More often than not, a mandatory line-wide crossover results in one of two things: either the title’s storylines get entirely derailed for a few months while something entirely divorced from the book takes over, or the tie-in is so ridiculously minimal it might as have not happened. With that in mind, that’s probably why “Ms. Marvel” #17 (as well as the issue before it) is such a nice surprise; G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona have done neither of those two options, instead integrating elements of “Secret Wars” into their comic without losing sight of the bigger picture and the stories already in progress.
“Ms. Marvel” #17 gives readers a full-fledged and long-awaited team-up between Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) and Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), the latter of whom was the original Ms. Marvel. It’s a fun pairing, with Carol the voice of experience and Kamala the energetic newcomer, each of them having some surprises and help for the other. Carol guides Kamala through the task of trying to find the missing Aamir with some practical advice, and some that’s a little more heartfelt. I never thought a scene involving kittens could be so emotionally engaging, even as Carol is able to move Kamala in a difficult but correct direction.
More importantly, “Secret Wars” is ever-present, but never overly so. Carol’s sanitized explanation of what’s happening to Kamala is enough for both her and the audience to know what’s going on, even as experienced readers (or those looking between the lines) will understand the grave, dangerous situation that the entire world is in. Wilson’s script treats both seasoned and newer readers with respect, acknowledging the crossover but still continuing the storylines that were kicked off earlier; if anything, they’re accelerated here with the end of the world just around the corner. Seeing characters like Kaboom back not only emphasizes that continuation, but it helps Kamala continue to build up a genuine rogue’s gallery of villains.
Alphona’s art is attractive here. He continues to draw Kamala in that loose, stretchy manner that syncs perfectly with her powers and manages to make her both awkward and in control all wrapped up into one. I’ll admit that the look on her face when Kaboom first attacks her makes me laugh every time I look at that panel (it’s a mixture of panic and surprise and “whoops!” all built into one), but — just two panels later — she has rallied in a way that makes me think that Kaboom is in some serious trouble. Add in the licks of energy moving around Kaboom and the impact crater around her feet, and it’s a powerful moment. Ian Herring’s in on the action too, giving a glow to both Kaboom and Captain Marvel’s powers, but he’s careful to make Kaboom’s creepy while Captain Marvel’s are bright and inspiring.
If you’re going to have a book invaded by another comic’s storyline, “Ms. Marvel” #17 shows us how it should be handled. Wilson and Alphona never lose sight of what their readers want, even as they get some added gravitas from the looming end of the world. Nice job.