September 23, 2017

ms marvel 1

Ms. Marvel: No Normal

G. Willow Wilson (author) and Adrian Alphona (artist)

Pub. 2014

120 pgs.

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


 

Summary

Kamala Khan is an ordinary teenager living in Jersey City. She loves the Avengers and writes fanfiction when she’s not hanging out with her best friends. The only daughter of Pakistani immigrants, she struggles sometimes with their expectations of her: good grades, a medical degree, and proper behavior befitting a Muslim girl. This means definitely no parties with alcohol or boys.

But when she sneaks out one night to go to a high school party at the docks, her world is turned upside down when a mysterious fog rolls in. Captain Marvel gives her the chance to become something bigger and better, just like Kamala’s always wanted. She quickly agrees.

Suddenly, Kamala’s life is more than just school and rules. She’s Ms. Marvel, and she has a responsibility to protect the people of Jersey City…even if it means risking her family’s trust.

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Review

Massive kudos to Wilson here. Kamala Khan is an interesting, well-rounded character with a strong personality. She stays true to herself even when given the chance to run and hide—granted, sometimes her bravery borders on foolishness. She’s the kind of character who would be interesting to be friends with.

The subcast is interesting, too. I can feel Kamala’s frustrations when dealing with her family, particularly her mother, who never lets her get a word in edgewise. Kamala’s relationship with her father is realistically drawn, and there’s a sweet scene about 3/4s of the way through that just makes me happy. Bruno, one of Kamala’s close friends, is funny and charming and endearingly awkward around her.

The conflicts within the story are complex and well-planned for such a short volume. There are Kamala’s inner concerns about her new powers, as well as her physical inability to control them at will. The reader also feels her turmoil at lying to her parents and friends about her secret identity and whereabouts at any given time. She’s forced to sneak out of her house to fight crime, and it weighs on her heavily. Then, of course, there are the actual criminals she fights and citizens she rescues.

That being said, the book ends with the fifth issue of the comic, so most of the conflicts are unresolved at the conclusion of this volume. Without the next volume on the shelf ready to go, it could be incredibly frustrating for students wanting to know what happens next.

But oh, the art! It’s so simple and clean and pretty! Alphona does a great job sneaking little jokes in throughout, as well, in newspaper headlines and labels. I love the “GM-O’s” cereal. It has a nice flow, too, and I had no problem following the action within each scene.

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TLDR

Despite the lack of anything resembling a satisfying conclusion, this book (and likely the entire series) is not to be missed. Funny, engaging, and even appropriate for middle-school Marvel fans.

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Recommended for…

  • People who love Marvel
  • Wannabe superheroes
  • Shelves lacking in breadth of characters

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Issues

  • Alcohol Use: characters drink underage at a party
  • Blood: depicted on page
  • Deceit: characters sneak around and trick authority figures
  • Lying: characters lie in order to pursue a life of crime-fighting (vaguely ironic, huh?)
  • Religion: main characters are Muslims and attend services at their mosque
  • Theft: character attempts to steal from others
  • Violence: nothing majorly graphic, but a character gets shot and there’s some butt-kicking
  • Weapon Use: see above mention of character getting shot

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Themes

  • Change vs. Tradition
  • Determination
  • Family
  • Friendships
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Heroism
  • Honesty
  • Identity
  • Justice
  • Responsibility
  • Right vs. Wrong
  • Survival

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Grade

Main Character 2
Subcast 2
Setting Development 2
Exploration of Conflict 2
Satisfying Resolution 0
Consideration of Themes 2
Didactic Tone 2
Suspension of Disbelief 2
Imagery and Description 2
Compelling Storytelling 2
Author’s Style 2
Rhythm and Pace of Book 2
Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 2
Predictability 1
Reader Enjoyment 2
Total 27/30
90%

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