Reading “No Normal (5 of 5)”

The conclusion to the first arc of Ms. Marvel is a really strong one with all the parts of the series that I love represented.  We get to see more of Kamala’s personal relationships developing, Kamala finalizes the look of her costume, she learns some more about how her powers work, the action climax is relatively short (I am apparently so not here for the bof and the pow), and we finally get the reveal of the super villain that’s going to be Kamala’s first nemesis.  There is a lot to like, and it more than makes up for the relatively thin feeling of the fourth issue.

I really like the empty space on this cover. It feels very contemplative. Also, I love any scene where Kamala is just hanging out. (Cover by Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson. Image credit: Comic Vine)

Because the last issue left off with a cliffhanger involving Kamala being trapped by a kid, Doyle, with a mohawk and a laser gun, this one has to start off with a rapid resolution of that conundrum.  Kamala has her first real setback as she realizes that she’s outmatched by Doyle’s sharpshooting and spider drones, so she needs to retreat, leaving Vick still held captive the Inventor’s henchfolk.  I like this decision because it underscores (like the rest of the arc) that Kamala is still just learning about her powers (total time that’s passed within the story is about four days) and becoming a superhero doesn’t automatically confer expertise in rescues and big battles and such.  Kamala’s infiltration of the gang’s hideout, which is pretty haphazard on its face when you consider how she handles the overwhelming numbers of the drones (that is, she doesn’t), doesn’t really involve an exit plan for getting both herself and a non-powered person out.  Her retreat is smart, and it teaches her that she needs planning as well as powers.

Kamala GTFOs after her rescue attempt goes sideways. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Kamala’s parents have different approaches to encouraging her not to be reckless. They both love her a lot though. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Before we get to the obligatory training montage that shows Kamala spending the afternoon with Bruno figuring out how to do things like run faster (she grows longer legs), hide (she makes herself look like a mannequin in a dumpster), shrink (she hangs out in Bruno’s pet hamster’s cage) and whatnot, Kamala has to have one last run in with her parents in this story.  Continuing with the motif of her last few interactions with her parents, this one involves Kamala getting caught coming home late from being out against her parents’ wishes and her having to run the gauntlet of parental questions.  Kamala’s mom continues to be flustered with her disobedience and demands an explanation for why Kamala is dressed in her burkini and coming home after one in the morning.  Her mother makes such a fuss that she wakes Kamala’s father, who calms his wife and tells her to get some sleep.  This is a replay of the dynamic we saw on display back in issue two where Kamala’s mom is typically the more hotheaded of the parents and her father tries to be the levelheaded one.  I really like this portrayal because it shows Kamala’s dad respecting his daughter’s autonomy.  He doesn’t like that she disobeys her parents, but his first impulse is never to react angrily; he wants to understand what she’s going through.  In this moment, Kamala takes advantage of her dad’s relative leniency to explain that she can’t tell him what she’s dealing with.  He doesn’t freak over the secrecy, but instead tells Kamala about how her parents named her and why they worry for her safety.  His final judgment is that she needs to speak with Sheikh Abdullah at the mosque, which is really reasonable; I like it especially because it highlights how Kamala’s father wants to give her space to deal with her problems in a mature manner.  It’s this family dynamic where Kamala’s parents don’t just punish her for disappearing at weird intervals that I find really appealing, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to just declare her grounded all the time given how bad she is at sneaking out.

Kamala fires a well aimed laser pew off panel. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Following all the family togetherness, Kamala persuades Bruno to help her train for a second run at the rescue mission; Bruno feels obligated because she is trying to save his brother from hoodlums with laser guns and spider drones.  We see Kamala finalize her costume (I am a sucker for explanations of how superheroes put their costumes together) and then the issue’s key action sequence happens super quickly (it’s four pages total, which is a really good pace to emphasize that Kamala has a plan to rescue Vick, executes it, and then hightails it out of there).  Kamala appears to know what she’s doing here; this is probably the first time that she’s fully prepared for what she’s doing, and it shows.  It’s a lot of fun with cute moments like Kamala riding on the back of one of the drones while miniaturized so she can use its laser to disable Doyle (by shooting him in the crotch; presumably the drones’ lasers aren’t nearly as powerful as the one from Doyle’s pistol that very clearly burned Kamala when it grazed her).  It’s a compact sequence that underscores that Kamala is just trying to get Vick out safely this time; she’s not trying to do anything fancy like apprehend Doyle and the other kids.

The issue ends with Kamala taking ownership of her new role as Jersey City’s local superhero (in front of the Circle Q, which is probably the absolute best unofficial base of operations you could imagine for a teenager superhero) and the big reveal that the Inventor is a dude named Mr. Edison who is actually a humanoid cockatiel who wears a waistcoat.  It’s not the strangest super villain to ever appear in comics, but it’s pretty out there.

Ms. Marvel makes her public debut to the citizens of Jersey City. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

ABC’s

  • Fight Loser II
  • Custom spider drones with different decorations including a flower print casing, a gray wig, wraparound shades, a viking helmet, and a bandana
  • Olive Oil?
  • Nanana Bat Milk
  • Cobra Halalala Hot Sauce: Yoga Fire
  • Yoga Flame or Yoga Fire
  • Cromulant Crunch
  • “Hey kids try a maze”
  • “LoL -> Life lesson”
  • Low Hanging Fruit Juice: Adequate Apple
  • Pedestrian Pear
  • Radoslav’s Fantabulous Hakka
  • GM-O’s
  • “Frook Toes Freddie’s FAQ for the Kiddies”
  • “Q: (Billy) Can we – A: No.”
  • “Ingredients are on a need to know basis”
  • Thugs at Brunch 2014 Calendar: October
  • McDude
  • Radoslav’s Outrageous Pakistani Cuisine
  • “Pardon our dust, friend!!  We’re Renovating! – Circle Q”
  • blue print: [picture of an outhouse]
  • Gigawatts 1.21
  • Eau de Super Snot by Bruno
  • The owl living at the dock reappears!
  • Blerf World Famous Alley Boxes
  • Ralph’s Fashion
  • Shakes!
  • “Introducing the Poison Dart Frog Burger: As seen on the news”
  • Bullet Ant Shake: $4
  • The Birdman Cometh
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