Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

Posted August 14, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Graphic Novel / 14 Comments

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow WilsonTitle: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal (Goodreads)
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona, Sara Pichelli
Published: Marvel Comics, 2014
Pages: 120
Genres: Graphic Novel
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The new series of Ms. Marvel brings about an exciting new direction for Marvel Comics. Kamala Khan is the fourth character to take on the name Ms. Marvel and for the first time ever, we see a Muslim headlining the pages. Co-created Sana Amanat (editor), G. Willow Wilson (writer), and Adrian Alphona (artist) the new Ms. Marvel was created out of the need for a strong Muslim superhero. However, this is not only a hero that deals with struggling with their superpowers but a minority struggling to fit in with the American culture.

The comic depicts a 16 year-old Pakastani-American Muslim in New Jersey struggling with fitting in, family, religion, school and all the normal teenage struggles. Then one day she has an encounter with Ms. Marvel and she confesses that she wishes she was like her. This wish was granted and now Kamala has to work out not only what it means to be a Muslim woman in America but how to use her new shape shifting powers.

“This is not evangelism. It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith. Her brother is extremely conservative, her mom is paranoid that she’s going to touch a boy and get pregnant, and her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor.” – G. Willow Wilson

What I found exciting about the new Ms. Marvel is the way this series tries to break the stereotypes. As a teenage Muslim living in America, Kamala has all these ideals and stereotypes projected onto her and she has to navigate through it all and work out who she is. Ms. Marvel represents everything she wants to be; a strong, beautiful woman standing for good. However when she becomes Ms Marvel she quickly realises that being a superhero doesn’t solve the struggle of a misfit. This new Ms. Marvel series isn’t just a struggle with new found powers; it is the everyday struggles she faces. Kamala slowly works out that her new powers, religion or heritage is not what defines her but they do play important roles in the person she wants to be.

“As much as Islam is a part of Kamala’s identity, this book isn’t preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It’s about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It’s a struggle we’ve all faced in one form or another, and isn’t just particular to Kamala because she’s Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself” – Sana Amanat

Interestingly there are a few mentions where Ms. Marvel is referred to as Captain Marvel, unfortunately I don’t know the back story of this but I think it is a positive step. Ms. Marvel was originally created as the female counterpart to Captain Marvel. The move to turn Ms. Marvel into Captain Marvel means that the female superhero is no longer considered the counterpart but a strong and dominate hero in her own right.

You may noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about the art work and this is because I’m new to reviewing graphic novels and have not learned how to talk about art yet. I hope to learn to critically analyse the art but for now I’m leaving it out of this review, not because it is bad but because I don’t know what to say apart from it being good. No Normal is the conclusion of the first arc (first 5 issues) and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this series goes. I think it is fresh and exciting change for the better in the world of comics.

14 responses to “Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

  1. kayleigh M

    I love this graphic novel and can’t wait to see where it heads. It does a really good job of discussing life as a somewhat awkward teenage girl and race without making that a dominant element of the story. Really well balanced actually.

    As for Ms/Captain Marvel. The new Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers who was Ms Marvel and originally got her powers from the first Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell). The De Connick Captain Marvel series is a fairly fascinating look into her taking that mantel, what it means, the responsibilities, the people it upsets etc.

          • kayleigh M

            Oh yeah, especially if you’re interested in older superheroes. Their stories are so convoluted and they’re constantly rebooting them. I usually just go to places like the Comics Alliance for recommendations on where to start, or if there is a writer I like that has written arcs in that series I’ll start there. Once you throw yourself in its usually much easier to pick up other threads.

          • kayleigh M

            So I haven’t read any of the Punisher, but my boyfriend has just finished reading through the whole lot and he recommends starting with Garth Ennis’ arc Punisher Max. Apparently if you use the comixology app it’s referred to as Punisher Vol 6. He thinks you could basically start anywhere because the character doesn’t have much of a backstory, but Ennis basically rebooted the character so it’s a decent place to start and be up to date with the character.

          • kayleigh M

            I’ve started a couple of brand new comics that are fantastic. The new Storm series by Greg Pak, the Black Widow series by Nathan Edmondson (the art is especially good), The Wicked and the Divine is really strong in concept and art but lacking in story a little, and I’ve just bought the new She-Hulk arc by Charles Soule which I haven’t read yet but have heard fantastic things. Oooh and The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker is brand new with only one issue but fantastic noir.

  2. KH

    I’ve been reading comics since the 70s – graduating from kids comics (beano/disney) to teen (superhero/tammie&sally) to adult (maus etc). The only problem I have with the mainstream superhero genre – both Marvel and DC – is in their portrayal of women. They’ve vastly improved the male characters but their women characters are still mostly one-dimensional, and they’re always drawn with curvy bodies and very revealing clothes. Why would any intelligent strong woman need to wear clothes like that? For secret identity purposes and fighting, a cover-all like Spiderman’s would be ideal.
    (It also annoys me when I see newsreaders with revealing cleavages – what is the message given to girls watching? Especially when the business-suited man next to her is much older!).
    A comic I like reading now is 2000AD and a few independents. I do still read Marvel & DC but I don’t buy them.

  3. KH

    I forgot to add… I’d be interested in the artwork portrayal in this new Ms Marvel so I’ll ask for it at the library – and may then even buy it…..

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