Once again, the Ms. Marvel series introduces characters and plots that are relevant to contemporary teens. Kamala Khan isn’t just getting to know the Marvel universe, she’s figuring out the moral universe, too
Depending on how well you know Kamala, you may recall that she’s a pretty devoted gamer. Her vice of choice is online multiplayer games, where she is known not as Kamala Khan or Ms. Marvel, but as SlothBaby. I guess every alter ego needs an alter ego? Within the game, her guild friend, LeetSkillz, starts acting strangely and threatens Kamala by mentioning her address. If her online friends get wind of her true identity it could be bad news.
Meanwhile, photos have been going around of Clara, a classmate at school. Clara is humiliated and embarrassed about photos that were intended to be shared only with her boyfriend, who claims he kept them private. Ms. Marvel and her friends Mike, Zoe, and Nakia step in to support Clara and befriend her.
It turns out these events are related. Player LeetSkillz unintentionally downloaded Doc.X, a virus designed to spread quickly and take on the traits of its users. Doc.X has the power to control not only technology, but minds, too. Though Kamala can resist it’s control of minds, the virus has an unusual blackmail offer for Kamala: spread the virus into a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility or else the virus will release the love letters that Zoe wrote to Nakia but never sent. Ms. Marvel briefly considers making good on Doc.X’s order before she stops herself: “If I cave in to a bad guy, am I still one of the good guys?” Kamala’s guild meets up in real life and she hatches a multi-phase plan to defeat Doc.X once and for all.
It’s fun to watch Ms. Marvel’s fighting style develop over time from mostly physical force to a blend of strategic thinking, physical force, peer leadership, and a dash of techie know-how. This volume artistically celebrates Kamala’s special brand of dorky superhero in all sorts of ways, from the bags of chips that are by her side when she’s gaming to a physically unflattering depiction of her with her spidery elongated legs or sitting with her guild at a LAN party at the Circle Q. (“Are you nerds seriously having LAN party in a convenience store? Man, this is some peak Jersey right here…”) I always appreciate how the Ms. Marvel volumes buck the old-school trend of female superheroes with idealized and hyper-sexualized physical traits. Ms. Marvel is about kicking ass, not having one.
However, I felt that Doc.X as a villain and the volume itself presented some questions and issues that weren’t explored further or resolved. This seemed particularly rife for potential in a volume about secrets, surveillance, and how we use the internet, because we know Kamala’s weak for Bruno and we know she doesn’t always display the finest judgment when it comes to teen life. I would have liked to have seen Kamala’s personal life enter this volume more, particularly because she says “We all have secret identities. Secret identities, but no secrets, and it sucks.”
This is a terrific volume for those who are already fans, but I would encourage newer readers to start earlier in the series.
Ms. Marvel, vol. 7: Damage Per Second
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Mirka Andolfo and Takeshi Miyazawa
Publisher Age Rating: T+