Magnificent Ms. Marvel #18 Review

by Charles Martin on February 24, 2021

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #18 Review
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Coles Academic, Kamala's high school, was recently smooshed by a dragon. But nothing bounces back from devastation as fast as a Marvel institution; this issue opens with the announcement that the gym has been rebuilt just in time for prom!

As Kamala says, "Go Go Extremely Conventional High School Activities!"

(OK, technically, the issue opens with a flash-forward page establishing that Kamala will be fighting Stormranger, her rogue Kree battlesuit. But we know that from the cover.) 

Kamala spends a moment with her family, nicely capping their recent developments. Mr. Khan is struggling through physical therapy and slowly making progress. Kamala's half-glad, half-weirded-out as her parents demonstrate greater trust as she grows up.

And I'm grateful to Aamir for sliding a C.R.A.D.L.E. update into the background conversation: Dum Dum Duggan quit the nanny-agency in a very public and critical way.

Uniting her peers for the prom is an important exercise in fence-mending, particularly paving over the rift that had opened up between Kamala and Zoe.

But of course, you can't throw a party in the Marvel universe without attracting supervillain attention; Kamala's prom is cut short by the arrival of Stormranger. Cue the fight music!

Let's jump ahead to the visual work. Ian Herring splits the colour palette down the middle. The Khan house is soaked in warm golden light, while the night-time fight is shown in cool blues and purples. The prom sits nicely in the middle, blending the two colour schemes. Most of the colours are soft, but Mr. Herring uses flatter, stronger background colours (particularly yellow) to emphasize important panels.

Artist Minkyu Jung rounds out his tenure in Jersey City with some more excellent combat drawing. (But he draws a wonderful nephew Malik, too!) Both Kamala and Stormranger employ inventive stretchy fight moves. Mr. Jung goes a little further here, using the combatants' flexibility to successfully create extreme perspective shots that would be impossible for non-stretchy characters.

The artist also goes for broke on facial expressions, striving to capture joy, hope, fear, and resolve throughout the cast. This effort is not 100% successful; a few problematic faces slip through. But Mr. Jung sticks the landing with the final panel: an endearing selfie of the Coles gang flush with triumph at the end of the night. It's a beautiful way to close the volume.

I've hinted twice, so now it's time to state it outright: This is the end of Magnificent Ms. Marvel. I'm torn by the end of this series. On the one hand, it does feel like it risks repeating itself if it continues. But on the other hand, some important plot threads are tied off prematurely.

My prime example would be Kamala and Bruno's relationship. They kissed in #9, and ever since, they've tiptoed around it like the awkward teenagers they are. #18 abruptly slams the romantic door. At the prom, Bruno is back to dating Mike; Kamala even calls out the kiss as an archetypal "bad decision" on the first page.

Barring that door-slam, though, Saladin Ahmed's final script is an impressive one. Kamala's voice is as realistic and sympathetic as ever. The superhero fight is tied even more strongly than usual to the supporting cast drama; a theme of caring and compassion runs through both plotlines.

My favourite writing trick of the issue (I hope this isn't too spoiler-y) is the way Mr. Ahmed recalls Kamala's post-Outlawed coma at a critical moment. Kamala weaponizes it (not in a cruel way) while she's battling Stormranger. This pulls the final fight in line with the whole volume and emphasizes Kamala's ability to resolve conflicts with words and empathy as well as embiggened fists.

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #18 draws a curtain, for now, over Kamala Khan's Jersey City adventures. It leaves Kamala, her family, her friends, and her school in well-earned happy places. All have been damaged and tested in this volume -- and all have grown and matured in impressive ways. Kamala's solo adventures are over for now. But the creators have left the pieces perfectly positioned for a new team to restart the game in the future.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I'm glad this issue gives us one last peek at Zoe's Mad Max driving skills. Look how she's parked when she picks up Kamala!