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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!)
“You say that a lot.”
“I feel it a lot.”
-Turtles All The Way Down, by John Green
Ever wonder what it’s like to live with a debilitating mental problem? Or do you not have to wonder because you do it every day? Or does this describe someone close to you—a friend or a family member? Then this is the book for you and you and you.
It’s a given that John Green is one of the best writers of YA fiction, like, ever. This book is great. And I’ll always recommend that everyone read it, because reading, after all, opens one up to worlds they’ve never seen and has the power to change readers into more empathetic people. It’s true—there’s been studies. But I’ll be honest, unless you struggle yourself, you may never truly understand what it’s like to live with mental illness. That’s not John Green’s fault. He agrees with me. Aza Holmes’ mother doesn’t understand. Her best friend doesn’t understand. Even her therapist doesn’t really understand. The scene that explains the title of the book embraces that unanswerable mystery. Mental illness, like pain, grief, faith, and beauty, aren’t something you “understand.” They just are.
Enough philosophy. Read this book. Read about Aza Holmes. And her mother. And Daisy. And Davis.
You might know them already.
“Remember, wisdom is attained by three methods: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”
A story of friendship and loss, The Baiji involves young Ai Bao and her best friend in the whole big wide world, Shu Rui, a girl with a beautiful smile and a weak heart. During the Spring Festival, the girls venture on a ferry ride over the Yangtze River, hoping catch a glimpse of Ai Bao’s favorite animal, an endangered species of river dolphin called the baiji. Will Ai Bao see the rare dolphin or is the baiji gone forever?
Read The Baiji this summer and leave an honest review!
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