REVIEW: Ms. Marvel #25 – “Teenage Wasteland”

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MS. MARVEL #25
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Penciller: Nico Leon
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 12/20/17

Ever since falling out with friends and heroes alike, especially Bruno and Carol, Kamala has started to feel a little down on her luck. Now Red Dagger has moved to Jersey City and seems to be soaking up all the adoration and heroism. Is Ms. Marvel no longer necessary?

Plot: Ms. Marvel #25 opens on Dr. Gregory Balthazar Knox’s parole hearing, and of course he cannot wait to complete his unfinished business with Kamala as soon as he gets out. At the moment, however, it is not Kamala taking on the Ms. Marvel mantle. Instead, it is Mike who puts on the outfit – complete with an over sized boxing glove to pass off as an embiggened hand – who is doing the honors.

Turns out all of Kamala’s friends have begun a shady enterprise in which they take turns being Jersey’s favorite super heroine, despite not knowing Kamala’s whereabouts. New challenger Naftali decides to suss out her location on his own and make her resurface.

Story: Though Kamala herself is in a bad way emotionally speaking, Ms. Marvel #25 is still full of heartwarming moments of light humor. The group of friends trying their hand at vigilantism is rather appealing, especially when Wilson reminds readers that Nakia still doesn’t know her best friend is the hero they’re impersonating. Funny how both Kamala and Ms. Marvel can be missing at the same time, yet her closest comrades are none the wiser. While normally this kind of plot device is bothersome, it works like a charm in Ms. Marvel #25 because of how sincere the characters are. Rather than using the secret identity to create drama, Wilson allows both of Kamala’s stories to run concurrently.

On the flip side, Kamala’s internal struggle is not treated lightly and is instead explored as seriously as all of her previous issues have been in the series despite her hardly appearing in Ms. Marvel #25. Her relationships with each of her friends and her brother are actually strengthened in her absence, because we are given a peek into their view of her and what she brings to her lives when we normally get the friendships told from her perspective. If there’s one storyline that seems unnecessary, it’s the undertone of Red Dagger’s crush on Kamala. But that’s really only superfluous because of how little they know each other at the moment – it could certainly blossom into a cute romance (or remain a cute friendship) eventually.

The only other problem is that I can’t recall Dr. Knox being mentioned before, so his beef with Ms. Marvel seems a little out of the blue. But it’s nothing I’m unwilling to wait another issue or two to learn about.

Art: There are a lot of moments filled with teenage angst for Nico Leon to play with in the art, and the characters are all drawn with care and realistic yet humorous range of emotions. And as evidenced above, there are a lot of visually arresting choices made in Ms. Marvel #25, with Ian Herring’s colors complementing Leon’s pencils every step of the way.

As the locations shift, the moods of the characters involve do as well, and the color palette and line definition follow suit. Whether Zoe and Kareem find themselves on a darkened Jersey street, or inside a warm yet sinister senior home, the panels never fail to be both detailed and interesting. The swing from one end of the art spectrum to the other is especially important in the final pages, as the twist Knox has in store is finally unleashed.

Verdict: Ms. Marvel #25 does an excellent job setting up the fallout of Kamala’s current state of wallowing and gives her supporting cast a chance at the limelight, despite sporting a currently ambiguous villain.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

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