Ms. Marvel #19 Review

Ms. Marvel 19 cover

I hate to say it, but I remain disappointed in the entire “Last Days of Ms. Marvel” arc. I sincerely hope that others found Ms. Marvel #19 moving and meaningful, but I just thought it was trite. I saw nothing surprising in this issue.

Last month‘s big reveal was that Kamala’s mother already knew about her secret identity. She’s very supportive. Yay.

Ms. Marvel 19

On the one hand, it’s nice. Secret identities are generally implausible with close relatives anyway, and I’m glad they’re not going the “You’re grounded for the rest of your life” route, but still. This is such a typical scene, and it’s followed immediately by an even MORE obvious interaction with Zoe. She’s the popular blonde girl usually seen making racist remarks in Kamala’s direction, but she apologizes and explains she only did those things because she’s jealous of how much everyone likes Kamala. Understandable, maybe, but haven’t we seen this conversation in every high school friendship movie EVER?

Then, another conversation! Nakia, Kamala’s best friend, is upset that Kamala never talks to her. Nakia only hears about Kamala’s life through the grapevine.

Ms. Marvel 19I felt this conversation was more relatable to me personally, and that feeling of being dumped by a friend tends to be glossed over in other stories. Its something that shows up in the grand denouement of a high school friendship drama, but those stories are usually about the person leaving, not the person being left.

And finally, Kamala speaks to Bruno about his feelings, and they both declare their love for each other. BUT! Kamala has committed to being a superhero.

Ms. Marvel 19

It’s a good conversation with good lines, just good scripting. It shows Kamala and Bruno being brave and talking about their feelings, and I can respect Kamala’s commitment to herself over anyone else. I love that, actually.

But… really? Really, though? Is it really necessary to show the exact same conversation every other superhero has ever had about personal relationships? Not to mention that she just spent the whole issue reaffirming her familial and social relationships. Is it really necessary to draw this subtle distinction between being “just” a friend and being “more than” a friend? Really? I’m not saying they should get together at this stage by any means, but if it were up to me, I would’ve just let that simmer a lot longer. Make something creative and intense out of it, instead of playing out the same old story.

A lot of young people are reading this comic, and maybe this is the first time they’re seeing these arcs. It might be new for them, and as I said, I hope it was meaningful for other readers. For me, it was disappointing, frustrating, and derivative. As always, though, I’ll be tuning in next month, if only to see how Kamala and Bruno’s relationship develops. It’s all out in the open now, and it’s nigh impossible to recover from that.

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Ms. Marvel #18 Review

Ms. Marvel #18 cover

This is one of those covers that has nothing whatsoever to do with the story inside. Just ignore it. Spoilers below, as always.

At the end of the last issue, the Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel teamup had successfully located Kamala’s brother Aamir, who had been kidnapped by Kamala’s evil Inhuman ex Kamran. But they were too late to stop Kamran from immersing Aamir in mist in an effort to transform him into an Inhuman too.

It worked… Sort of. Aamir wakes up with superpowers, but the transformation wasn’t typical, and it seems to have made him sick. Kamran doesn’t care, and starts his speech about ruling the galaxy, but Aamir’s having none of it…

Ms. Marvel #18 Aamir

Aamir has never been so cool. He gives Kamran a spectacular piece of his mind — Aamir never wanted superpowers, he’s perfectly happy the way he is no matter what anybody thinks of it. And he will not forget what happened between Kamala and Kamran, and he may not know exactly what occurred, but he will not blame Kamala or let Kamran off scot-free just because he’s a guy. And then he tosses Kamran into a pile of junk with his superpowers! It’s my favorite scene in a good long while.

Come to mention it, I’m still a bit disappointed with the team-up. I think it’s because all of this is happening as part of the Secret Wars event. I wish Ms. Marvel had gotten to meet Captain Marvel under normal circumstances. Meh. It ends nicely, although rather predictably.

Ms. Marvel #18 Carol Danvers

The curveball is in the exposition — Captain Marvel tells Kamala that they don’t expect to win this one, leaving her at a loss, just as the rest of her family arrives.

There’s one issue left in this arc, but I don’t know yet what to expect. Will Kamran be back? I didn’t notice until my second time through the scene, but they totally just left him there. He can stand right back up and continue being a nuisance. Will Kamala engage with the larger storyline, or will it be an entire issue of family drama ending with however-Secret-Wars-ends? We shall see.

Fantastic Four — Collaborative Review

Hannah: Melissa and I have now both seen the Fantastic Four reboot, and, well… We’re underimpressed.

Fantastic Four

Melissa: I don’t think we’re the only ones either, and that’s a shame. To be honest, I was hoping the movie would prove me wrong – I had my doubts from the beginning. And I tried to be objective, I really did. But I’m a fan of the original movies and I couldn’t help comparing the two. That said, I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would, but I still left the cinema feeling disappointed with the remake as a whole.

Hannah: I also enjoyed it but left disappointed. There were things I really liked, but I couldn’t help feeling like it was a “pre-MCU” movie. It had the same feeling as the Sam Raimi Spiderman movies, for instance. I loved those movies at the time, but in retrospect, they give off a strong feeling of “not quite there yet.” Not as focused or polished or confident, and without the idea of a larger universe, they don’t feel as expansive.

But let’s talk about the good parts.

Melissa: The idea of an alternate universe had huge potential. It was certainly an interesting divergence from the original story, and an accident in space.

Hannah: Yes, I was really into that idea, and how it might streamline things or allow for variations on their powers. I enjoyed the five characters and how distinct their powers were. The transformation sequence was positively harrowing!

Melissa: I agree with you about the transformation, it was brutal. So let’s take a closer look at the main players:

Human Torch – I thought Michael B. Jordan did a pretty good job in the role. He struck me as a bit of a loner, someone who wanted to carve out a path for himself instead of living in his father’s shadow. He had a subtle humour, and a confidence which suited the role. But Chris Evans is a tough act to follow; a hot-head with impulse control issues – the perfect combination for Johnny Storm.

Fantastic Four Johnny Storm

The Thing – Jamie Bell was great, and I enjoyed the development of his relationship with Reed Richards. I particularly liked the glimpse into their childhood; the bonds they formed early in life. But when he became the Thing, I was oddly detached from the character. It was bizarre that Reed left the group to fend for themselves for a year. I get he was scared, desperate to turn things around, but to leave without a word. What does that say about his commitment to his friend? It just didn’t sit well. I waited the entire movie to hear ‘it’s clobbering time’ and was ultimately disappointed. The line had no personality, and I was left feeling disappointed. To be fair though, it’s always hard when CGI kicks in, and there’s bound to be layers of separation between the audience and the actor playing the role.

Dr. Doom – I liked Toby Kebbell’s portrayal of Victor; the dark tortured personality – a result of being a genius with limited social skills. But then he disappeared for half of the movie and his motivations fell short. Julian McMahon (in the 2005 movie) did the manipulative, ego-centric billionaire really well, and so his transition into a monster made sense.

Hannah: Invisible Woman – Sue is a better female character who gets better treatment than ANY FEMALE MCU CHARACTER. She’s smart and independent, but not cocky or with a chip on her shoulder. She has her own vital set of powers, and isn’t defined by anyone else in the movie. And I really appreciate that even though some romantic elements were present, they’re kept in the background and never a major motivating force. Reed and Sue are an established couple in the comics and have been all along, but that wouldn’t have fit yet. There’s room for it later.

Fantastic Four Sue Storm

Melissa: I agree. Sue was my favourite character. I loved her – Kate Mara brought everything I thought she would to the role; intelligence, morality, and a strength which bound everyone together.

Hannah: Mr. Fantastic – I was so pleasantly surprised by this character! I was expecting “awkward nerd turns out to be the best at everything and gets the girl.” But he was actually shown perfectly comfortable conversing with everyone in the movie. He was pleasant without being annoying. Welcoming and encouraging, with no prejudices, and a kind of “leader from the background.” Smart, with a real comic-book-hero outlook on teamwork. But he still does monumentally stupid things sometimes, and makes interpersonal mistakes like the rest of us.

Melissa: Yes, I think that’s true for most of the movie, which is why I was so disappointed by the change in direction. Instead of stepping up, being the leader they needed him to be, he bailed. I might have accepted a few days, weeks at the most, but he only came back after he was captured. Then, when he did return, he did little to build those bridges.

Fantastic Four Reed Richards

Hannah: Yeah. It just didn’t make much sense, and that’s the main “negative” of the movie. The motivation wasn’t there for any of them.  Doom started out so interesting, but like you said, that just disappeared. I loved Reed and Ben’s friendship, especially when Reed sends Ben that selfie, because it shows how close they were and that Reed wasn’t just dumping him (which would be the plot of any other college movie). But then Reed runs away for a year.

That directly ties in to my other biggest problem, and that’s the pacing. Right when it was getting good, they cut it off entirely and jumped ahead a year. All the investment in the characters, gone, because we don’t actually see this part of their development. We never get the emotional payoff afterward, either. The gap created a major conflict between the characters, a fascinating choice, but that’s just waved away at the end. This should be a movie about constructing families, and all the bones are there to make it work, but we don’t get to finish it. Instead there’s a fight scene and an uninspiring speech from Reed and then a textbook “We’re a team, we need a name!” finish, all devoid of connection.

Fantastic Four

And the “science.” Don’t make me laugh. It was too ridiculous to be sci-fi, but not quite tongue-in-cheek enough to brush off as comic-book craziness.

Melissa: That sums it up perfectly, Hannah, especially your points about connection and lack of emotional payoff.

Hannah: Thank you, thank you.

There was a lot of potential here, and it was an enjoyable watch, but it would’ve benefited from another half an hour of runtime and a few more goes with the editor. Cut the weird timeskip, and tie the second half closer to the first. Then it could’ve been raised from a “fun” movie to a really good fun movie.

What do you think – did Fantastic Four pull it off? And here’s the question on everyone’s mind… Does it deserve a sequel? Let us know in the comments.

Ms. Marvel #17 Review

Ms. Marvel #17 coverI didn’t want to spoil the big reveal at the end of Ms. Marvel #16, way back in June, but it’s on the cover now so what can I do? IT’S CAPTAIN MARVEL. Ms. Marvel’s hero and namesake, meeting Kamala Khan for the first time and I am SO EXCITED.

Kamala handles it pretty well, all things considered.

Ms. Marvel #17 KamalaCaptain Marvel explains about the planets in the sky. Apparently it’s what happens when realities are bumping up against each other, and Carol only came to tell Kamala that no one else is coming to Jersey City, Kamala will have to defend it on her own. But Carol agrees to stay and help rescue Kamala’s brother from Kamran, Kamala’s evil ex-crush.

Most of the issue is Carol and Kamala wandering around the city looking for Aamir, Kamala’s brother. Carol dispenses a lot of superhero advice, and it’s good advice — a step beyond what she’s learned from Wolverine and Lockjaw. It’s harder advice, and there are kittens involved. (I just hope the kittens come back, otherwise there may be crying involved. Those are the cutest kittens I’ve ever seen.)

Unfortunately, even though the advice is pretty okay, the dialogue is uninspiring. There’s no real personal connection between the two women, or if there is it’s one-sided. The final effect is just of a paint-by-numbers conversation, like Captain Marvel could’ve given the same advice to any young superhero. There’s too much of it at once, rather than an organic conversation growing from where Kamala is now as a superhero. Just bang-bang-bang, advice-advice-advice. I want more out of a team-up I’ve been anticipating for a year and a half!

We do get this gem of a panel though, after Carol compliments Kamala’s skill with her powers, and it really sums up the entirety of the Ms. Marvel series…

Ms. Marvel #17 Kamala CarolThe team-up isn’t over, and there should be more plot development in the next issue. To be continued!