Magnificent Ms. Marvel #8 Review

by Charles Martin on October 09, 2019

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #8 Review
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artists: Joey Vazquez with Alex Arizmendi
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Kamala's strange road trip segues from zombie horror to body horror before coming to an abrupt -- but satisfying! -- end.

Old-school Ms. Marvel baddies Discord and Lockdown (it's great that Kamala insists on calling them Josh and Becky instead of using their villain code-names) successfully capture Kamala and her friends. They drag them into the heart of the Rubicon corporation, which has taken over the distressed community of Orange Plains, New Jersey.

It's a corporate cancer storyline that's not just metaphorically horrible; Rubicon and its boss are eventually revealed as flat-out horror movie monsters. 

The abruptness of the ending comes from the fact that Kamala fights herself and her friends free of Rubicon but pointedly does not foil the baddies. The cops are called in the final scene and the horror pivots from the cinematic to the maybe-too-real: When your opponents are super-rich, the cops are practically on their side.

Saladin Ahmed's speedy script displays continued virtuosity at juggling multiple plots. The Rubicon story also serves to foreshadow some longer-term issues with Kamala's new Kree costume. It acts of its own accord to save Kamala here, but before the issue is over, it also expresses its own will in a more malevolent way.

Besides having a direct impact on the plot, the costume concerns are linked to this issue's action with some lovely metaphorical narration. Thanks to Mr. Ahmed's adroit writing, readers get a much stronger sense of the thematic ties than Kamala does, even though the words are definitely hers.

Chopping the road strip story off here is a smart strategic move. True, it steals away some short-term closure. (Though I think this story would need another issue to deliver a comprehensive defeat of the antagonists.) But this way, Rubicon and its master are left as active villains who can and probably must return in later stories.

Visually, this issue covers an impressive amount of ground. It goes from straight superhero fighting to Ms. Marvel's trademark Jersey realism to shocking body horror and back again. The collaboration between Joey Vazquez and Alex Arizmendi works well. While the issue definitely starts with the former and ends with the latter, the actual changeover point is surprisingly hard to pin down.

Ian Herring cloaks it all in a darker-than-usual rendition of his Jersey palette. The timing goes from sunset into the night, and the colours, with that ominous purple still in the lead, follow suit.

The overall artistic performance is thoroughly satisfying, albeit almost dizzyingly broad. It rings the volume's "creative Ms. Marvel fight moves" bell again in ways that are both delightful and disturbing. 

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #8 wraps up its road trip story quickly. It leaves some terrifying new villains on the loose in New Jersey. Bad news for the arc (and the Garden State!), but very good news for the title. This story has done another excellent job of expanding the scope of Ms. Marvel's world. The challenges facing Kamala are growing, and this issue's script tackles that growth head-on, both literally and metaphorically.

Our Score:


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The script also plucks a raw nerve when it refuses to avoid the "life-threatening growth" theme shared by the Rubicon plot and Yusuf's illness.