Love is in the air… or maybe its smog, I can’t tell.
So I loved this volume as a whole. It dealt with big issues without making them cheesy, and it was very well done.
Unfortunately this volume did start and end on a sour note for me personally as the first and last issue in the volume were off of the main storyline. The first issue in the volume was a cheesy Valentine’s Day special that featured Loki. Unlike the previous volume that featured Wolverine, this was not well done at all. First of all, it did nothing for Kamala in the long run. He just showed up, was entirely disruptive in no meaningful way, and then left with no long term consequences for Jersey City. Completely pointless.
The last issue in the volume was similar, although it did fall into the larger storyline for S.H.I.E.L.D. and she did find an assumed resource in Jemma, so it was more acceptable. Side note: I did not like the artistic style of the S.H.I.E.L.D issue unfortunately, but I don’t have too much to say on the topic.
The center issues (Ms. Marvel 13-15) is where the real meat is, and the main part I based my overall rating (of 5 out 5) on. It starts with a familiar scene for me, my parents telling me last minute that they’re friends were visiting that I hadn’t seen since my childhood and them bragging about how fun their kid would be, mainly so I wouldn’t act like I was dreading having guests over.
As soon as they introduce the character of Kamran, it’s OBVIOUS he’s too good to be true, mostly by the fact that I have never met a man who would admit to singing along to Bollywood songs (if you know any, send me that number). What I liked most about this volume wasn’t Kamran however, but actually Kamala’s brother, Aamir. First of all, I found him kind of funny, secondly, he kind of reminds me of my eldest sister. She’s not extremely religious, but she is more conservative than my parents, definitely, and more into preserving aspects of our home culture, shying away from Americanization more than my immigrant parents. You see this same thing with Kamala’s story where her brother is even stricter than her parents and excited to find something to tattle about.
To make leap forward a bit, what I liked most about this volume was that it dealt with real Muslim issues and real women/feminist issues without making it too cheesy or sensational, which is a great improvement from the first volume in which they were trying way too hard. It really felt like these definite political or social statements were worked in naturally.
The first occurred when Kamala was forced to face another Inhuman who was threatening Jersey City. As KaBoom started preaching her ideas of Inhuman superiority and her message of extremism as a means to gain power over the full-blooded humans, “There’s always that one group of people that think they have special permission to terrorize anybody who disagrees with them. And then everyone who looks like them suffers.” It is obvious that this a reference to Islamic extremism and the resulting Islamophobia that Muslims in our nations have been experiencing in recent years. I appreciated this SO MUCH, and I thought it was perfectly done.
Later when Kamran tries to recruit Kamala through romancing her and gaining her trust, I feel as if Wilson took one step further to explain how weaker people can be turned toward extremism if lacking a support system and community. I feel like that’s what makes Kamala’s relationships with Nakia, Bruno and her family so important, because it keeps her grounded in her powers and her life. I feel like Willow does a great job at setting up this part of her character, and pitting it against Kamran’s character, where he has turned to joining the Inhuman cult in order to find a sense of belonging.
The next thing that Willow wrote on perfectly was the shame and guilt surrounding sexual abuse or assault, especially within the South Asian or Muslim community. And she did this, without even writing about sexual assault. Basically, there is a scene in which Kamran is using the technique of victim-blaming in order to make Kamala feel ashamed and responsible for having been overpowered and kidnapped by him.
Kamala confronts Kamran with him violating her consent by saying “I told you to stop the car and let me out, and instead you brought me here against my will, after I said no.” He basically brushes it off saying he knew she just needed persuading and he knew she would change her mind, and when Kamala expresses disgust at his statement, he turns it around on her by saying, “That’s not how you seemed to feel when you snuck out with me the other night.” He then turned the whole situation around on her, saying if she had obeyed her parents, and not been chasing after him, that this wouldn’t have happened, so in the end, it was her fault.
This was a crazy conversation to me, because honestly if you isolated that conversation without context of what they were really fighting about, it could easily be a conversation about sexual assault. It broke me to see the powerful and confident Kamala start to think on his words and feel ashamed, as if his actions were her fault. This was so real, and so important, and part of what makes Ms. Marvel speak to me so greatly.
Kamala regains her footing quickly, and does what’s necessary to escape her captors, saving Bruno in the process (as he attempts to save her), ending with a moment of great vulnerability, being comforted by her best friend. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that she’s this amazing superhero, or that he has unrequited feelings for her, or any of that silly extra stuff. It’s just a friend comforting a friend when she needs it with nothing being expected in return. Seeing the complexity of Kamala and Bruno, even in what could be seen as a generally cliche plot line was really amazing to me.
Now I’m just super excited about this series, and can’t wait to get the next few volumes. I have to wait however, according to my pathetic bank account. I’m excited to see how what happened to Queen Medusa, and how far this cult of Inhumans will go, but I’m most excited to see what other Khan inherited Inhuman abilities. I worry that this will be
Aamir, especially as it seems as though he could be more susceptible to joining the cult with Kamran. I’m just super excited to eventually sees how this goes. Maybe Kamala has some cousins. Lol.