Philosophy and Politics Laid Bare in Ms. Marvel 20

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Every character has a set of principles by which they live their lives. These can be made clear in daily actions or revealed in moments of crisis. Sometimes, a writer can just have the character lay it out. In Ms. Marvel 20, G. Willow Wilson give several of her characters a chance to share their philosophies directly, making it more a story of ideas than super-heroes.

Wilson gives the first several pages to Aamir’s philosophy of what makes a person a terrorist. There are thematic story reasons for this speech, as demonstrated by cuts to Discord and Lockdown, but the monologue is not limited to the implications of the story. This point of view does not just apply to Marvel’s Jersey City. It functions as a direct communication to the reader about our own world. Wilson gives Aamir space to make his case without challenge and the cop’s disinterest in engaging in the broader conversation leaves the text seeming to support Aamir’s ideas. This is pretty bald speechifying, and starting the issue in such a heady place makes much of what follows feel more like a mirror exercise than a vital story of its own.

When the crowd at Chuck’s rally does the “Chuck Her Out” chant, there is no question that we are to be reflecting on similar chants during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

It’s here that Ms Marvel gets a short speech of her own in which she acknowledges that she hasn’t always considered the perspective of the people who didn’t want a costumed hero. It’s a generous moment for her, since there has been no reasonable or thoughtful presentation of that position. This is an emotional mob, led by a manipulative politician whose rhetoric evokes an imaginary “better time” in the past.

Later, Wilson gives former Mayor Marchesi a chance to explain her own theory about human nature. When she claims that the primary fear for humanity is scarcity. Again, like Aamir, Marchesi is unchallenged. Wilson allows this assertion to sit there for the reader and Kamala to process. In the final panel of the issue, Kamala is faced with a direct threat to her brother. For the first time in the issue, it feels like the action within is more compelling than the ideas espoused.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “Philosophy and Politics Laid Bare in Ms. Marvel 20

  1. I love that Aamir is looking at the audience in his first speech, talking to us specifically. And that during that entire first part of the speech, he is never interrupted. There is another side, they are sitting opposite Aamir and interrogating him. But Wilson never makes the mistake that they should be given a platform. They exist, but not worth giving a voice to. They serve only to be examples of what Aamir is talking about.

    The Worthy scene is slightly weirder, just because of the difficulties of try to parallel the inexplicable. Trump is so unique, it is hard to easily parallel. Any attempt to create something like Trump just becomes Trump, and Wilson’s attempts to make Worthy sufficently differetn from Trump gives him an intelligence an a strength in argument that he doesn’t deserve (I’m not saying he has a strong argument. But he sounds sane. It feels like you could argue that Worthy has an argument that isn’t rooted in hate. THat the economic argument makes sense, or that he displays intelligence and competence. Though credit to Failla for some of those facial expressions, really showing the villainy and a little bit of that Trumpian expression). But Kamala’s speech is strong, and the audience is done well. Notably white, and the one audience member line is perfect in its stupidity. Of course they are complaining about being forced to benefit from the protections of a superhero whohas successfully saved Jersey CIty multiple times

    And Marchesi’s speech is great. One of the most interesting ideas is the emphasis on the fear of losign what you already have. I wish it explored more of that, because it comes close to exploring the idea of ‘Last Place Aversion’, which feels very fitting considering the topic – people mkaing decisions not because it is a good decision, but becaue they’d rather choose not being last over the strictly better choice. Ultimately, it feels like it could have been a bit longer.

    But then, at the end of the day, the real focus was Aamir’s speech. That was pitch perfect, so nothing else matters. Ever since Civil War II put this book on a return to form, Ms Marvel keeps going from strength to strength, getting better and better. And I feel this arc is going to be the strongest yet. The last page is perfectly chilling in its realism, and really raises the stakes. And I am loving Doscord as a villain who represents the ordinary, hateful people

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