Magnificent Ms. Marvel #14 Review

by Charles Martin on September 09, 2020

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #14 Review
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Penciller: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Even before the pandemic rammed a stick in the bike-wheel of comic publishing schedules, Marvel's Outlawed event wasn't doing a good job of engaging my enthusiasm. A mini-Civil War for Marvel's teen heroes? "Meh," I said.

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #14 rolls smoothly over my objections and explores Kamala's central position in the event in a way I found surprisingly enjoyable.

From a plot standpoint, it's an uneventful issue. This is simply the story of Kamala pulling herself out of her coma. Bedside encounters with her family and friends in the real world produce vivid metaphorical dreams in her mind. She grapples with the fact that her heroism endangers her loved ones, but is also necessary to keep them safe.

The most interesting part of the issue might be the reactions to the event revealed in Kamala's supporting cast. Her relatives and friends are being swept up in the wave of "who do they think they are?" anti-hero sentiment. That surely means trouble on the horizon after Kamala wakes up.

Minkyu Jung and Juan Vlasco do a good job rotating through the whole cast, and they lend some weight to Kamala's dreams with the wilder bits of action that go on inside her head. The artists have multiple opportunities to draw a younger Kamala (at about 7 years old) and these come off great. On the other hand, there's something hard-to-define but definitely off-putting about their take on guest star Miles Morales.

Ian Herring keeps a steady, consistent hand on the palette, doing his usual excellent job of enhancing the art. The entire issue leans heavily toward blues and greens. The common colours do a great job of linking Kamala's dreams with the real world; it feels like they're reflecting her cold hospital surroundings.

As I've come to expect, Saladin Ahmed has an excellent grasp on Kamala's voice all the way through this issue. The premise calls for a larger-than-normal helping of introspection, which has always been one of Kamala's strengths. Mr. Ahmed carries her through this bout of soul-searching with honesty, humility, and astute self-knowledge. 

Since her debut, Kamala Khan has distinguished herself by being one of the most self-doubting teen superheroes. That sounds like a bad thing, but it absolutely is not. Her constant interrogation of herself -- as a superhero, an Inhuman, a first-generation immigrant, a person -- has opened up a wide and welcoming window into the character and allowed readers from every walk of life to know her intimately.

This latest issue is another turn on that wheel, an invitation to get inside Kamala's head and watch her overcome her doubts. That she does overcome them is what makes her a larger-than-life hero. But the fact that she has them makes her a real person, easy to empathize with.

In the big-picture view, Magnificent Ms. Marvel #14 is a pretty small step. It's just the necessary story of Kamala fighting her way out of the coma that triggered the Outlawed event. But thanks to good art and tremendously insightful writing, this character study is the furthest thing in the world from disappointing.

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Charles Martin's picture
Mere words cannot express how adorable second-grade Kamala is.