Friday, November 7, 2014

A new superhero debuts!

Everyone is used to the X-Men addressing issues of alienation and rejection, of feeling like a freak and not fitting in. But there are more ways to not fit in than to be crawling up the walls or calling the weather. 

Nowadays, perhaps one of the most common problems facing teens and their parents is the dilemma of the first-generation American immigrant. As the parents do their best to raise their children in the culture that they themselves grew up in, the kids are torn in a different direction by their peers. Marvel takes this on, with remarkable results, in Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal.

In most ways, Kamala Khan is just a normal teenager growing up in Jersey City. She bickers with her protective parents and older brother, she sneaks out her window to go to parties, and she writes Avengers fanfic. She struggles with blending her Muslim religion with the secular culture of America, and has friends who support her whatever she chooses. She has a pretty decent life, and she knows it.

But while she's out at that illicit party (with BOYS), she's exposed to the Terrigen Mist, and everything changes. Now, she has powers she can't control, a new responsibility to protect those around her, and no idea how to go about it.

And she's grounded.

Ms. Marvel Volume 1 shows us perhaps the most relatable superhero in comics today. G. Willow Wilson brings a fresh perspective to comics, and her empathy shows. Kamala is neither a caricature of a rebellious Muslim girl, nor a perfect daughter. She is a human being, with all the flaws that brings, and the reader loves her all the more for it. Bringing to light social issues without beating the reader over the head with them, and showcasing the most human characters I've read recently in any medium, Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal is a comic with broad appeal.

Highs: Watching Kamala make her costume (with puffy paint!) is absolutely excellent.

Lows: The villains are fairly one-dimensional so far, but there will be plenty of room for them to develop later.

Verdict: This is a comic that no one, even those who aren't as familiar with superheroes in general, should miss.

Further Reading: Alif the Unseen, The Complete Persepolis, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers

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