The Hole in the Center of Ms. Marvel 25

by Ryan Mogge

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

How does an issue of Ms. Marvel work without Kamala? Well, in the case of Ms. Marvel 25, I’d argue that it doesn’t. There are moments here that feel unmoored, floating in a pool of heightened drama without the grounded tether that Kamala offers when she is the center of the narrative.

One of the plot points in this issue has to do with Kamala’s weekly sandwich delivery from Naftail. Kamala’s friends go crazy for this sandwich. I don’t blame them. It sounds delicious. But their intense feelings about the sandwich feel out of sync with the more restrained way that they are dealing with the fact that one of their best friends “dumped” them. One panel in particular struck me as beyond the pale.

The teens are literally sobbing in the hallway as Naftail takes away the sandwich. While this could be a funny bit for a crew of side characters, when they are the center of the story, it reads as bizarre. Yes, that bread looks like crusty heaven, but when these guys are dealing with the sudden withdrawal of a close friend and taking on the work of a missing superhero, shifting them to caricatures cuts them short.

Also pushing hard into crazy-town is the opening scene. Wilson orients the reader to this arc by presenting a parole board that is apathetic, bordering on evil. I guess we are being offered a glimpse into the dangers of bureaucracy and perhaps the cost of preventing crime is saving criminals from acts that have long term consequences? It reads like a very dark take on the criminal justice system and this kind of cynicism runs counter to my expectations from this book. This could be the effect that G. Willow Wilson and Nico Leon were going for all along. I finished this issue missing Kamala more than ever.

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

2 comments on “The Hole in the Center of Ms. Marvel 25

  1. I think the problem with this issue isn’t a tone issue. I think, for example, the scene of the gang obsessing over the sandwich works dramatically. It even works symbollically (Who is going to take Kamala’s place?). Ms Marvel has always been a book that wears its goofiness on its sleeve. The joke here is that Kamala’s absence creates chaos, which is exactly what the dramatic stakes are. It works perfectly.

    THe problem, I think, is that Naftali ends up hijacking the narrative. The issue roots its narrative in the ‘D-list Breakfast Club’. Every scene in the issue is rooted on them, as we use them to explore what Kamala’s absence means. When characters like Red Dagger turn up, they turn up in support of the Breakfast Club. It roots the issue in an issue defined by the fact that the roots are gone. Except Naftali. Who seizes control of the narrative and has his own subplot (Yes, you DO do subplots, Naftali. You can’t deny it), creating unintended chaos. He should have either been part of the Breakfast Club, or like Red Dagger. Seizing control of the narrative as he does unmoors us in a way that I don’t think Wilson expected. Let the Breakfast CLub visit Kamala’s house instead. THat would have worked better.

    Also, I love the touch of Zoe reading ‘Parkour for Beginners’

  2. Honestly, this was probably my favorite issue of Ms. Marvel in a while. I’m worried about Kamala and can clearly see the hole her absence leaves in Jersey City and the book itself, but her supporting cast is a ton of fun — I loved all their various attempts to imitate Ms. Marvel and their innate goodness in stepping in when needed. It’s a blast, especially with that final monster reveal.

    But I think what really won me over was Nico Leon’s art. This volume of Ms. Marvel has really felt the absence of Adrian Alphona’s whimsical art, and this month Leon was really channeling Alphona in the best way, filling the book with silly gags and expressions and just making it a blast to look at visually. I really hope he sticks around and does more in this vein art-wise.

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