kamala: right now? i want to be beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated. i want to be you.
…ummm …is it too late to change my mind?
This is the scene of the new Ms. Marvel that I’ve seen the most varied reactions to, today. But after some thought, I’ve decided that this is my favorite scene in the comic hands down—and here’s why:
Ms. Marvel is telling a decompressed origin story in 5 parts, if interviews and solicits are to be believed. So what we know about Kamala so far—her ethnic and religious background, her personal conflicts of identity, and her exposure to the Terrigen mists—are only the very beginning of her origin. If we look back on the classics, there’s usually a premise and then a twist. Boy gets bit by spider, loses his uncle. Billionaire loses parents in tragic mugging, falls into a batcave. (There’s a cryptic theme here, and I hope it doesn’t play out in Ms. Marvel to end up with a dead parental figure, but that’s a discussion for another day.) The point is, superhero origins introduce character, powers, and motivations. Kamala’s got two out of three, by the end of this issue.
So, the big question—what is Kamala’s motivation going to be? What’s going to prompt her to put on a mask and dupata-cape and try and save the world?
I suppose we’ve seen a little of it already, in the form of her idolization of and interest in superheroes. But that kind of inspirations only goes so far. You can like someone without wanting to be them—I can admire Olympic athletes without wanting to go through the years of training that they have to.
I think Kamala’s motivation is going to come, at least in part, from issues of identity. In this issue, we see her struggle with the conflicting pressure and expectations of her family and then the outside world of her friends and peers. She’s clearly not entirely part of one world or the other, and she’s still negotiating how much she’s Pakistani or Muslim or a daughter and how much she’s an American student or friend or teenager. I think that entire puzzle is one to be unpacked in tens of issues—it doesn’t need a clean answer, or even the same answer all the time.
But in this issue, Kamala tries to give herself an easy out. She tells the Captain Marvel hallucination: “I want to be you.” Because Carol Danvers might just be everything Kamala admires but can’t be—“All-American” in the way that only comes from being blonde-haired and blue-eyed, and raised on the East Coast in a nuclear family, with a history of military service and crime-fighting in patriotic colors. Kamala may be able to capture aspects of that, or the spirit of it, eventually—but let’s be real here, she can never be Carol Danvers.
She thinks if she could be, it would uncomplicated her life. Maybe if she was wholly “American” or white and blonde, she’d feel less conflicted about everything. And that’s why her powers manifest as they do the first time.
I don’t think Kamala actually wants give up her looks or her identity or her religion or her ethnicity. But I can see, from her vantage point, the appeal of being the default. Anyone who’s ever read a Captain or Ms. Marvel comic knows that Carol’s life is nowhere near that simple, however. And I think Kamala’s going to come to realize that, too.
The thing of it is, we kind of know the end of this story. We’ve seen Kamala wearing a uniform that honors both her culture and the heroine she so admires. She looks like herself—wavy hair and brown skin—and tells us she wears a mask instead of changing her face, even though she can. We know Kamala’s going to get to a place where she doesn’t want to be the default, but still wants to be a superhero.
I for one can’t wait to see how she gets there. And that’s why I don’t see her manifest desire to be Carol as any kind of rejection of who she is—she just needs to work through her very valid troubles as someone of more than one world, and approach heroing and her life from her own unique vantage point.
And that, to me, would be a starting point as powerful as a dead body or a destroyed planet, an island of sisters left behind or a world that hates and fears you.
from ms. marvel #001 (g. willow wilson & adrian alphona)
Yes yes yes to all of the above, and immense thanks to ucarim for putting it out there more eloquently than I ever could.
I adored this comic and while the last page threw me for a loop and gave me small concerns, above all else I am looking forward to see how Kamala comes to terms with her own identity. Throughout my life I have wanted to be skinny, movie-ready pretty, physically male, able-bodied, American, and even heterosexual, and it’s taken me 28 years to be okay with who I am. Most days.
Seeing a teenager go through that metamorphosis is going to be fun, interesting, scary, personal, and above all, I really believe, handled with great love and care.
Bring it on!
Ms. Marvel #1 cover by Art Adams
OH HONEY IT’S OKAY I’VE GOT YOUR BACK.
First of all, welcome to the Carol Corps! Here is your badge, your lucky hat, your irritable cat, and we have crepes every thursday.
HERE IS A QUICK INTRO TO CAROL. Please ignore anything relating to ‘the rape of Ms Marvel’ as that never happened la la la fingers in ears strong women don’t need sexual violence in order to be motivated to be strong la la la…
HERE is the most current run on Captain Marvel, which will also fill you in on everything you need to know about what’s going on in Enemy Within! I also recommend reading up on Avengers Assemble if you enjoy Carol and Jess, especially issues 9, 10 and 11!
It has the added bonus of naked Tony Stark.
Yeah. You’re welcome.
Enjoy yourself, Carol is just the fucking best! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have like, 40 batches of crepe batter to mix up for tomorrow.
I've just ordered the new Captain Marvel collection and was wondering if there is an origin story for her? I like knowing where my superheroes come from and from what I know of her, her origin story sounds crazy interesting. :)
It IS crazy interesting! And more complicated that I can explain here. Would you believe me if I said she fell into a vat of radioactive marvels….? It’s more like that than you think!
You can find everything you need to on Carol right here, and for a list of recommended reading, go right here!
“You don’t need college to find a good husband.”
One day I will go into a huge rant about why I love Carol, and why her background and creation puts her above a lot of other similar characters. That won’t be tonight, as I have more party rock elves to draw, but this panel is about 90% of it.
I don’t mind at all!
I will start with Carol, because I’m NOT BIASED AT ALL. I started reading Carol with her own series that started in May of 2006. It lasted for 50 issues and was collected in the following volumes:
The really great thing about this series was that it lasted through some of the biggest Marvel events: Civil War, Secret Invasion, and Dark Reign. This series was a biiiig big part of me getting into comics, and I will recommend it to anyone. I was heartbroken when it was cancelled, but considering it resulted in the Captain upgrade…well. Silver lining, right?
Janet is a different story. I love her, but my only real exposure to her was in the original Ultimates, which I will not recommend to anyone. I can direct you to her Comicvine.com entry here, which might be of some use to you! There is, however, a rumor that she will be coming back from the dead (COMICS, EVERYONE!) shortly. I will keep an eye on it, and if it turns out to be true, I will set you up with a good place to start reading!
BEST THING IS BEST
Marvel, you’re doing it right.
Itty bitty xstitch Carol.
It would have been Captain Marvel-style, but I had no blue thread. I should mount it and hang it, but it’s my sexy Carol I’ll do what I want.
“Bottom line is this: You’ve led the Avengers. You have saved the world. Quit being an adjunct take the mantle.”
This would be the part where I (first) teared up while reading Captain Marvel 1. Every time I have read a Carol book in the past, every time I have spewed Carol feels at innocent people, this has been in the back of my mind. That she’s not her own hero. That she’s an adjunct, an extension of a pre-existing male hero.
It’s something that happens way too often in comics (Spiderwoman, Batgirl, Hawkgirl, etc etc etc. I want to see Wonder Lad and…wow, I am actually struggling to come up with a female superhero who isn’t just a male spin-off.). I love Carol so much, but it’s always kind of upset me that she didn’t have her own identity (Including Warbird and Binary, because fuck it, she went right back to Ms Marvel).
And now she does. Yes, it’s a name carried by male superheroes before her. And she is NOT the first woman to use this name (Do yourself a favor and google Monica Rambeau. You’re welcome.), but goddammit she’s earned this. And everyone that has fought and wrestled and campaigned for stronger, more practical, more respectful superheroines? They earned it too. And it made me so fucking happy to see it actually addressed in print. And brought up by Captain America, no less.
Making female comic-book fans happy: You’re Doing It Right.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAT
like it???fdgh I HOPE UR BIRTHDAY GOES WELL
I never, ever reblog my own art. That’s my personal thing. But I’m so proud of this. I could give a shit about the quality of the above drawing, but the amount of notes, to me, is so thrilling. Each note is someone not only supporting Carol in her new incarnation, but also a rare pairing that should be canon, and absolutely baffles me that it isn’t. Seeing people loving what I love, when I expected much less, is the best thing in the world.
Catch up on the lesbian train, Marvel.
I have to sleep. I have to stop drawing. I just love Carol’s new costume.
NOW MARVEL, MAKE THEM KISS.
The problem isn’t just that we have to get folks to buy [Captain Marvel]; it’s that we have to get retailers to order it. The failing of our distribution model is that our customer isn’t really the reader, our customer is whoever places the Diamond order at any store. So if there’s a perception that the book won’t sell, it gets under-ordered and it becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy.
Here’s a thing that happens to every creator on Twitter on one Wednesday or another: an incredibly sweet reader who really wants to support you, writes to tell you that they tried to buy your book at their [local comic shop] and it was already sold out! It’s only noon, they say! The shop only opened at 10! Your book must’ve flown off the shelves!
And then the creator, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, says, “Wow! Thanks for your support — better pre-order the next one!” and then they cry into their coffee. Because, friends, selling out by noon on a Wednesday is not good news. Heck, selling out by Thursday is not good news. That means your book was under-ordered — if it was ordered at all. If the consumer wants the product and we can’t get them the product, our system is broken.
I hate the pre-order thing. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Ten years ago, I was complaining about it on the [Warren Ellis forum] — I’m a shopper. I looooove to shop. I will spend money. But I am not going to buy a pair of shoes that I’m expected to order three months in advance and am not able to try on! And that’s what we’re asking of our readers. It’s the dumbest system. No wonder we have problems! Is there another industry that works like this?
And yet, here I am begging you: if you want to read this comic, please, please oh please, oh please: pre-order it. If you want to see more female-led titles from the mainstream publishers, pre-order this book. If you’re not familiar with how to pre-order, or you’re not sure why it’s so important, check in with me on Twitter @kellysue or on my blog at http://www.kellysue.com
— some time in the next couple weeks I’m going to do a step-by-step blog post. Maybe I’ll even do one of those Warren Ellis-style pre-order coupons.
Kelly Sue DeConnick on the dichotomous folly/urgency of pre-ordering comics, and her new “Captain Marvel” series, in an interview by Albert Ching at Newsarama.com. (via bowtiemoustache)
Can we get some serious reblogs on this, people? Not just for Kelly and her amazing creative team, but for the awareness of readers and retailers. Look, we’ve all seen the response to female characters lately. Readers out there of every gender WANT a change, and this is it. A practical, strong female character in a sensible costume. Carol Danvers is an amazing character, and now she has a costume and a look (AND A TITLE!) to match what’s on the inside.
Please spread this around. Show the comics industry that we’re more than just words. It’s easy to talk about what you want to see, but it’s another thing to actually deliver when the time comes to prove how passionate you are. I’m going to tag this with a bunch of people who are important to this message, and I hope can help get it around. All it takes is awareness to make a real change.
(In case you haven’t seen her new look, check it out here. Tell me that isn’t a world away from the likes of Starfire, or even Carol’s old gear.)
Heeeey look, posting some crap that hasn’t yet been posted.
I don’t know about you, but I love the thought of Bruce hulking out and tearing up his clothes, and having to borrow from
his boyfriend whoever is closest.
Also, drawing dancing superheroines is the most fun EVER.