Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Ms. Marvel Vol. #1: No Normal

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No NormalMs. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kamala Khan is a pretty typical teenager: awkward, fighting with her parents, figuring out how to get through the school day without being picked on. Her Islamic faith adds a certain layer of difficulty to her experiences, but for the most part she’s trying to just get by, impatient to be grown-up. One night, Kamala decides to sneak out to a party & ends up transforming into Ms. Marvel. (There’s a cloud of gas, & visions of superheros dancing like something out of Bollywood, & weird growing powers. It’s a whole thing.) But luckily for Jersey City, Ms. Marvel is just what they need. The disaffected teenagers in the area have been disappearing or doing odd errands for someone called the Inventor. And Kamala wants to know why.

I was happy to finally pick this series up after having read Cairo & The Butterfly Mosque & hearing Wilson speak on the Jay & Miles X-plain the X-men podcast. Kamala is a character with a lot of heart & sass & is satisfyingly relatable. I also loved the idea of Kamala being someone whose played at being a superhero as a kid & now has to figure out what that really means. This grounds her transformation & struggle with her powers in a refreshing, interesting way. And the relationships between the characters are moving & unique–something I remember fondly from Cairo where certain conversations made me tear up frequently. I’m a little torn on Alphona’s art, though. The sketchy, flowing quality of it evokes plenty in either action scenes or more personal closeups of Kamala struggling with her physicality. And there are lots of little background jokes in the details. But it can also look very cartoon-y & jokey, giving the whole story this under-layer of unintentional humor. Still, a great collection to check out & get you started with Wilson’s work.

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