Oh, this is SUCH a good chapter! It has a reasonable explanation for why immigrant parents want their children to marry within their culture, it has a subtle chauvinism contrasted with apparent chauvinism, and it has a teenage girl being so stupid you want to reach through the pages and shake her, but also you understand.
As a chapter, this isn’t super cohesive. Kind of jumps all over the place. But that’s just because there is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF.
Point 1: Kamala struggles as she realizes she unintentionally hurt the teen villain “Kaboom” seriously.
Point 2: Kamala’s brother is upset that Kamala went off alone with Kamran and that Kamran broke the agreement they all made.
Point 3: Kamran convinces Kamala to sneak out at night and she starts to think she is in love.
Point 4: Kamran offers Kamala a ride to school while she is waiting with her friend Bruno and her brother, and both Bruno and her brother worry about her behavior after knowing this guy for so little time.
Point 5: Kamala’s brother has a heart to heart with Bruno about how his crush on her is never going to happen, there are serious obstacles between them, Kamala’s parents and family and even Kamala herself are dedicated to staying within their own culture.
Point 6: Kamala learns that Kamran has been lying to her, he wants to convince her to join and underground group of superhumans who think they are better than other humans.
Point 7: Kamala has to choose between the guy she likes and what he believes, and making up her own mind.
Looking at all of these points, the overriding theme is believing you are above the rules or not. Kamala, even with her super powers, strictly believes in following the rules. She must respect her parents, go to school, do everything every other 16 year old girl should do. Kamran starts breaking the rules a little bit by talking to her in private. Then convinces her to sneak out at night. Then offers her a ride to school and tries to talk her into skipping classes. That is where she draws the line, says no, she doesn’t want to skip classes. And Kamran is honestly surprised!
The thing is, Kamala’s father and brother are very protective of her. But they discuss things with her, present their opinion, and take her agreement. And she takes that seriously. When she agrees to walk to the store with Kamran so long as her brother comes with them, she wants to follow that rule. Kamran convinces her to break this little rule and her brother is furious. Not because they talked alone for 5 minutes, but because Kamala did not stick to her agreement with the family.
Kamran doesn’t see that. He doesn’t see it as a matter of Kamala and her family talking and agreeing, he sees it as men telling Kamala what to do and her agreeing. So when he tells her the rules don’t matter, to break the rules, he is surprised that she fights back. It’s an odd thing, that being convinced to break rules you believe in is just as bad as being convinced to follow rules you don’t believe in. But it is very VERY much part of being a teenage girl. It’s a naturally rebellious age, and a naturally romantic age. Teenage girls are vulnerable to being convinced to break rules against their own wishes, and that breaks something inside of them. That could be having sex before they really wanted to, or it could be taking a drink before they really want to, or it could be vandalizing the teacher’s lounge, or skipping school. Or the most deadly, riding in a car with an unsafe driver.
Kamala is struggling with her own sense of rules and rebellion, the intoxication of sneaking out at night with a boy you like, versus the sick feeling of being told to skip school. She struggles a little in her superhero life in this issue too, she hurts the villain “Kaboom”, breaking her own rules of non-violence and peace, and she doesn’t like that feeling. And then there is Bruno and Kamala’s brother’s conversation about “rules”.
They are both right and both wrong and I think the way the conversation is written, that is the intended reaction. Bruno is wrong to think that some teenage love story will work out easily because it worked for his grandparents. And Kamala’s brother is wrong to think that Bruno and Kamala’s love story is impossible. Bruno is right that essentially in many ways his family and Kamala’s family are more alike than different (rule following, religious, close). And Kamala’s brother is right that there are essential differences which need to be acknowledged and respected, and may be insurmountable. What’s especially great about this conversation is the context of what comes after. In later issues, Bruno and Kamala have an honest conversation and she turns him down, because she loves him but it would be too much work for her at this point in her life. What her brother warned about, this isn’t an easy “love is enough” situation. But on the other hand, her brother later falls in love with an Black woman, who is also a devout Muslim. So she has the same values and religion as him, but is otherwise from a very different background. And the family is fine with it.
Okay, what did you think? And by “you” I mean “Emily”?