Ms. Marvel: No Normal (Ms. Marvel #1)

Write on: Fri, 15 Sep 2017 by  in Charles' Reviews Be the first to comment! Read 3146


I'm a huge fan of the Carol Danvers incarnation of Ms. Marvel and really need to catch myself up to what she's been doing since becoming Captain Marvel. Then again, given it apparently involves leading the fascist side of "Civil War II" I might be better off just sticking with her legacy character. I refer, of course, to Kamala Khan the Pakistani American erstwhile heroine who decides she's going to call herself Ms. Marvel since Carol Danvers isn't using the name.

The premise is fairly simple: Kamala Khan is the daughter of an immigrant family living in Jersey City that is caught somewhat between their traditional values and being Americanized. I like the way the book handles it in a realistic organic fashion with the Khans being religious not exceptionally so (with the exception of their son who may be acting out) and being more concerned with Kamala's sneaking out than anything else. Things she never displayed before gaining superpowers.

Kamala, herself, is a somewhat inspired creation in they manage to capture bottle lightning in the nerdy audience self-insert who squees all over people like Ms. Marvel, Spiderman, Captain America, and Iron Man. She even writes what appears to be Avengers/My Little Pony fanfiction. She has a desire to be popular but isn't quite aware her peers aren't willing to meet her halfway about things like alcohol consumption or not making racist comments about her family.

After a disastrous attempt to fit in, Kamala ends up getting transformed by the Terrigan Mists (basically magic power-granting abilities) that turn her into an Inhuman. I won't lie to you: I hate the Inhumans. They're an okay concept as supporting characters in the Fantastic Four but pretty awful when they're shamelessly used as a substitute for the X-men. I actually worry tying Kamala Khan to the concept will weigh her down in the long run.

"No Normal", the first trade paperback of the character is more or less Kamala's origin story. Origin stories are overdone for superhero tales but this one is handled exceptionally well. It's very much a classic modernized story of Peter Parker the social outcast who discovers her full potential, only modernized and gender flipped with a focus on her second generation immigrant status.

There's a lot of really good moments spread throughout the comic like her trying to come to grips with her powers, comically failing to find excuses for the various situations she finds herself in, and her interactions with her family. I also like the character designs for this book as we've got numerous examples of people who aren't extraordinarily attractive but somewhat "normal." It avoids the problem of "generic cuteness" which so often plagues comics where everyone looks like they came from central casting.

The art style of the book is good all round as everything is well-done but not too glossy. In addition to the people in the book looking like people, there's also several beautiful moments like the spiritual incarnations of "Faith" (which take the form of the Avengers she admires) as well as Kamala's frequent shocked expressions. The writing is crisp throughout but the fact it's restricted to a six issue comic book will make this read extremely short to most literature readers. Really, the entire story is spread across four trade paperbacks. To read the entire first arc, you need to buy up until "Last Days." Thankfully, this series is available on Kindle Unlimited and other subscription services for those worried about their money.

In conclusion, I really recommend this comic and think people who are looking for another series to follow could do a lot worse. It's a fun, lighthearted story with the main character not having many continuity ties to get lost in (and its biggest flaw is the one it does have with the Inhumans). I haven't seen anything as good since Brian Vaughn's The Runaways.

Last modified on Friday, 15 September 2017 11:25
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.


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