Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What I Bought 4/25/2014 - Part 2

I've really been enjoying the NBA playoffs so far this year, the whole thing where Clippers' owner Donald Sterling reminded everyone he is a terrible human being aside. Between the Mavericks and the Wizards surprising me, the Pacers self-destructing, at least three teams that made the playoffs thinking about firing their coach if they get bounced in the first round, it's a lotta fun. Anyway, times like this make me regret not having any TV around here. Makes it kind of hard to see the games, though knowing my luck, if I was watching, every game would be a tedious blowout.

Enough sports, comics now!

Ms. Marvel #2 & 3, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona (art), Ian Herring (color art), Joe Caramagna (lettering) - Do you think backlighting makes everyone look more badass, or does that only work in art? It didn't really work for Batman and Co. at the end of the two Schumacher movies, but after sitting through the actual films, no one was going to look badass, I don't care how silhouetted they were.

Kamala, finding herself looking like Carol Danvers, is a little freaked out. However, it isn't permanent, because she's actually sort of a Skrull/Mr. Fantastic super-type. Shape-shifting, but also stretching the parts of herself. She doesn't quite have it down pat yet - she keeps shifting to look like Carol when she's panicked, she kind of wrecked a locker room - but she did manage to save drunk idiot Zoe from drowning (and kept drunk idiot Zoe's drunk idiot boyfriend from jumping to save her and drowning). Kamala did not, however, manage to sneak back into her room unnoticed. For one thing, she kind of stinks at stealth, and for another, her friend Bruno called her parents and told them she had been to the party and left alone. Man, narcing on your best friend. Unacceptable, Bruno. I may have to send Clever Adolscent Panda to bonk you on the skull.

So now she's grounded, and ticked at her best friend, who has his own problems, like a ne'er-do-well brother trying to get him to rob the register at his job. When Bruno turns that down, said brother finds himself a gun and a ski mask, and tries to rob the place himself. The robber then proves to be a moron by forgetting the first rule of handling a firearm: Know whether it is loaded or not. Unfortunately, Kamala (posing as Captain Marvel) is the one who demonstrates the importance of that rule. This could be the shortest super-hero career in history.

I like this, though it's hard to articulate why, but I know I like Kamala. I like that she's kind of pissed at Bruno, but he's her friend, and she knows he meant well, and she could use his advice, so she wants to talk things out. That she figured out just having the costume didn't make her feel stronger, helping someone did. That she's struggling with the idea that it's OK to be herself and be a hero. She still doesn't think she can look like herself and save the day. She thinks she has to be taller, blonde, white, or nobody's going to respect her or listen to her. The powers are a way to be what she thinks she has to be, but it's exhausting, and it makes difficult things more difficult. How can you concentrate on stopping a robber, if you're too busy concentrating on making sure your disguise doesn't slip?

The scene at the end of the second issue, where she's unsuccessfully snuck back in, that's a good one. Her entire family barges into her room, and even though they're all very worried about her, they just overwhelm her. Alphona keeps drawing them so they dominate the panel, and Kamala keeps getting shoved to a corner, or the edge. Like her father in the middle of page 17. He's concerned for her, but he just overwhelms her, and she's left in one little corner, arms wrapped around herself, just trying to maintain some space. The page before that, her brother misinterprets her comment that something weird happened, and crushes her in this hug, vowing that he and his friends will get whoever hurt her. Kamala has to physically shove him just to reestablish some room. Nobody is really interested in hearing what's going on with her, they all have their own theories or responses. Her mother doesn't want to have a discussion, her father is worried about trust, but it's all about him trusting her, not her trusting them (or herself) enough to tell them what happened, so grounding. And her brother's going to pray for her. The end result of all that is she's left alone.

Alphona does some excellent work with the body language. He knows how to draw her father so that he's a hefty guy who feels hefty when you look at him. Some artists draw a fat guy, but it might as well be one of those super-light fat suits. Her dad has weight to him, which really helps convey that sense of authority in those panels. Even when it's just his hand in a panel with Kamala, it's this huge meaty thing on her shoulder, and you can feel how much his approval or disapproval factors with her, why she can't meet his eyes when she explains that she can't explain things yet. Well done all around.


SallyP said...

I've been hearing great things about this book, so I think that I will actually have to break down and try it.

CalvinPitt said...

Please do. I think you'll enjoy it. Also, it's one of the rare Marvel books priced at $2.99, so actually sort of encouraging new readers.