Comic Book Review – Ms. Marvel #29 – G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon & Ian Herring

Full Disclosure – the last and only time I read a Ms. Marvel comic book before this was over a year and a half ago, it was Ms. Marvel #16. I didn’t keep up and that means I’m still not really familiar with the lore, the style, the characters, and all that good stuff. Nevertheless, I’m making a renewed attempt to get into Ms. Marvel and I suppose that’s the trend of this blog.

Alike many other Marvel series, Ms. Marvel is going through some measure of a fresh start, in this case, it feels more like a new arc than the sort of soft reboots many other series are facing and appears to reward being a longtime follower of the series with a pretty deep cast of characters.

A lot of stories are initiated in this one so it’s a great starting point for anyone new (me included). There are about three and a half (maybe four) stories running through the length of this issue. The first one is dealt with early and quickly and it’s hard to say how much of an impact it’ll have going forward outside of coloring the world around Ms. Marvel and setting the optimistic tone for the rest of the issue. Kamala’s older brother has a son and some dialogue is dedicated to the subverted dynamics of her brother’s family. His wife will be going back to work to support the family, while he’ll stay at home to take care of his son – something he’s worried about both because its atypical and raising a kid is hard. I feel him, I never liked carrying any of my nieces/nephews or cousins until they weren’t glass in flesh anymore.

Dramatic irony springs forward when Kamala’s boasting that her life is like a musical, she a princess, and prepared for everything brings forth the unexpected one after another. Second (and a half/third) major plotline that springs up is Red Dagger, a fellow super hero, surprising her with a kiss. A full page spread is dedicated to the once in a lifetime moment, complete with mood bubbles and a starry night. Of course, her ex-best friend and possible love interest has coincidentally arrived just in time to see it happen. I’ll give how much of a coincidence it has to be for all three to run in to each other at that precise moment a pass. Red Dagger more or less takes a backseat for the rest of the issue, his purpose being almost solely to cause some strife between Bruno (that aforementioned ex-best friend) and Kamala as well as highlight her first kiss.

Bruno, whose returning from Wakanda with a shiny new exo-skeleton alongside a Wakandan friend of his, returns home to figure out that he belongs neither there nor in Wakanda. Nevertheless, he has feelings for Kamala, and old friends he’s fond of, and has to make a decision on where he sees himself being in the foreseeable future. Bruno’s friend probably stole the show for me. The best part is of course his mimicking of Westerners standard behavior visiting third world countries. The highlight is his desire to take pictures with the disadvantage youth of America. I know this is played lightly and loosely but I have to nitpick – why is the most advanced nation in the world using the social media app developed by the developing nation? Doesn’t Wakanda have better app developers or something, and a different perspective on social media? After all, we know how easily manipulatable our own social media tends to be.

Like I mentioned earlier, the emphasis is put on the kiss itself more than the relationship between Red Dagger and Kamala – which – fair enough. Coming from a black family, I suppose I can relate, I hardly think me or any of my siblings would’ve gone to our parents for something like that but I also don’t know how much of a big deal it would be given the sort of television shows and movies we’ve grown up around. Furthermore growing up in a pretty diverse community and going into a French Catholic school that provided a home for many other religions and cultures, I still feel like my generation is deep into that disregarding of the value of a ‘first’.

The last significant plotline is the arrival of what looks like the arc’s antagonist, a newcomer at the school with some measure of super strength. Kaylee Kirk, a sassy mean girl with hidden motives. Outside of Zoe’s crush on her, and her being an asshole not much emphasis is placed on her but given she takes the attention at the end of the issue, it’s obvious enough she’ll become a focus going forward.

The best part of Nico Leon’s art here is definitely the flip flopping moods across panels. It happens often enough, from Ms. Marvel romanticizing about life to being surprised by Red Dagger’s arrival, from kissing him to suddenly slapping him, though the highlight is probably the Sheikh feigning being distraught at her kiss to admitting he’s kidding and it’s not actually that big of a deal despite what people make a claim to it being. I suppose this is just the more obvious demonstration of how great the reactions – particularly the facial ones – are in general. It’s definitely what drew my attention between each panel, and considering it’s pretty low-key action wise, it’s good those were able to carry it.

Ms. Marvel starts a new arc with plenty of intrigue and plenty of plotlines to follow in what felt like a part catch-up/part set-up issue. Here’s to actually keeping up with it this time!

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