DCIB Book Club: Ms Marvel Vol. 3 “Crushed”, Chapter 3

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.

THE INHUMANS! — Inhuman of The Day June 15th - Kamran A latent...

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”?

2 thoughts on “DCIB Book Club: Ms Marvel Vol. 3 “Crushed”, Chapter 3

  1. This is a fun chapter. Agreed that it packs in a lot, but I think it has a shape to it. I love how the first part is written like a total fairy tale romance: pebbles thrown at the window, sneaking out, the Cinderella moment with the shoe, her first time holding hands with a boy, that beautiful view and the interrupted first kiss. Even the “I show you mine, you show me yours” superpower moment is set up as intimate and romantic, a little glow, a little fireworks. As you said, she’s transgressing rules she usually chooses to follow, but it’s fun and romantic and she’s having a good time. The next day it looks like it will continue – a step over the line but nothing serious – but that interlude with Bruno and her brother is like a warning from her real life. After that it turns bad real quick, like a bad relationship on fast forward. Now Kamran is making decisions without consulting her, then when she resists coercing her to come with him where he wants to take her. Before she knows it she’s locked up in a cell with goons outside.

    I feel like there’s something to the fact that she’s locked up in a place that was her safe space where she could develop her powers, now desecrated and the people who helped her nowhere to be found. But it’s Kamala, she’s not the sentimental type, she doesn’t dwell in the questions, she just punches her way out with her giant girl fists.

    The other theme that shows up is this idea of one group of people deciding they’re superior as a way if justifying bad behavior. This is kind of Loki’s schtick (how dare he sneer at NJ?!!), and it’s Kaboom’s logic in the second chapter (“an age when we stop living by rules made by lesser minds for lesser beings”). Now Kamran says it straight out. Kamala is the perfect hero for this type of villain because she is constitutionally uninterested in joining some self-designated superior group with twisted morals who look down on humans like all the people in her life who she loves.

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    • Yes! It’s a fairy tale, and Kamala says that, “it’s like a movie!” That’s part of it, right? The feelings she is feeling are magic and special, but also fake. She is allowing herself to be caught up in the fantasy instead of thinking about how little she knows about this guy, really. But she is such a stable grounded person that she pulls herself out of it as soon as she is asked to skip school, that’s enough. Like you say, the Bruno convo underlines that, Bruno is also living this romantic fantasy and he gets a metaphorical wake up call.

      The being taken to a safe place and told “this is what is”, to me that feels like more of her carrying herself within herself, not the externals. Kamran thinks all he has to say is “this is what is now, we are in charge of this place, go along with it”. But Kamala has in her heart all the values and lessons she has learned, she is more than just the situation around her.

      Yes! So much of what makes this whole series special is that Kamala still sees the “adults” as more powerful than her, and respects them. And is right! She has superpowers, but her teachers and her parents and Bruno’s Grandma and all kinds of other people are wiser than her and sacrifice as much as her and so on. She’s never going to go along with a plan that makes her “special”. She is all about everyone being good and doing the right thing if they just get a chance.

      On Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 11:20 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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