It’s a tough sell, introducing a new character at a company like Marvel or DC. And in many ways, it’s an even tougher sell to introduce a new character using an old character’s name. Five issues into G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s “Ms. Marvel,” and strictly from a creative perspective, this should be a road map for future creators. If all revamps were this much fun, perhaps readers wouldn’t be so scared of them.
As Kamala tries to save Vick, it’s almost refreshing to see her plan (or lack thereof) completely fall apart. First, it’s a reminder that heroes are more than just a power set; ability alone doesn’t make them worthy of the title. And second, it’s also a reminder that Kamala is just a teenager. She’s still learning as she goes, and her thought, “I thought I could just charge in — isn’t that what heroes do?” says a lot about her in those early days.
At the same time, though, Wilson also crafts a character who learns from her mistakes and comes back stronger and smarter than before. Her training montage could have been a cliche, but Wilson keeps it from falling into that pit thanks to her deft scripting. Kamala’s a joy to read; she’s got a great personality and I love her mixture of wariness and optimism. As she identifies all of the issues she’s having (from using her abilities better, to finding a costume that won’t get shredded), her solutions are entertaining and will hold the attention of even a jaded reader of superhero comics who’s seen it all.
Kamala’s relationship with her family is also a key part of “Ms. Marvel” #5, and her discussion with her father about her sneaking out, as well as learning more about her birth, feels realistic while still entertaining. Kamala’s parents being so protective makes a lot more sense now, and I love that Abu is both sympathetic and also still able to play hardball with his daughter.
Alphona’s art looks great; I’ve liked his art ever since encountering it on “Runaways” but I think that he’s just gotten better and better since then. He’s able to draw Kamala’s stretching, growing, and shrinking form as Ms. Marvel with ease, but don’t think that is hiding some sort of inconsistency. I love how perfectly he draws Kamala when she’s sitting on the kitchen chair while getting lectured by Abu; look at how her whole body clenches up defensively, from her arms pressed against her side and her hands balled up into fists, to her knees pushed together and her eyes shut tightly. It’s beautiful body language that you don’t normally get at this level.
There are lots of great little touches throughout the art, too. The dust clouds that are almost gauzy and growing the longer they’re around after she finishes her speed workout on the track. The food wrappers and container scattered all over the kitchen table. The debris from the shattered wall in the bad guys’ lair. The various posters on the Circle Q’s windows. It’s a cohesive, attractive look, and Alphona’s a huge asset to “Ms. Marvel.”
“Ms. Marvel” #5 is just the latest in a string of great issues for this series; I feel like Wilson and Alphona just grow more confident and strong with each new installment. Check it out; this is a thoroughly fun comic.