G. Willow Wilson and Nico Leon’s “Ms. Marvel” #5 continues the “Army of One” story arc, where Kamala thinks she has solved all of her problems by 3D printing duplicates of herself to handle school and home while she’s out being a superhero. In typical “Ms. Marvel” fashion, the end result includes good storytelling as well as super-powered and mundane mayhem.
Strictly looking at this as a superhero story, “Ms. Marvel” #5 is fun. The idea of a 3D printer spitting out active duplicates of a person, which then get corrupted due to a super-villain toxin, is a good way of taking modern technology and melding it with superhero tropes. As the duplicates’ numbers continue to rise and get out of control, Wilson is careful to keep shifting things slightly with new challenges — starting with the duplicates being water-soluble, then culminating in the cliffhanger at the end of the issue. It’s fun and there’s a sense of adventure even as things continue to get horribly out of hand.
What makes “Ms. Marvel” #5 stand out, though, is how these problems are never just about being a superhero. Kamala’s urge to duplicate herself comes from her struggle to juggle being a superhero alongside school and family, and — in typical teen fashion — it’s hard for her to understand that they’re just as important. When Kamala finally understands her attendance at the engagement party isn’t just required but actually desired, it’s a big turning point for her; Wilson nails the self-doubt and internal devaluation that so many teenagers go through. I also love how, even after having the brief heart-to-heart with Mike during Bruno’s kidnapping, Kamala still finds it at least a bit difficult to warm to Mike’s presence in Bruno’s life.
Leon’s art is new to me, but I’m ready for him to regularly draw story arcs on the title. He draws a beautifully expressive Kamala — her anguish when she realizes she brought the neurotoxin into the lab is great — and I love that he takes the time to include lots of background details, like notebooks full of scribbled figures or part of a pizza sitting in a box. And when it comes to the Kamala clones? Well, with their simple dot eyes and vacant expressions, I laughed every single time they appeared on the page. They’re obviously Kamala, even as they’re deliberately dumbed down and slightly ridiculous.
“Ms. Marvel” #5 is another strong issue for one of the gems in Marvel’s crown. If all superhero comics were this good, I would be a lot poorer right now. I’m already eager to see next issue’s conclusion. Hopefully, Leon will be a regular contributor to the title, because he and Wilson work excellently together and bring the marvelous to “Ms. Marvel.”