The end times have rarely been as touching they are as in “Ms. Marvel” #19. There are scarcely any action beats in this final issue before the relaunch, as Jersey City comes together to face Armageddon with “Frozen” references, sub-par chai and a dance party. G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona take the ever-so-individualist superhero book and make it a celebration of community, and the result is a warm, moving capstone to Kamala Khan’s first series.
Kamala doesn’t spend her last issue fighting valiantly against the apocalypse. Instead, she spends it reconciling with the people in her life. Having come to know Aamir better in issue #18, she comes to understandings with her mother, Zoe, Nakia and, finally, Bruno. It’s admittedly tied up rather neatly, with Kamala moving smoothly from one conflict resolution to the next, but Wilson is careful not to let everyone off the hook. So many of the characters resolve their conflicts by promising to do better in the future. This not only turns the apologies into promises, but it adds an unfinished edge to all the neat bow-tying. As far as the reader knows, none of them will actually get the chance to make good on these promises.
This paragraph will get a little spoiler-y, but it’s necessary to discuss my two favorite interactions: Ammi and Bruno. Wilson handles the dialogue in these so well. Ammi subverts the superhero trope of the hidden identity with the simple parent’s declaration of “I know you, beta. I notice when something has changed.” However, she still states her surprising approval in very unsurprising Ammi terms: “I thank God for having raised a righteous child.” Kamala’s conversation with Bruno is similarly satisfying and devastating. When she tells him that “Being Ms. Marvel…filled up my heart and my life in a way that nothing else I’ve done ever has,” that “nothing else” includes loving Bruno.
Alphona handily conquers the challenge of an issue that’s all conversation. He shifts perspective to match the flow of the conversation, giving the reader an eye into the power dynamics and reactions of the characters. This effect particularly made me smile in the scenes with Nakia. At one point, Alphona has the perspective looking up from below Nakia, so that she appears like a regal and judgmental sphinx. Just a few panels later, she’s framed from the side so that the reader can see her indulgent smirk. It’s a fun, effective mirror for Kamala’s emotional rollercoaster as she tries to apologize to her friend.
Colorist Ian Herring gives the entire issue a warm, friendly light, but he handles the last few panels particularly well. The obliterating light at the end of the universe could have come off so much cornier than it does. Herring opts for milder reds and yellows, so that obliteration looks like just another Jersey City sunset — right up until the last panel. It was the perfect effect for an issue that’s so much about the familiar in the face of the apocalypse.
Admittedly, some of the reconciliation in this issue didn’t land as well. Zoe is integrated into the group quite quickly after her apology, and that sort of forgiveness — which doesn’t require concrete proof of her desire to do better — could come off as conciliatory. However, there’s no denying it’s also very Kamala. This is a character whose warmth and generosity of spirit have always been as oversized as her powers, so the idea she could forgive that easily, especially with Armageddon approaching, feels honest to her — if not necessarily to the way that ally-ship ought to work.
In sum, “Ms. Marvel” #19 is an excellent ending to an excellent series. G. Willow Wilson has given Marvel such a loveable new heroine, and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to as an Avenger.