This is a weird one. Let me explain.
I stopped buying monthly comics some time ago with the odd exception of Hellblazer , or a run of something I wanted to read but superheroes especially were something I’d lost interest in as there was little or no fun, originality or joy in 99% of the superheroes pumped out by Marvel and DC. Superheroes were for me something that just wasn’t being done properly, or for the audience it was meant for which is for children to young kids. They are after all, power fantasies where kids can live out their problems or indulge in their fantasies in a safe, and done well, an utterly empowering way.
A few weeks ago Marvel released the first issue of their new Ms Marvel title, a character and book who over the years have been treated badly, or just been awful. This time the character was a young Muslim girl called Kamala Khan. In fact this is Marvel’s first solo book featuring a Muslim but they have created Muslim characters in the past and most of them are cringingly embarrassing. To say my expectations for this version of Ms Marvel was low was an understatement, and this gets us to a few weeks ago when the first issue came out. It started getting a bit of buzz so off to Comixology I went to see what the fuss was about.
The character of Khan as created by G . Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona is simply a massive breath of fresh air. The plot isn’t especially original, and the storytelling is fine, but not exactly inspired but the tone is perfect and it’s this tone which is set from the first page with this panel especially.
It’s a great bit of writing which sets things up from the off. Yes, Khan’s family is a bit too Eastenders for it’s own good, but Wilson sets up some interesting ideas in the broad strokes she’s taking to actually portray not just a Muslim teenager, but a female Muslim teenager. It’s still rooted in Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s Spider Man stories (even down to the alliterative initials for the main character) and there’s still a lot of set up, not to mention knowledge of the Marvel Universe that’s needed but Wilson manages to skim over much of this as quickly as possible to establish the character of Khan and her family and friends.
It’s not perfect. There’s a sense of padding at times which is because I presume it’s being written for a trade paperback collection , plus there’s a bit too many cliches at times but this is a book aimed at a younger market and it’s not written by a middle aged white bloke for middle aged white blokes. It’s not one of the best comics ever made, but it is a very, very good superhero comic that should be read and enjoyed by as many people as possible.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to buy it each month but I’d certainly pick up the first few issues to see where its going and I’d recommend you do too.