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Read Ms. Marvel and Feel Empowered

Kamala Khan is one of the most delightful superheroes to come along in comics in years! If you haven’t checked out Marvel Comics’ new Ms. Marvel, you’re missing out on some terrific storytelling and amazing art.

The project came out of Marvel’s desire for inclusivity and diversity in their line-up. Some of the new heroes have been good, and others not so good because too much of a stretch seems to be involved. I’ve enjoyed the adventures of the new Hulk (more on that later at a later date) and some of the other changes.

But Ms. Marvel is perfect. Created by Sana Amanat and scripted by G. Willow Wilson, Kamala Khan isn’t just a character reflecting diversity. She’s real. Well, except for the whole superpowers thing.

Kamala lives in a real community that feels organic and has multiple layers. She has friends that are really friends—you know, the ones that are there for you always, the ones that you fight and argue with, and the ones that are frenemies for life. The school scenes and the secret parties are straight outta high school.

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Image courtesy of speakgeekytome.com

And Kamala’s family life! Oh dear God, I don’t know whether to feel sorry for her or bust a gut laughing at the situations she gets into with them. Her father is the friendly consoling voice of reason—till he isn’t. Her mother is the voice constantly harping in the back of Kamala’s mind to do better, to be better—till she’s standing in Kamala’s face telling her those things. Her brother is a riot all on his own, trying to ram the Muslim way of life down everyone’s throat, particularly his unflappable father’s.

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Image courtesy of superlessons.com

The relationship Kamala has with laidback Bruno Carrelli is totally awesome. They are great friends, and I truly hope that the series won’t include a romance between them because that would throw off the present mix. Bruno has his own problems, including a wayward brother who shoots Ms. Marvel during a botched robbery that is as hilarious as it is serious. 

I love the fact that Kamala is so swoony over superheroes, and that her favorite superhero is Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers, who once wore the moniker Ms. Marvel for a while herself). The fact that Kamala writes fan fiction about superheroes for internet sites cracked me up, especially when her mom just doesn’t get it.

The friend scenes, the home life scenes, the hobby scenes, and the school scenes are all just so well done. The dialogue is spot on, and the various intrigues and jockeying for position and standing among peers is accurate enough to stir long-forgotten and painful memories of the hell that is high school.

The fact that Kamala is super-smart in addition to being super-powered is great. And it points out that social circles are her kryptonite even more. I like the gimmicky science and the “super-snot” that allows her costume to stretch.

With the Muslim background so integral to the character, readers are going to get a good dose of that culture, which will promote more positive feelings in my opinion. There’s also more than a little of New Jersey in there, which, as Janet Evanovich has shown us, is a culture all of its own. These comics are just great reads!

But before I go, I gotta mention Adrian Alphona’s art, which is absolutely beautiful and fits the series so well. I knew I’d seen his work before, and it took me a moment to remember the Runaways series he did with Brian K. Vaughn a few years back.

I don’t know how Alphona does it, but he packs worlds of visuals in the panels featuring Kamala’s personal life. There’s graffiti on the walls, people in the background involved in their own pursuits, and just eye candy everywhere. The style is what I would call realistic/cartoony, which I think is supposed to allow the reader to simply enjoy the story while reminding him or her that comics and life can be fun.

I’ve already picked up subsequent volumes of Ms. Marvel. Now I just gotta make time to work them into my busy schedule. But I will!

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Not only has the new Ms. Marvel changed the comics scene, but she’s also opened up the world of cosplay! Here are three versions of Captain/Ms. Marvel.

http://66.media.tumblr.com/3602a55d8ae2c05d49b8e9fdb83bf800/tumblr_nlsazfTYMN1u3qoh5o1_1280.jpgImage courtesy 66.media.tumblr.com

About Mel Odom: Author of dozens of novels in a wide variety of fields, Mel Odom lives in Moore, Oklahoma. His novel, The Rover, was given the American Library Association Alex Award in 2002. In 1995, after only seven years in the business, he was named to the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame. He teaches in the Professional Writing program in Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma. If you want to know more about Mel’s writing, check out Fantastic Fiction.

 Featured image courtesy http://bit.ly/2cEWF3z.