Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ms. Marvel #1: Nuff Said!

We live in an era where feels might as well be currency. There's a generation of kids who have gone to schools who will suspend your ass if you so much as hug someone in public. And pretty much any gesture towards any person of any gender in any situation can be construed as harassment if you're a big enough dick about it. That's what makes Ms. Marvel such a valuable mine for awesome. Kamala Khan has proven to be an ocean of feels. She proved that in the final days leading up to Secret Wars. Now that this multiversal clusterfuck is ending, Ms. Marvel #1 can get back to doing what she does best, giving feels to drunks like me and saving me a fuckton on weed.

So how much has Kamala’s life changed since the 8-month gap? She’s a freakin’ Avenger now. That’s right. A few years ago, she was just a nobody running around Jersey City in a mask. Now she’s fighting alongside Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. That basically means 8 months is plenty of time for her to become awesome enough to join the Avengers. And she’s still not old enough to drive. She’s basically in the exact opposite position of the X-men. That’s how awesome her life is now.

Unfortunately, high school is still part of that life. She still has a secret identity to keep and friendships to maintain. At the very least, her school was rebuilt thanks to Tony Stark’s deep pockets. Plus, Loki’s golems stuck around. I admit high school would’ve been a lot more interesting if it had golems roaming the halls. Because let’s face it, golems aren’t even in the top 10 in terms of the most stressful shit teens face in high school.

Everything seems to be going well for Kamala. She’s with her friends. One of them is Zoe, who was once the kind of peppy cheerleader type that would get butchered first in every slasher movie. It seems her social life is on the up and up. Then she sees that Bruno, her best friend and the boy she kissed as the world was ending, has a new girlfriend.

As adults, seeing love interests swap spit with others is infuriating enough. For teenagers who live secret lives as Avengers, it’s like a punch in the kidneys while getting root canal by a drunk dentist. Kamala, already dealing with a lot of Avengers-related crap, reacts as well as any we can expect of a teenage girl. By that, I don’t mean she found the nearest pile of dog shit and threw it at him.

She avoids him at first. Eventually, they meet up in class and Kamala makes it clear that she’s pissed off at Bruno. She still exercises more restraint than half the girls in my graduating high school class. The fact that Bruno’s jaw is still intact makes him lucky. It leads to a difficult conversation, but one that is not nearly as hostile as it could’ve been. The fact that no bones are broken and no windows are shattered is a testament to Kamala and Bruno’s maturity.

It’s a painful recurring theme for the life of a superhero. Bruno flat out admitted he was in love with Kamala. They even kissed. Then, he kindly points out to her that she told him outright that she needs to focus on being a hero and not on being someone’s girlfriend. And when he finds someone else to swap spit with, it upsets her. Yeah, it’s the kind of petty jealousy that has existed in every teen movie John Hughes ever made, but they’re teenagers. Being petty and jealous is only a fraction of the overwhelming emotions teenagers experience. Just wait until they start paying taxes.

The conversation is personal and well-done. Then, they get an unpleasant distraction in the form of a billboard featuring Ms. Marvel’s image. Apparently, some yuppie developer used it showcase a fancy new development that appeals primarily to the hipster douche crowd with too much disposable income and an ass too small to kick. Short of a billboard for a cigarette company or for boner pills, I can’t think of a worse way for Ms. Marvel to have her image publicly degraded.

Naturally, she voices her outrage towards some douchey manager who looks like he came crawling out of Gordon Gecko’s anus. It’s just as effective as bitching about it on a message board. He basically explains to her that this development catering to hipster douche-bags is part of a revitalization effort and since Ms. Marvel is an icon and not a trademarked image, they can use it to sell their crap. Is it frustrating and a dick move? Yes. But is it illegal? No. Naturally, it pisses Kamala off even more. Between her friend hooking up with someone new and her image being tainted, this is a shittier day than most school days.

So what’s her response? It’s actually somewhat more meaningful than bitching about it on a message board. She dons her costume, breaks into the building, and finds out that this “revitalization plan” is an even bigger dick move than she thought. They don’t just want to knock over a few dilapidated buildings. They want to build over the entire city, use Ms. Marvel’s image, and presumably jerk off into a pool of orphan tears. They’re already acting like the pool is half-full when they kick out a former tenant. Doing this in front of Kamala, given the day she’s having, I’d say she’s well within her right to shatter a few kneecaps.

However, this isn’t a case of her beating up on a couple of semi-innocent business types. For some reason, these guys are armed with glowing energy sticks that look like they were stolen from Iron Man. They even have the kind of attack drones that I’m sure the Koch brothers use to protect their beach house. So if anyone had any doubts that this was just some simple redevelopment that some people bitched about, go ahead and throw them away along with any notion that hipster douche types have redeeming qualities.

Thankfully, the angry property owner helps her get away. She’s even nice enough to explain that she didn’t give permission for these hipster types to use her image. He believes her. The protesters that have gathered outside the development? Not so much. Oh yeah, that’s also happening, piling even more shit onto what has been a shitty day for both Kamala Khan and Ms. Marvel. Rather than face an angry mob alone, without the aid of the Avengers or a good lawyer, Ms. Marvel decides to shrink and get away. There’s just no reasoning with people who think you’re in league with some hipster douche business type.

She manages to catch up with Bruno and slip into an alley. With a protest going on, you would think that would be an important thing to discuss. But no. They’re teenagers. They first have to talk about who was kissing who and why. Yes, those priorities are fucked up. But again, their teenagers. Who they kiss tends to be as important as who they accept as friends on Facebook.

This is where the story ditches the whole douche-bag developer story and focuses back on Bruno. It’s a bit chaotic, but seriously. Who wants to know more about a douche-bag developer who uses Ms. Marvel’s image rather than dig into the juicy details of Kamala’s personal life? Anyone who answers that question sober knows the choice is obvious.

The way Bruno describes it, his meeting with this girl wasn’t stolen from a Julia Roberts movie. One day, Ms. Marvel is chasing a giant amphibian monster through the streets, which I imagine is basically a worse-than-average rush-hour in Jersey City. In the middle of the shit storm, Bruno’s ass is saved by a girl named Michaela Miller. Apparently, they go to the same school. And now, she’s saved his life. By teenage standards, that basically requires them to dry hump at some point.

There’s a surprising amount of detail put into Bruno’s relationship with this girl. Hell, there’s more detail and depth here than the last two Christopher Nolan movies. It’s almost like G. Willow Wilson put some actual effort into developing these characters. What a concept, right?

It’s somewhat generic, but it keeps drunks like me from making too many assumptions. Without any insight, I would just assume that this girl is a Skrull agent like anyone else that gets caught up in a superhero’s personal life. But even if she is a Srkull, the girl is a very likable person. And Bruno is actually honest with her, telling her about his feelings for Kamala and not keeping it a secret. Most teenagers wait for something to blow up in their face like a shit pie mixed with napalm before they learn keeping secrets is a bad idea. Bruno didn’t wait, showing he’s so mature that he’d NEVER end up on a shitty reality show on MTV.

While letting Kamala know that he’s found someone else is kind of a dick move, Bruno doesn’t make it a bigger dick move than it has to be. There’s a sense of genuine emotion. He makes it clear that he likes this girl and he wants to be happy with her. I’m still not convinced that this girl isn’t a Skrull agent of sorts, but I’m willing to give her a chance. T still means Kamala is going to be miserable for a while, but she’s still a freakin’ Avenger. She’s got what it takes to bounce back. That or she’ll kiss Miles Morales the first chance she gets. it awesome?

It's Kamala Khan wrestling with being a superhero, being a teenage girl, and being pissed off that her best friend hooked up with someone else. If you can't find awesome in that, then you need to find a better weed dealer. This series, like a Jennifer Lopez's ass in a twerking contest, never misses a beat and never stops being awesome.

It does get a little chaotic, but that's to be expected of every teenage superhero that just joined the Avengers. It even gets a little side-tracked, but it offers details and insight to a story that requires more effort than those other than G. Willow Wilson are willing to give. And unlike the Peter Parkers of the world, Kamala Khan is toughing through this chaos in a way that feels genuine and refreshing. A god-powered Dr. Doom couldn't make her less lovable. What hope does anyone else in Jersey City have?

Final Score: 9 out of 10


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