REVIEW: Ms. Marvel #20 – “Subversive Agenda”

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MS. Marvel #20
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Penciller: Marco Failla
Colorist: Ian Herring

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 7/19/17

Last issue, Kamala was knocked unconscious and her brother Aamir was taken by new mayor Chuck Worthy’s keepers. Can she save him and herself?

Plot: Ms. Marvel #20 opens with Aamir speaking to an unseen officer in the detention center, trying to explain his own innocence as well as making the larger point that discrimination based on appearance or religion is wrong. Unfortunately, he cannot argue against the new laws which threaten to charge him with immigration fraud over a one-off display of powers.

Meanwhile, Kamala is awakened from her electrically-induced slumber thanks to a hallucination of Bruno. Of course, she immediately walks into a crowd of people who want superheroes gone from New Jersey. Now she must team up with the former mayor to combat Mayor Worthy’s illegal tactics.

Story: There are some readers who abhor any whiff of politics in their comics, especially if they are supporters of the opposing side. If you are one of those readers, then this issue is not for you. But if you appreciate a good story even more when it borrows from real life in order to more effectively hit home, then you can rest assured that Ms. Marvel #20 deepens the stakes in an already strong arc. Aamir’s heartfelt and impassioned speech about the roots of terrorism in individuals sets the tone for the rest of the issue, making it clear that the story is going to delve deeply into the aggression and mistrust that Americans are experiencing in their daily lives.

G. Willow Wilson doesn’t allow the heavy material to weigh down the pages, however, always taking care to incorporate a moment or two of lightness. There’s even a chuckle or two during Aamir’s interrogation that manage not to undercut his earlier words, in yet another display of Wilson’s talent at balancing humor and heart.

Kamala’s plot is equally timely, and the parallels to be drawn between New Jersey’s new administration in Ms. Marvel and the United States’ current administration in real life cannot be denied. At the same time, the issue cleverly uses events from the very beginning of Kamala’s run to create long-running consequences for her. It will be harder for her to get the public on her side now because of misinformation that spread in the past, but hopefully that means it’ll be more satisfying when the arc concludes.

Art: Marco Failla’s art style is especially suited to this storyline, because he focuses on a simpler and more realistic look that allows the reader to focus primarily on the emotions each character is going through. That’s not to say that the more comical beats are toned down due to this style, because if anything punchlines are enhanced when they stand out from the scene around them.

Ian Herring’s coloring, meanwhile, remains a tie that binds Ms. Marvel #20 to the rest of the run regardless of what’s happening in the particular issue. The more somber palette is aesthetically pleasing while still subtly acknowledging how serious the situation has gotten for Kamala and Aamir. Together, the art team pull off some fun action sequences as well that flow with the rest of the issue and never once feel stagnant.

Verdict: A superhero hero like Kamala Khan is what we need today, and G. Willow Wilson grasps that perfectly. We have yet to see how this story will turn out, but so far it’s one of Ms. Marvel‘s best.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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