MS. MARVEL #18
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Penciler: Francesco Gastón
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 5/10/17
After the events of Civil War II left Bruno severely injured and perhaps irreparably damaged his friendship with Kamala, he received a scholarship to study at Golden City Polytechnic Prep and promptly exited Ms. Marvel‘s life. Now it’s time to go look in on his activities there.
Plot: Bruno starts the issue doing one of the many things he does best – in this case, daydreaming about Kamala in the middle of class. That is, until his frienemy Kwezi asks for a favor in affairs of the heart. Unfortunately for Bruno, that affair of the heart involves stealing Vibranium to impress a girl who wants to join the Dora Milaje anyway.
Though Bruno has been wallowing in self-pity since he arrived in Wakanda, he uses it to his advantage in this case. Even as he doesn’t know whether to trust Kwezi’s intentions or not, Bruno helps the 17 year-old math genius break into the Vibranium storage facility by distracting the bodyguards with his injury and general confusion. But can he participate in the physical part of the job?
Story: Kamala does not physically appear in Ms. Marvel #18, but her presence is felt throughout. Partially because Bruno is dreaming about her early on, but also because he was such an important part of her life that it’s impossible to read about one without thinking about the other. Learning about Bruno’s state of mind since the accident certainly helps to explain why he hasn’t reached out to Kamala since leaving. He doesn’t even seem mad at her anymore, rather too dejected by his own perceived failures to mend fences with her.
This is where Kwezi comes in. He is introduced as a potential antagonist almost, poking Bruno in his sore spot and enacting a very illegal plan. But it is soon clear that he is there to push Bruno to believe in himself once more. Not only that, but he serves as an excellent reminder that how we see ourselves is not always how others see us. Even how we think they see us doesn’t always match up with reality. While this issue of Ms. Marvel did not do anything in the way of repairing Bruno and Kamala’s friendship, it certainly set the stage for a future reconciliation. Now that Bruno sees that he’s worth the trouble and consideration that others might go to for him, and sees that his perspective might be skewed when it comes to others’ actions, perhaps he will be more open to a visit from Kamala in the near future.
Art: I believe this is the first time I’ve seen Francesco Gastón’s work in a Ms. Marvel book, yet the pencils seems to slow almost seamlessly with the artists who have come before. Despite being in a new location and with mostly new characters, the artwork was unmistakably part of the Ms. Marvel universe. This is partially thanks to Ian Herring’s excellent coloring and soft color palette, but it also shows that Gastón has a keen understanding of the world of the story.
Even though the Wakanda of this issue doesn’t look exactly like the one in the current Black Panther run, it fit the tone of the issue. And for those who are reading both series, it helps expand Wakanda beyond the political turmoil that has been showcased in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run. The pastel colors of Ms. Marvel retain the innocence associated with the story even as cars are exploding in the background, just as these students must grow and learn as individuals even as a nation is rising up under their feet.
Verdict: Ms. Marvel #18 is a sweet interlude that brings back one of the series’ beloved characters and helps provide longtime fans a little insight into his actions. There isn’t exactly any closure in the story, but there is hope for more interactions with Bruno in the future.