One of the many charms of “Ms. Marvel” is the way the book balances the main character’s superhero life as Ms. Marvel with her more mundane one as Kamala Khan. That’s definitely the case in “Ms. Marvel” #7, where G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring put their own spin on “Civil War II” as Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man go head-to-head on opposing sides of… the science fair?
There’s something wonderfully silly about “Ms. Marvel” #7, as Kamala and Miles’ two schools face off in a science fair that could only exist within a superhero universe. You know this isn’t going to be your average, everyday event when Kamala’s school opens the fair with a Skyshark, a “pressure-stabilized floating environment for rescue sharks”; in other words, it’s a giddily-grinning shark flying around in a big bubble of water. It’s as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds, doubly so when you have moments like a team member tossing in a wide-eyed fish for the shark to eat or when Bruno explains that the team adopted the shark from the ASPCA. It’s over the top, it’s hysterical and yet it’s tethered to a logic that fits in perfectly with the Marvel Universe.
It’s also an inventive take on the idea of a “Civil War II” tie-in, though the final page appears to have a more definitive connection to Marvel’s new event miniseries. The original “Civil War” event and now “Civil War II” pit hero against hero, and that’s what we see here within the confines of the science fair. Wilson uses the fact that Miles and Kamala are teammates on the Avengers to her advantage here, raising the conflict for two disadvantaged teens trying to get enough attention from college scouts in order to wrangle a scholarship. Both have their hearts in the right place, with a deliberate lack of good/bad sides in the conflict.
It’s nice to see Alphona back in the artist rotation of “Ms. Marvel.” The book has been very fortunate to have a series of strong artists, but Alphona has been around since day one and his presence always bodes well for the title. His trademark style is back, and he adds a soft and gentle curve to the characters while using lots of razor-thin lines create a rippling texture within those forms. He goes to town when it comes to the depictions of the science fair and the students’ inventions; Madison Square Garden is packed full of booths and devices of crazy complexity, and he brings the hubbub of the event to life in a static medium. What’s more, you can stop and admire the background details, but they never distract from what’s going on front and center. Add in carefully chosen colors from Herring, who pulls the reader’s eye to just the right spots, and the whole issue is a winner.
“Ms. Marvel” #7 is another example of why this series is so much fun; it takes advantage of a crossover event to tell a smaller-scale story that echoes the bigger event’s themes, while making them relatable and germane to this title. Wilson, Alphona and Herring have done it again. Who knew the science fair could be so much fun?