Woot! Comic books!!!! I am on SUCH a comic book kick right now. They are the perfect thing to read when life is crazy and you can’t focus. And Ms Marvel is, like, THE BEST.
One of the best things about Ms Marvel is that it takes all the big scary “grown-ups” from the other Marvel serieses and turns them into safe kid versions. I like this Loki standalone, because it turns him into the silly older dude at the high school dance, trying to relate to the young people, giving them good advice they mostly ignore.
I also like this Loki standalone because it is sooooooooooo Jersey City! At least, the Ms Marvel version of it which (I hope) is close to reality. Everyone’s generally nice, but also “ugh, hipsters”. Kids hang out at convenience stores. The high school dance is full of folks of different colors, sexualities, everything.
And the LESSONS! It takes the classic Valentine’s Dance high school story and turns it around. A letter from a secret admirer is CREEPY. Being a friend is awesome, not a bad thing. And sometimes the Valentine’s dance is a time to say “Friendship love is just as important as other love and I love you”. Not to mention that all the couples at the dance are revealed to actually be miserable and feeling pressured once they take the truth serum.
I wanted to start with this book and this particular story because it feels like where the creators finally relaxed and went “okay, this is gonna work, we can do the thing we want to do and now we know what that is”. The first two volumes deal with her gaining and understanding her powers, and defeating her first villain “The Inventor”. It establishes that she’s not gonna be a an angsty hero with a big backstory, just a kid trying to do the right thing because it’s the right thing. And it establishes that the kids around her will be just as important to the story as her. This isn’t a “imagine if I had powers and suddenly mattered in the adult world” fantasy, this is a “I already matter, my friends already matter, and I am not going to leave that behind just because I have powers, I’m still a kid” story.
The previous volume is called “Generation Why” and it has a whole big thing about how teenagers today are constantly being told they are draining society, do nothings, on their phones, worthless, until they start to believe it. And Ms Marvel is saying “you aren’t worthless, young people have value and promise, believe in yourself and that there is a better future possible”. Good mission statement for the series, but way more fun once we get past the mission statement and into seeing it in action.
I think that’s what the resolution to the Loki story is getting at. They don’t need adults looking at them suspiciously, trying to defeat the “bad people”. They need a safe place, “wards” around their schools, and let them grow up a little. I mean, that’s the whole concept of Ms Marvel. She’s a kid, trying to do the right thing, but still being protected by the adults around her because kids should be protected.
Okay, what did you think? And how perfect was Bruno’s “I’m never going to tell her how I feel and then I will DIE and go off to college and never see her again” for teen angst?
I like how this volume turns the prince charming trope on its head. Kamran is handsome and he’s Kamala’s parents’ perfect guy – son of good friends, headed to MIT – then turns out to be just the kind of rule-bending geek Kamala can connect with too. The family context is always my favorite part, her parents are way strict and would never let her go out to a dance or on a date, but they’re also dry and funny and love her for who she is. They want her to look nice and entertain Kamran, but not to any serious end because she’s only 16, way too young to get serious about a boy. Kamala falling for the perfect guy brought in by her parents is an act of teenage rebellion against the benevolent adult forces that, as you point out, are trying to protect her because she’s still just a kid. On the other hand, she’s a kid who’s discovering how to wield her own considerable power (teenagers! right?).
So: parents say no romance, her own instincts when it comes to devoted best friend Bruno also say no romance, and her older brother definitely says no romance. But she’s a teenager whose brain is activated by a dreamy guy, so romance. But then he turns out to be a bad dude who wants to turn her against the regular humans she loves and manipulate her into using her power to serve his evil little group. She is snatched and taken beyond where her parents can help her, and the superpowered adults who have been helping her are nowhere to be found. This is the point in the usual story where she would be dishonored and/or rescued by the male hero. And here comes Bruno…to get captured at the front door. Kamala is shamed but her strength and training and will to survive kick in and she gets herself and Bruno out of the pickle she got herself into. Meaning, the adults can’t always be there to protect you, but if they’ve raised you right you’ll know how to protect yourself when the moment comes, and you won’t be seduced or cowed by a charming guy who turns mean.
OK now explain all the film references!
FIRST CHAPTER! FIRST CHAPTER! So, only the Loki story so far. I agree with everything you said, and it is why I picked this book, but also why I want to go through slooooooooooowly chapter by chapter.
And I think the Loki story sets the tone. It sets up a classic sort of Midsommer Night’s Dream romance plot, magical figure getting involved in mortal love affairs. But then it turns it around, says “wait a minute, these are people who are about more than just their romantic misunderstandings, you can’t set them up and play with them like that”. They may be teenagers, all full of drama and romance, but they are also capable of thinking and being more than just their emotions.
On Sun, Jun 27, 2021 at 7:46 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Oops, sorry! Emily Latella moment, never mind! I did wonder why you were talking about Loki so much.
Favorite moments in this chapter:
– The guy seeing Loki fall from the sky in his viking get-up, helping him out, then shrugging and saying these Brooklyn hipsters get weirder every year. That’s hilarious if you live here because Jersey City is directly on the other side of Manhattan from Brooklyn and a tenth of the size and it constantly feels both underappreciated and invaded by the gentrifying hipster hordes.
– The moment with Kamala and Nakia in Kamala’s house talking about the letter from the secret admirer, Kamala getting dreamy eyed as girls do in movies, and her friend cutting right through it – ugh, don’t tell me you’re falling for this creepster. This is also foreshadowing: Kamala is ready to push the boundaries of her parents’ rules about boys, and will even take risks to explore (eventually landing her in trouble that she will resolve on her own, so yeah really setting up the plot of the whole volume).
– The Ms. Marvel/Loki confrontation. He tricks her but she’s able to break through by recognizing the true Loki. She waves him around in her giant girl fist, causing him to ask if she knows how to solve any problems without smashing things and telling her she reminds him of his brother (that would be Thor, the guy with the hammer).
Thanks for making me slow down, taking it in bits like this you can see how well it’s put together. If it were a regular comic I would think I was reading into things but it’s G. Willow Wilson so it’s all on purpose.
-Oh oh! There’s another moment! When Loki arrives at the Circle Q, they say he must be from “Williamsburg”? What’s that? Is that a rich place or a cool place?
-More foreshadowing, Kamala listens to her friend and her instincts and is a little cautious, and then gets her own self out of trouble. She doesn’t need to be “rescued”, and she isn’t a fool who sticks to romantic fantasy at all costs.
-What I love is that Ms Marvel defeats him by being straightforward, because she truly doesn’t think of any other way. Other superheroes would get caught up in trying to outwit him, or be lost in his trickery, but she’s just a teenage girl and can’t even conceive of all that adult weirdness. See a problem, fix the problem. Tell the truth like her parents’ taught her and trust the other person will do the right thing. The world is generally fair and reasonable. More foreshadowing sort of, she believes it when people say “I’m good”, she thinks everyone is as honest and straightforward as she is.
Oh, it MUST be on purpose! Valentine’s dance, Bruno’s hidden feelings, all of that is setting up “this is about to be a romantic storyline”
On Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 11:30 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:
Williamsburg is an old warehouse district in Brooklyn, on the East River across from Manhattan. It went through its authentic artist and early hipster revival phase and is now the poster child for gentrification and too expensive for most people.
Good point about Ms. Marvel being direct and uncomplicated. I hadn’t thought about it before but that is one of her defining characteristics.
It’s also one of the defining characteristics of her books. Low angst, low drama, lots of people directly talking to each other about their concerns.
On Tue, Jun 29, 2021 at 10:47 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote: