REVIEW: Ms. Marvel #30 – “Home Again”

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MS. MARVEL #30
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Penciller: Nico Leon
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 5/30/18

Ms. Marvel #30 sees New Jersey’s favorite heroine dealing with plenty of drama both of the caped crusader variety and the plain old teenage one. First: she’s had her first kiss ever thanks to Red Dagger, but now Bruno’s back in the picture and she may have feelings for him too. Second: Bruno still has unresolved tension with his ex Mike, who is also Kamala’s friend. And third: the new girl Kaylee might just be harboring a villainous secret. What’s a superhero to do?

Plot: After a surprising first kiss, Red Dagger is readily to let his guard down and reveal his true identity to Ms. Marvel, but she’s not sure that’s something she wants. Meanwhile, poor Mike has locked herself in the girls’ bathroom and refuses to come out until Bruno leaves for Wakanda. Nothing short of that will draw her out, unless of course Zoe storms in to inform everyone that Kaylee is a super villain. And things only go from bad to worse when Kamala discovers that the superhuman newcomer isn’t just a mean girl, she’s actually the latest copy of the Doc.X virus!

Story: There’s a lot of dynamics to be mined in Ms. Marvel #30 even without taking the villain of the week into account, but fortunately G. Willow Wilson knows how to balance both sides of Kamala very well. There’s a little bit of the usual romance trope in which the hero can’t concentrate while thinking of her love life, but there’s plenty more of the brave and headstrong Kamala who rushes in to save the day and has to face down one of her most interesting foes. And the supporting cast get plenty of opportunities to both hash out their personal differences – such as Bruno and Mike healing from their breakup – as well as track down Doc.X themselves. Kamala’s story has turned into more of an ensemble as time goes on, and every once in a while the case feels too large, but Ms. Marvel #30 is a showcase for just why it pays to have so many balls in motion.

The pacing in the story is both one of the stronger points and paradoxically a minor disappointment. Because as thrilling as it is to uncover the villain so quickly and arrive at her climactic showdown at the Spring Fling in the same issue, it also left me wishing we had at least another month worth of tension to draw out both the Kamala vs. “Kaylee” struggle as well as the love square subplot. On the bright side, it’s very good to see that Kamala doesn’t get bogged down in her relationships when there is a larger threat looming. It can be cute and comedic during a run-of-the-mill exercise in heroism, but watching her shake off her troubles in order to shake down bigger villains is rather empowering.

While the battle against Doc.X doesn’t feel as eventful as Zoe finding a nice girl to dance with, for example, it does help to bring Kamala’s story full circle in a way. She’s been off her game since this troll threatened to reveal her secrets, so it’s only right that she has a decisive victory just as she’s making plans for her own future. The resolution for Kamala and Red Dagger is almost too simple, and though it may not be quite the end for them it does telegraph her ultimate choice. But the juxtaposition between Kareem’s decision to leave and Bruno’s decision to stay is poetic, and the final moments open the door for many exciting possibilities in the world of Ms. Marvel.

Art: Nico Leon may not have been the artist that originated this run of Ms. Marvel, but Leon’s art has certainly become the signature style for the series. Complemented by Ian Herring’s perfectly pastel coloring, Leon’s soft lines create heartwarming high school vibes in some scenes while still managing to bring the right intensity to the action in others. One of the best things about Ms. Marvel #30’s artwork is the attention to the right details. Establishing panels tend to be filled with world-building extras in the background, but they easily fade away when the focus needs to be on the characters and their emotions. On the other hand, when details about a character – such as the way in which Kaylee’s wardrobe plays into her Queen Bee status – are important to the plot, then they are subtly highlighted by the art.

The Spring Fling is especially visually appealing, with certain action-filled panels allowing readers the scope of how every character is participating in the fight while others provide solid blocks of color in the background to drown out the white noise surrounding a character’s dialogue and emotions.

Verdict: Ms. Marvel #30 goes by way too quickly, but it’s still a fun and hopeful look at Kamala Khan’s life and relationships. G. Willow Wilson reminds us both why she’s such a great hero and friend, while the art remains as top-notch as ever.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5

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