Reading “Healing Factor (2 of 2)”

The move is coming along nicely (we’re out of our current place as of Saturday morning!), and since most of what we’ve needed to accomplish to make everything happen successfully, I want to take a little bit of time to continue looking at Ms. Marvel.  I don’t think this will be an especially long or detailed review, but the fact that I went on hiatus in the middle of a two-part story has felt immensely itchy for the last month, and I want to do something about it.

Wolverine’s not really this grumpy in the issue itself, though I do wish Kamala actually got a selfie like this. (Cover by Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson)

In terms of major plot developments, Ms. Marvel #7 is relatively light.  The entire issue revolves around her adventure in the sewer with Wolverine with a short stinger at the end that involves Medusa finally getting involved in Kamala’s development as a superhero since the girl is actually an Inhuman and not a mutant like Wolverine initially believed  (I’m a few years behind on current Marvel events at this point, so I don’t know what happened with Inhumans vs X-Men, but I sincerely hope that Kamala avoided all that hullabaloo).  There’s no family stuff (I am disappoint) or mention of high school drama, which makes this issue extremely conventional superhero fare.  We do learn that the Inventor is actually doing something with the teenagers who have been disappearing from Jersey City: he appears to be using them as energy sources for his experiments like in The Matrix (complete with nutrient baths and fetal positions).  That thread will get spooled out in more detail in the next arc, but that’s for another time.

This advice is a little skewed, but it fits in with Wolverine’s lived experience. (Artwork by Jacob Wyatt, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

The centerpiece of this issue (besides Kamala punching out a giant alligator) is the impromptu mentoring that Wolverine bestows on her during her first official team-up.  This sort of dynamic is a really delightful one because it plays on one of Wolverine’s greatest strengths as a character: his affinity for acting as a mentor figure to young up-and-coming female superheroes.  Yes, this trope typically applies to newer members of the X-Men (this might be why Wolverine assumes that Kamala must be a mutant; the meta-story of his mentorship always follows a certain pattern), but it’s mostly a story that he knows well, and he gets what his role is supposed to be.  It’s kind of funny to realize that Wolverine is the answer to the need that Kamala expresses to Sheikh Abdullah in the previous issue, but it works really works in a four-color book like this one.  Experienced Marvel readers know that Wolverine is a character who has a remarkably varied portfolio of stories in his background, including stories that go to very dark, very gruesome places.  Seeing a character with that kind of background interact with Kamala, who is a very inexperienced, very idealistic young hero is so much fun just because you can see Wolverine trying to balance between teaching her about the harder realities of life and shielding her from the ugliness of it (I love the moment when Wolverine catches himself from cursing in front of Kamala; it’s exactly the kind of thing an adult like him would do).

Kamala gets Wolverine’s point. (Artwork by Jacob Wyatt, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Wolverine’s general advice to Kamala comes down to a single important notion: to be a hero, you have to understand that someone will usually get hurt when it comes to conflict, and your job is to try to make it sure it’s you whenever you can handle the pain (of course Wolverine’s basic philosophy of superheroics revolves around pain management).  The underlying principle of self-sacrifice is classic superheroing, and Kamala takes to the lesson admirably.  Wolverine stresses that it’s about knowing your limits as well (since he’s working without a healing factor in this story, he has his own struggles with slowing down and letting Kamala do the heavy lifting at different points in the adventure); if you’re going to try to generalize life lessons from a superhero book, it’s worth emphasizing that point.  Superheroes go above and beyond in their missions; regular folks just trying to be better people shouldn’t kill themselves over it.  Kamala gets it pretty well, and that’s a satisfying end to this little outing.

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