When it was announced late last year that G. Willow Wilson would be leaving Ms. Marvel, the series and character that she created, I was gutted. Kamala Khan is easily Marvel’s best new character in years, and that’s mostly thanks to Wilson’s deeply personal take and perspective on the character.
However, this is comics, and the story certainly wasn’t going to just end there. Writer Saladin Ahmed (Black Bolt, Exiles) took control of Ms. Marvel in March with Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1 along with artist Minkyu Jung (Batgirl), and thankfully, their take on the character is wholly faithful to the groundwork Wilson set up, and manages to take the teenage Inhuman to new heights. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: Destined is out today, and collects Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1-6.
From the Streets to Space
One of my favorite things about Ms. Marvel has always been that even though she has alien powers, she’s mostly a street-level hero — your Friendly Neighborhood Ms. Marvel, if you will. She’s had some crazy adventures that have taken her to far-off places before, but at her core, keeping Jersey City safe is her number one priority. This series pretty quickly whisks Kamala (and her parents) off to a faraway land to help save a species of beings who revere Kamala as the Destined One, despite her not knowing anything about them.
This is done in a clever way, largely told through narration in the form of a father reading a fable to his child, that serves as crucial background information for people who are coming into Ms. Marvel blind. It can feel like a recap for sure, and if you’re a regular reader it may feel unnecessary, but it’s important for Ahmed to ground the story and define where it’s been before he decides where it’s going to go.
True to the series’ roots, this intergalactic conflict ties strongly into Kamala’s home life, and in the end it’s all about her family. In fact, her parents come along for this adventure, where they learn that Kamala is known as the “Sword of Saffa” and “Shield to a Million Children” — basically, she’s the messiah of this planet, and both an oppressive regime and the people they enslave are counting on her to fulfill their version of the prophecy. It’s a fun fish-out-of-water kind of story, as a high schooler from New Jersey is reluctantly thrust into being a planet’s only hope.
Ahmed doesn’t skip a beat taking over Ms. Marvel, as Kamala’s dialogue, especially her love of nerdy jokes and puns, is spot on. This trade is well paced and packs a lot of information in a way that doesn’t feel like an exposition dump. In the end, the book is largely about a new team getting their bearings and kind of establishing themselves, but there are some major revelations and progressions to be found, as well.
New Suit, Who Dis?
Saladin Ahmed is a worthy successor to G. Willow Wilson, and likewise, artist Minkyu Jung does the artwork justice. Nothing here would feel out of place in the ten volumes of Ms. Marvel‘s original run — Kamala is emotive, expressive, and every recurring character is instantly recognizable. Colorist Ian Herring’s bright, varied colors tie everything together, making this book a feast for the eyes.
One revelation in the book (and one that was announced on one of the issue’s covers, so it’s not much of a spoiler) is that Ms. Marvel gets a new suit. I won’t spoil where and how she finds it, but it’s a much more technological and capable costume than she spandex she’s been wearing. It’s a fun evolution of the character, and it’s always nice to see superheroes get a fresh coat of paint. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jung and future artists do with this new look.
A Magnificent Start
If you, like me, were worried about the future of Ms. Marvel after creator G. Willow Wilson left the series, you can put those fears to rest. Saladin Ahmed has proven in this first collection of the new era in Ms. Marvel comics that he is a worthy successor, and Kamala Khan’s best times are ahead of her.