Legacy characters can be tricky. Following in someone else's footsteps takes mixing new, innovative moves with enough respect for those that came before you. For a teenager— someone still deciding who they're going to be— this can be even harder. I'm thrilled to report that in Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan is doing a first-rate job. (Spoilers below.)
Kamala's still at the beginning of her super-career. She's not up for facing big threats, yet. Case in point: the issue starts with her pitted against Doyle, "a guy with 1985 hair and a laser gun." (Complete with a tank top, reading 'I'm A Bad Guy'.) Frankly, he's strictly smalltime.
It doesn't stop him from sicking a swarm of blue-eyed laser "kitties". Kamala does the smart thing, and pulls out of a losing battle.
I like Kamala. She's got a strong sense of right and wrong, she's still learning how her powers work, and her bravery is tempered with self-preservation. This isn't cowardice, it's a tactical retreat.
One of the great things about watching a new heroine come into her own is that we get to learn the 'rules' that apply to her, just as she does: Her healing powers take a lot out of her, literally. After recovering from a few laser blasts, Kamala is starving, and devours enough food for a family of four. (Speaking of family, she wishes she could share her trials with her mom.)
G. Willow Wilson has done a splendid job of capturing this young lady's voice. She's brave but unsure, adventurous but clumsy. At once close with her family, and unable to talk to them at all. (In other words, your typical teenager.) Kamala's late-night binge winds up waking the household. She has a heart to heart with her father, Abu. (She's still totally grounded.)
His words inspire her, though. She makes an important decision that will expedite her journey down her own path: "I'm not here to be a watered-down version of some other hero... I'm here to be the best version of Kamala." Damn straight. Damn straight.
Cue a training montage! In a comic book! A comic book training montage! I'm not making it up. Kamala trains with the help of Bruno, her kinda-crush. It just goes to show how tenacious this young lady is, once she's put her mind to something. "Good is not a thing you are," she thinks. "It's a thing you do." Spoken like a true superhero.
Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring must be having a grand time illustrating this book. Their plucky shape-shifter keeps warping perspective, line, proportion. It's fun enough to see. How fun must it be to bring to life?
With a spot of confidence, Ms. Marvel returns for round two with Doyle and his toys. She does a bang-up job of rescuing Vick— the idiot that shot her in a hold-up gone wrong. Of course, as B follows A, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, a not-so-subtle threat that this new Ms. Marvel is going to get comeuppance. "The Birdman Cometh." Basking in her newfound bravado, Ms. Marvel says a few words about Jersey City and puts on a brave face.
Bravery will be required. Because I have no idea how to describe the 'mastermind' behind her recent trials. You better... you better just see for yourself.
I have no damn clue what to make of this. The inventor, 'Mr. Edison', is some kind of bird man with goblin hands. A parakeet? Some hellish chicken? I don't know from bird men. I'm actually enjoying not knowing, for now. I know I'll be back in a month's time to find out what the hell's going on.
How about you?