REVIEW: Ms. Marvel #15 – “Fight, Flight or Freeze”

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Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Penciler: Takeshi Miyazawa
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 2/7/17

Her first face-off with an anonymous internet troll having ended with her identity broadcast across televisions and livestreams alike, Kamala worries that her days as Ms. Marvel are done for good. While the revelation of her true name was actually private for now, the threat hands over her head.

Plot: While Ms. Marvel #15 begins with a different young woman being humiliated when her private life becomes private, the incident leads Kamala to question what privacy is left in a world with unlimited access to wifi. Mike and Nakia bond over their shared experiences. Kamala is more focused on her secrets – or lack thereof – but still wants to make sure no one else feels as alone as she does.

To that end, she calls Clara over and invites her to have lunch with him. The girl is grateful, swearing that her boyfriend would never leak the photos that are currently haunting her. When she brings up a troll on her phone screen, though, Ms. Marvel knows the culprit is the same one she’s after.

Story: This week’s issue gets very introspective, but never veers into feeling preachy or condescending. It’s natural for Kamala to be worried about her privacy, and her innate kindness and empathy of course causes her to extend a helping hand to someone like Clara. Even her online opponent brings up some thought-provoking points when Kamala tries to confront them. A cyber attack can be more frightening that a physical one because neither fight nor flight will resolve the issue. Ms. Marvel has to wrestle with what it means when your enemy is beyond your reach and can also follow you no matter where you go.

In this case, though, “Tess Beckford” appears to be in the area and Kamala tries to take out her aggression on the enemy she can see. Of course, if Ms. Marvel has taught us anything, it’s that things are never as simple as they first appear. For most of the issue, the mysteries of the online troll and Tess’s powers remain too convoluted to unravel. But Kamala gets the chance to put the pieces together in a satisfying way, showcasing her intelligence in a way that she doesn’t often get to do, which brings us to a related point. It’s been a few issues without Bruno, and he’s sorely missed – but at the same time it’s nice to see that Kamala is capable of handling her hero duty without any backup.

Art: The rich and gorgeous color palette provided by Ian Herring remains one of its many strong suits. Every panel radiates with a warm vibrancy that fits the tone of Ms. Marvel perfectly.  Takeshia Miyazawa’s detailed lines also encompass all of Kamala’s emotions in a very real way, adding dimensions to her personality that go beyond G. Willow Wilson’s excellent dialogue and narration. The tension in Kamala’s body is evident even in a simple action shot like the one above, making the character appear almost three dimensional.

The art adds to the storytelling on many levels, with colors that reflect Kamala’s mood as well as pencil work that can make an internet virus seem real and threatening without ever becoming corny. This is a theme that permeates throughout the entire run, and it never ceases to amaze that a story about a teenager who can embiggen herself is one of the most relatable works of fiction on shelves today.

Verdict: Ms. Marvel #15 balances teenage insecurities against a much larger threat with heart and humor, as usual. The current arc is slightly different from the comic’s usual fare, but it explores Kamala’s inner life with aplomb.

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