It’s December, And I’m Tired

Seeing as we’re approaching the end of another calendar year, it’s probably time for me to take a short break.  I know it’s time because I’ve been struggling to come up with anything to write about recently.  This is a sure sign that I need to give myself some time off.

So, in that vein, here are a couple things that I’ve read recently that I think are worth your time.  I’ll be giving my own thoughts some time to stew in the mean time.

Chrono Trigger‘s Campfire Scene Is a Meditation on Friendship, Regrets, and Time Itself” – Chrono Trigger is a great game, and essays on its coolness for no reason other than to induce a collective nostalgia trip are always good in my book.

“The Last of the Iron Lungs” – The problem of preserving old technology is one that I usually only see being discussed in relation to issues of old data storage and archival.  This article explores what it’s like for people who are still relying on iron lungs to manage the consequences of surviving Polio when they were much younger.

The Myths and Legends Podcast – I’ve been listening to this podcast for a couple months now on my commute.  The host has a delightfully deadpan narrative style, and he puts a lot of care into researching and adapting the stories for easy consumption.  As someone who’s struggled with trying to listen regularly to audio fiction, this podcast feels like a nice stepping stone in that direction.

And that’s all for today.  My brain is tired and my nose is stuffy, so I’ll check back in with everyone here later.

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Reading “The Wicked + The Divine #1”

The question of how to begin a review of The Wicked + The Divine is a tricky one.  All the contemporary comics that I have in my library earned their space by being remarkably good (books are expensive, and there has to be some real quality in order for me to spend money on the things), which means that there’s not much point in writing from the angle of wanting to assess the quality of each individual issue.  In my series on older works like Watchmen and All-Star Superman,  it was easier to assess when the story was not as good as in other issues (time and multiple readings can help with that).  With more recent books from the last few years, I’m absolutely reading as a fan.

I am a sucker for McKelvie & Wilson’s covers. (Cover by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson; Image credit: Comic Vine)

For anyone who isn’t familiar with The Wicked + The Divine, the series’s premise is that in a world exactly like our own a set of twelve gods from various religions throughout human history reincarnate every ninety years as young people who are doomed to die within two years of their awakening to godhood.  Like with any aspect of faith and belief, regular people are split between believing the gods are real and that they’re just perpetuating an elaborate hoax.  The people who believe in them tend to treat the gods as pop music icons.

In the first issue, we’re introduced to our point of view character, Laura Wilson.  Laura is a Pantheon (that’s what the gods collectively call themselves) superfan who has been obsessing over them for the few months that they’ve been in the public eye.  We meet her as she’s sneaking out to a Pantheon concert starring Amaterasu, the most recently debuted member of the collective.  Laura’s in the midst of her first term at university, but it’s abundantly clear that she’s much more interested in the goings on of a celebrity subculture than she is in her studies.  Part of that interest is more than just a fascination with the glamour of the Pantheon; Laura wants to be a god as well, even though she knows the rumors that they only live for two years.

Don’t be surprised by moments that are clearly borrowing from the full depth and breadth of Western culture. It wouldn’t be a book about people’s relationships with gods and celebrity without some allusions to other famous art meditating on the same topic. (Artwork by Jamie McKelvie, colors by Matthew Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles)

None of this information is spelled out explicitly in neatly trimmed caption boxes though; it’s not Kieron Gillen’s style to come out and explain his characters so plainly.  Instead, all of this gets drawn out in little hints like the fact that Laura feels the need to hide that she’s going to a concert from her parents whom she believes would just be happy that she’s taken an interest in something, or her decision to do a bit of cosplay while she’s at the venue.  She comes off as a character with an extremely rich internal life who isn’t quite sure how to express it in a way that she doesn’t find embarrassing (this strikes me as highly relatable, which is probably more commentary on myself than anything).  Fortunately for Laura, she finds herself on a fast track to getting up close and personal with the gods when she passes out at the, erm, climax of the show and wakes up with Lucifer hovering over her (but not literally, because Lucifer is all about passing off the gods’ miracles as stage magic).  We get a brief introduction to a few of the members of the Pantheon, including Amaterasu herself and Sakhmet, a pansexual Egyptian cat god whom Lucifer warns Laura from interacting with on pain of swift, rough sex.  Other gods are mentioned, but we’ll discuss them more when they actually appear.  In the same post concert hangout (I’m not really sure what you call this sort of lounging about in the backstage VIP area; I was an incredibly uncool teenager and remain an incredibly uncool adult) we also meet Cassandra, a documentarian who is working on a film about the latest Recurrence of the Pantheon.  Cassandra is a supreme skeptic, the foil to Laura’s true believer; she thinks everything about the Pantheon is bunk.

Once we’re introduced to our players, things move rather quickly from exposition to explosion as the after party is interrupted by a hail of gunfire.  A couple of masked gunmen wearing crosses are taking potshots at the gathered gods, and Lucifer takes the opportunity to demonstrate definitively that she’s not actually faking the miracles.  She snaps her fingers and the assailants’ heads explode.  Police arrive, question everyone, and arrest Lucifer because as far as they can tell maybe she just killed a couple of guys (I still question the plausibility of this narrative move given that at this point no one outside the Pantheon is sure that they really do have divine powers and there is literally no evidence that there’s a causal link between Lucifer snapping her fingers and the attackers suddenly becoming headless).

I’m just saying, Lucifer makes a valid point. Also, get to see our main cast all together in one panel. (Artwork by Jamie McKelvie, colors by Matthew Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles)

Of course, Lucifer cannot resist playing the punk, so when the scene flashes forward to her hearing (presumably the next day?) she dares the judge to call her bluff about having any sort of ability to work miracles.  Things go badly after that as the judge also suddenly loses his head following another finger snap from Lucifer.  Luci, bewildered, swears that she didn’t do it that time, and the issue closes as she’s dragged off to a cell because again, this is a world where the police default to arresting folks willy-nilly without any actual evidence of a crime (I mean, besides the body with the exploded head).

Get used to this motif. (Artwork by Jamie McKelvie, colors by Matthew Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles)

As an introduction, I’ve always felt that this first issue explains very little beyond the premise that you get on the back of the book.  Yes, we can take it as given that the gods really have powers because this is a fantasy story, and we see bullets either diverting their paths from or being destroyed midair by the gods.  The fact that there’s any doubt about this basic premise is initially really disorienting, especially since Laura is fully on board from the start.  Cassandra’s skepticism is sensible, but things are further complicated by Lucifer’s own playful lies about everything; it’s hard to pin down when she’s being serious and when she’s just playing to her persona.  You get enough to be intrigued by the premise, and the ending sets up a fun murder mystery whodunnit, and that’s about it for the issue.  Lots of questions are put in place and just a hint of how the gods operate is teased.  We get a few spectacular moments designed to help establish the book’s visual language (the perennial problem of comics is how to represent experiences of sound in a visual medium, and The Wicked + The Divine is a book that on a very basic level is about pop music and the culture surrounding it); there are no sound effects besides the ‘kllk’ of the finger snaps which make for an oddly silent reading experience.  Jamie McKelvie tends to go for big, splashy panels to highlight moments of intense feeling, and Matt Wilson maintains a relatively grounded palette throughout except in moments when miraculous things are happening (that’s when everything tends to go a bit four color).  It’s a consistent thing that we’ll see a lot of going forward, and it’s one of the most satisfying parts of the experience of reading this series.

I haven’t even begun to talk about this lady yet. She’s… important. (Artwork by Jamie McKelvie, colors by Matthew Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles)

Fus-Roh-Dahnksgiving! (Aftermath)

First, let me show you the spread that we set up in the run up to actual Thanksgiving dinner:

Salt pile FTW.

Keep in mind that this was just our snacks leading up to dinner.  You’ll see that there are no traditional Thanksgiving items on the table at this point, which is perfectly fine.  We have the tubs of leftovers in our fridge to prove that later, after this was all done away with, we had a delicious turkey with all the fixin’s.

The main event of the day was our round robin Skyrim session, which began a little after noon and went until after ten that night.  Most folks got two turns to wander the great white north and do whatever they pleased with the character that we settled on.  It was highly entertaining, although not a lot was accomplished during the massive marathon.  Because we discussed nothing about our objectives before hand, each player had their own goals in mind, and things ended up getting pulled in multiple disparate directions.  My concept for the character’s personality was very simple: she had extremely poor impulse control and was constantly hungry.  The way this played out was that I ate every piece of food that I came across immediately, and got in trouble with the guards several times for killing animals that belonged to the local farmers.

It seemed like an appropriate persona for the holiday.

Other personas that emerged were the one that just wanted to build a house, the one that was flabbergasted with how poorly equipped they were, the chaos muppet who somehow managed to make themselves unwelcome in Whiterun, and the demonic overlord who really wanted to be a werewolf but couldn’t quite make it happen.  Aside from the house builder and the chaos muppet’s goals (chaos is an easy goal to accomplish), not much got done with anyone else’s objectives.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun evening though; we had a lot of laughs over how terrible everything in the game became over time.  When one of us made the entire Companions’ guild mad for shouting a pie off of a table, we knew that grand ambitions were just not in the cards.

This was probably the highlight of the evening; we all cheered when we finally got a pot to stay on the head of an NPC.

In the midst of all the Skyriming, we also actually cooked a dinner.  I’d show you pictures, but after eating so much on the run up to the actual meal I wasn’t really feeling the traditional food, so I didn’t get any pictures of that spread before the six of us dug in and had our obligatory giant plates of Thanksgiving fare.  It was honestly a wonder that we lasted past ten o’clock, given the sheer amount of food that was ingested.

The Miasma puts everyone to sleep.

Relatively late in the evening we finally got into the pies.  That we had any will to continue eating is a testament to the quality of the food, because the majority of the conversation during the last few hours of the evening mostly revolved around us all complaining about how full we were.

The end of the evening was relatively anticlimactic, as we all realized eventually that we had to sleep sometime, and the cleanup wasn’t going to take care of itself.  Thankfully, with so many hands helping we got our apartment back in order before too long, and everyone left with very healthy portions of leftovers.

Fus-Roh-Dahnksgiving! (Pre-Gaming)

Part of the challenge of moving to a completely new part of the country is the extreme distance that I’ve put between myself and my family during the holiday season.  In the short-term this is a difficult situation; because moving was expensive, Rachael and I can’t afford to fly back to Georgia to see family this year for Christmas.  The hope is that next year we’ll have rebuilt our savings and have enough extra disposable income after making progress towards our own personal financial goals that we’ll be able to do a visit or two, but that’s a long way off when you’re in the tail end of November, the sun sets at four-thirty, and your only close friends are the ones who had the same cockamamie idea to move across the country this year.

Still, we’re making the best of a less than ideal situation, and so that’s why the theme for our Friendsgiving this year is something in keeping with our collective experience of the Pacific Northwest: Skyrim.

The going joke among my friends is that the Oregon countryside is absurdly evocative of the evergreen Last Game You’ll Ever Need.  Gigantic conifers, vibrant moss, and scenic mountain vistas are staples of the landscape around here, and with the chill tinging the air and the snow gathering on Mount Hood, it feels more and more like we’re living in the middle of Bethesda’s land of the Nords.

So, in that spirit, we all decided that we’re going to make a bunch of food for Thanksgiving that’s inspired by the fare of Skyrim.  Rachael and I spent part of Sunday making some lemon curd to top the boiled creme treats we’re planning to make (as you read this, we’re probably busily prepping for a pastry recipe we’ve never attempted before in a tiny kitchen).  We’ll also be roasting some (sweet) potatoes and grilling some leeks.  Our hope is to have a nice spread of finger foods on the day of to pick at while everyone completes their feast preparations: venison pate, smoked salmon, an assortment of cheeses (at least one blue and derived from goats’ milk).  The traditional Thanksgiving food will be present, of course; there will be a roast turkey (alas, we couldn’t find pheasant on short notice) and stuffing (I’m going to miss having dressing, but some things are sacred, and dressing is a family thing) and mashed potatoes and our homemade cranberry sauce that is the best because it’s actually mostly pears and brandy with just some cranberries thrown in for color.  The desserts will include a traditional array of pies (apple and pumpkin are a must).  All in all, I expect that we’ll be feasting to excess, which is exactly what a proper Thanksgiving should be, particularly when you’re far away from home and missing some of the old comforts.

The food isn’t the only part of the festivities, though.  It is true that I and my friends enjoy a spot of gaming from time to time, and the chief pastime of the day, while we’re busily preparing our feast, will be round robins on Skyrim to help maintain the proper epic mood.  The hope is that this gaming marathon will lead to glorious misadventures as the only rule for each player’s turn on the console is that they roleplay the character in the way they would want to personally.  Whoever comes next in the rotation will just have to deal with the consequences of the previous personality.  Here’s hoping that it will be an adventure that the bards will commemorate in song for ages.

Assuming I’m not overcome with major gastrointestinal distress, I’ll revisit how it’s gone later this week.  In the meantime, what kind of celebrations are you putting together for Thanksgiving this year?  Is there a particular theme you’re adopting to make things a little more festive, or are you sticking to tried and true traditions?

Critical Sunburn

It’s not often that I write a post where I discuss the happenings of my personal life, but it’s been that kind of week, so here we are.

One of the things that I was a little anxious about when Rachael and I decided to do this whole moving-to-Portland thing was the fact that I was going clear across the country to essentially restart my career in education in a brand new state where there was a strong possibility that things might work a little differently.  A lot of my experience in special education is transferable because special education law is largely set at the federal level, meaning that if you know what rights and protections your students have in one state, you’ll know most of what they have in another state.  This is, as you can imagine, very useful for dealing with special education paperwork because all the core parts are always there no matter what system you happen to be working in; it’s just all the finicky local stuff that has to be re-learned and navigated when starting in a new district.

At the start of the year, I absolutely had one of those deer-in-headlights moments as I was doing new job training where absorbing all the new information became a futile endeavor because it feels like you’re trying to drink from a fully open fire hose.  The only reassurance that I had was that I had felt similarly years before when I first started teaching, and I figured that this was just a rehashing of that experience due to being in a new environment with its own particular rules that needed to be learned.  Things would feel rough for a little while, but I would adapt, and everything would be fine.  Honestly, I was so stressed about making sure the paperwork portion of my job didn’t end up getting too fouled up (individualized education plans are legal documents, and you really don’t want to make mistakes when you write them because that can affect what kind of services a student is able to receive) that the teaching portion of my job felt like a respite.  I had in my head this conception that because I was running three periods of resource room (that’s like a class period where students with IEPs can receive extra help on their work for other classes) that was going to be my respite from the stress of paperwork.

Flash forward to this past week where I had both my first informal observation and my first formal observation by two separate administrators, and the feedback I received from each of them was less than stellar.  Like, I read the comments and seriously had to ask myself if I know what I’m doing in my classroom.

This is a really new experience for me.  At my two previous schools I had regular observations (it’s just part of being a teacher that sometimes your boss is going to watch you work), and the feedback never pointed out this many deficiencies.  I’ve been teaching for six years, and this is the first time that an administrator has offered me significant critiques about the way that I run my classroom.

It stings more than a little bit.

More importantly, as I’ve been reflecting on the feedback I got, I’ve been thinking that a lot of the things that were pointed out were legitimate critiques.  The last two schools where I’ve worked have had significantly different educational models than the one that I’m working in now, and this feels like the moment where I’m starting to understand just how much of those other models don’t transfer to this new situation.  I have a lot to learn about what makes my current role the most effective it can be for my students, and that’s been a hard thing to grapple with for the past few days.

Of course, tomorrow is a new day, and we’re only a third of the way through the school year (yeah, starting school at the beginning of September is weird when you’re used to beginning in early August).  There is still time for me to learn from my mistakes and grow into the kind of educator that my new school needs me to be.  This feels like a setback, but it’s probably better to think of it as a course correction.  I can be better, and I want to be better, so I’ll do what I have to to be better.

Horizon: Zero Dawn Log 3

I think the game clock says that I’ve logged about twenty hours into Horizon: Zero Dawn since I first started playing, and it feels like I’m finally at the point where I’m running in the standard rhythm the game was designed to operate in most of the time.

The first four or five hours were heavily packed with story events and cinematics to help get me up to speed on what the deal is in this far future post-apocalypse, but since Aloy received her commission to just go explore the world, things have slowed down considerably.  The plot points that I’ve passed since the bit about the All-Mother actually being some sort of bunker that Aloy wants to get inside are thus:

  • Help the Nora war party get revenge on the cultists and their corrupt machines for ambushing the Proving and other various aggressions.
  • Clear out some corrupted machine nests to make Nora territory safer for its residents.
  • Leave Nora territory and start making my way towards Meridian, the capital of the Carja Sundom.

Meridian is a long way from the border (makes sense, given it’s the Carja capital), and about halfway there, I got distracted by stuff like hunting grounds and deciding to go searching for collectibles.  That feels like the point of the game, now that I’m solidly into it; you have your main objective, but there’s so much stuff between here and there that you’re bound to get caught up in doing something else.  In some ways it feels like a throwback to the Elder Scrolls series, but with a lot less character interaction.  Horizon is a beautiful game, and I’m loving wandering around the environments (from collecting artifacts and other things, it’s slowly becoming clearer that the story is set in the midwestern United States, probably in the Four Corners region), but character interactions are minimal and feel sparse when they do occur.  Aloy comes across someone with whom she can have a conversation, but these sequences are typically restricted to getting a bit of surface level information about topics related to her current objective without too much room for interesting character exploration.  Not since the Proving sequence have I encountered any dialogue options where the player gets to shape how Aloy reacts to people (her personality is pretty steadily set to “matter-of-fact cynic” which is fine, but disappointing in light of the game’s early promises to give the player a little bit of control over how she behaves in story moments).

Setting aside my complaints about the character interactions, the game play is still quite engaging.  While the early hours had Aloy feeling pretty vulnerable against the bigger machines, at this point in my play through I have a significantly more powerful arsenal and a better understanding of the combat mechanics.  Direct confrontations with machines tend to be more expedient and fun than sneaking around and setting traps.  Beyond combat, the other major activity is exploration and seeking out collectibles.  My opinion on collectibles tends to waver a lot, because I can see how they provide an impetus for players to wander into out-of-the-way areas of the world map, but I also know from my own experience that when they’re put in places that require a ton of searching, I will invariably get bored with wandering in circles and just look up where the thing is instead of appreciating the environment that’s been built around it.  Case in point, I’ve been going back through the Nora lands to find stuff, and I got irritated with one of the earliest metal flowers being hidden inside the game’s beginning ruins; it felt tedious to scour a location I’d already been to multiple times just to find one room that I happened to miss.  One side effect of all this exploration is that I’ve felt less inclined to take screenshots of interesting things as I wander through the game.  I’m sure part of that is just aesthetic fatigue; as I’ve spent more time with the game I’ve gotten used to the way things look in the world and there are fewer moments where I’m struck by something.  Another factor is the lack of cinematics in these more exploratory segments; players use the game camera for utility instead of aesthetics when they’re actually playing the game, so thinking about taking interesting screenshots just doesn’t happen with the same frequency as when the story’s on rails.

I hope that once I do get back on track with the main story things will accelerate a little in Meridian.  I’m certainly still interested in finding out about Aloy’s origin (still think she’s a clone of a scientist who worked inside the All-Mother bunker) and learning more about what’s going on with the machines, but for now that seems like an objective that the game doesn’t really care to pursue too closely.

Have a screenshot of Aloy rappelling off the top of a Tallneck, because that’s about one of the few unique things that the game offers when you’re not doing story missions.

Reading “Last Days (4 of 4)”

I’ve been racking my brain to think of a parallel to what G Willow Wilson does in this last arc of Ms. Marvel volume three, and the best one I can come up with at the moment is the final two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season four.  For anyone who isn’t familiar or doesn’t remember (that season was more notable for a few standout episodes than for a particularly strong macro plot), at the end of that season of Buffy, the Scoobies band together to raid the base of the season’s Big Bad, Adam, a malicious Frankenstein’s monster pastiche, in the penultimate episode.  It’s big and flashy, and it feels like a season finale, but then there’s one more episode left.  The finale of that season is a really trippy dream episode that foreshadows some stuff that the writers were setting up for the next season but is mostly just about exploring the weird disjointed nature of dreams.  After the big explosions of the previous episode, it’s a really quiet story more about exploring the characters than anything (it’s also not very good, if I remember right).

Goodbye, Ms. Marvel! See you in volume four! (Cover by Kris Anka; Image credit: Comic Vine)

And the fact that that’s a weak example of a big flashy climax set a little earlier than normal so the final installment of a story can be more meditative in nature very poorly serves what’s going on in Ms. Marvel.  There are no superheroics in issue #19; Kamala doesn’t do any super power stuff or even wear her costume.  It’s just her taking stock of her relationships and reflecting on what she’s accomplished as Ms. Marvel while she waits for the world to end.  The closest thing we get to a conflict is her temporarily avoiding having a serious conversation with Bruno about their feelings (even this isn’t much of a conflict because there’s no real suggestion that it isn’t going to happen; Kamala just wants to get her head straight first, and it makes narrative sense to end the issue with the resolution of the romance subplot).

You can break this issue down broadly into three or four segments, depending on whether you’re thinking in terms of distinct conversations with characters or grouping by their relationship to Kamala (I like the four part organization because Kamala’s conversations with Zoe and Nakia feel like they explore fundamentally different aspects of Kamala’s friendships).  There’s the talk with Muneeba about her having known for months that Kamala is Ms. Marvel; you have Zoe’s apology to Kamala; Kamala apologizes to Nakia; and lastly there’s the rooftop conversation between Kamala and Bruno.  A few other things happen in between those events, but they’re the major milestones for the issue in my mind.

As someone who’s married to a tea drinker, I relate to Muneeba here. Also, Kamala’s parents are the best. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

The first big moment for Kamala is having it out with her mother over the fact that Muneeba knows that she’s Ms. Marvel.  The signs were pretty obvious in retrospect (Kamala does ask Muneeba where she can find her burqini late in the evening on a school night without any sort of explanation, and then it’s apparently never discussed again in the Khan family), and Muneeba has come to terms with the fact that her daughter is doing superheroics on the side.  She feels like it’s a far sight better than Kamala getting involved with something more in line with typical adult fears, like drugs or friends who would be bad influences.  As Muneeba points out, if the worst of Kamala’s “bad behavior” is sneaking out to help others in need, she can be thankful that her daughter has turned out so well (I’m not crying, you’re crying!).  Yusuf’s arrival sort of breaks the mood, but there’s still a sweet moment where Kamala and Muneeba try to comfort him after all the stress of Aamir’s kidnapping (it’s also weird how infantilized Yusuf appears in this issue; it’s like his general disconnected demeanor has left him unprepared for the emotional shock of having a family in crisis, which leaves me thinking, “Dude, pay more attention”).

Following a brief exchange with Bruno, Kamala retreats to the gym to see how her community is managing the crisis.  Generally, things are going better than you would expect.  As Kamala surveys the scene in the gymnatorium, she questions herself about the point of all the work she put in to get people together like this, given the imminent end of the world.  The resolution to that question that Wilson offers comes in the form of illustrating how Kamala’s work as Ms. Marvel has impacted and improved the lives of everyone around her.  Zoe Zimmer, who was a terrible character meant to be disliked at the series’s beginning, has had a major change of heart following all the times she was saved and protected by Ms. Marvel, both directly and indirectly.  She’s a kinder person now, and Zoe offers a genuine apology for the poor treatment Kamala used to receive from her.  She used to feel like she had to conform to a specific image that involved being mean to others who were different, and she’s gradually learning that that isn’t the case.

Kamala’s expressions are the best. Also, aw, Zoe. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

They can only get away with this because Disney owns Marvel. Also, again with the delightful facial expressions! (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Of course, being a part-time superhero isn’t all great things either.  Where Zoe has shown a lot of growth and maturation since the series’s beginning, Kamala’s encounter with Nakia is a little more difficult.  Things resolve well here; the two renew their friendship.  But Nakia’s complaints that Kamala sort of disappeared from her life over the last few months are valid (we see this as readers from Nakia’s decreased presence within the entire series in its latter half).  Unlike Bruno, who learned Kamala’s secret early on and was allowed to remain close to her through involvement with her superheroing, Nakia has been pushed out pretty much every time she’s tried to ask Kamala about what’s going on.  We’ve gotten a front row seat to Kamala’s justification for this distancing, but this scene is where Nakia has an opportunity to explain how it’s felt for her.  Kamala still doesn’t explain anything about Ms. Marvel to her, but the vibe here is good.

The final scene of the issue finds Kamala and Bruno on the roof of Coles Academic finally hashing out their romantic feelings about each other.  This is a fantastic scene, by the way.  It finally relieves all that tension between Kamala and Bruno in a way that I find really satisfying.  Kamala acknowledges that she’s taken Bruno for granted (he is super dependable to the point of endangering himself unnecessarily), and she apologizes for the way she’s treated him.  Bruno confesses that he’s in love with her, but he understands there are all these cultural barriers that make them being together unrealistic.  We finally see that Kamala would be willing to reciprocate Bruno’s feelings, but the reason she’s ignored it isn’t because of her family but because she just has way too much going on what with being a superhero.  A lot of this moment has echoes of the ending of Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie, which makes sense because Kamala’s story has a lot of the same beats as Peter Parker’s, but it’s better executed here because, y’know, Kamala’s not keeping any secrets from Bruno about why she can’t do the dating thing (honesty’s a good thing, y’all).  Having cleared all that up, they reaffirm their friendship as the Incursion finally envelops Jersey City in a bunch of white light.  For bonus feels, read this scene while listening to this song (it came up on my Spotify playlist while I was re-reading the issue for this post, and, well, it really works, or at least it did for me).

ABC’s

  • Someone hiding in a busted up locker outside the nurse’s office
  • All the barnyard livestock hanging out outside the school
  • “Water!  Blankets!  Zombie Screening Medical Assessments!”
  • Children climbing into airducts
  • Dude butchering a fish in the gymnatorium
  • Rat with a bindle
  • Girl in hijab with vampire fangs
  • Guy complaining to girl with eye patch about a rat in his coffee
  • “Fair & Pastey”
  • “Gorilla Milk”
  • “Quarantine Wagon”
  • Pirate lady with a pet pigeon
  • Vick holding up a boombox like something out of a John Hughes movie
  • “Go Sport”
  • Chatty Bob breakdancing
  • Mike looking at Bruno

And that’s Ms. Marvel volume three.  It’s a brilliant little set of issues, and I’m really excited to get into the stuff from volume four soon.  I’ve started reading the most recent trades, and they go in directions I didn’t expect.  I’m looking forward to hashing all that out real soon.

Yeah. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)