Kamala Khan is a regular girl from Jersey City who is struggling to fit in with the other kids in her class. She’s not popular, she’s not blond and she’s not a jock. She is short, dark skinned, dark haired, a geek and Muslim. She wants more than anything to be like the other kids, to go to parties, to drink and to just taste bacon. One night, as she stays out late she is caught in a mist that covers the city. In the dark, feeling strange, she makes a wish. To be like her idol, the superhero, Captain Marvel; Carol Danvers. In a way, the mist grants her wish. But her powers are different from Carol Danvers and it takes a while for Kamala to understand them. But with her trusted friends to help her out she learns and becomes the hero she always hoped she could be….sort of.
For the longest time I stayed away from this comic because I saw it as nothing more than the politically correct pandering that Marvel is overdoing with its comic titles. Captain America is now an African American. Spider-man is Hispanic. Thor is a woman. None of this is really an issue except for the weak storytelling that has gone with it. The changes had little to do with the storyline these characters had but with making a statement and pandering to a crowd that doesn’t buy comic books. Hint to Marvel, those ladies on the View….they do not buy your books.
So when this collection came out I thought it might be a good opportunity to check it out.
Overall I found the comic to be good and the storytelling to be okay. Making her an Inhuman and giving her the gargantuan teleporting dog, Lockjaw was a good call. But making her first villain a genetically enhanced hybrid bird man was silly at best and shows that this is a character not to be taken seriously. Teaming her up with the Wolverine early on was also a good move and making it part of the timeline where he is losing his healing factor also is a strong move for the tie in to Death of Wolverine. But making young people be conduits for power, by suspending them in liquid pods with wires going in and out of them….no that wasn’t stolen right out of the Matrix at all.
But what I found most disappointing was how the Muslim community is portrayed. For being hailed as a ground breaking comic with a Muslim superhero, Kamala comes off more as an American teenager who is tired of being Muslim. She opens her first comic book with sniffing at cooked bacon in a convenience store that is akin to having an orgasm. The blonde white schoolmates that show up are ignorant and clueless and therefore racist as well. Her brother is a devout religious fanatic that is introduced as such but harmless and her mother’s answer to Kamala’s actions is to send her to the leaders of their Mosque for guidance. These are cookie cutter characters with little depth at all.
Ms Marvel is a good book that falls very short of its marketing.