18 February 2019

Review: Ms. Marvel Omnibus, Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, Jacob Wyatt, Elmo Bondoc, et al.

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2016 (contents: 2014-15)

Borrowed from my wife
Read September 2018
Ms. Marvel Omnibus, Vol. 1

Writers: G. Willow Wilson, Mark Waid and Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Artists: Adrian Alphona, Jacob Wyatt, Elmo Bondoc, Takeshi Miyazawa, Humberto Ramos & Victor Olazaba and Giuseppe Camuncoli & Cam Smith
Color Artists: Ian Herring, Edgar Delgado & Antonio Fabela
Letterers: Joe Caramagna & Chris Eliopoulos

Since vol. 3, issue #1 in April 2014, my wife and I have bought Ms. Marvel month by month at the comic book store in single-issue format. The series recently hit fifty issues, definitely the longest I have stuck with a monthly comic. (In fact, it's one of two monthly comics I buy as of this writing, and the other is about to come to an end, so I'll be down to just Ms. Marvel.) Because we own all the single issues, we haven't bought any of the collected editions, but the prospect of a Marvel Omnibus collecting the entirety of vol. 3 was too good to pass up, and I took the opportunity to reread them all in quick succession, as opposed to stretched out over almost two years. Plus, the book collects some related issues I hadn't already read, though annoyingly it places them all at the back, rather than in order.*

Adrian Alphona has a tendency to draw weirdos into his crowd scenes.
from Ms. Marvel vol. 3 #5 (script by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona)

Anyway, Ms. Marvel is still in its fiftieth issue one of the best comic books, and these nineteen issues have almost no duds among them. Kamala Khan's origin story is excellent, a strong origin story doing all the things a teen superhero origin story should do. (Indeed, one of my reasons for rereading this book when I did is that I taught issues #1-5, No Normal, in my YA literature class.) Kamala is real and human, and book is grounded. This is a refinement of the model that made DC's Blue Beetle vol. 8 work so well, which I guess was in turn a refinement of Marvel's original Spider-Man model. Kamala has relatable everyday problems, and she's surrounded by a very real-feeling friends and family. I like Kamala, I like her parents, I like her brother's determination to be normal in the face of it all.

I kind of feel sorry for Sheik Abdullah here.
from Ms. Marvel vol. 3 #3 (script by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona)

But she also gets to interact with the fantastic and the amazing. The Inventor is a fun villain, and her encounters with Wolverine and Loki are in particular excellent and hilarious. (By contrast, I didn't find her team-ups with Spider-Man or S.H.I.E.L.D. particularly well done, and the Inhumans will always be the least interesting thing Marvel does. Aside from Lockjaw, of course.) In classic Scott McCloud fashion, Kamala is relatable enough to be your vessel into an amazing world, but unlike his theory, she doesn't have to sacrifice her uniqueness to attain her universality.

"Pictagram" is kind of lame. Is there really a reason they can't say "Instagram"?
from Ms. Marvel vol. 3 #7 (script by G. Willow Wilson, art by Jacob Wyatt)

I like comic books because of their chronological span. I like seeing a character and a concept be worked up and develop over time. That Ms. Marvel has worked in this regard is demonstrated in the book's final story arc, Last Days, where the world is ending. Writer G. Willow Wilson draws all its various threads together in one heart-warming storyline. Everything comes together here, and it's one of those works of fiction that makes you feel good about the world, because this book has earned its warm fuzzies. The characters are on point, the community of Jersey City unites, the jokes are excellent, Kamala is the best hero she can be, and she finally meets her hero as the inescapable doom of Earth arrives.

An issue-ending one-page panel that gave me chills!
from Ms. Marvel vol. 3 #16 (script by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona)

Also I can't believe I haven't mentioned him yet, but Adrian Alphona, who draws 14 of the 23 issues collected here, is seriously one of the best comic book artists there is. He has an enormous command of character, facial expressions, and humor, essential for a grounded comic book like this one, but he's also strong with the action sequences. I don't think Ms. Marvel would be Ms. Marvel without him, and he defines Kamala and her world. It's a shame that in vol. 4 his involvement diminishes, but what's here is excellent. Shout out too to Takeshi Miyazawa, who I've loved since his Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane days, and who does work almost as good as Alphona's here.

I feel like other writers just don't quite get how to calibrate Kamala's bubbliness without making it OTT. But maybe I just think that because Chris Eliopoulos's all-caps lettering makes it seem like she's shouting.
from The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 3 #8 (plot by Dan Slott, script by Christos Gage, art by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Cam Smith)

If you like superheroes and you like YA fiction, Ms. Marvel is the best take on the genre there is. Why has there been no Ms. Marvel Omnibus, Vol. 2 yet? This volume collects 23 issues, and there's been at least 34 issues since, so there's definitely enough content. Make it, Marvel, and I will buy it!

Like I said, Lockjaw is the only good Inhuman.
from Ms. Marvel vol. 3 #10 (script by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona)
* If you want to read the book in chronological order, it goes: Ms. Marvel #1-5, All New Marvel NOW! Point One #1, Ms. Marvel #6-11, Amazing Spider-Man #7-8, S.H.I.E.L.D. #2, Ms. Marvel #12-19.

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