TITLE: Ms. Marvel Omnibus vol. 1
RELEASE DATE: November 2016
COLLECTING: MS. MARVEL 1-19, ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE 1 (MS. MARVEL STORY), S.H.I.E.L.D. 2, MATERIAL FROM AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 7-8
COMPANY: Marvel Comics
If you are a Marvel Comics longtime reader, I’m sure you are in the same position as me of seeing many versions of Ms. Marvel.
While many of us are familiar with Carol Danvers (who went on to be known as Binary, Warbird and now Captain Marvel), the ’80s brought us a new version ala Sharon Ventura, then Dr. Karla Sofen and now, teenager Kamala Khan.
Created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona, Kamala has become Marvel Comic’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic book series.
I have read a lot of positive things about this series, so when I saw the “Ms. Marvel” omnibus vol. 1 on sale, I had to give it a try. And after reading the entire omnibus, I have to say it was one of the more enjoyable and entertaining series that I have read in a long time.
And considering that this is the first Marvel series I have read since the late ’90s, I can’t help but be happy to see Marvel becoming more diverse but also giving readers of different demographics inspiration for taking these new directions for their characters.
This is very important that Marvel includes diversity and despite what one must have read this past week when it comes to diversity and it possibly having an affect on Marvel’s sales, I feel that CBR did a great job in doing research on Marvel’s sales and that diversity was not the problem.
I’ve written about how diversity is important and for me, being a Filipino-American, it made me happy back then that despite the lack of Asian superheroes (aside from X-Men’s Sunfire and Psylocke), Marvel and other companies were giving Asian Americans the opportunity to become writers and artists for major titles. Diversity may have not been significant in terms of superheroes, but seeing artists and writers who were minority made me proud. So, yes…the Hernandez Brothers of “Love & Rockets” fame and in the ’90s with Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Dwayne McDuffie were awesome, but I would eventually find more diversity when it came to dojinshi artists inspired by Japanese manga. And would meet many Asian but also people of color who were writers and artists who eventually became friends.
But I suppose there was a disconnect that I had with American comic books because there wasn’t enough diversity and now we have diversity and this whole “Diversity” is hurting Marvel Comics is mind-numbing because part of me wanting to read titles such as “Ms. Marvel” is because I felt, “Wow! Marvel Comics gets it!”. But now I question, do they really?
The latest volume of “Ms. Marvel” is a stepforward for not just diversity but for showcasing the positives of another culture that one is not used to reading in a comic book.
Kamala Khan is a teenage Pakistani American, living under the roof of strict parents and an older brother who are very protective and critical of her.
Kamala is a superhero loving, video-game fan who loves writing superhero fan-fic and hangs out with her best friend Bruno Carrelli (a childhood friend who secretly likes her), who works at a convenience store and often concern with Kamala’s decisions of late.
Kamala, who is showing some rebelliousness towards her parents and wanting to experience life as a normal teenager sneaks out of her home to go to a party on the Jersey Waterfront. But when her classmates Zoe Zimmer and her boyfriend Josh start teasing her about her culture, Kamala decides to walk back home. But immediately, Jersey City is filled with Terrigen Mists.
Unconscious from the mist, Kamala thinks she sees Captain America, Iron Man and Captain Marvel. And when she tells them she wanted to be like Captain Marvel, Kamala wakes up to find herself transformed into a younger Carol Danvers ala Ms. Marvel.
With her body changing due to her new powers, she tries to control her body from excessively growing (ie. feet/hands stretching/growing). She ends up back at the Waterfront and sees Zoe falling into the river and a drunken Josh unable to save her. Zoe enlarges her arm and manages to save Zoe but as residents see this heroic act, immediately the media has now publicized articles of the new Ms. Marvel.
Kamala confides to Bruno about her new powers and with Bruno’s science smarts, he designs a special costume that would adjust to Kamala’s stretching but warns that her costume can not be submerged in water.
But as Kamala tries to use her powers for good to take on criminals in Jersey, she must also balance her life as a teenager and also to not upset her strict parents.
And eventually, as Kamala starts to take on supervillains, the stakes are raised. Will the new Ms. Marvel be ready for more difficult responsibilities, especially as it begins to interfere with her personal life?
As previously mentioned, I absolutely loved this omnibus. The character building stories not just for Kamala but other key characters in the series was effectively done but most importantly, the care in incorporating her Pakistani culture to the series.
One of the difficult situations about incorporating culture or even religion to entertainment media is making sure it’s subtle, not overly preachy but for comic books, finding a good balance of what people enjoy from other comic book series and that’s to see a teenager who acquires new powers, now have even more responsibilities and trying to live a normal life, while knowing that their life is forever changed.
While the concept is nothing new as we have seen the challenges that characters such as Peter Parker as Spider-Man having to balance this juggling act of his life with his Aunt May, his career, his relationships and such. Kamala is still a high school student, a big superhero fan and because of her imagination of writing superhero fanfics, she knows key details about superheroes and now that she has become one of them and as a superhero, she knows she must user her powers to protect people in her city.
And she takes that to heart…”protecting her city”.
The series also allows readers to learn about another’s culture. In this case, with Kamala being Muslim and because she is out saving the city, her parents think she’s being rebellious by leaving home despite being grounded, because of her rebelliousness, her mother and father try to find ways to punish their daughter but to help her. We see how things are done with the Khan family but we also see a healthy relationship. I bring up the Peter Parker and Aunt May as a comparison and while culture was not a big part of it, worry for a family member is genuine and it’s great to see those aspects in this series.
I also have to say the artwork for “Ms. Marvel” is fantastic. I love the pencils and the colors of each panel and for the most part, the series is captivating and addicting. But there is a difference in writing style and artwork when Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan is utilized in the second issue of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Amazing Spider-Man” #7-#8 but for the most part, all stories featured in “Ms. Marvel Omnibus Vol. 1” are entertaining.
Overall, “Ms. Marvel” is a fantastic series and a great example of how diversity can not only inspire people but can also be entertaining and enlightening as well.
“Ms. Marvel Omnibus vol. 1” is recommended!