Writing dialog for young characters can be a dicey proposition for anyone. For those outside the current generation, they run the risk of sounding like exactly that: out of touch with what kids are interested in and especially for how they talk. For those writing what they know: there’s the risk of sounding dated in just a few years, if not sooner. So it’s no small task that G. Willow Wilson’s MS. MARVEL manages to not only sound properly youthful and contemporary, but actually sounds fine almost a year later. It’s obviously too soon to declare that it still will years down the line, but there’s something very special about it that makes me think it’ll be just fine. This issue picks up directly after the last, Kamala Khan confronting a group of living batteries used to power the headquarters and inventions of the maniacal, avian Inventor. However a wrinkle arises in this rescue plan: the kids don’t mind doing what they perceive to be something useful with themselves. While Kamala tries to convince them of their own worth, we get an unlikely team-up to rescue the beloved Lockjaw from the clutches of the insidious bird man. This issue raises a lot of, well, issues with how children are treated and portrayed in the media, especially the news media, and the teamup that happens feels like it’s earned, even if it does happen fairly quickly. We’re then treated to quite the cliffhanger promising that next issue will be the last in the storyline, and it’s a great setup.
Series regular and co-architect Adrian Alphona has done such an incredible job defining the look and feel of this series and this issue continues that streak. The characters are exaggerated to ridiculous proportions, but as this isn’t a book that’s ever traded in realism or any sort of particular “grit,” it doesn’t feel at all out of place. This is an over-the-top tale and Alphona’s linework is a beautiful, delightful reflection of that. We also get Ian Herring’s gorgeous, diverse and incredibly subtle colors on it. It’s unusual that a book with this strong of a voice can be both subtle and bombastic, but Herring’s colors manage to be just that, giving us wild colors that vary depending on both mood and setting.
While I agree with a great deal of the points Kamala brings up in this issue, there’s no denying that it feels a bit soap-boxy after a bit. The points being made are good ones, even accurate ones, and I’m on the border of the people they apply to, but it’s hammered home just a little too much and too repeatedly, when it’s space that feels like it could be better used for more storyline.
MS. MARVEL is a title that’s gotten a ton of attention over the last year, and it’s issues like this that illustrate why: it’s got its own unique voice, it’s talking about things that other comics (in general, not just superhero ones) aren’t talking about with a megaphone loud enough to reach a much, much larger audience than most books that WOULD talk about it do. It’s got characters all its own and a visual style to match and I can’t recommend highly enough that, regardless of your taste, you give it a look. Unless you’re absolutely opposed to whimsy and brightness, you’ll have a good time.