The recently picked up the trade release of the new Ms. Marvel (entitled No Normal), a historic release in that this reboot is the first Marvel property to feature a Muslim character as the protagonist. As far as story goes, this first volume isn’t exactly action packed, as it’s more about our hero, Kamala Khan, learning to use her newly acquired powers. Still, there’s a lot to like here.
I found Kamala Khan to be engaging as a character, and I really enjoyed the cultural conflicts that the writers were able to present through her point of view. She doesn’t see the world in the same way that her parents do and doesn’t have the same ties to the culture or religion. She’s an American teenager, and she has to balance and deal with the realities of that world colliding with the expectations of her parents.
I think the story captures the feeling of being a minority in American very well too. When Khan initially gets her powers, which include a certain amount of shape-shifting and the ability to change the dimensions of her body, she takes on the form of Carol Danvers (the first Ms. Marvel) largely because she thinks she will feel stronger or sexier as a white woman. She quickly finds that the idealized image she had of being a super hero isn’t what she thought. It isn’t until she starts being herself that she is able to use her powers effectively.
The thing that I didn’t like that much about the story was actually Khan’s obtaining of her powers. There’s a mist…and suddenly she’s Ms. Marvel? I’m guessing this will be explained more in depth later (at which point maybe I’ll be on board), but for the moment it feels a little weak.
As I mentioned, Khan also doesn’t really fight anyone in this first volume. The story focuses on her learning to master her powers, but that means that we don’t really see any super villains yet. Her first nemesis isn’t introduced until the very end of the volume, so we’ll have to wait for the second volume before we get to see her fighting someone more on her level.
All in all I would say this first trade volume of Ms. Marvel makes me want to read more and showcases a lot of potential for the series. In and of itself, it’s not the best thing I’ve read, but it is a solid start that I think the creators can build on, and I will definitely be picking up future issues to see how it progresses.