Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal
Written By: G. Willow Wilson
Illustrations By: Adrian Alphona
Publish Date: 2014
Rating: A –
I can see why Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal has generated a lot of buzz and is being called one of the most important comics of the year. It’s a pretty progressive series for the genre and an amazingly well done piece of work.
Kamala Khan is a geeky Muslim teenager who idolizes the Avengers (Captain Marvel in-particular) and, after sneaking out to a party one night, accidentally acquires some superpowers. This volume follows Kamala as she navigates through her family’s wishes, cultural expectations, and general teenage life while also trying to get a handle on her new superpowers.
I’m not a fan of teenage superheroes or the “getting used to superpowers” story line. So, parts of this collection didn’t work for me as those two things are at the core of the story here. However, what kept me reading was Kamala. She’s an incredibly dorky (writes bad Avenger fan-fiction) and spectacularly practical (includes a fanny-pack as part of her superhero costume) young woman who messes-up in typical teenage fashion but has a solid moral core that drives her. I also loved that her culture and family were not side-notes in the story. Instead, they’re both integral parts of Kamala’s life that she both loves and causes some conflicts throughout the plot.
This is what makes the comic so progressive. It’s not just because Kamala is Marvel’s first Muslim character, but because of how well balanced she is as a protagonist. Her religion and gender are not passing footnotes in her identity nor are they all encompassing aspects of it. Instead, they are pieces (albeit important ones) of her life and identity that are part of what informs her decisions and interactions with the world. Her family, friends, and school life are shown to be just as relevant to what drives her actions throughout the collection. Having a character this well fleshed-out is refreshing as the genre has a habit of skimming over character development in favor of jumping straight to the action.
All in all, this is a wonderfully thoughtful comic. Kamala is a great addition to the Marvel universe and an awesome choice to pick-up the Ms. Marvel mantle. I can’t wait to see where this series goes and highly recommend reading this if you enjoy character driven narratives in comics.