Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read the first volume of this comic, "No Normal," last August as part of my voting for the Hugo Awards and really liked it (although I liked Rat Queens better). Now, it must be remembered that I am a comics newbie. I've never read any Alan Moore, for instance, or any of the Marvel or DC Comics universe. I've never watched any of the X-Men movies, and only know about Wolverine from sighing over Hugh Jackman.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this, even more than the first volume.
In this story, Kamala Khan, the Pakistani-American teenager turned secret superhero, is settling into her new life of patrolling and protecting her home town of Jersey City. She goes up against her first serious protagonist, the Inventor (a clone of Thomas Edison crossed with the head of his pet cockatiel). In the process, she fights a huge mutated sewer alligator, discovers something about her origins (which is somewhat of a science-fictional explanation, involving alien races), gets adopted by a huge sentient bulldog--with an ulterior motive--named Lockjaw, fights off a giant robot attacking her school, and in the end teams up with some more kids to take down the Inventor.
(Oh yeah, and in the very first issue of the collection, she runs into Wolverine! Who, unfortunately, looks nothing at all like Hugh Jackman.)
This being a very stripped-down story with not much subtlety, there are Important Lessons Kamala has to learn: she can't do everything herself, there's a reason superheroes work in pairs or teams, and there is no shame in asking for help. This can get a bit over-the-top at times, but the overall charm of the character and the excellence of the artwork carries her through. Kamala is characterized very well, acting just like a sixteen-year-old would when thrown into this impossible situation. Impulsive and overconfident, relying too much on powers she has barely scratched the surface of, until she learns the hard way that even Ms. Marvel has limits.
I would think this is a terrific comic for teenage girls, and it still holds great attraction for us old farts as well.
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