When a strange terrigen mist descended upon Jersey City, Kamala Khan was imbued with polymorph powers. Using her new abilities to fight evil and protect Jersey City, she became the all-new Ms. Marvel!
So…I like comics now.
I never gave them a fair shot before, I admit. My brother was the comic book nerd, not me. A few years ago, my sons inherited some of his Spiderman comics. Recently, I picked one up and thought, ‘Spiderman’s my favorite, why haven’t I read this yet?’ So I did. And it was so fun! But so short! Word bubbles, art, witty banter (love that Spidey attitude), and lots of ridiculous action. But it’s over pretty fast. Oh well. There’re definitely worse things than a quick story with cool pictures.
Ms. Marvel is a reboot of sorts. The original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, had a quite active existence in the Marvel universe. I did some research and here’s what stuck out to me about her—she started out in the Air Force, joined the C. I. A., was captured by the KGB, took a position at NASA, fell in love with Captain Marvel who made her a Kree-human hybrid, worked as a feminist writer for the Daily Bugle, fought lots of bad guys, was manipulated and seduced by a stalker named Marcus who impregnated her with a child who grew up into, uh, Marcus (?), lost her memories after Rogue accidentally absorbed too much of her power, was rescued by Spider-Woman, fixed by Professor X, confronted the Avengers for abandoning her, turned into an alcoholic, joined AA, got better, and eventually turned down Captain America’s offer of membership in the new Avengers team.
The new Ms. Marvel is a second-generation Pakistani-American high school student. She’s a nerdy high school girl who never felt like she fit in. She experiences boy-drama, deals with pressure from her family, school, and faith leaders. Kamala is a fangirl. She runs a website called Freakingawesome.com. Her favorite word is definitely ‘awesome.’ Oh, and her superhero schedule is quite full.
School, Avengers, my regular bi-weekly dungeon group in Ancient Scrolls Online…it’s all great, but it’s what Abu would call a problem of plenty. And the thing about a problem of plenty is…it’s still a problem.
-001, Ms. Marvel, 2016
Her powers are interesting. She’s an Inhuman with polymorphic abilities. She can stretch, expand, or compress her entire body or parts into any shape, has an accelerated healing factor which makes her extremely hungry and fatigued. Her body emits a bioluminescence when she uses her powers. Kamala can alter her physical appearance to mimic inanimate objects or other people. She’s vulnerable to EMPs and needs a special biokinetic polymer (super snot) suit that’s damaged by exposure to water.
One of my favorite volumes is 007: 2016. Ms. Marvel has an unexpected sidekick—Wolverine. He’s a totally miserable grouch and she’s, well, a giddy fangirl who says ‘awesome’ a lot. They beat up a massive alligator in the sewers of Jersey City and save the day. At least, for now.
I highly recommend Ms. Marvel for younger teen girls, but also for all the adolescent boys out there. This girl is complicated in all the right ways. She’s anything but shallow, an everyday hero with real-life issues who learns how to balance her superhero activities and risks with her regular life. It doesn’t always work out. Teens can totally relate to her struggles, even if they can’t relate to shrinking to the size of a grasshopper. We all have battles to fight. Teens of faith may find Kamala especially relatable because they understand what it’s like to maintain question certain standards and question traditions that other students may not consider at all.
Well, I’m addicted.
Now I have a growing collection of female superhero comics—Spiderwoman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Wonder Woman. (Feminist Confession Time– I have a soft spot for the Silver Surfer. But that means I can include the Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four in my Tour of Women Superheroes!)
Find Ms. Marvel and become a comic addict.