Pop Culture Embassy BOTM: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1

"Ms. Marvel," Volume 1, October 2014
“Ms. Marvel,” Volume 1, October 2014

The monthly book club, ­­The Ultimate Ladies’ Alliance, met last week to discuss volume 11 of Ms. Marvel, entitled “No Normal,” written by G. Willow Wilson. It could have easily been a meeting of the Ms. Marvel fan club because there was no shortage of praise for this title and its creators.

With the reboot of Captain Marvel2 in 2012, Carol Danvers, once Ms. Marvel, became Captain Marvel, leaving the title Ms. Marvel vacant. In the first five-issue arc3 of Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan—geek, Muslim, and teenager—mysteriously gets super powers and takes on the moniker of Ms. Marvel.

The fifteen women of the Alliance discussed several observations which they believe set Ms. Marvel apart from every other title, not only as a story with female protagonist, but as a super hero story.

"Ms. Marvel," Issue 1, April 2014
“Ms. Marvel,” Issue 1, April 2014

Normal and relatable were the two words used most frequently to describe the series. Not only do we find Kamala to be very relatable, but also her family and friends. There are no straw characters; they are all fully realized.

Kamala lives in Jersey City with her mom, dad, and older brother. She writes fanfiction, idolizes Captain Marvel, and is loyal to her friends. She wants to go to parties and doesn’t understand why her parents don’t trust their teenage daughter to wander around at night in the city.

"Ms. Marvel," Issue 04, July 2014
“Ms. Marvel,” Issue 04, July 2014

One of the main themes throughout is the sense of being between two worlds. Kamala is a teenager entering womanhood, sometimes childish, sometimes mature. Very respectful of her parents, she seeks to obey them while pushing the boundaries on which rules she can break for the greater good as Ms. Marvel. She and her family are practicing Muslims, each in their own way. Kamala is figuring out what her faith means to her personally as she questions some rules and seeks wisdom in others.

"Ms. Marvel," Issue 2, May 2014
“Ms. Marvel,” Issue 2, May 2014

All of these in-betweens relate to the struggle everyone has regarding their identity. This is the most honest plot line in the story and Kamala gets to explore it on a supernatural level. What I would have given to have had totally straight hair in Junior High School or been able to tumble like the cheerleaders. I wonder what I would have done with Ms. Marvel’s powers.

Kamala gets to find out if it’s all that it’s cracked up to be.

"Ms. Marvel," Issue 1, Aprile 2014
“Ms. Marvel,” Issue 1, Aprile 2014

Everyone in the Alliance praised Adrian Alphona’s artwork and the beautiful coloring by Ian Herring. Most pointedly praised was that none of the characters, including Kamala, are sexualized in any way. Even Zoe, a teen who pushes the boundaries of appropriate dress for her age, is not sexualized. When you think about how this is done, you notice how much personality is drawn into the faces and stature of each character.

From a group of die-hard comic fans I find it ironic that some in the Alliance argue for realism in comics. IRL4 body types do not mean non-sexualized and unrealistic comic body types do not mean sexualized. Comics are about fantasy—fantastic feats and fantastic people. Big breasts sometimes are just big breasts and, in comics, being hippy and long legged could just mean they’re made of rubber. Sexualization is a problem in some comics but the main solution is not to draw anatomically correct.

Dolly Parton publicity shotthe_incredibles___elastgirl The biggest praise of all for Ms. Marvel is that it spans all demographics. The series is rated T+ because some themes may be a little scary or too complicated for little ones.

Besides that, you can share this volume with almost anyone.

Next month we are reading “Lumberjanes” by Noelle Stevenson.


1 Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics, Volume 1, “No Normal,” Issues 1 – 4, paperback, October 2014.

2 Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics, Issue 1, “title,” July 2012,

3 Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics, Issue 1, “Meta Morphosis,” part 1 of 5, April 2014, writer G. Willow Wilson, artist Adrian Alphona, colorist Ian Herring, letterer Joe Caramagna, cover art Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor.
Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics, Issue 2, “All Mankind,” part 2 of 5, May 2014, writer G. Willow Wilson, artist Adrian Alphona, colorist Ian Herring, letterer Joe Caramagna, cover art Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson.
Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics, Issue 3, “Side Entrance,” part 3 of 5, June 2014, writer G. Willow Wilson, artist Adrian Alphona, colorist Ian Herring, letterer Joe Caramagna, cover art Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson.
Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics, Issue 4, “Past Curfew,” part 4 of 5, July 2014, writer G. Willow Wilson, artist Adrian Alphona, colorist Ian Herring, letterer Joe Caramagna, cover art Jamie McKelvie.
Ms. Marvel, Marvel Comics, Issue 5, “Urban Legend,” part 5 of 5, August 2014, writer G. Willow Wilson, artist Adrian Alphona, colorist Ian Herring, letterer Joe Caramagna, cover art Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson.

4 In Real Life.

Rhonda has a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science and is a self-taught graphic designer. She considers herself a geek*wildcard because she has a little bit of experience in everything.

One thought on “Pop Culture Embassy BOTM: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1

  1. it's always a pleasure to read this book, and it hasn't disappointed yet. our happier reviews are the ones in marvel eps where we get to talk about it; kamala's a damn fine character

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