Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed by Wilson, Miyazawa, and Bondoc

I'm reading this series a year or so behind everyone else, because I really don't care about the Marvel Universe Reboot of the Moment and all the rest of that continuity crap. But Ms. Marvel does get mentioned as one of the "good mainstream superhero comics right now" -- it was the standard reference for that between Hawkeye and Squirrel Girl (which seems to have lapped it) -- so I thought I might as well keep up at least that much.

(You can see what I said, at greater length, about Vol. 1, and in brief about Vol. 2, if time hangs heavy on you.)

Kamala Khan is realio-trulio an Inhuman in this collection of stories, working out at the gym in New Attilan (conveniently located in the middle of the Hudson, so she can get there from Jersey City) and having other Inhumans talk about how really special and important she is in random panels so we don't forget. Again, she's a junior-league Elongated Man in a universe stuffed full of vastly more powerful people -- even leaving aside the efficacy of dressing up in spandex and punching people as a career choice or vehicle to affect the world -- so this is special pleading at the very best. And didn't the Inhumans used to be a family that lived on the moon? I miss those Inhumans; these road-show mutants are dull and derivative by comparison.

Vol. 3: Crushed collects five more issues of Kamala's series, plus an issue of SHIELD in which she guest-starred, and the overall plotline here circles around her (mostly potential, at this point) love life. Her mopey white wanna-be boyfriend, Bruno, is still pining in his self-imposed friendzone -- admittedly, Kamala has a standard pop-culture Ethic Restrictive Family, complete with thundering father and religious-nut brother, and no human being would willingly subject himself to that, even if he were a teenager in love with a stretchy girl. But then Kamala's family's dream boy actually shows up: the son of a family they know, from the right part of Pakistan, attractive and slightly older and upwardly mobile and all that jazz. (And then they get all confusedly disapproving when Kamala is actually smitten with this guy -- Ethic Restrictive Families don't know what they want!)

Is Dream Guy as dreamy as he seems? Will he turn out to have a surprising connection to the superhero plot? Will Mopey Sidekick Boy rush to her rescue, ineffectively? Is this a Marvel comic?

Kamala is becoming more and more a generic superhero with a few interesting markers -- she mentions writing fan-fiction once here, I think. Instead, we get multiple Peter Parker-esque speeches about Great Responsibility, straight out of the machine Stan Lee had installed in the corner of the office in 1965. That's all repetitive bullshit, and every superhero reader has seen it a million times. But that's what the audience seems to want, so perhaps they will be happy to hear that they get it here.

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