Monday, July 31, 2017


Date started: 1/9/17

Date finished: 1/9/17

For #18 of BookRiot's Read Harder Challenge: read a superhero comic with a female lead.



In 2014, I was 23 or 24 depending on whether or not the graphic novel was published before or after my birthday. Even though I can't remember my exact age, I could acutely remember the publication of Ms. Marvel, vol. 1 No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphonso. The arrival of the comic was a huge deal in the comic book universe. When anything is a big deal,the media jumps on the bandwagon. Why was the new Ms. Marvel such a big deal in 2014? It was because the new Ms. Marvel broke away from "traditional conceptions" of superhero hood.  For generations, superheroes (male and female) have usually followed a certain type for the most part they're usually white, though from what I've seen in comics they're increasingly becoming more diverse which is an awesome step forward.

At the beginning of the graphic novel, Kamala Khan is a normal Pakistani-American girl living in Jersey City, New Jersey. On the weekends she writes an Avengers fanfic and wants to party with her friends on the waterfront. After her parents are like "heck no" about the party, she sneaks out of the house to go. As she leaves after having an argument with her good friend Bruno, a strange mist descends upon New Jersey, and we're not talking about our usual smog either! While walking home, the mist knocks her unconscious. Lying on the dirty New Jersey sidewalk, she has a vision of Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Captain America, and a couple cute little creatures. During her conversation with these visions, she makes one crucial statement. She tells Captain Marvel she wants to be like her and fight crime in her old politically incorrect costume. Under her breath Captain Marvel tells warns her about to turn out the way she wants.

What happens next follows the old saying "be careful what you wish for" story arc. She quickly realizes having superpowers and appearing like Ms. Marvel is more than she can handle. One of the crucial aspects, I missed when I read Ms. Marvel in January was how much Kamala yearns to fit in with mainstream American culture and feels like an outsider because of misconceptions of her nationality and religion. During my reread about a week ago, I noticed this motif loud and clear. Even if you gaze at the title of this volume, it suggests that there is in fact "no normal." Though, Kamala for the most part of this comic finds herself conflicted between fitting in with mainstream America and her own values. By the end of this issue, she has a better understanding of herself and confidence in herself that she lacks in the beginning of the graphic novel. 

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