Marvel Rising #1 Review

by Charles Martin on March 27, 2019

Marvel Rising #1 Review
Writer: Nilah Magruder
Artist: Roberto Di Salvo
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Marvel Rising has worked out pretty well as an all-ages cartoon with a female hero focus. The first attempt to translate that formula onto the comics page featured some classic "Bullpen that can't shoot straight" troubles - it was a miniseries published as four differently-titled #1s with a #0 intro, and it suffered some "too many cooks" pangs as it ground on.

Things look a lot more straightforward for this second shot: A consistent creative team is slated for a (properly-numbered) five-issue mini, and the introductory issue is positively packed with promise.

Plotwise, Ms. Marvel has called up Inferno and Spider-Man (Miles edition) for a vitally important mission: Touring Empire State University with "official ambassador" Squirrel Girl. 

The story devotes a rather large stretch of pages to the tour, but it manages to hold the reader's interest with plenty of humour and good character work. The tour is also sandwiched into a flashback between action scenes, lending the main "uncover the villainous plan" story enough weight to keep this from feeling like a slow start.

While the heroes are several steps behind, us readers are privileged to peek at the opposition early: It's Morgan Le Fay, back from Weirdworld and not interested in any sort of peaceful re-integration with modern society.

Roberto Di Salvo brings a wonderfully organic style to the art. He has a solid command of settings, background characters, and cars - that last bit is vitally important for the issue's action showpiece. With his main characters, he's quite daring in loading not just faces but poses with lots of emotional power. This effort isn't always entirely successful, but the hits more than make up for the near-misses.

Colourist Rachelle Rosenberg delivers a warm palette that enhances the art significantly. The colours give characters and settings real weight. In fact, the two might, in some panels, be too evenly-matched; the distinction between foreground and background occasionally blurs when both receive equally vibrant colours.

One of the biggest and, I would argue, best changes from the last Marvel Rising comic series is that writer Nilah Magruder firmly settles the main point of view on Kamala Khan's capable shoulders. It grounds the action with a voice that's natural, inviting, and compelling. It's also a letter-perfect match to the way Kamala is portrayed in other books, particularly her solo series.

Kamala's quiet desperation about college planning should ring true with readers who are entering or leaving that age bracket themselves. And even us crusty oldsters can remember that unnerving sense that everybody else has better plans than us. That's not just good teen characterization, that's universal humanity.

Because of the POV, Kamala gets the lion's share of character work, but her teammates aren't really shortchanged. They have chances to contribute in ways big and small, and plenty of detail emerges to pop them all out into three-dimensional life.

As noted above, this issue does leave Kamala's POV behind to show us Morgan Le Fay in the final scene. This is a good choice, and this portrayal of the sorceresses strikes a great balance between scenery-chewing and ominous cleverness.

This series is obviously, more than most Marvel comics, crafted with a younger audience in mind. It refreshingly refrains from talking down, though, innately understanding that young people who read comics are also smart young people. 

Despite the "edutainment" premise of the college tour, the script and the characters refrain from getting too didactic, choosing the solid joke over the dry info-dump every time: "This is the chemistry lab. They mostly blow stuff up and then write papers about it."

Marvel Rising kicks off (for a second time) with an enjoyable demonstration of storytelling prowess in both words and art. Although it's aimed at younger readers, thanks to the creators' hard work, this issue delivers plenty of fun for all ages. It's a solid read by itself, but it also performs that highest duty of all good #1s: It builds anticipation for future issues. This is going to be a series worth following.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
In case it's not obvious, the chemistry lab joke picked me up and threw me bodily onto the fan-train.