In February of 2014, Marvel released Ms. Marvel #1. Much like its hero Kamala Khan, the book came from unassuming origins — Kamala is the fourth hero to don the title “Ms. Marvel,” and it was uncertain how the series would be received by audiences and critics. Again, like Kamala herself, Ms. Marvel blew away expectations and managed to become a huge success, winning the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, and even being mentioned by President Barack Obama. Since that debut, G. Willow Wilson has written and cultivated Kamala Khan, turning her into one of Marvel’s most high profile new superheroes in years.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and in December it was announced that Wilson would be stepping down on the book that had quickly become “the center of [her] life,” to be replaced by Saladin Ahmed on a new series, Magnificent Ms. Marvel (don’t worry, Ms. Marvel is in good hands). Ms. Marvel‘s final tenth volume, Time and Again, comes out this week, closing the door on a memorable journey with Marvel’s first Muslim-American leading character.
This last volume sets out to do two things: tie up loose ends, and celebrate the journey we’ve been on. To these ends, Ms. Marvel Vol. 10 is a rousing success. Kamala finally stops fighting her dual life and comes clean to her closest friends. Bruno makes it clear how he feels about her. Just how Ms. Marvel’s powers work is discovered. And of course, we go on some fantastical adventures, this time in the form of an old medieval fantasy setting and inside a video game.
Ms. Marvel Vol. 10 is a great read, but I was left closing the book feeling bittersweet. I’ve written before that Ms. Marvel represents what I believe Marvel Comics truly does best: portrays everyday, average lives and struggles through the lens of a superhero. Truly, the world outside your window. Marvel has a whole other side of the coin with their cosmic universe, but for my money, I’ve always been more interested in the Peter Parkers and the Kamala Khans of the Marvel universe. And G. Willow Wilson tapped into that ethos to perfection.
There’s a universality to Kamala’s struggles, despite the fact that she’s a superhero and despite the fact that she is a minority. AiPT! has published pieces in the past about what Ms. Marvel means to south Asian readers, but I am an adult white man, and I found this teenage Pakistani-American infinitely relatable, as well as came away with newfound understanding and respect for the struggles American immigrants go through.
Ms. Marvel wouldn’t be half as great without the fun, consistent artwork from Nico Leon (as well as the other artists who contributed to this volume: Gustavo Duarte, Bob Quinn, Elmo Bondoc, Takeshi Miyazawa, Joey Vazquez, Kevin Libranda, Minkyu Jung and Juan Vlasco), and of course, Ian Herring’s colors. Kamala’s sense of vibrancy and authenticity is conveyed perfectly on nearly every page, as are the various background gags and hilarious moments.
Taken on an issue to issue level, I do have some critiques of Time and Again. I found myself a little disinterested in the fantasy flashback/dreamworld of issue #36, and some of the humor didn’t completely land for me. But on the whole, this was a satisfying read, fitting of one of my favorite new characters of the decade.
So thank you, G. Willow Wilson. Thank you for writing 38 issues of thought provoking, emotional, and most of all fun comic books, and for helping create a character so relatable despite possessing so much that makes her unique. You’ve left this reader’s heart fully embiggened.
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