G. Willow Wilson is a socio cultural genius of a writer! Three days ago I started reading Ms. Marvel from her debut issue in 2013. No, not Carol Danvers (as awesome as she is) but the new, younger, darker, more culturally diverse Ms. Marvel- Kamala Khan. I fell in love with this book instantly and caught up today. Ms. Marvel very quickly and unabashedly tackles issues related to racial stereotypes and the insolubility of some cultures within America’s melting pot, as a result of racial stereotypes and stigmas.
I was hooked from issue 1. Kamala Khan is an inhuman, (from a line of humans whose genetics were experimented on by the Kree thousands of years), with the power to transform. Usually this comes in the form of gaining size to become taller, or enlarging, what she calls “Embiggening” (caught the Simpson’s reference), her fists so that she can knock the lights out of some well deserving wrong-doer. With these powers, she defends her hometown of Jersey City, as its sole hero.
As I read, I very quickly began gaining insight into Muslim and Pakistani culture, as well as the clash of being an american-pakistani teenager living with traditionalist parents. The book explores very real issues related to race as a real factor in identity was well dilemma’s related to choice of religion and shined a light on what Middle Eastern muslims have to deal with due to the few extremists associated with their belief system. There isn’t a moment when the book shy’s away from an arrival of any of these issues, and instead takes them head on. It is refreshing to to say the least.
Furthermore, being a person of color myself, I was simply ecstatic to turn the page and on every page see people of color there in a way that wasn’t at all unnatural or “tokened”. While the racial issues were explored or discussed it never seemed forced. There are equal parts of all races, and unlike comics from the past, or really any source of past media, this was one of the most diverse pieces of literature I’d ever read that didn’t have the label of “black”, “hood”, or “urban” on it either blatantly, or subtextually.
Aside from being absolutely thrilled with such a genuine read on socio cultural disparities, the book is so cheerful. Kamala has to be one of the nicest characters you’ve ever read next to Nightcrawler, or Sam Guthrie. I mean, she doesn’t even want to hurt the bad guys too much most of the time. The series is hilarious, making references to World of Warcraft, Dune, and Pastafarianism, and Kamala is often chasing her own tale while struggling to keep up with family, school and Superheroing. It is a lighthearted and delightful series and Adrian Alphona’s art makes sure that it maintains that tone.
I am currently waiting before I read Issue #7, as it dives into Civil War II, since I have a bunch of Iron Man to binge read before I get to that, but other than that I am completely caught up on the series. I recommend this to anyone, and I mean anyone. This isn’t one of those reads intended only for people of color. This is a book for everyone to enjoy as a comic while getting a real dosage of diversity.