Ahmed Ali Akbar: Hello! Welcome to The Aerogram’s review of Ms. Marvel #6: Healing Factor, Part 1. Last issue, Kamala Khan saved her best friend’s brother from being involved in the schemes of the Inventor, while continuing to navigate her relationship with her parents. This week, Kamala fulfills her fantasy of a superhero team-up! She encounters a hologram of her nemesis the Inventor, fights cybernetic alligators, teams up with Wolverine and gets heroic inspiration from an Imam. Yes, this all happens in one comic book and this is the world we live in.
Aditi Shiva: So I’m gonna jump right in and talk about one of the big changes in this issue — guest artist Jacob Wyatt takes over from Adrian Alphona for a bit. I’ve been a fan of Wyatt’s art since I came across his original comic Necropolis, so I was really excited to learn of his involvement with Ms. Marvel.
Ahmed, I realize we haven’t discussed here before This series’ artwork has cleverly played with size and perspective right from the start.the way this series’ artwork has cleverly played with size and perspective right from the start. In some panels, Kamala appears really small and her features are not as detailed; it’s almost like a little chibi version of her. Wyatt continues with this here. I felt this stylistic choice contributes to the series’ playful feel as a whole, but also has an added layer of significance as Kamala’s powers allow her to “embiggen” and “disembiggen” — she can change in size.
Ahmed: Alphona’s depiction of her powers was sometimes grotesque and I think the more cartoony style might fit the series better. For me, Wyatt’s style evokes Bruce Timm (artist of Batman: The Animated Series): blank pupils, with a focus on silhouettes over penciled-in details. I also love how Kamala’s character design has continued to show her as trendy and hip. She even has an X-Men “X” patch on her military jacket!
Aditi: Good catch! I like that sort of subtle homage to It is in touch with young people and the ways they participate in pop and fan culture today.the classics and then there’s also specific character traits highlighted, like the fact that she’s headed to the comic-book store in that scene. These sorts of decisions from the creative team, even in the “filler” panels, makes Ms. Marvel a fun and fresh read. It is in touch with young people and the ways they participate in pop and fan culture today. I like that Kamala reads Magical Pony Adventures comics; they’re not necessarily trying to paint her tastes as highbrow. We also knew from as early as the premiere issue that she is quite invested in superhero fanfiction!
— Todd DuBois (@GWOtaku) July 16, 2014
Ahmed: Kamala’s nerdhood works for me because all of her references were based in reality, but not too beholden to actual pop culture. Unfortunately, there’s a clunky doge-joke in this issue which I’m sure will be pretty dated in two years.
Aditi: (Such pity. Much effort. Wow.) And these knowing nods to…well, to the current state of things, extend right to the issue’s cover: we see Kamala on the steps of a large bank building, nonchalantly stopping crime while paying close attention to her phone.
Ahmed: Yes! So good! Is she taking a selfie or is she texting? If she’s texting, that’s a no-look punch she’s giving to that bank-robber. Pretty impressive. Speaking of punches, this was primarily an action-based issue, but it’s well-grounded I thought Kamala’s romp with Logan in the sewers was the most effective action sequence the series has offered thus far.in the meeting between Wolverine and Kamala.I have been critical of the action sequences and villain plot in the past, but I thought Kamala’s romp with Logan in the sewers was the most effective action sequence the series has offered thus far. The sequence above where Wolverine does a stylish, action-hero somersault out of a pipe and into the water and Kamala turns herself into the flailing, adorable chibi-doll is great and shows their contrasting personalities.
Aditi: When I first learned — I think it was via Jake Wyatt’s process shots on Instagram, actually — that Wolverine was showing up in this story, I anticipated another instance of the Wolverine-and-young-female-superhero mentorships we’ve seen before in Marvelverse: with Kitty Pryde, Jubilee and most recently Oya. Wolverine is certainly a fan favorite; he’s extremely popular from the Marvel movies alone. His appearance here strikes me as yet another way in which Ms. Marvel has been enthusiastically presenting itself as a very accessible, unintimidating entry point to Marvel comics. It was refreshing here that Wolverine wasn’t always the one in control, who had the upper hand in the fight sequences. In his current state, with his healing factor lost, he was reliant on Kamala’s help. They really were a team.
Ahmed: Wolverine not having his healing factor also confirmed, officially, that Ms. Marvel takes place concurrently with the mainstream Marvel Universe. Before this, Kamala had been pretty isolated and we had only seen Captain Marvel and the other Avengers in dream sequences.
Aditi: Yes, and Wolverine explains he’s tracking down a runaway student from the Jean Grey School. I’m hoping we will see more engagement with the wider Marvel Universe in subsequent issues.
Ahmed: The Inventor seems to be an entirely new villain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some connection to a bigger Marvel Universe villain. I’m still not really sold on the guy though. We’ve now discovered he believes he’s Thomas Edison and that he somehow believes Kamala is ‘important’ to him.
Aditi: Hey, Thomas Edison was from New Jersey, yes?
Ahmed: Good catch! Weird stuff.
Aditi: I also do not get why The Inventor looks like a bird.
Ahmed: Totally inscrutable to me. Maybe the art team really wanted to draw a very stylish cockatiel in a waist-and-overcoat.
Aditi: Actually, wait, there is an explanation given, though it doesn’t explain the fashion choices. Knox, a short, balding guy (who seems to be The Inventor’s Wormtail-equivalent, more or less) says that his “pet cockatiel contaminated [Thomas Edison’s] DNA when [Knox] was synthesizing him.” So many questions!
Ahmed: We’ll just have to wait and see where Wilson takes the character, I guess.
Aditi: As I said in our discussion of Ms. Marvel #5, the series’ creators dedicated the “bulk of the first story arc to really allowing readers to get familiar with Kamala Khan, the heart and soul of the series,” and I thought they did a good job of that. It got the series a lot of positive attention. Now that the plot has been set into motion, I think readers’ expectations will grow and the series’ lasting impact will be determined not just by its character development but by the quality of the unfolding story as well.
Ahmed: Agreed. We really understand who Kamala is and how much of how her supporting cast influences her. This issue expanded Kamala’s world view a I can only hope the villains become more compelling.little bit and the readers along with it with the introduction of Wolverine. I can only hope the villains become more compelling. A lot of comic readers say that a hero is only as good as their villain. Join us next time for #7, where Kamala has to save Wolverine from a massive mutant alligator! Talk to us on Twitter and tell us what you think about #6!
Odds and Ends
AAA: Sheik Abdullah shows up! And he’s not a jerk! He might even be telling Kamala to find superheroic mentorship?
AS: I gotta say, Kamala’s wearing the coolest outfit on her way to the comic-book store. I wish I dressed that well when I was sixteen.
AAA: I gotta say, Cockatiel Thomas Edison is wearing the coolest outfit in his alligator-swamp lair. I hope I dress that well when I’m a 150-year old supermutant.
AS: It seems we can expect a “Where’s-Waldo-style splash page” by Wyatt in Issue #7! If it looks anything like this, it’s gonna be awesome!
AAA: Where’s Nakia been? Besides her mom, most of the people Kamala’s interacting with have been men! I want to see some desi/Muslim sisterhood!
AS: Agreed! I also kind of want to hear Nakia’s comments on Ms. Marvel’s costume, because that girl is super stylish too.
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Aditi Shiva is from Singapore and works as an editor of comics and young adult fiction. She tweets at @aditishiva.
Ahmed Ali Akbar is a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing on race, class and history of American Muslims and South Asian diaspora. He is editor of Rad Brown Dads and a contributor to Salaam, Love. He tweets at @radbrowndads.
Ms. Marvel (2014) is written by G. Willow Wilson and edited by Sana Amanat. Issue #6 features art by Jake Wyatt, colors by Ian Herring and letters by Joe Caramagna. The cover is by Jamie McKelvie, and is colored by Matt Wilson. Join the “Kamala Korps” and find out about upcoming issues on the series’ official tumblr. Issue #7 releases on August 20.