Marvel Pick Of The Week – February 10, 2016 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Ms. Marvel’s lousy week, as depicted in Ms. Marvel 4 by G. Willow Wilson and Nico Leon

and All-New All-Different Avengers 5 by Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar

Ms. Marvel made a splash when she debuted, Marvel’s most prominent Muslim superhero and the first to headline her own title, made extra-provocative by adopting the codename and costume motif of one of the longest-running female heroes. What readers soon learned, though, is that Kamala Khan is powered by a charm that defies containment. She’s not fighting the Judeo-Christian majority or educating the privileged reader. She’s teaching us by immersion, living a life that tries to bring in the faith and culture of her family in Jersey City, but connecting to each of us by being an unrepentant fangirl. She gets powers and can’t wait to set up a costume and go on patrols and have some team-ups, Marvel’s answer to Valiant Entertainment’s wildly popular Faith. She’s had to learn tough lessons about the impact of her costumed life on her day-to-day, carrying on the traditions of Peter Parker, but she’s remained optimistic and sweet, and after Secret Wars, she has finally gotten her dream to join the Avengers. And this week, the plates she’s been spinning have all crashed into powder.

In her own title, her brother is planning a wedding, and her grades are tanking the same week Iron Man gives her a special Avengers assignment, beautifully illustrated in a  full-page splash of a frightened young woman, phone in hand telling her the mission while on one side, her sister-in-law suggests she choreograph something for the reception while on the other, her father takes an angry call from her math teacher. I don’t know anyone who can’t relate to that person in the center, and thus, we all find commonality. As the issue develops, Kamala stubbornly refuses to ask for help, tell someone how this affects her, or give something up, so when her best friend makes a simple android, it makes a sad, sickening sense that she’d ask him to make a couple duplicates of her so she can play Michael Keaton for a few weeks (Kids, ask your parents about Multiplicity). It’s a terrible idea, and it’s already crashing by the issue’s final panel, but it’s a temptation we have all had.

Her time in All-New All-Different Avengers is still relatable, (she writes an adorable fan fiction about Captain America and the female Thor falling in love) but it’s a much darker tale. For the last couple of issues, the Vision has acted strangely, going so far as to exploit the undeserved guilt of teen teammate Nova into an emotional blackmail. This time, he forges evidence that Ms. Marvel has been dangerously negligent, lying that in taking down a bad guy she almost killed some civilians. The adults on the team have known Vision for years and have had doubts about bringing kids into battle, so they take him at his word and kick her off the team. (I guess they forgot that time he took over the world in the 80s) By the end of the issue, he has turned on the team during a battle in High Line Park, openly putting Thor in deadly danger, but no part is as scary as a young woman crying her heart out as the people she has wanted to fight alongside all her life dismiss her without even asking for her side of the story. I think the experience of betrayal, of a blindside, is less universal than the overwhelming commitments of Ms. Marvel 4, but the fear of rejection is a monstrous force beneath most relationship problems, and this issue is that nightmare made real.

Ms. Marvel has spent the last year helping Marvel’s readers to feel like they know a Muslim now. She has spoken up for diversity and remained one of the darlings of the Marvel Universe. But this week, two writers have shown that loving a character doesn’t mean protecting her from harm. Wilson and Waid are hurting her, poking the psychic places that we all protect. And she is still winning.

Honorable Mentions:

Illuminati 4, because I just never get tired of these amazing sound effects.

New Avengers 6, because yes, if you want to work your magic spell through self-hate and doubt, you should probably not target the well-adjusted gay kid. You tell ‘im, Billy!

Old Man Logan 2, because it is scary when evil redneck Hulks do this to the cattle of the farmer they’re intimidating. And it’s even scarier when they do this to the farmer. Thanks for the nightmares, Lemire and Sorrentino.

Spider-Gwen 5, because Rico Renzi’s colors and Chris Visions’s linework are a breathtaking combination.

Spider-Man 2099 6, because there is a new lesbian Inhuman! Representation, y’all!

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Check out previous Picks here!