Ms Marvel #31 - Review. Heartfelt and Sweet
Ms Marvel #31
Writers: G. Willow ilson, Saladin Ahmed, Rainbow Rowell, Hasan Minhaj
Artists: Nico Leon, Gustavo Duarte, Bob Quinn, Elmo Bondoc
Color Artist: Ian Herring
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Thirty-four pages. You don't get thirty-four pages of comic book these days without putting an army of a creative team on it and splitting the work up. Usually that comes out badly. And there were some definitely noticeable seams and jarring transitions between one artist and another. But helping keep it together? The writers seemed to all agree on who Kamala Khan is, and what space she occupies in the Marvel Universe. And color artist Ian Herring does his part in holding down the fort as well. For those reasons and the sheer size of the book, I'm maybe a bit more tolerant of the multiple artist jank than I am usually. It also helps that the artists all did their own ink, or maybe Herring did it. Point is that a bunch of disparate inkers would not have helped the situation either, so at least that was avoided.
Kamala is having her first sleep over. It's a big deal. But no one...not Lockjaw, not Miles Morales, not the newly arrived Skunk Girl...seems interested in letting her have this one normal night as a teenager. Kamala gets the Peter Parker treatment and has to figure out how to balance her Mom, her friends, her duty, and herself. It's a coming of age trials of adolescence story in what basically acts as a Ms Marvel Annual.
I do not like every artist who shows in this issue. But man, Nico Leon with Ian Herring on colors? That's some special stuff right there. Want to be convinced that this combination works? Look at Kamala's HAIR! I could easily do several full flips through the issue just looking at how well the two render that, and Kamala's hair is starkly different from other characters in the MU. Herring has done a really good job over time getting the exact shade of blue and gold that makes Ms Marvel's costume really pop, despite its seeming simplicity. The art between the two is deceptively disarming. When you first encounter it, it is just that touch of cartooniness that causes you to initially think it is simplistic. But when you go back and realize how complex a scene Herring can render out of a fairly flat color palette, and how Leon makes every face unique, it is pretty impressive.
Some might take that Peter Parker nod I gave in the opening as a swipe; as if I were trying to say that the story leans a bit too heavily on Marvel's legacy. And it is a bit that, inasmuch as I felt like I had heard those themes before when I was reading it. But the makeup of Kamala modulates that frequency just a bit. The pressures on her are the same as they were for Peter in his youth, but also slightly different. Kamala carries the hope with her of young women, of Muslims living in the US, of the next generation of hero in the face of an aging and increasingly anachronistic lineup of Avengers...I could go on. Kamala is trying not just to be a great hero for herself, but also for a number of other discretely identifiable factions that all form a part of her psyche. There is a great story here in the faithfulness of her friends, in the way that they have all been sticking up for, strengthening, and helping out Ms Marvel the entire time. It seemed that every other page there was a smile invoking moment in the script. Well done.
SCORE: 8.0 / 10
Let me first say right away: Ms Marvel is going on my monthly pull-list and I'll be reading this as an ongoing for as long as they continue to serve it up. Admittedly, I'm not entirely clear from among the roster of creators who is going to be the creative team going forward. I am hoping that the first credited, Wilson, Leon, and Herring, will be staying on. Ms Marvel has been one of those incredibly rare successful new character launches and Marvel's commitment to the character seems well warranted. Issue #31 was smart, witty, and only slightly jarring in the transitions between artists and writers across the multiple sections, and that's nothing easy to pull off. Looking forward to future issues.