Friday, 20 February 2015

Ms Marvel, Volume 2: Generation Why Review (G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona)

Kamala Khan: Muslim? American? No – Inhuman!

Kamala, a teenager from New Jersey, gets superpowers after encountering the Terrigen Mist (the fallout cloud from the Terrigen bomb detonated by Black Bolt during Thanos’ latest invasion of Earth). She has a healing factor, she can grow large or small, and she can shapeshift; Kamala Khan is the new Ms Marvel!

In this second book, Kamala’s still on the trail of The Inventor, a mad villain with the head of a cockatiel who’s been abducting school children with his robots – but for what sinister purpose? Also, because Kamala’s new at this superhero-ing stuff she gets a helping hand and paw from two veterans of the Marvel Universe: Wolverine and Lockjaw. It’s team-up time for Ms Marvel as she makes the jump from writing Wolverine fan-fiction to saving his ass for reals!

The two-issue team-up with Wolverine is so good, it made me wish Wilson had written Death of Wolverine instead of Charles Soule. Soule’s a fine writer but his Wolverine was cold – Wilson made me care about Wolverine in a way I hadn’t in some time.

So obviously this is pre-latest death of Wolverine and he’s lost his healing factor. On the trail of a missing student from the Jean Grey School, Wolverine and Kamala’s paths cross and the two fight urban legends come true: crocodiles in the sewers. With cybernetic implants courtesy of The Inventor, of course!

It’s not so much the story but the interactions between Wolverine and Kamala that’s awesome. Wolverine alone is usually always boring and a good Wolverine solo comic is rare (ditto the movies). Put him with a kid he has to look after/mentor? Watch him shine. Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, now Kamala Khan – there’s something about pairing Logan with a young girl that brings out the best in his character. He finds out Kamala has a healing factor like he used to and, when she’s about to do something dangerous, he says “It’s gotta hurt. That’s how this works. You just gotta trust yourself to come through it.” – it sounds true and wise even though it’s impossible. That’s why I like Willow’s treatment of Wolverine so much.

You might think with a bigger name, Kamala would be overshadowed, but she’s not. She doesn’t get saved by Wolverine, she saves him – it’s her story all the way through, he’s just along for the ride. As if to emphasise the relationship, there’s even a Luke on Dagobah-type scene where Kamala carries an injured Wolverine on her back!

But the best team-up in the book is Kamala and Lockjaw. Who’s Lockjaw? A giant bulldog-type creature with a tuning fork on his head and teleportation powers, who is the Inhuman Royal Family’s escort and the most adorable, cuddly, beautiful Marvel character ever! Lockjaw’s sent by Queen Medusa to watch over Kamala, protecting her and eventually guiding her to Attilan where she discovers her true nature as an Inhuman.

Without giving away where the story’s headed, it’s a wonderfully, embiggeningly positive message to send to younger readers as well as fitting in with the fun, light tone of the series. Kamala is quickly becoming a lightning rod of attention for Marvel to the wider world and it’s great that they’re using her in such an inclusive way with other non-super-powered characters her age as well as the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Terrific writing from G Willow Wilson aside, how’s the art? I really liked Jacob Wyatt’s work on the two-issue Kamala/Wolverine story. It’s a good blend of comical cartoonishness and solid superhero artwork, and I loved Kamala’s goofy fangirl dance when she first meets Logan! Series regular Adrian Alphona picks up art duties for the rest of the book and it’s as delightful as ever. There’s also giant robot action, and the most delightful scenes between Kamala and Lockjaw, heart-warming for dog lovers everywhere. The Jamie McKelvie covers are awesome as always and Kris Anka’s covers are brilliant too. The art team is first class all the way on this one!

G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms Marvel is the finest comic Marvel is publishing right now. That’s it. Go read Volume 2: Generation Why, it’s THE BEST!

Ms Marvel, Volume 2: Generation Why

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