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Ms. Marvel #28 Review

by Charles Martin on March 21, 2018

Ms. Marvel #28 Review
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nico Leon
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Carol Danvers is in Jersey City for the long-awaited return of Ms. Marvel. This story concludes in a fashion that's a little long on giant cyborg critter fighting and a little short on introspection.

I'm a huge fan of Ms. Marvel. I've championed it before as Marvel's best ongoing solo title, and I'm sure I'll do so again. I've enjoyed the lead-in to this story arc and I felt the previous installments were bold and delightful experiments in how Kamala Khan's supporting cast plays without her. 

Her return is an entertaining story in its own right, but I can't quiet the voice that tells me, "This should have been bigger. This should have been deeper and more intense and more transformative." 

On the other hand, my high expectations may be painting G. Willow Wilson's script into an unfair corner here. If the character work in this issue were less subtle, I'd probably be calling it out as too on-the-nose. 

What we get in Ms. Marvel #28 is an ever-so-slightly disappointing return to the status quo that leaves some of this arc's critical questions unanswered. At the simplest level, there's the question of how Kamala's friends can possibly pretend not to know Kamala = Ms. Marvel after this.

I really wish this issue closed with a page or two where Kamala's buddies admit to working out her identity and then shower her with support - rather like her mother did at the end of the 2014 volume. It wouldn't just be an epic feel-good moment; this issue has a clear "home is where you are unconditionally loved" theme and a scene like that would be a perfect fit.

On a deeper character level, this issue skirts close to the fact that Kamala was veering into depression in the "Mecca" and "Northeast Corridor" arcs, but doesn't quite confront it head-on. The new character Naftali starts a great conversation on this topic, but it chops off rather abruptly to speed the story on toward the silly climactic fight.

The silliness of the Inventor is undeniable; his plans omit that key step between "monster assault on Jersey City" and "profit" in a way that paints him inevitably as a moustache-twirling scenery-chewing baddie in the classic Silver Age mould. 

But there is a very cool moral point to bringing the Inventor back: Seeing him slot new targets into his "desperate times call for dehumanizing a marginalized group" message really emphasizes how evil that kind of thinking is. 

The fight against him lags a bit, both narratively and visually, until Kamala makes her grand return. Nico Leon is still struggling to reconcile kaiju-sized cyborgs with human-sized opponents and not even Ian Herring's ever-brilliant colour work can make up for some shortage of detail in the central action scenes. 

I have to give the creators credit for making everything perk up when Kamala enters the fray, though. The art looks better and the fight feels more meaningful. Adding a size-shifting hero to the fight against a kaiju-scale monster neatly solves Nico Leon's scale problem and leads to some triumphant visuals. (Also, the disquieting "Captain Planet" vibe given off by Carol and the Ms. Marvel Backup Dancers disappears, thank goodness.)

Most importantly, the fight catalyzes the much-anticipated rapprochement between Carol and Kamala. It unfolds in weird circumstances and it's surprisingly short, but it's bang-on-the-money perfect in tone and emotion. While I felt slightly let down by other aspects of this story, Carol and Kamala reuniting fully lived up to my unreasonably high expectations.

As Gabe says, "This is Jersey City. We get weird chemical explosions and dinosaurs, like, every other week." Satisfying as this particular explosion-and-dinosaur fest is, it brings this arc to a close by giving Kamala just the gentlest of forward nudges in terms of character development. Previous issues laid the groundwork for a more ambitious leap, so closing with a bunny hop feels a tiny bit anticlimactic. My quibbles are minor, though, and it's definitely a pleasure to have Kamala back.

Our Score:

8/10

A Look Inside

Comments

Charles Martin's picture
Can't wait to see Coles Academic take on Over-Lee Private High in the next Tri-State Mega Science Fair.