Ms. Marvel #18 review: The Wakandan adventures of Bruno Carrelli


Kamala’s pal Bruno Carrelli is in an advanced class in Wakanda. Yet can he survive it?

Ms. Marvel #18

Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Artist: Francesco Gaston

Colorist: Ian Herring

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Is it an issue of Ms. Marvel without Ms. Marvel in it? Technically she appears in three panels of the first page, but only as a daydream. Instead the focus is on her best pal Bruno Carrelli. Seven issues ago, one of the casualties of a Civil War II tie-in was Kamala Khan’s friendship with her best friend. Despite his best advice, Ms. Marvel got involved with Captain Marvel’s zeal to fight crimes before they happened. This led to some recruits building an internment camp, and Bruno’s current state.

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After trying to liberate some people who were falsely imprisoned, Bruno crippled his right side. In addition, he went from being Ivy League bound to an educational pariah. His only hope for a future was a scholarship to a school in Wakanda, one of the most technologically advanced nations on Earth. This suited Carrelli well, as he wanted nothing more to do with Kamala or her life as Ms. Marvel. Yet it seems that Bruno should have been careful what he wished for now that he’s away.

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Seems Like Bruno Has Gone from Genius to Dunce!

As a result of the move to Wakanda, a lot has changed for Bruno. He went from being a genius kid in Jersey City to being a Wakandan student who’s behind. He’s dealing with a new life with physical handicaps as well as being seen as a “charity case.” In fact the only student who even talks to Bruno is Kwezi Dzana, who refers to him with the mocking nickname of “Yankee Doodle”. Yet Kwezi has his own secrets and agendas which will soon entangle Bruno in another adventure.

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Against his better judgement, Bruno agrees to head out with Kwezi on a mission which is supposedly about impressing a girl. It turns out to be a plot to sneak into a research facility and steal a piece of Wakanda’s primary resource—vibranium. The priceless metal with all sorts of fantastic properties is found only in Wakanda, and stealing it can mean imprisonment or death. In addition, Bruno sees himself as being nearly useless without his right arm or much mobility.

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Kwezi refuses to allow Bruno to wallow in self pity and practically drags him along. Despite his nickname for Carrelli, he is much like a true friend who is willing to offer hard truths. The pair manage to successfully “borrow” some vibranium, only to run afoul of security. This leads to a chase out of a window and a meeting with Wakanda’s king, the superhero Black Panther himself! It turns out Kwezi has ties to King T’Challa, and his motivations were altruistic rather than for lust.

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Kwezi Almost Had Bruno and T’Challa Fooled!

G. Willow Wilson takes a bit of a risk here, telling a one shot tale without her title heroine. Bruno had a cameo in the previous arc, helping Kamala take down a menace with some expertise even from long distance. Yet he hasn’t been seen much despite having been one of Kamala’s supporting cast. So it makes some sense to focus an issue on him in Wakanda. It proves to be a riveting, if sometimes sad, look into his world discovering how to survive and thrive with a disability.

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Some people are born with disabilities, others develop them later on through health problems or accidents. It could be said that any one of us is only one bad day away from being disabled. We see this thru Bruno’s eyes, as he tries to adjust to a new life and how people see him through new lenses. Just because others see him as broken or crippled, it doesn’t mean he has to see himself that way. Kwezi may not be subtle, but he certainly sees more in Bruno than he usually sees in himself.

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We caught a glimpse of Kwezi two issues ago too, and he’s apparently Bruno’s dorm mate. Behind a mocking demeanor and a reckless front is a genius out to help his friend. As this is the Marvel Universe, there are some fantastic ways past disability which are not possible in real life. Kwezi’s entire scheme involved in trying to find a way to bring some mobility back into Bruno’s life with some fantastic science. It manages to impress Black Panther, one of the smartest minds on earth.

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As a Result of Good Writing, This Is yet Another Great Issue!

Francesco Gaston provides fill-in art here, flanked by longtime colorist Ian Herring. While he doesn’t get much Kamala to draw, he does manage to get in a few pages of Black Panther. Furthermore, Gaston makes a trek to steal a rock from a science lab look exciting and adventurous for the two boys. His pencils bring a lot of emotion to Bruno and Kwezi, which is crucial in a story like this. The vistas and landscapes of Wakanda, as well as the architecture, come alive as well.

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Next: Watch Ms. Marvel punch out a virus in issue #17!

So in conclusion, this issue manages to impress even while its elastic heroine takes some time off. The loss of Bruno has been noticeable within the continuing adventures of Ms. Marvel, and this issue gives readers a notable glimpse of how he’s doing. It sets up a direction for him and a possibility for him to return to Jersey City someday. It also showcases that despite his protests to the contrary, he misses Kamala terribly. Could this be a ship which hasn’t sailed yet? Stay tuned!