In “Ms. Marvel” #9 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Kamala learns the true origin of her powers.
The revelations of “Ms. Marvel” are structured in a way that squanders some of the inherent dramatic potential. While Wilson is deft enough to prevent any outright information dumps in “Ms. Marvel” #9, Kamala receives a lot of critical information about herself in a simple Q&A with Medusa that feels more like “telling” than “showing”. While Wilson puts in a panel or two of reflection, Kamala’s reaction to being in New Attilan and Medusa’s information also feels underplayed, although Wilson will probably return to it later, since identity is a major theme of “Ms. Marvel”. The last six pages show Kamala pursuing a lead on the Inventor, but the developments there and even the twist ending take a back seat to the substance of Kamala’s meeting with Medusa.
While the exact plot mechanics can be faulted for being a shade too hasty in pacing or too passive, it’s the right time for Kamala to be clued in that she’s an Inhuman, something that the reader has known since the first issue. As a plot device, Kamala’s injuries from fighting the robot are a little too conveniently timed, but Medusa was going to introduce herself anyway.
The casual humor in “Ms. Marvel” is one of the best features of the comic, and the bulk of it comes from Wilson’s dialogue and Alphona’s storytelling skills, both of which are stellar in the scene with Medusa and the following scene with Kamala’s parents. Wilson gives all the characters distinctive voices and the supporting cast is well-developed and lovable. In “Ms. Marvel” #9, Bruno’s worried monologue by Kamala’s vat-bed is hilarious, as is Kamala’s father noticing Lockjaw in the house and being resigned to the fact that “now we will have to vacuum everything.” When Kamala dismisses Vinatos’ objections, Alphona’s facial expressions and body language reinforce the flounce of Kamala’s decision when she says, “Lockjaw! Zap us back to the non-Star Wars universe, please.” Wilson nails it with the rhythms of speech, as well as her references to gaming and “Star Wars,” and the continued usage of the word “embiggen” which was popularized by “The Simpsons.”
It’s not explained why Vinatos doesn’t try harder to stop Kamala, but his non-interference makes Medusa as a benign and positive presence in Kamala’s life for now, since the Queen hasn’t yet exerted her authority or power to try to control Kamala yet. Let’s also hope that bodes well for Wilson being able to keep “Ms. Marvel” largely separate from other Inhumans titles, since the series functions so well on its own.
Medusa and Wolverine’s hands-off treatment of Kamala is also a fun foil for Kamala’s parents. In “Ms. Marvel” #9, Kamala’s mother has another bout of humorous hand-wringing. Even the details of the scene are hilarious, due to Alphona’s subtle way with comedy. For example, Lockjaw doesn’t participate in the conversation with Kamala’s parents, but he lies happily belly-up like a huge couch cushion as added visual humor.
Alphona’s art also maintains its usual excellence in other areas. His backgrounds have exquisite detail, like the wrinkles in the chair that Kamala’s mother sits on, or the stuffed porcupine on Kamala’s bed. He does a great job of drawing teenagers; both Bruno and Kamala look just right for their ages. The flow of the story is also impeccable.
Herring’s complex color palette is a wonderful part of the art, particularly his daring and successful color choices. Dominant colors like honey yellow, raspberry red or lavender and lilac set moods for different scenes without being incongruous enough to interrupt the story. His warm tones for Kamala’s home provide a visual contrast to the chilly aqua of New Attilan or the eerie turquoise of the Inventor’s stash house.
“Ms. Marvel” continues to be one of Marvel’s best ongoing series for its humor, the strong style of its art team and Wilson’s addictively good characterization and dialogue.