Did Miss Marvel Become Mediocre?

by - 6:00 PM

Miss Marvel has a special place in my heart. The very first thing I bought with my very first paycheck just so happened to be the very first big Miss Marvel comic book. The pretty hardcover one with tons of extra pages. You might have seen my review back in the day. I loved everything about it, from the art to the story to the little bits of Pakistani culture that made the whole thing so great. Of course I bought the second installment as soon as possible. Again, I loved everything about it. But then, my entire life was turned upside down. Shit hit the fan last year and because of that, I didn't have the energy or motivation to keep reading. I lost track of the plot and all its little nuances. Recently though, I got back into the Miss Marvel world. I was extremely excited about this. I'd missed it. But two books into my return, I found myself putting my comic book down and feeling like I'd read something... mediocre?

It's difficult to flat-out call Miss Marvel mediocre. I'm not even sure if I can truly label it as such. It's complicated, so let me first get you up to date, or at least up to the point in the story where I am right now. Kamala Khan had her inhuman powers 'unlocked' by the Terrigen Mist. She can change the shape, size and look of her body any way she wants and became the new Miss Marvel. Her first fight was against the Inventor, who used millennials as a power recourse, because that's all my generation is good for, according to him. I wrote about all that in this post from early 2017. I never reviewed the second book, because I felt people wouldn't like me rambling on and on and on about this series instead of giving them the chance to discover it for themselves. Anyway, in the second hardcover book Kamala gets used to her powers, receives some help and training from the inhumans and meets Carol Denvers, the original Miss Marvel. The book ends with the biggest cliffhanger I've ever seen in my life - and I've read a lot of Rick Riordan books, so I know what I'm talking about.

Up to this point I was completely in love with the series. But then I took that involuntary break and when I returned, things were different...

There was one thing that made it difficult for me to pick the story up again: my local comic book store didn't have any more hardcover installments of the series, so I had to switch to paperback volumes. There was also a gap in my timeline: I couldn't get my hands on the volume that picked up where the cliffhanger had left me. As of writing this, I still have no idea what happened there. But let's be honest: that's no reason to suddenly call Miss Marvel mediocre, is it?

After more than half a year, I ended my comic book dry spell with Civil War II, volume 6 of the paperback volumes. This was extremely confusing because of the gap in my timeline. One moment the world was ending, now we're reading about a science fair project with the most adorable shark ever. Soon enough I was sucked right back into the story. Even though we don't see major events in the Marvel universe happen from up close, Kamala is always faced with the consequences while having her own great storylines. In Civil War II, we see Kamala struggle with her own sense of justice, how her decisions affect the lives of those around her and in the end, we see her return to her roots in Pakistan. Nothing mediocre about any of that. But then came Damage Per Second, the 7th volume...

I honestly didn't know what to expect, because there was no story continuing from volume 6 to volume 7. I sure didn't expect the first issue of the collection in this volume to be a bit of a patronizing thing on the importance of voting. The first issue is usually a filler between story arcs though, so I didn't care all that much about this issue not doing anything for me. The actual story arc, however... was even more nothingness. A tale of being safe and kind on the internet. That's literally it. Okay, as usual in superhero stories, this one event in the digital world has a huge effect on the real world, but it all comes down to being kind to others. And that's just a bit bland for Miss Marvel. There's no connection to the bigger Marvel picture, no character development. It's... dare I say it? A bit mediocre.

Honestly, this 7th volume barely left an impression. There was nothing that stood out to me. There are bits and pieces about kindness and acceptance that I liked, but those weren't as impressive as entire story arcs about the question whether or not an entire generation can be considered useless. The excellent storytelling that kept me not just entertained, but fascinated throughout the first few comic books was almost non-existent. The ball was dropped.

Only the last issue of the volume managed to break the cycle of 'meh'. This one takes place in Wakanda, which I loved because I'd just been to Black Panther a couple of days earlier (yes, sometimes I'm that easy to please). It's also the only one that builds upon the foundation laid by previous issues, the only one that shows us a glimpse of what could be up ahead. It's sad that I can't be so positive about every issue in this volume. Without the Wakandan part, it'd be like reading an endless filler.

Leafing through Damage Per Second now, I get frustrated all over again. You see, apart from the plot problem, the quality is once again amazing. I'm a big fan of Takeshi Miyazawa's art, even though it can be a little too detailed in smaller frames sometimes. Most of the frames are pure perfection to me though. I guess it's because the style reminds me of my manga days. I also love the modern look of Andolfo's and Herring's work in the first and last issue of the volume, which are both gorgeous. Yet compared to the way the story switched between the art styles of Miyazawa and Alphona in a previous volume to show us flashbacks from the partition on the subcontinent. That was genius. A short dream sequence in Damage Per Second just felt bland after that. I guess that's the problem with the entire volume: it's a solid product, but lacks a certain something to rise above the crowds, a certain something that the other volumes did have.

Long story short: Miss Marvel had a good thing going. No, not just good. Great, it was great. The writers and artists were bringing their A-game to every single issue. The series brought us social commentary, diversity, and good old-fashioned superhero action. Until Damage Per Second didn't quite live up to the standard set by all the previous volumes. Still I don't want to keep calling Miss Marvel mediocre from now on: it was just the story that lost its edge. I honestly hope that this is just because volume 7 is the volume that gives us a breather between two major story arcs. And hey, as usual I'm a bit behind on the series, so maybe I'm whining too soon. Either way, Damage Per Second falls short, so let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope that volume 8 brings Kamala back to the level of awesome we're used to!

x Envy

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6 Fellow Ramblers

  1. What an awesome post, I've never checked out Miss Marvel and you explained it so well that even I could follow it! Sounds like they were trying to deal with some tough social issues and then lost their direction along the way! Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day.

  2. I've never read any Marvel comic books so I don't really know much but you did a really great job at explaining everything! Now I want to read Miss Marvel. Great post!

  3. Damage per Second sounds way too cool to end up being used as a voting propaganda issue. I"m not saying that voting isn't important, but like... having an entire volume dedicated to it seems like overkill. Maybe they should have just compressed down to the mini manga pages that have chibis which are at the end of most manga volumes :p if you know what I mean. Manga extras? I don't know what they're called lol.
    kanra khan // the lunar descent

  4. I really like your "geeky" review, i'm not a big reader of comics but you definitely make the art shine with your photos and it looks really interesting!

  5. This is such an interesting read. I've never read Miss Marvel before, but did hear a lot about it. Your pictures also are absolutely lovely!
    Too bad Damage Per Second didn't live up to the standard.. Maybe they will improve with time? Go back to their A-game from the previous volumes you mentioned. Who knows!

  6. Wow!😘 what an interesting and insightful review. These comics look amazing, and definitely worth reading. May I just add, Miss Marvel, although just a 'superhero' she's gorgeous!
    Great post Sweetie, thanks for sharing!πŸŒΈπŸ’“



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