Ms. Marvel (E1)

A youthful, artistic, and incredibly cool introduction to a new wave of Marvel heroes.


Ella Thompson

7/3/20223 min read

Ms. Marvel is the latest superhero miniseries, this time from Bisha K. Ali based on the comics created by Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker - the first Muslim character to headline their own comic at Marvel. The artists and editors that worked on this must have consumed an ungodly amount of caffeine because whewwwww.

There’s a killer amount of cartoon art in this - different than I’ve seen in any other Marvel gig yet. It’s not only catapulting off of the animation game-changer Spiderverse but also miming pieces of The Mitchells vs. the Machines. We’re often shifted through expository information with the help of cartoon skits or animated cartoons decorating the Jersey City buildings around her. It has a starkly youthful and upbeat energy that’s more reminiscent of earlier Marvel films.

Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is a 16-year-old Pakistani-American Jersey City native who makes cartoons and writes superhero fanfiction. Insane resumé. She’s a huge Marvel-head (specifically for Captain Marvel) and, along with her best friend and techie little dude Bruno (Matt Lintz), she’s been planning her Captain Marvel cosplay for this year's Avengercon. She’s put the outfit together, and Bruno’s engineered some matching gloves to imitate her powers.

However, she quickly hits a bump in the road. Her mother and father (Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapoor) refuse to let her go as soon as she gets the courage to ask. She asks her brother Hasan (Fawad Khan) to try and persuade them, but the best he can do is get them to let Dad chaperone her. And Dad wants to go as “Big Hulk” and “Little Hulk”; in other words, a nightmare. She refuses the idea on the spot, somewhat meanly.

It's clear at this point that her mother is overprotective of her, almost to a suspicious degree. At one point her mother receives a box of things from their grandmother in Pakistan. One of those items is a bangle of some sort - as soon as mom lays eyes on it, it’s sent straight up to the attic. Unfortunately for mom, Kamala brings it with her as an accessory of individuality for her cosplay when she sneaks out with Bruno to go to Avengercon anyway.

The lighting and set design of Avengercon are stellar - all kinds of blue and yellow tones. The space feels huge and genuinely magical compared to how irl conventions tend to be decorated in white spaces. Kamala is in a rush when they arrive. She quickly changes in the restroom and accidentally forgets the gloves Bruno made her there, but there’s no time so she slaps on the bangle.

She’s not high but she definitely feels high in that moment - that bangle is definitely not just a bangle. Next thing she knows, she’s sending out some kind of solid light power beams from her arm, knocking an Ant-Man replica head off its body, sending confetti everywhere, nearly crushing her former friend with a giant Thor hammer, saving her, then fleeing the scene. Her mother is disappointed that she’s snuck out, but all Kamala can think about is how this is the coolest thing to ever happen to her.

Based on this episode, this series is cool as hell. The art and art direction are incredible, it’s fun and light-hearted, and Vellani gives a standout performance as Kamala. I’d love to see her and Tom Holland leading an Avengers film together. I remember when the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel comics dropped when I was growing up - Kamala from the chin down, in a black shirt with a purple scarf. It seemed different than the other comics I was seeing, and I would say the same for this Ms. Marvel.

The energy is well balanced and exciting - I think this series pulls in a more diverse audience than the other Marvel shows, potentially a younger one than would watch Moon Knight. If the Marvel bandwagon continues - and no doubt it will, duh - ranges of projects including ones like this are exactly what they need to be doing.