Ms Marvel #4

by louis whiteford on May 30, 2014

Written by G Willow Wilson
Art by Adrian Alphona - pencils?  stylus?  Ian Herring - Colors

Ms Marvel is still a strong superhero comic drawn by an artist I love, so I’m mostly pre-determined to like it.  The book is in its early stages of what hopefully amounts to long running adventures, but even so, it’s firmly rooted in a very mundane universe.  There’ve been more scenes in the local convenience store than any other superhero book I’ve read.  At this point, the corner store is Kamala Khan’s secret headquarters, and we’ve even been introduced to the guy who runs it when Kamala’s friend isn’t around.  For once, it’s not silly to say a superhero book is grounded.  Until the last few pages of this issue, there’s nothing extraordinary besides Ms Marvel herself.   Next issue looks like it’ll hold the crazy climactic superhero action readers crave, and I’m excited to see something new, but I’m also excited because I have no idea where the book is going.  There’s lots of potential for Kamala Khan.  How big will her adventures get?  Or how small will they stay?
Kamala takes some active steps to becoming her own superhero this issue.  After clearing up the scene with the cops, she enlilsts the aid of friend/confidant Bruno.   It’s Bruno’s brother Vic who’s caused the most trouble so far, and Kamala decides to investigate.  She goes home to make a costume and has a suspicious encounter with her mom before she goes hunting for Vic.  Again, the story’s still fairly leisurely.  Ms Marvel’s narrative is coasting along just fine, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, there’s always something to criticize.  In this case, I’d like to take a look at the dialogoue.    

If Ms. Marvel’s gonna be some sort of “nerd hero” they gotta come up with some better shit than “World of Battlecraft”   It’s endearing when Kamala thinks she’ll be  a good superhero because “videogamers have fast reflexes” and uses a (spoiler alert) fanny pack as part of her costume, but that image starts to fall apart when G Willow Wilson throws in clunky made-up videogames.   Either use real life allusions or invent something interesting.  Either of those options can show us something about the character, and when you’re writing something as drawn-out as this, it’s important to get decent signifiers in.  And besides, “Pretend it’s world of battlecraft!” is a such a groaner of a line, it almost made me forget the best line from earlier in the comic, Kamala’s perfect response to the mother who doesn’t want her going out. 

“Obviously I’m gonna go party with my ten athiest boyfriends.” Line of the MONTH, kid!  Get this comic. 
If the story isn’t interesting enough, it’s most certainly worth a look for it’s art.  Adrian Alphona is one of my favorite artists of the modern-era-cinematic-six-panels-or-less scene.  His older stuff (Runaways and pretty much nothing else.  Maybe some covers?) gained a degree of realism throughout the course of the series, and now it looks like he’s un-learning to draw in the Marvel style.  The cartoonishness of Ms Marvel is quite impressive.  Alphona’s characters have a tactile quality a lot of superhero art lacks, even if a few of them looked like muppets.  It’s a very appealing look. 
Ms Marvel is good.  Read it.   

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