Magnificent Ms. Marvel #3 Review

by Charles Martin on May 29, 2019

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #3 Review
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Penciller: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

When this volume started, I was optimistic. But my feelings were moderated by a "wait and see" attitude; the creators were clearly telling a longer story. I wasn't confident in my ability to judge it based on just one introductory issue.

So, for the record: It took this team three issues (or maybe 2.3 issues, if you wanna get granular) to make Ms. Marvel stupendously awesome again.

Granted, it's not the hardest job in comics. But it takes talent and commitment and heart, and Magnificent Ms. Marvel #3 has all of these qualities in spades.

It starts off with an interesting narrative choice. Kamala gets the "come be our champion" pitch from her alien harassers, and her mom and dad are right there with her. Thus, this issue can deliver a novel point-of-view: It's initially narrated by Muneeba, Kamala's mom.

The aliens' pitch is some classic sci-fi goodness. Happy innocent planet, monstrous oppressors inbound, save us with your destined greatness, innocent young hero-person! It's thoroughly familiar. A veteran nerd like Kamala can't resist finishing the lead alien's pitch for him when he starts quoting Princess Leia in the original Star Wars.

"Plucky youngster swept into high adventure" is a storytelling trope that's about as old as stories. Kamala's own origin is a fine example of it. And most of the time, storytellers speed up the sweeping by isolating their hero, temporarily or permanently, from parents and other guardian figures.

This comic shows exactly why: If your parents find out you want to go to outer space to fight an evil empire … hoo boy, they are not gonna be supportive. A packed lunch and a kiss goodbye are out of the question.

The brilliance of Saladin Ahmed's script is that it builds support - slowly and subtly - for the elder Khans' opposition. Yet it also supports Kamala's enthusiastic face-value read of the situation. While the development of the story justifies the parents' initial instincts, it doesn't subject Kamala (or the reader) to excessive told-you-so's.

Uggggh, what's worse than your parents being big ol' buzz-kills? Finding out they were right to be suspicious.

Setting aside parental relationships, this issue is no slouch when it comes to strange new worlds and exciting action. Minkyu Jung shows off impressive design chops, injecting an excellent balance between Islamic decorative forms and alien novelty into the look of the planet Saffa. 

Juan Vlasco's inks pick out a formidable amount of background detail throughout the book and also drop bold shadows into the issue's dungeon scene. Ian Herring's colours journey all across the palette and dial up the intensity to make the introduction to Saffa as vivid as possible.

And the whole art team comes together to put an impressively distinct style on the prophecy that finally explains the "Destined One" business. It's ancient and alien and fascinating.

Plus, there's a nice effect running through the script and the art when it comes to Kamala's fighting. These creators respect the fact that she has a few busy years of heroing under her belt now. In this volume, she's more likely to lash out with confidence when action is required. Toward the end, Kamala throws an embiggened kick that's noteworthy for its casual effectiveness. It impresses her companions and readers should be impressed, too.

With its third issue, the Magnificent Ms. Marvel blasts off, both literally and metaphorically. The "space aliens need a champion" premise is given a memorable twist thanks to a carefully-crafted parental perspective. The art delivers a bumper crop of wild alien vistas and exciting action, while the thoughtful script encourages you to look for deeper meaning. The creators have thoroughly demonstrated their mastery of the Ms. Marvel fundamentals; this is where they kick it into overdrive and make her story their own. The result is an incredibly readable adventure that will have you howling for more.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I will save the mega-nerds some time by doing the requisite "gotcha" continuity check myself: No, this is not really Ms. Marvel's first-ever space adventure.