LitStack Recs: Home Comforts & Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No NormalMARVEL
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Artwork by Adrian Alphona

Comic book stores can be daunting places. Long a bastion of nerdy males, their clientele has been rapidly expanding as industry giants such as Marvel and DC Comics have moved their most enduring characters to television and cinema. But if you have limited your comic book viewing to The Avengers movies or Smallville on the small screen, then you are really missing out on a rich and colorful legacy – the comic books themselves.

I would never consider myself to be “in the know” about comic books or graphic novels. I’ve come to the table quite late, and have a limited interest thus far (due to time and expense, mainly). But the more I delve into them, the more amazed I am at the variety, the quality, and the sheer entertainment that comic books offer.

Let me make a recommendation for a great place to start if you are just getting into comics, or if you never really considered comic books before: Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, Vol.1: No Normal. This is a collection of the first five comics in the initial series of a new superhero – your chance to get in on the ground floor of an exciting and contemporary champion for our time.

Kamala is a typical teenager living in Jersey City. She goes to public high school, is internet savvy, and dreams of being a superhero, like Captain Marvel (aka Carol Danvers). But Kamala is “different”, too. Her parents are Pakistani immigrants and strict Muslims. She struggles to not only fit in as a 16 year old girl with all its pressures and uncertainties, but also to live up to her parents’ expectations, while straining against their rules and traditional viewpoints.

When a mysterious mist (and even more bizarre vision) gives Kamala the superpowers and appearance that she has so long desired, she makes a startling discovery: being a superhero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And it doesn’t make all the other confusions, stresses and pressures any easier, either.

Ms Marvel: No Normal is well written and thought provoking. I knew G. Willow Wilson as a novelist, from her award nominated speculative fiction work, Alif the Unseen. But my daughter knew her as a different writer – an insightful and witty author of comic books and graphic novels. It is so wonderful to see stories excel in so many different platforms!

So if you are looking to take the plunge into comics, or if you have just dabbled, or if you have never even thought about it, do yourself a favor, and consider following the burgeoning career of Ms. Marvel – the superhero that defies convention, in many ways. She is – and will be, I’m sure – glorious.

—Sharon Browning