Ms. Marvel is great! As a character, and as a comic as a whole. This volume is not. It has issues, several issues. The story is as disjointed as we have come to expect the art to be (my kingdom for another full volume of Alphona’s art). And each individual issue has its own story issues. Ms. Marvel has set a high bar though, and I’m not willing to give up on her yet.
I take it that Marvel had another big crossover event, Civil War II, that was a sequel to the original Civil War that provided the inspiration for the latest Captain America movie. The overall storyline of this volume isn’t made confusing by the crossover. Rather, I think the problem is that it prevented the volume from telling a single integrated story. Instead we get distinct storylines that Wilson struggles to tie together.
Ok, first issue. This is a fun, fan fiction-y side-story about an interstate/metro science competition. It’s entertaining, allows for digs against Connecticut for being full of lawyers (I would have gone with a hedge fund manager joke, but my desires are…conventional), features a grinning Skyshark, and gives an excuse to get Ms. Marvel together with the new Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Nova. That’s all well and good, but you kind of get the impression that this was all to the end of putting the three on the cover to sell comics, not in service of the story. We won’t see them again this volume.
Moving on, the story moves more directly into what I understand to be the bigger Civil War II storyline, although only issue #7 is listed on Wikipedia as officially being part. Captain Marvel gives Ms. Marvel a team and tasks her with stopping future-crimes on the basis of the precognitions of the Inhuman Ulysses. Pre-crime! Famously introduced by Philip K. Dick in 1956, it has proven fertile ground for speculative fiction ever since (although arguably Orwell was there first with thoughtcrime). Here? Nope. Wilson does not stick the landing. Bellyflops it, really. How so?
Wait, WHAT? Hold onto your hats, times for a little LAWSPLAINING. I understand she isn’t a lawyer, but has it escaped Wilson’s awareness all these years that theft is illegal? I’m not a tank lawyer, but I have to think that driving a tank through Jersey City would violate a law or three as well. Not to mention, I have it on good authority that taking a substantial step can be sufficient to commit an attempted crime. And don’t even get me started on conspiracy. Also:
I’m not a criminologist, but my understanding is the science is pretty settled that, historically, some cities have higher crime rates than some other cities (Weird, I know!).
Kamala’s brilliant plan at the end is pretty nonsensical too. Altogether, this is egregious. And unforgiveable. Even setting aside the lack of basic knowledge about criminal law, Wilson just doesn’t do anything interesting with the concept. Too often it seems like modern writers lack the analytical framework to really grapple with moral issues. It leaves the characters saying and doing almost entirely groan-worthy things. So here, I think.
But unlike Luke Cage, at least Kamala is smart enough to attack the weakness of power armor.
Issue #8 also introduces a series of flashbacks that run through the rest of the volume. The flashbacks are the best part of the volume and benefit from being all Alphona’s art. But they’re a little disjointed themselves, and a game attempt to tie them to the present day events is only partially effective.
The pre-crime storyline eats up issues #8-11. The final issue sees Kamala traveling back to Pakistan for the first time since she was an unborn child. The family stuff is very good. That has always been what Ms. Marvel does best. But Kamala gets the superhero itch while she’s there in response to water cartels blowing hydrants. As soon as she confronts the water bandits, though, she confronted in turn by a local superhero, who chastises her that the situation is complicated and that she should check with her local superheroes first. Yes! Things are complicated! And intelligence is vital to any operation! With a better storyteller, this is where things would start getting good. Maybe the water cartels are acting at the behest of some shadowy villain. Maybe they’re countering some shadowy villain. Maybe the local superhero is no hero at all, but a villain. There are lots of thing that Wilson could have done. She doesn’t do any of them. Kamala just goes home. Maybe there was a point in there about water cartels, but I have no idea what it is because I didn’t learn anything about water cartels. Again, it looks like Wilson wants to make a point, but can’t manage to do so in any intelligent way.
3 of 5 Stars.