MS. MARVEL #10
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Pencillers: Takeshi Miyazawa & Adrian Alphona
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 8/31/16
Kamala’s best friend Bruno lies unconscious in the hospital after a foiled attempt to break Josh out of wrongful imprisonment. Now she’s wrestling with the guilt she feels over participating in Predictive Justice as she fights to stop an experiment that’s gone too far.
Plot: Remembering Bruno as a young boy hurts Kamala even more when she’s faced with the extent of his injuries. After she learns how dire his state really is, Kamala goes off in search of a way to make things right. Unfortunately, fighting the task force she’s in charge of leads to dealing with her mentor and hero: Captain Marvel.
Carol and Kamala talk it out, and Kamala acts like she’d going to follow orders despite forming a plan of her own. Meanwhile Becky, the snobby redhead on the Predictive Justice squad, has some hopes of tearing the two superheroes apart. Will Kamala manage to prove to Carol that the system is flawed before Becky turns them against each other? And, more importantly, is Bruno going to pull through?
Story: Though Ms. Marvel usually maintains a lighter tone than most due to Kamala’s age, G. Willow Wilson has never shied away from tackling difficult issues. This week’s issue is no exception. There is no magical recovery for Bruno’s injuries, and the trials he will face if he survives seem daunting. But while we worry for Bruno and understand Kamala’s pain, the story never lets us forget that this situation is partially one of her own making.
One thing Ms. Marvel does very effectively is alternate between the humorous, feel-good tone it’s known for and the darker, grittier setting Civil War II is all about. Kamala forgets the stakes at times, and it’s easy for the audience to follow her lead. That way, when reality hits again, it feels like a punch in the gut. For her and for us.
The right page turn reveals, on the other hand, pack a little less punch. It’s not shocking to see Captain Marvel interceding, but it is a little disappointing to see her arrive so soon without the younger generation having time to really hash things hows. That does nothing to detract from the quality of the story, however – especially not when we have the pleasure of watching Kamala stand up for what she believes in and explain herself as eloquently as possible to Carol. If anything, Carol comes across as inflexible and uncaring if you’re reading Ms. Marvel without checking in on her elsewhere. That works for Kamala’s story, because any teen worth her salt needs an authority figure to push back against, but it’s still a reflection of how Civil War II is affecting perceptions of Captain Marvel overall.
Since the Marvel event is so much bigger than each individual hero, it can leave a single issue like this one feeling incomplete. Even if Kamala successfully pulls of the plan she concocts at the end of this issue, the audience knows that Predictive Justice won’t be resolved until the event ends. Making Bruno’s condition the heart of the story strengthens the issue, but this still isn’t an issue you can pick up and read on its own without backstory. It’s very clearly one chapter in a longer tale, and we can only hope it has a satisfying ending.
Art: Since its debut issue, the art in Ms. Marvel has been one of its strongest suits. In this issue, Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona continue to combine their efforts and create a look that fits Kamala perfectly. The grainy shading in the flashbacks early on immediately pull the reader in. Meanwhile the muted and pale colors from Ian Herring make the beginning of Bruno and Kamala’s friendship all the more bittersweet.
The shift from the past to the present affects even the borders of the comic, as they go from cream to white. The stark difference between the opening memory and the reality of Bruno in the hospital brings the tragedy of Civil War II that much closer to home. Yet the strong tinge of blue throughout underscores the melancholy state of affairs.
The art in Ms. Marvel is always stellar in my opinion, but I was particularly taken with the depiction of the task force in this issue. At first there seemed to be a discrepancy between their harsh actions and the more colorful style in which they were drawn, but in the end it felt purposeful. It’s easy to forget that these characters are just kids who think they’re doing the right thing, like Kamala. And that sometimes, it’s easy to forget the severity of the situation when it’s not your best friend in a hospital. Sometimes it feels like a game, and you can say “collateral damage” while posing for your close-up.
Verdict: Ms. Marvel continues to be one of Marvel’s strongest monthly stories in an issue that is both tense and touching. While Civil War II weighs it down, G. Willow Wilson makes the most of the material and portrays Kamala’s struggles sympathetically. Several threads are left hanging, but that just makes the next issue all the more necessary.