Kamala Khan was a typical teenage girl, with no bigger problems than overprotective parents and a bullying batch of mean girls to cope with at school. That changed when a strange alien mist spread across her hometown of Jersey City and Kamala suddenly developed polymorphing powers that allowed her to reshape her body at will. Being a noble soul, Kamala decided to use her new powers to help people and (with the blessing of Carol Danvers) began fighting crime as the new Ms. Marvel.
While I’m generally not a fan of Marvel Comics’ habit in recent years of continually rebooting their long-running series every time a new creative team takes over, I will admit to seeing one benefit to the practice. It does make it remarkably easy for new readers to jump into a new series without having to worry about hunting back issues or a probably already out-of-print trade-paperback. This assumes, of course, that the new creative team take care to make the new series accessible to newcomers.
Thankfully, Eisner Award-winning writer Saladin Ahmed writes Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 with the new reader firmly in mind. The action of the issue is conveyed through a frame story, as an alien father in some distant future tells his daughter a bedtime story of the heroes of ancient Earth. Specifically, he speaks of The Destined One, who is revealed to be Kamala Khan. We also learn about Kamala’s origin story, as she explains how she got her powers to a classmate who just learned her secret identity.
This could quickly become a case of telling us everything we need to know rather than showing us – a cardinal sin of bad comics. But Ahmed is above such rookie mistakes and balances out the chatty scenes with plenty of action, such as the opening scene in which Kamala takes on a gloriously ineffectual supervillain called Deathbringer. Ahmed also helps to keep these scenes fresh with a good deal of humor, such as when the narration of the alien father doesn’t quite match up with what we’re seeing in the artwork.
Speaking of the artwork, this book is as marvelous in the arena of graphics and visuals as it is in its writing. Minkyu Jung (whose work you may have previously seen in Batgirl and Nightwing) perfectly captures the fluid nature of Kamala’s powers and then showcases them in the action sequences where she grows and shrinks as needed to evade and overpower her opponents. Yet there’s also a certain sense of constant motion to the more static scenes where the characters are just talking. Jung’s pencils are well-enhanced by the inks of Juan Vlasco and the colors of Ian Herring. The final effect suggests good things for the future of this series.
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect introduction to the character of Ms. Marvel than this issue. The story gives us everything we need to know without a series of lengthy lectures and the artwork is all-around marvelous. This is definitely one to check out if you’re looking for a good series in the classic Marvel model of misfit teens trying to do right with their great powers.
Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 releases on March 13, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.