MS. MARVEL #28
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Penciller: Nico Leon
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 3/21/18
As Naftali searches far and wide for Kamala, her other friends have all taken turns donning the disguise of Ms. Marvel in order to fend off the Inventor and stop him from wiping out Jersey City’s senior citizen population. Now that things look more dire than ever with the Inventor releasing biomechanical creatures to destroy the city, Kamala’s friends have called Captain Marvel to help.
Plot: Naftali finds Kamala at the Over-Lee Private School in Jersey City Heights while the Inventor’s creatures are tearing up the town. He convinces her to take the mantle of Ms. Marvel back just as Captain Marvel is busy battling the Inventor with her friends for support.
Story: Ms. Marvel #28 brings Kamala’s voice back to the forefront from the very first page, and it’s a welcome change of pace. Even better, she delves into exactly what’s kept her away all this time in a believable manner that is neither over the top nor laughable. Everyone can get overwhelmed from time to time, and for a teen who carries the weight of a city’s safety on her shoulders it’s even more understandable. At the same time, Naftali is there to provide the alternate viewpoint: it’s not fair to blame others for the pressure you’re feeling if you haven’t tried to explain it to them. Why not ask your friends to lighten the load, which is what they’ve been trying to do all along without you realizing?
There’s a really fun and large-scale battle sequence in the middle of all of Kamala’s introspection, and though it’s a great way for Wilson to break up the potential monotony of a self-reflective conversation it also cuts off her emotional upheaval a little too quickly for my taste. Nevertheless, the issue’s climax coincides nicely with Kamala’s triumphant and return and even sprinkles in some interesting backstory on the Inventor. But as heartwarming as Kamala’s friendships are, the single most wonderful moment in Ms. Marvel #28 is the reunion between Kamala and Carol. Their relationship has been so fractured since Civil War II that many of us feared it could never be repaired, and yet Wilson manages to remove any lingering fears in just one page. It’s yet another lesson that Ms. Marvel teaches readers without beating them over the head: it’s never too late to ask forgiveness or to reach out to someone you’ve lost.
That’s not to say there aren’t things that stretch suspension of disbelief in Ms. Marvel #28, such as the reveal that Kamala has only been missing for about a week. But that’s more due to the nature of the medium, which has spread the story out over three months or more, than the issue itself. Beyond that, it’s almost confusing now trying to figure out whether her friends know she’s Ms/ Marvel. They can’t be that oblivious, can they? Either way, at least now our heroine is back and emotionally stronger than ever.
Art: The artistic team at Ms. Marvel continues to be a blessing, bringing life to every panel and enriching Kamala’s world as much as ever. Leon’s soft lines are very appealing in close-ups and help help sell some of the more dialogue-heavy moments, while the balance between blank space and detailed backgrounds is very well-crafted. Herring’s colors pop as per usual, but he also makes what seems to be a conscious choice to differentiate the look of Kamala’s new school with that of her old home. And bright and clean as her life away from fighting may seem, the warmth and familiarity that Jersey City gives her is evident in the palette.
Aside from the general level of quality that we’ve come to expect from Ms. Marvel books, there’s also a few particularly entertaining artistic moments. Specifically, the way Kamala literally jumps out of the frame in her first appearance perfectly encapsulates my own personal reaction to seeing her again – and I imagine the reaction of many other readers as well. And, of course, the fight between an over-sized Kamala and the Inventor’s Godzilla-like creature looks great when juxtaposed against her tiny friends. The moral of the story is that everything looks better with Kamala Khan back in the picture.
Verdict: Ms. Marvel #28 concludes the latest arc with poignancy and humor, resulting in the most satisfying issue in months. Minor quibbles about story details aside, the last installment of “Teenage Wasteland” strengthens Kamala as a character and highlights the importance of her friendships very well.
Star Rating: 4 out of 5