Written by: G. Willow Wilson
Art by: Jacob Wyatt, Adrian Alphona
Every once in a while, a very special book comes along. And even more rarely, said book winds up being one of the most significant things to occur in comics in a given year. Those are both labels that I would ascribe to Marvel’s Ms. Marvel comic of 2014. From a political and social aspect, it is one of the boldest and most evocative books of last year. Those characteristics had very little to do with powers and bright costumes and everything to do with the character material and how it was so eloquently and honorably handled. But the book is also fun. This entire mix of emotional factors is bundled up in the comic’s second major arc and printed in the 2nd trade paperback, Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why.
Kamala Khan, the book’s titular character, has her Inhuman powers awakened after being exposed to the Terrigen Mist that was released in Black Bolt’s attempt to save Attilan. She spends a good chunk of her first six issues dealing with the implications of being a 16 year-old superhero in Jersey City. The dynamic is a bit unique in terms of what is normally depicted in comics, as she is also a practicing Muslim of Pakistani descent. Marvel ticked pretty much all of the socially progressive check-boxes with this one. Generation Why deals with these social factors a good deal less, and the trade, which collects issues #6 - 11, focuses more on the age factor of Ms. Marvel’s secret identity.
This arc reminds me emotionally and tonally of Power Pack. I’ll give you a minute to dredge up that particularly antiquated reference from the 80’s. You can see a lot of the same things going in this book, with a frequent focus on social issues; teens in America in general, the dynamics of race and religion, and so forth. In this arc, Kamala obtains her first arch enemy in the form of The Inventor. Apparently a clone of Thomas Edison who looks like a cockatiel (still not sure if this was just a six issue joke), things with The Inventor are quite serious. While there is a fair amount of light-hearted joking and teen misadventure, there are several scenes across the issues that remind you that The Inventor is not playing games. Kamala is placed in very clear and present danger. Writer G. Willow Wilson does an excellent job of snapping you into those moments such that it always causes you to inhale sharply and remember that capes can get killed regardless of their age.
Wilson and artists Jacob Wyatt (issues #6 - 7) and Adrian Alphona (#8 - 11) weave a story of kidnapped kids who no one cares about, peppered with a guest appearances from Wolverine and Medusa. Arguably the most fun change injected into the book is Medusa’s assignment of Lockjaw as Ms. Marvel’s sidekick/protector. Rest assured, this book firmly takes place in Marvel continuity. It is not a sidebar that is given little relevance. The integration into the MU proper shows an additional reverence for this character that is granted by both the creative team and Marvel’s editorial staff.
While Alphona’s art is more abstract, and that is not normally my thing, I welcomed the change in Issue #8. Wyatt’s art is more cartoony and I guess I’ll take abstract over that. Some of the most beautiful art across the books are the covers, the first four of which are drawn by Jamie McKelvie.
I was not entirely happy with the action of the arc’s climax. It got a little cheesier than I wanted. But the denouement is incredibly well written. My biggest regret is that, as I have tried to reduce the size of my pull-list so that I have time to read trades like this, I just do not have space to add this book in my regular ongoing pull. But this book is great and reads very, very well in trades. Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why is full of humor, heart, adventure, and less grittier super-hero fare, the latter of which I feel like we could use a bit more of these days. I knock it a bit on score for some implausible maturity occasionally shown in some of the teen characters, and because I am not an overall fan of the art. Shrug those off and you have a witty, fun comic that will entertain and amuse you. Treats!
*Review By Agasicles Stamas