by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!
Plenty of comics have come out over the past year or so commenting on the rise of Trumpism, but few are as equipped to position their protagonists as the target of growing racial and religious resentment as Ms. Marvel. Helmed by writer G. Willow Wilson and editor Sana Amanat, this series has never been afraid to tackle the issues that face muslims in America — particularly young women — but this issue places islamophobia front and center as the “Keepers of Integration, Normalization, and Deference” disrupt Eid al-Adha, the holiest of Muslim holidays. Artist Marco Falla makes that disruption literal, as the “K.I.N.D.” men obstruct Kamala and Gabe’s path.
Falla is always careful to position these men as at odds with our protagonists, most often placing them at the right-hand side of panels, obstructing Kamala and Gabe’s flow from left to right across the page. Falla also uses his camera placement to emphasize the power imbalance in this interaction — that first panel has us looking up at these men, while the later over-the-shoulder shots have them looking down at Kamala and Gabe. Falla puts a point on that imbalance in the final panel as we see that these guys are about half a head taller than the kids they’re questioning.
And then, of course, there’s the obvious racial power imbalance. These men view themselves as “keepers” of “normalization,” seeing fit to hassle the brown and black kids in their neighborhood for failing to comply with their “societal norms.” This is exactly the language white supremacists use to bully and terrorize minorities, whether it’s on the streets, on the internet, or (increasingly) in our national political discourse. Wilson and Falla goose that recognition by putting these dudes in self-styled “uniforms,” evoking the kind of zealous vigilantism that killed Trayvon Martin. Even without the mentions of Hydra, we understand that these guys really don’t have to fear any repercussions for their actions, which only makes them more dangerous.
And that danger comes to heartbreaking fruition as Aamir encounters these guys later that night. Falla approaches that scene in the same way, having them disrupt Aamir’s movement across the page, but it boils over in a sudden burst of violence and terror.
Boy, I can’t think of a more potent symbol of forced “Integration, Normalization, and Deference” than seeing a man being dragged away from his Eid biryani — a dish Wilson and Amanat take pains to show as a valued religious and familial tradition. He’s not just being taken from his dinner; he’s being taken from everything he knows and loves.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?