Review: Ms Marvel Volume One: No Normal by G Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

Ms Marvel: No Normal
G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

Marvel
Released October 30, 2014
120 pages
Comics / Superheroes!

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Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation!
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey!
It's history in the making from acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson (Air, Cairo) and beloved artist Adrian Alphona (RUNAWAYS)! Collecting MS. MARVEL (2014) #1-5 and material from ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1.

I’ve been reading a lot of comics this summer, some more classic ones and some recent ones. Even with new Batgirl comics and things by Noelle Stevenson, by far Ms. Marvel has been my favorite of the bunch. This is just a honestly fun comic without the darkness, grittiness or emotional baggage of many superheroes comics. It’s full of discovery and joyfulness that is really missing even in the Marvel universe overall.

This first volume of G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel introduces us to Kamala Khan, a girl from Jersey City who has been raised by immigrant parents in a somewhat traditional Muslim manner. She attends gender segregated mosque services, she wears conservative clothing, and has a bit of a suffocating home life for a teenage girl. The one time she sneaks out of the house to disobey her parents and attend a party, she gets caught in some smog cloud of doom. When she wakes up, she suddenly has the ability to transform herself into her hero, the former Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers. What’s a girl to do with these budding powers and how will she use them to do good when she’s grounded?

From page one this book is so much fun. Kamala is the new Peter Parker in the sense that she’s a normal teenage girl with a life who gets sucked into having crazy powers that she has to discover and then decide what she’s going to do with them. She’s stuck attempting to balance school, family and her new extracurricular endeavors while trying to hide her new inhumanness from the world around her. It leads to a lot of sneaking around and lying, which just gets her into more and more trouble while she tries to save her New Jersey town.

I really loved the cultural elements that G. Willow Wilson puts throughout the graphic novel, including moments showing Kamala’s faith and her family life. These things immediately added depth to the character and her world, while providing me insight into a culture I’m not that familiar with. It was different and refreshing to see this side of a superhero instead of the whole story being about which bad guy she’s going to punch next. She’s also a complete fangirl, which is fun to relate to with some as kickass as Kamala is becoming.

Adrian Alphona has a great art style that could pop off the page and become a solid “realistic” animated cartoon. The emotions he’s capable of expressing with the swipe of just a few lines are fantastic, while he’s able to maintain Kamala’s personality even as she’s transforming and wearing a mask.

I loved Ms. Marvel: No Normal for how different it felt while still being a story about a superhero discovering their powers and seeing the world differently. This is a fun story that is great for younger readers in a way that most superhero comics really aren’t. I’m really looking forward to reading more about Kamala’s adventures and how she develops into a superhero herself.