avoid. That would be the responsible thing to do, though I doubt my responsibility.
But enough. Ms. Marvel #1, the latest super hero title to serve the latest iteration of the Marvel Comics character, has made the rounds, and I feel some sort of need to write about it on another person's blog (thanks, Zainab). Not because I loved it, nor because I hate. More so because I feel relatively nothing about it, and that seems off in terms of the broad conversation surrounding this comic book.
There isn't a need to tell you why it's garnered its attention. The new series is a positive example of diversifying a genre/industry bent in only one, white man angle when we've all grown bored or angered by its narrow view. And while it's a small twist, we'll suck up any crumb we can capture, especially when it's as solid and well-considered as this one. It easily could have yet doesn't rush out of its gate posterchilding a movement, though neither does it shy away from the USA Today headline. There's a balance found in Kamala Khan's presence, and it all rests on a well-weighed characterization executed by G. Willow Wilson, allowing Kamala to be a teen first and a female Muslim character second.
Maybe typing that "I feel relatively nothing about it" is false, as I'd say Ms. Marvel #1 is a fine launch to what'll probably be a pretty good teenage super hero narrative, but I also didn't walk away from the reading knowing any sort of induced high. But others seem to have. Take CBR's review: Five stars. This dude at Comics Alliance calls it "one of the best first issues of a superhero comic in years." Someone blogging at The Huffington Post says its "important on a social political level," whatever that means. Even Shawn fucking Starr, an angry man with a Twitter account who likes nothing but Seth and porn comics, told me he "actually didn't hate that book." Interest and claps sent from all corners, and I'm not really understanding why, other than the book's ability to present this character naturally.
Surely, the inclusion of Kamala Khan is wonderful for it opens the doors to different stories and thoughts, giving readers a new role to live on, but neither should her creation be reason enough to write home. And I don't believe Wilson or her collaborators took such a cheap course. As I've typed, her execution as the scribe goes two ways, and ultimately it seems she's working her way toward another fine installment in Marvel's long line of adolescent fiction versus cashing in on skin color or cultural reference. The book feels genuine and holds a charm while serving its story. Though that said, it isn't as kinetic or artistically daring as something like Hawkeye, another Marvel zine, but it feels as if the level of praise and consideration is nearing similar heights. Maybe it's possible to applaud with the same volume for different reasons, but other than its smooth characterization there's little reason to cheer this thing. I mean, take that away, and it's just another Marvel mag, prepping you for a 6-issue opening arc by way of a faux-sensitive color scheme.
It could just be me, but it appears the dialogue has overseen this for whatever reason. Maybe to give this thing its due because of its starring lead, or maybe all that white guilt found a new, nerd way to reconcile with itself. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, but I'm not entirely sure it's good. It almost feels a bit insulting - to give this thing the throne because it doesn't star a white guy, not because it earned it. There could be room for harsher criticism or want for improvement, but the blogosphere isn't playing. It's touting, shouting "look here, we ain't evil no more," passing up its opportunity for a "Control" verse, a chance to push back out of love.
It's typical of the current conversation, one dominated by black and white statements, all out of grey, where criticism and measurement is tossed aside for politics and tabloid scandals. But here I fucking am, too, writing about race and gender and the others who write, waxing hard on who has the right to say what. That's my cue, people. It's time to pack this bag and walk. I've become the therapist instead of the gunner.
But maybe that's a critique of this comic book, itself. There was little else to speak of.