Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, Joe Caramagna, Kris Anka
Review by Sofia Marlasca
This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Kamala Khan meeting her idol, Carol Danvers. Now, honestly, I almost feel bad for G. Willow Wilson, because after creating so much expectation around this moment the standards were set pretty high, but she definitively delivered. Seeing Kamala’s initial freak out over meeting her idol was a delight.
The art by Adrian Alphona was, as usual, on point. I especially love how he doesn’t shy away from making Kamala’s face expressive, and maintains her look quite Pakistani, when others might soften her face to fit Western conventionally attractive standards. Kamala’s wide range of expressions and often ridiculous reactions are what bring this book to life.
The real highlight of this issue, however, is obviously Kamala and Carol’s team up. Considering most “legacy” superheroes share abilities with their mentors, it was fascinating to see these two clearly different heroes working together. They surely complement each other well, and seeing them fight side by side was great after such a long wait. We were definitely made participants in Kamala’s enthusiasm.
Most interestingly, though, Kamala has been a mentorless legacy so far, and Carol did not exactly sign up to have a sidekick, so it was interesting to see the way their personalities played off. This issue is mostly all about their interactions — the threats they face being so minor — but after such a long wait to see these two together in action, it was worth it. Had we jumped straight to ass-kicking, we would have missed on the great combination that is Kamala’s personality and Carol’s snark. Kamala’s street-level way of dealing with problems, talking to people one on one and actually addressing their potential, was at its best and a great contrast to Carol’s more hands-on angle.
We loved seeing Carol recognize Kamala’s development and compliment her work as a superhero, which prompted a fun dose of fangirling on the other’s part. One of the best parts about Kamala’s character is how unapologetic she is about fangirling. She jumps into excitement head-on, which might be similar to Carol’s Star Wars enthusiasm, and yet creates some hilariously awkward situations. We’ve seen this before, though, with Kamala and Wolverine’s short-lived partnership.
Their interaction, however, is at its best when Carol gets to be the mature mentor. From their first conversation, Carol’s experience shines through, clashing with Kamala’s more naive worldview. Yet, we never see Carol look down on Kamala or discourage her. She is constantly kind and caring, while trying to keep the younger girl’s feet on the ground. It is an intriguing shift seeing Carol go from the usual hothead to the straight man to Kamala’s overly impulsive tendencies, which are consistent with her age and desperation to find her missing brother.
This issue, however, was not all about Kamala and Carol (sadly so). Wilson also had to accommodate to Marvel’s most recent event, Secret Wars, which deals with the end of the world and the Marvel Multiverse as we know it. These problems are far bigger than the sewer alligators and garbage robots Kamala has dealt with so far, and the issue doesn’t shy away from dealing with more existential crises. Even if Kamala fights and wins, everyone she knows and loves is probably doomed. And so, we are treated to one of the most heartbreaking scenes in this book so far, where both starring women shine through their kindness. This is the exact moment it was clear: Carol Danvers would make an amazing mentor for Kamala Khan and we need more of these two together — Carol’s years of experience and wisdom are exactly what the girl needs now that she’s starting (and those cats are precious; I want twenty).
Ms. Marvel #17 delivered everything we were promised and more, effectively handling Marvel’s big event without outshining the anticipated Kamala/Carol meeting. It is a fun read that promises more action in future issues, yet is enjoyable simply for the interaction of the two lead women. It was a hard gig to pull off, but Wilson and Alphona did an incredible job. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these two’s interactions in the future.