Things have really been spinning out of control for Kamala and Bruno… quite literally of late. And Ms. Marvel gets an assist from a very unexpected guest star. All from the creative team of G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon and Ian Herring.
Kamala and Bruno had decided the best way to sidestep their mixed up feelings for one another was to table the whole matter and instead explore the nature and limitations of Kamala’s Inhuman powers. Yet doing so seems to have sent things out of whack and Kamala has lost the ability to fully control these powers. And of course it has all happened at the worst of times to boot as Ms. Marvel found herself facing off against the sinister Shocker.
It still remains a mystery as to what has caused Kamala to so lose control of her powers. Has it been the result of the electronic monitor Bruno had attached? Did she experience a panic attack? Or is it some other, shocking variable yet to reveal itself?
Whatever the case, Kamala has tried to bear through it so to put an end to The Shocker’s schemes. She pursued the villain back to his bizarre, cobbled-together hideout and managed to best him. But then her powers fizzled out again and this strange spinning vortex appeared out of nowhere. At that same moment a similar vortex manifested in the middle of Bruno’s lab.
The issue begins with Bruno peering into this vortex. Within he sees a kaleidoscope of images, what appear to be dozens of potential futures for his friend. There is a future where Kamala becomes the President of The United States; another where she is a hardened veteran of some sort of terrible war; there is another where she becomes the partner of The Red Dagger; and still another where she and Bruno find love and happiness together. It is not just one possible future but every possible future.
Gazing at these images, Bruno sees one where he and Kamala get married… an exciting prospect for him. Although in this future his past injuries have resulted in his having to use a wheelchair, which gives him great pause. Yet through it all Bruno’s keen wit comes upon an epiphany.
The great mystery of Kamala’s powers is how she has been able to change her shape, shrink and enlarge without altering her density. From where was all this extra mass coming from and going to? Bruno posits that what Kamala’s power are actually doing is borrowing and depositing the extra mass from her own future selves. Wild!
And this leads Bruno to consider another possibility. What if all that has gone wrong with Kamala has nothing to do with the experiments they had conducted? What if this malfunction has actually been the result of something to do with The Shocker?!?
Meanwhile, back in The Shocker’s ridiculous lair, Ms. Marvel is mystified by the mysterious vortex. The Shocker explains that this vortex is the product of his own experimental tinkering. He created it pretty much by accident and kept it around as a cool means to get rid of his enemies.
Once more, Ms. Marvel’s powers are all out of whack. Her arms elongate and just lie at her sides like piles of ribbon. The Shocker takes advantage of the situation and pushes Ms. Marvel into the Vortex and she is sent spinning away into the neither realm between realities.
She finds herself trapped once again in yet another shapeless void (seems to be something that happens quite often for her). There doesn’t appear to be any escape. Fortunately, someone has noticed Ms. Marvel’s presence and comes to her aide.
It’s Singularity, the other-worldly hero who appeared in the pages of A-Force. Ms. Marvel doesn’t know Singularity in this reality, but they were teammates in the alternate reality realm of Battleworld… a matter that this version of Ms. Marvel has no recollection of, but Singularity does. It’s all rather confusing for Kamala. Thankfully Singularity knows that Ms. Marvel is one of the good guys and she helps her escape back to earth.
It’s a rough ride as Ms. Marvel and Singularity travel through the multiverse and finally make it back to Jersey City. Ms. Marvel is deposited into the ally behind the Circle Q…
Elsewhere, Bruno has dashed out in search of Kamala. If The Shocker is indeed the source of her loss of control over her powers, then he needs to warn her. All the stress and exertion has overtaxed the vibranium harness that allows him to walk and Bruno needs to take a moment to recuperate.
All this time he has been conversing with a virtual assistant module from the Xavier School that projects a small holographic image of Professor X. This virtual assistant is based on the memory, knowledge and experiences of Professor X, someone who himself had to cope with being remanded to a wheelchair. It’s a prospect that Bruno has to consider and he asks the holograph how he learned to deal with it all.
The holograph replies that he had to adjust on a new outlook on his life. Full mobility had been something he took for granted and its loss forced him to reimagine what it actually means to live well. He reprioritize, making incremental progress toward attaining this new concept of a life lived well… until one day coming to realize that he had achieved the goal and was actually living that life.
It’s not entirely clear how all this resonates with Bruno. Whether he feels the professor’s words are pat and uninspiring or if this whole notion of reimagining what a life-lived-well is actually makes a lot of sense to him. Whatever the case, Bruno has rested up and is now ready to get back to trying to find his friend.
Somehow The Shocker has managed to find Ms. Marvel at the Circle Q. He’s disappointed to find her there… he had hoped his device had more fully dealt with her. No matter, The Shocker is confident he can take care of Ms. Marvel the old fashioned way… with the use of his pulse firing gauntlets.
He readies up to take her on and Ms. Marvel braces herself for the battle. And just then, Bruno happens upon them. The Shocker fires a pulse wave and Bruno desperately jumps in front of it to protect Kamala!
And it is here that the issue comes to a cliffhanger conclusion with the promise of conclusion in the next installment
Mayhem! There’s a whole lot of weirdness packed into the issue; lots of wild ideas, lots of questions answered and new questions posed. Let’s try to unpack it one piece at a time.
Bruno concludes that Kamala’s powers work by way of borrowing and depositing extra mass from her own multi-pronged time-stream. Very interesting… Of course I’m not going to pretend I actually understand the theoretical physics behind this idea. I guess the idea is that mass is a constant whereas time is in flux… and that this mass can be moved in a hydraulic fashion taken from point A in the time-stream and moved to point B. No idea whether this is how things might work in the real world, but it is certainly the kind of outré notion very much at-home in the Marvel Universe.
Bruno additionally comes to the conclusion that Kamala’s loss of the ability to control her powers has something to do with The Shocker’s presence. Which indeed appears to be the case… Whatever kooky experiment The Shocker had conducted so to create this time vortex does indeed seem to have affected Kamala’s ability to manipulate mass…
I suppose this is sort of similar to putting a magnet near a compass… The electrical field generated by the magnet screws with the compass’ ability to point to True-North. Likewise, the field created by the time vortex has also screwed with Ms. Marvel’s ability to borrow and deposit extra mass from her time-stream.
And just as a compass’ needle might spin about wildly when placed near a magnet, so too does Ms. Marvel’s powers act all out of whack… causing her to shrink and enlarge and stretch all out of control.
So when did The Shocker become such a twisted genius? He’s been inventive in the past, but all this is on a whole new level. The Shocker has been a lot of fun in this arc, although I’m wondering why a different villain or a completely new character wasn’t used for the role. For me, it would have made more sense if it were say The Wizard or The Mad Thinker who was behind all this diabolical madness. The Shocker has usually been more of a goon than an ingenious inventor. Still, I guess The Shocker has ambitions to rise above his current station and all this mayhem is a result of it. I mean, bad guys should get good character development too…
Speaking of character development, I’m quite glad to see that Bruno’s past injuries haven’t been put on the back burner. The harness and Quezi designed for him allows for greater mobility, but it remains a temporary fix. Bruno is still physically disabled and must cope with the looming prospect of this hardship worsening in his future.
Physical disability is such a difficult matter to understand. So many people must contend with such things, yet for those who don’t, fully empathizing with the matter is all but impossible. It’s true that little things, like walking to the bathroom, is a matter that many just take for granted. And the idea of loosing such ability is absolutely terrifying. It’s a specter that Bruno must face and it will be interesting to see how he handles it all.
The way that the holographic image of Professor X presents the matter of living while in a wheelchair was intriguing. I like this notion of reimagining what constitutes a life well lived and making gradual progress toward attaining that goal. It’s a neat way to look at life and growth for anyone. Still, I can commiserate with Bruno that the whole matter might feel canned in the face of the daunting prospect of becoming disabled.
There are so few characters in comic books who are representational of people living with disabilities. The real Professor X is dead and there remains a significant dearth of characters who live with full or partial paralysis. I certainly don’t wish the matter onto Bruno, yet if he does ultimately end up having to use a wheelchair I will at least be glad to see the matter shown and represented in the Marvel Universe.
Finally, there is the matter of Ms, Marvel and Singularity quick jaunt to a mysterious place where Ms. Marvel briefly meets a young man who seems to recognize her. Who is this guy? What is this place? Singularity whisks her away, stating that her being there will mess with her personal time-stream.
We’ve known for a while that there is something special about Kamala, something particular with her lineage and future… We’ve seen hints of it peppered throughout her various adventures. This guy and this place seems to be yet another clue, but it all remains a mystery yet to be fully explored in the stories.
Once again, Wilson’s script, Leon’s art and Herring’s coloring all works wonderfully in conjunction… weaving together a wild tale of nutty ideas, cool action and relatable pathos. Another great issue and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this whole tale wraps up in the next installment. Definitely recommended. Four out of five Lockjaws!
The long awaited relaunch of Marvel’s First Family continues in this second issue from the team of Dan Slott, Sara Pichelli, and Marte Gracia.
Right from the start the story of The Fantastic Four has been one about family. And as the years have past by this family has grown quite a bit. What began with Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny gradually expanded to include Reed and Sue’s children, Franklin and Valeria. Then, with the creation of the Future Foundation, a whole bunch of youngsters entered into the family… there were the two young Mutants, Artie and Leach; the super intelligent Moloids known as Tong, Mik, Korr and Turg; former Power Pack member, Alex Power; the young clone of the Wizard known as Bentley 23; a wiz kid from Wakanda named Onome, a pair of fishlings named Vil and Wi; and the kids’ android guardian, Dragon Man. Quite the household!
Last seen, this extended family had helped to bring about the end of the Secret Wars. With the aide of the omni-powerful Molecular Man, the entire multiverse was recreated and put back together. Ben and Johnny were returned to 616 universe yet the others remained behind. Franklin and Owen Reese, The Molecular Man, were creating whole new worlds and universes and the allure of discovery and adventure was too much for Reed and the others to pass up on. So they all ventured out to explore these new realms as they were created.
It would seem that quite a bit of time has passed since then. What has only been a year or so for Ben and Johnny in the 616 Universe appears to have been several years for the rest of the family; and the kids all appear to be much older… Valeria was barely more than a toddler when last seen, yet now she appears to be around 12 or so; and her brother has gone from a preadolescent to a gangly teenager… The other kids have grown as well. And they all seem to be having a blast.
Yet in quieter moments, Val and Franklin admit to one another missing their old life. They miss their uncles, Ben and Johnny. And Valeria is growing up quite fast. Whereas before she enjoyed nothing more than science and discovery and building death-rays, now she fines herself pinning for the sort of stuff many 14-year-olds are interested in. In particular, she misses the dashing Arboro, the Prince Namor looking alien who had taken a shine to her…
Still, their mom and dad have essentially been offered the sense of ‘happily ever after’ that always seemed out of their grasp and neither sibling wants to infringe on that.
The next day, Franklin is preparing to create yet another universe for them to explore when he suddenly discovers that this aspect of his powers seems to have dissipated. Reed and Owen had expected this day to come. Energy is finite and it was only a manner of time before Franklin’s capacity to generate matter on this scale would run its course and exhaust itself.
A sinister presence has been watching the family from afar… waiting for this exact moment. And now, witnessing that the ‘god-child’ has finally sent his power, she knows that it is time to strike.
Her name is The Griever and she proclaims herself the embodiment of entropy and the inevitable death of all things. It is her destiny to bear witness the ultimate heat death of the universe and grieve all that has been lost. And these mortal have been doing, creating new universe and new galaxies is seen by her as an abomination of the natural order… a matter that she seeks to put right.
It would seem that the family have dealt with such would-be threats in the past and The Molecule Man flies up to make short work of the interloper. And it is here that the true threat this Griever entity actually represents. She uses her powers and evaporates the Molecule Man, rendering him into raw energy quickly consumed by her giant caecilian-looking pets.
The others can only look on in horror. This being had just killed The Molecule Man. Is such a thing even possible? Reed is not going to stick around to find out. He rushes the others back into their jump craft fleeing the planet with The Griever and her pets in hot pursuit.
Through this chase, The Griever sets about on restoring order in accordance to her view of the universe. She destroys the various universes and worlds that Franklin and the others had created. One by one entire galaxies and civilizations are snuffed out and rendered back into cosmic dust and dissipated energy.
Reed and the others can only watch on in horror as all their work is undone, barely able to comprehend the sheer magnitude of loss of life.
Bentley 23 and Alex Powers device a plan, an appropriate beach-head where they stand the best shot of making a stand against this monster. Fleeing to this local basically entails sacrificing countless universes that The Griever will destroy in her pursuit. Reed is comprehending the most macabre form of arithmetic… sacrificing hundreds of world in an effort to save thousands. Yet Bentley and Alex’s stratagem is snd and he concurs.
Well, Valeria just isn’t having it.
Fleeing to this beach-head means bypassing the planet where the issue had begun… a planet where Val had befriended a young alien prince whom she had developed quite the crush on. Val is not as coldly pragmatic as she had been in the past… this is a Val going through puberty; a Val who leads with her heart more than her head ands she is simply unwilling to let her friend perish.
She takes control of the jump craft, rerouting it and ultimately scuttling it on the planet. Prince Arboro witnesses the crash and run over to make sure Valeria is okay. She is, they all are… but for how long?
The Griever catches up with them, easy to use her awesome powers to do away from the annoyance that the family represents. Franklin seems to have lost his god-like powers, but he is still far from defenseless… he is still an Omega Level Mutant with powers on par with the likes of The Hulk, Silver Surfer and Thor. He attacks The Griever, yet as powerful as Franklin may be it would appear that The Griever is even more powerful.
She deflects Franklin’s attack and sends he careening to the ground where he lands hard, creating a crater. It tales him a moment to recuperate and when he climbs out from this crater he is terrified to see that the entirety of The Future Foundation has been thoroughly defeated by The Griever.
Floating above them all, The Griever laughs and mocks them. ‘This is the fabled Fantastic Four?’ she asks, adding that she is a bit disappointed that they had put up such paltry fight.
Reed offers a retort. He states that this isn’t the actual Fantastic Four, this is just a group of children off on an adventure; The Griever would never stand a chance against the real Fantastic Four.
Insulted, The Griever takes the bait. These humans would dare to underestimate her awesome powers? She accepts the challenge and summons forth one of her transmaterializers… some sort of device that can transport objects across the multiverse. She changes Reed to use to bring forth his champions, his ‘real’ Fantastic Four so that she may prove her might by defeating them as thoroughly as she has all others.
It’s a trap, for certain, but Reed appears to feel confident that it is a trap he can reconfigure to their benefit. He and Sue work on this strange, transmaterializer device and it’s a recapitulation of the scene shown near the end of issue #1. They activate it and, galaxies away, a large number four presents itself in the upper orbit of earth.
This giant four is not a sign, symbol or call for help. It is actually a kind of teleportation beam and Ben and Johnny find themselves suddenly risks away, transported across the cosmos to alongside the rest of their family.
It’s the reunion we’ve all been looking forward to, yet there is no time for catching up… The Fantastic Four has a job to do.
The Griever, meanwhile appears upset. What sort of trickery has Reed Richards been up to? Fore it turns out that Reed hasn’t beckoned just the primary members of the Fantastic Four, but every member, every hero who has ever stood in among the ranks of the FF!
It’s an awesome sight. This collection of heroes may or may not have what it takes to defeat a being whose powers are as substantial as those of The Griever. But they’re certain to put up quite a fight!
And it is on this cliffhanger that this second issue comes to a close with the promise of continuation in the next installment.
This second issue of the series very much felt like a first issue, like we are getting two first issues for the series – one focusing on Ben and Johnny back on earth, and a second focusing on Reed Sue and the kids. Sure why not? First issues are fun. They’re challenging to create I imagine, but if Slott, Pachelli and the gang are up to then I say bring it on.
The Griever is an interesting new villain. She seems to be some lost member of the bigger tier cosmic heavies (like the Inbetweener, Grandmaster and Living Tribunal). She certainly seems a very tough customer and, even with the enhanced forces, I’ve no idea for the Fantastic Four will ultimately triumph against her.
Val’s finding herself having a bit of a crush on Arboro was just hilarious, especially in light of how much he reminds Sue of Prince Namor. I guess the preverbal apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree ;3
The Molecule Man’s apparent death was both surprising and unsettling. I understand that writing him out might be something of a necessity for the plot. Yet it unfolded in sort of a coldblooded fashion. It also sort of smacked of the old school trope where a story will show off how powerful a new character is by having them defeat or kill an already established super powerful character.
All this aside, what really resonated with me in this issue is just how wild it is to see Franklin, Val and the others all as teenagers. I’ve known Franklin for a long time. He’s actually a good deal older than I am, having debuted way back in 1968 in the pages of Fantastic Four Annual #6. And he’s been stuck as a toddler for most of that time. Seeing him and his sister as suddenly young adults is quite something.
And also a very much welcome change. Franklin has been the face of the future generation of the Marvel pantheon for as long as I can remember and it’s about time to see him have some more grown up adventures (all the time-displaced versions of him that have appeared here and there not withstanding).
I’m more than ready to see Franklin and Val take on a greater role in the stories in the future. Of course doing so is likely going to necessitate a dramatic reduction in Franklin’s power-levels. It would be hard to craft a tale with any sense of real peril if Franklin could just whisk away any threat with a wave of his hand. And this seems to be the case as Franklin has spent the majority of his abilities, leaving him still very tough, but not god-level tough.
That last scene is poster worthy. So awesome to see the whole extended roster of the Fantastic Four together (along with, for some unknown reason, IceMan). Although I was sort of disappointed not to see Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur, Ahura, Luna and Adolf Impossible among the extended FF members (then again, Reed doesn’t know yet about Lunella and he’s likely reluctant to bring more youngsters into this dangerous fray).
Will these reinforcements prove enough to put an end to the threat posed by The Griever realms to be seen… Although I’m sure Reed has still more tricks up his sleeve and I’m very, very much looking forward to seeing what happens in issue three.
Once again Sara Pachelli and Marte Gracia outdo themselves in the art department. This second issue isn’t as finely polished as the first, but they’re also asked to depict a huge array of different settings as well as a rather large ensemble cast. All and all, it’s a beautiful comic to behold and the art matches the way out nature of the story just wonderfully.
Of course recommended. Four out of five Lockjaws!
The Kree have declared war on The Inhumans, launching a bloody attack that has decimated the lunar city of New Arctillan. Seeking revenge, Black Bolt traveled to Hala to retaliate and there unleashed his incredibly destructive voice, obliterating his enemies. And yet he underestimated the Kree war-chief, the mysterious and powerful being known as Vox… all but paying for it with his life. The battle resulted in Black Bolt’s throat being severed, a wound that may very well negate his greatest power: his voice.
Now with Black Bolt defeated and held in the clutches of The Kree, Medusa and what remains of the Royal Family must devise a new strategy to rescue their king and bring forth vengeance for the countless Inhumans who have perished under The Kree’s bloody campaign.
It’s the middle installment of a five-part series, from the creative team of writer Donny Cates, illustrator Ariel Olivetti and color artist, Jordie Bellaire.
The tale starts off with Karnak recuperating from his journey back from Hala. He had refused to make the journey in a straight line, instead circling back to destroy whatever Kree ships that had been pressuring him. He has informed Medusa and the others what occurred on Hala, how Black Bolt had been felled, possibly killed by Vox.
Still, there is the chance that Black Bolt may still be alive and his family is going to do all that they can to rescue him. Crystal lobbies contacting the heroes of Earth; surely there are dozens of allies among the Avengers, Alpha Flight and the newer Inhumans who would come to their aide. Yet Medusa discards the idea out of hand. She doesn’t want assistance from these moral and righteous heroes of earth; she doesn’t want the Kree captured or brought to justice… she wants them dead. No, Medusa has another ally in mind… one who would be much more willing to spill blood and extract the degree of retribution that she is seeking.
The narrative switches back to Hala where Black Bolt is subjected to a gruesome surgery. Vox’s cut appears to have severed Black Bolt’s larynx and the surgeons sew shut the wound. Vox and the still-to-be-named General leading the Kree forces watch the proceedings. Vox declares the threat posed by Black Bolt to be eliminated. The much feared prophecy of a ‘midnight king’ who would bring about the fall of the Kree Empire has been stamped out.
This surgery is all being performed without any form of pain killer and even now the fallen king cannot scream out from the agony. His voice is gone and with it any threat of bringing that dreadful prophecy to fruition.
…or has it?
Later, Black Bolt is remanded to a cell, guarded by a pair of Kree soldiers who mock his apparent powerlessness. He sits stoically for some time before attempting to speak, garbling a mumble over his ruined vocal cords. At first the soldiers laugh at their prisoner’s pathetic attempt to speak. Yet Black Bolt continues to try. His voice has been reduced to little more than a horse whisper, but it is not entirely without power. He again recites the names of his fellow Inhumans killed in The Kree’s attack
With each name recited, one of the soldiers begins to feel ill. Soon blood is flowing from his nose as though his brain is being slowly crushed from within. The other soldier tries to stop him, slamming the butt of his rifle into Black Bolt’s head. Yet he continues on. Black Bolt recites the names of Naja and Sterlion, Flagman and Glass Girl. The first soldier fall over dead and the second is feeling the effects as well. Black Bolt speaks the name, New Arctillan, and the second soldier appears to suffer a full cerebral hematoma.
Now free, Black Bolt wanders the hall of the darkened prison. Soon he comes across some sort of cruel operating theater. There he finds his one time adversary and one time ally, Ronan The Accuser. Tubes and other bizarre devices are fastened into Ronan’s body, his arm and side has been replaced with mechanical prosthetics… something truly terrible has been done to him.
Ronan is awake and greets Black Bolt. He explains that this new fanatical division of The Kree had come to the ruins of Hala and defeated him. The army’s children and families wait for them, wait until all opposition can be crushed and a new, unbeatable empire can be established
Ronan is in the process of being changed into a weapon for the purposes of this conquest. This is the mandate of this new Kree Empire – kill the weak, enslave the strong, break the unwilling and eliminate all opposition.
Ronan understands what is being done to him, how he is being somehow transformed. Soon his mind will no longer be his own and his body and strength will be used as yet another weapon. He pleads with Black Bolt to end it, to forgive him for his past transgressions and speak this forgiveness allowed. In short he asks that Black Bolt kill him before these villains can transform him into some form of zombie soldier. Black Bolt grants the request and says, ‘you are forgiven.’ Though it is not directly shown, it seems as though Black Bolt’s saying this puts Ronan out of his misery, killing him so that he cannot be used as a weapon.
Elsewhere, Medusa and the Royals travel through space toward an unknown location. Medusa has someone very specific in mind, knowing that this being will surely fight by their side once he learns that Lockjaw has been killed. Medusa feels a certain degree of shame over the prospect of leveraging the deaths of their loved ones so to elicit aide. Karnak, however, finds a twisted satisfaction in it.
All life is entropy in Karnak’s mind… what better reason is there to bring about death and destruction other than seeking vengeance for a fallen friend?
They arrive at their destination where they find Beta Ray Bill, the Korbinite warrior who wields the Asgardian hammer, Stormbreaker. Bill is disinterested in The Inhumans’ plight, he is done using his power to wreak havoc across the galaxy. Yet he changes his tune once he hears that his friend Lockjaw has been among the casualties.
Apparently Lockjaw and Beta Ray Bill had shared many adventures together and Bill is stopped in his tracks at learning that his beloved pal has been killed. Medusa’s gambit has clearly paid off. She has found a powerful ally who will fight for them and fight without mercy.
And it is here that the issue ends with he promise of continuation in the next installment.
An interesting turn of events. There is not a whole lot to say about the issue in that it is very much a middle stanza dividing the two main chapters of the series. The first chapter was all about The Kree bringing down the Inhumans, and it looks as though the second chapter will be about The Inhumans getting their revenge. And this middle section is sort of a brief respite of calm between the two storms. No big secrets or plot wrinkles are revealed. And while it is neat to see just how resilient Black Bolt can be, and exciting to discover that Beta Ray Bill will be recruited into the fight… I’m starting to get a little restless in wanting to see the mysteries revealed. These mysteries being who or what Vox is and where he came from; whether or not there is some greater force behind this new fanatical faction of The Kree; and if there may be other Inhumans whom The Kree are looking to transform into living weapons the way they had attempted with Ronan.
Although it appears as though Black Bolt had euthanizes Ronan, my guess is that this will not be the case. Rather I think Black Bolt’s actions have freed Ronan from whatever butchery the Kree had subjected him to. I expect to see Ronan fighting at Black Bolt’s side in the next issue.
It is interesting that, with his vocal cords so damaged, Black Bolt’s powers work quite similarly to that of his son, Ahura. It’s also a bit odd that The Kree should be so ignorant of the full nature of Black Bolt’s powers. His voice is his greatest weapon for certain, yet he also possesses flight, super strength and the capacity for molecular destabilization. So many stories just seem to forget about these secondary powers. Yet, perhaps Black Bolt is actually using his molecular manipulative abilities to slowly repair his ruined larynx. I guess we’ll see…
Black Bolt continues to be the main character of the series. Karnak gets some fun lines and Cates continues to excels at scripting Karnak’s dialogue. Medusa get to show off her prowess as a tactician, but that is about it. Crystal and Gorgon are just sort of there and continue to be grossly underutilized in the plot. I’m hoping that Crystal will be allowed to show off just how powerful she is before the series comes to its conclusion.
Introducing Beta Ray Bill to the story is both surprising and welcome. There are so many great cosmic heroes out there in the broader Marvel Universe and I am all for bringing them back into the foreground. Bill’s introduction in the pages of Walter Simonsson’s The Mighty Thor #337 remains one of the greatest tales of Marvel’s cosmic pantheon.
Furthermore, both Bill and Ronan have been shown as among the extended cast for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy relaunch by Cates and artist Geoff Shaw… perhaps the conclusion of Death of The Inhumans may in some way ducktail into whatever Cates and company have in mind for the 2019 Guardians relaunch.
Compared to the chaos and carnage of the first two issues of the series, this third issue was much more calm and subdued. Yet I’m feeling hopeful that it will connote a changing of the tide and that we will get to see the Inhumans gain the upper hand in the final two installments.
The illustration is pretty good. I’m a fan of Ariel Olivetti’s art, although I kind of prefer his digitally rendered work over his pencil work. The figures and facial expressions are a bit static. I also feel that Vox should be framed in a more dynamic and intimidating fashion. He’s supposed to be this ultra-tough customer, but sometimes he looks a bit diminutive, slinking behind the Kree General.
Jordie Bellaire coloring and pallet continues to match the tenor of the story just perfectly. The grim nature of what has happened, what Black Bolt has been forced to endure, is toned in grays and muted earth-tones and it works terrifically, escpailly when juxtaposed to the bright, natural surroundings of the world where Medusa seeks out Beta Ray Bill.
As has been the case with the entirety of this series, it is difficult for me to try and look at the whole matter from a more objective vantage. I imagine that for those who are not as heavily invested in The Inhumans as I am all this may come across as an engrossing and thrilling tale with a poetic narration and high stakes feel. Whereas I’m turning each page desperately hoping for a scene showing Maximus and Lockjaw revealed as alive.
Trying my best to disabuse myself of this bias, the story is pretty cool and the kind of intense, cosmic wildness that I’m normally all about. I’m going to be optimistic and hope that we have seen The Inhumans pushed down as low as they will go and that what will proceed will be all about redemption and righteous vengeance.
Recommended. Three and a half out of five Lockjaws
Ms. Marvel’s powers are on the fritz. Her ability to stretch, grow, shrink and embiggon just aren’t working the ways they used to. And it’s all happened at the most disadvantageous of times as she and her pal Bruno find themselves facing off against the super villain known as The Shocker. Brought to us by the creative team of G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon and Ian Herring.
The Inhuman powers Kamala found herself endowed with are pretty cool, yet like many super powers, they don’t make a whole lot of scientific sense. And Kamala and Bruno decided to utilize their intellect, curiosity (and need to avoid their budding romantic feelings toward one another) so to try to figure the whole matter out. This included Bruno using a small electrical device to monitor the surface volume of Kamala’s embiggoning. Something in all this triggered a feeling of complete unease in Kamala as she found herself both terribly anxious as well as unable to fully control her powers. It remains unclear exactly what brought this about… and there hasn’t been time to figure it out in that the B-list Spider-Man villain, The Shocker, has come to Jersey City to capitalize on the relative dearth of masked do-gooders who might thwart his nefarious schemes.
At first it looked as though Ms. Marvel would have little difficulty with this second-grade cad… yet once more her powers malfunctioned. She shrank down to just inches, leaving her and Bruno all but defenseless against The Shocker and his pulse-emitting gauntlets. Oh no!
The Shocker fires off a pulse wave that is sure to do in both Bruno and Kamala. The desperation of the situation forces Kamala to push through her difficulties and she manages to embiggon herself into the form of a giant shield, deflecting the pulse wave.
Realizing that the battle might not be as easily won as he had thought, The Shocker runs off… with a stubborn Ms Marvel in hot pursuit… much to Bruno’s consternation.
She catches up with him and just when it looks like the two are about to throw down for another superpower show-down, Ms. Marvel’s powers go all wonky once more. Her body flattens, becomes ribbon like… it’s all quite strange. Kamala’s consciousness seems to be transported to some sort of neither-realm, a quantum space between worlds. It’s unclear what is happening to her and Kamala is absolutely baffled by it. What does all this mean… what is happening?
The Shocker is less interested in it all. He’s pretty much ‘well, that’s weird’ and then shoves off to his fort.
Yes, I said fort…
I was sort of wondering what the villain was doing stealing pipes and building supplies in the previous issue and now we know. He’s built himself a good old fashioned super villain lair…. What a nut.
The Shocker has always aspired to elevate his station from mid-tier threat to a cad on par with someone like Dr. Doom. And every grade-A super villain needs a secret lair, so Shocker has built his own. It’s very silly, something akin to a little kid who makes a fort out of couch cushions and blankets.
Ms. Marvel recollects herself and finds herself facing down this bizarre ersatz fort, jerry-rigged between two buildings in down town Jersey City… as if this day couldn’t get any more weird…
Well, it turns out that The Shocker’s fort is not as harmless as it initially appears. Despite his silly wardrobe and poor track record as a villain, the guy is actually a pretty skilled engineer. He’s built into his fort a complicated Rube Goldberg-style contraption that catches Ms. Marvel off guard and propels her up into the air and right down into the heart of the fort.
She lands before The Shocker who then proceeds to launch into a rather pat attempt at super villain monologuing, explaining how in Manhattan he is little more than a run-of-the-mill bad guy… yet in Jersey City he is a much bigger fish in a much smaller pond. Now he is Ms. Marvel’s arch nemesis and blah blah blah… it’s quite silly and Ms. Marvel is not especially impressed.
Ms. Marvel’s wallops The Shocker with an embiggoned fist. He seems defeated, but mutters that he has one last trick up his sleeve. Just then a spinning vortex begins to twirl about in the center of the room. It’s unclear what this is, from where it comes from, yet it seems familiar to Ms. Marvel. Has it to do with that strange neither realm Kamala’s mind had been sent to when her powers malfunctioned? The answers will have to wait until next issue.
Whilst all this is going on, Bruno has rushed back to his lab, desperate to use his wit and intellect to figure out what exactly it is that has caused Kamala’s powers to malfunction. With the aide of a not-so-helpful hologram of Professor X, Bruno attempts a series of experiments that he hopes will allow him to understand, and hopefully undo, whatever it was that triggered Kamala’s loss of control over her abilities.
The central mystery as Bruno sees it is Kamala’s ability to increase and decrease her mass while maintaining a standardized volume and density. It all defies the central tenets of physics. An object in space that enlarges in size should increase in density; one that shrinks should decrease in density… that’s how things work. Yet Kamala’s abilities don’t work that way and Bruno believes that discovering the reasoning behind this is key to helping her regain full control of her powers.
To this end, Bruno conducts an experiment where he takes a chuck of proto-matter, imbues it with Kamala’s genetic signature and then subjects it to a broad spectrum of light and electricity. Of course this is a terrible idea and the chuck of matter immediately begs to grow in mass at a rapid rate, threatening to destroy the lab and crush poor Bruno.
And here, with both Kamala and Bruno facing rather grim circumstances, the issue comes to an end with the promise of continuation in the next installment.
Fun! There’s a lot of neat action, wonderful art and funny bits to the issue… although it is very much a middle-chapter issue where the mysteries are deepened and little in the way of resolution nor explanation is offered. Which is a little frustrating in that I’m the kind of person who craves answers and can get a little cranky when said answers are withheld…
My original hypothesis from last issue, that Kamala’s malfunctioning powers were the result of a superhero version of panic disorder, looks to be proven quite wrong. Rather it seems that her ability to increase and decrease mass without impacting volume may have to do with accessing some sort of an outer-dimensional realm. Sort of like temporarily borrowing and depositing mass from a place outside of the earthly confines of physics. And perhaps tinkering with this other worldly realm might not come without some sort of ramification… some sort of affect that is finally catching up with Kamala. And I’m anxiously looking forward to finding out.
Whatever the case, the narrative offers the art team of Leon and Herring to stretch their collective wings in offering up some very cool visuals. I especially liked Kamala’s mental excursion to the weird neither-realm. So much of Ms. Marvel’s adventures take place in the confines of Jersey City, so it is cool to see her in different, more science fiction oriented environments.
Another fun bit was Kamala’s unintentional transformation into a flowing ribbon-like form. It was both neatly illustrated and made for a very funny bit where The Shocker is trying to contend with the fact that his grandiose plans for a big hero-versus-villain showdown isn’t going the way he had hoped. It’s clear that Leon and Herring had a lot of fun offering up the art for this issue and it’s equally fun to take it in.
Superhero comic stories these days have been very much reconfigured to fit into collected trade paperback format. Books like Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, and the like tend to sell much better in trade form compared to the individual issues. As a result, there are less one-and-done stories and more tales designed to unfold through the course of three to five issue arcs. This is fine, I know plenty of folks who much prefer collected trades over serialized floppies. The one drawback is those middle issues where the plot is sometimes unnecessarily elongated and answers and resolutions are withheld. These sorts of issues often act to frustrate my desire to know what’s going on.
Although this is likely just an idiosyncratic peeve. Whatever the case, while this was a very fun issue to read, it left me a touch unsatisfied. Nonetheless, definitely recommended. Three and a half out of five Lockjaws!
Lockjaw and D-Man’s adventures continue and we learn the source of the mysterious signal that has set this all in motion in this third in a four issue series from the creative team of Daniel Kibbelsmith, Carlos Villa, Roberto Poggi and Chris O’Halloran.
The story so far has seen Lockjaw stirred by a mysterious signal that alerted him to the fact that his siblings may be in trouble. He teleported into action, checking in on his brothers and sisters to make sure they were okay. First he traveled to Brooklyn to see Bixby, a long-lived bulldog cared for by a kooky old woman. And it just so turned out that this woman is the neighbor of the retired super hero and one-time Avenger known as D-Man.
D-Man had lost his super powers some time ago and it has left him adrift, feeling depressed and purposeless… trying to find some new sense of meaning in life. Yet being a hero is in his nature and, powers or not, D-Man jumped into action and assisted Lockjaw when a swarm of hamster-piloted flying saucers attacked.
Together, Lockjaw and D-Man were able to fend off these hamsters and, once Lockjaw was sure Bixby was safe, he teleported off to his next sibling. D-Man accidentally tagged along and the two had another adventure in the prehistoric Savage Land. There they encountered Ka-Zar and Zabu and battled a pack of giant wolves. The fight was cut short, however, when it was revealed the pack was lead by ‘The Great Beast’ whom it just so turned out is Lockjaw’s sister.
The Beast herself had been also attacked by hamster in flying saucers yet she and her pack where able to defeat them without aid. Seeing his sister was doing fine and needed to protection, Lockjaw teleported off taking a very confused D-Man with him.
This most recent teleportation was a much more significant jump… Lockjaw transported to an entirely new dimension. This is Earth 8311, the anthropomorphic universe populated be cartoon animal versions of the various heroes and villains of the Marvel 616 Universe.
D-Man had no idea such a dimension existed and is quite confused by it. He has little time to bend his mind around the matter before he and Lockjaw are attacked by The Wisker and his Wrecking Zoo (an anthropomorphic version of The Wrecker and the Wrecking Crew). Fortunately, the Spectacular Spider-Ham swings in to lend a hand and the villains are defeated.
Teleporting to a whole new dimension has taken a lot out of Lockjaw and Spider-Ham leads them to a safe location and it is here that they meet Lockjaw’s other sister, Doc Jaw. This sibling had been brought tot he 8311 Universe when she was just a puppy and the anthropomorphic filed surrounding he world impacted her development, changing her into an anthropomorphized version of herself. She was discovered by Mooseter Fantastic, who took her in. Under Mooseter Fantastic’s tutelage, Doc Jaw would gone on to become a great scientist.
It is here that D-Man is finally offered some answers as Doc Jaw explains to him (and to us the readers) what exactly has been going on. It is a bit of jarring information dump, but the exposition is appreciated in that it was nice to discover what exactly has been going on.
Here’s the deal… Some thirty years back Lockaw’s mother was a regular dog who was experimented on by an unscrupulous Inhuman scientist (has there ever been an Inhuman scientist who wasn’t unscrupulous?). Lockjaw’s mom was exposed to a version of the mutagenic Terrigen Mist whist she was pregnant and she gave birth to a litter of puppies, each of whom had been altered by the mists. The most powerful of the puppies was Lockjaw, who was imbued with enhanced size and strength, cosmic awareness and the ability to teleport himself and others through dimensional portals. Lockjaw was gifted to the infant prince, Black Bolt, and would go on to be an important member of the Inhuman Royal Family.
Some time thereafter, Lockjaw used his newfound powers for teleportation to transport each of his siblings to new homes. Bixby was transported to Brooklyn, The Beast to The Savage Land; Doc Jaw was teleported to Earth 8311… and so on.
Although Lockjaw’s intentions were good, he was just a puppy and, well, a dog. And in his efforts to transport his siblings to safe places, he accidentally happened upon The Negative Zone. This is a violent realm lorded over by the powerful Annihilus.
Annihilus is a terrible being whose only aim is to destroy everything possible and he has been bent over trying to find access to the multiverse so to spread his nihilistic right of terror and destruction. This being sensed Lockjaw stumbling into the Negative Zone. He sought out the sibling Lockjaw had left there (a brother) and captured him.
Again, Annihilus is intent on accessing the multiverse so to spread his terror. Yet he can only create small, temporary portal to access it. His plan, it would seem, is to seek out Lockjaw and use his genetic material to obtain the ability to teleport between dimensions. To this end, Annihilus has sent out hi minions to capture Lockjaw’s sibling, hoping to lure out Lockjaw and capture him.
With her enhanced intellect, Doc Jaw was able to discern Annihilus’ scheme and she sent out a beacon to him hoping that she could get to Lockjaw first and warn him of Annihilus’s plan.
If ll of this wasn’t complicated enough, there is the additional wrinkle that Lockjaw no longer remembers how to teleport to the Negative Zone. He had made the trip once before, but it was by accident when he was just a puppy. He needs to somehow remember how to make the jump to The Negative Zone so that he can rescue his brother and put an end to Annihilus’s scheme. In order to access this memory, Doc Jaw has created a machine that will allow D-Man to enter into his unconscious dream-scape where hopefully the hidden memory might be found. Or something like that. It’s a bit confusing.
In any case, D-Man is rather reluctant to travel into Lockjaw’s dreams. Doc Jaw convinces him it is a challenge he must step up to. Fate has put him and Lockjaw together. She can sense D-Man’s heroic nature and appeals to his sense of needing to do the right thing. D-Man ultimately concedes and agrees to put on the apparatus that links his and Lockjaw’s minds.
Sleep is induced and D-Man and Lockjaw find themselves wondering through the dreamscape. There the two are attacked by nightmare entities drawn from each of their unconsciouses. These nightmare creatures are destroyed by the timely arrival of a new ally, the mysterious being known as Sleepwalker. And it is here that the issue confused with the promise of continuation in the next issue.
Oh kay… A rather wacky issue with a complicated plot, but still a lot of fun. The Marvel Anthropomorphic Universe is a pretty silly place, with cartoon animal analogs of familiar characters each offered their own pun-based animal names (some better than others. Thunderb -owl?).
It was kind of tough bending my head around Doc Jaw’s exposition of the plot points. I’m still not sure I have everything figured out… are the hamsters in flying saucers Annihilus’s agents? Still, I suppose some degree of confusion is to be expected when you get an information dump from a talking dog. And I can certainly relate to D-Man’s feelings of befuddlement.
In that the two previous issues were a good deal lighter on plot, it offered up more room for exploration of D-Man’s character. Conversely, this issue was much heavier on plot and, as such, D-Man didn’t receive as much character development.
Sleepwalker showing up at the end was surprising. He’s a character I know very little about… although he certainly fits right in alongside D-Man, Ka-Zar and Spider-Ham. I’m loving how Mr. Kibblesmith is drawing from such random corners of the extended Marvel Universe.
I’ve know idea how this nutty story is going to wrap up nor how it is all going to conclude in just one last issue. But I sure am looking forward to finding out.
The art by Villa, Poggi and O’Halloran is once again terrific. It fits perfectly with the tenor of the tale and I especially liked the way the over arching style has shifted from one bizarre location to another.
Definitely recommended. Four out of five Lockjaws.
The Fantastic Three story comes to it’s fantastic conclusion by the fantastic (and Glyph Award nominated) creative team of Brandon Montclare, Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain.
Here’s the situation: the evil Super Skrull has come to earth and created a terrible machine with stolen components. This device is a kind of de facto Omniwave Projector, an ultra-powerful particle accelerator that can create a doorway to an antimatter universe. Somehow, The Super Skrull has learned that creating such a doorway would beckon the arrival of the Omnipotentis, a being of unlimited destructive power that will destroy not only the earth, but the entirety of the universe.
It’s the sort of crisis that used to be right up the Fantastic Four’s alley. Unfortunately, the Fantastic Four isn’t around anymore. And hence it has fallen on Lunella Lafayette petit shoulders to create a new Fantastic Four and find the perfect balance of brains, brawn and heart needed to stop the Super Skrull and save the day.
To this end Moon Girl teamed up with the remaining members of the FF – Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’ Thing, and Johnny Storm the hot-headed Human Torch. They proved a formidable squad yet were unable to prevail. There was something missing. They lacked cohesion and couldn’t work as a team. They were unable to recreate that inexplicable magic of the original Fantastic Four wherein the team became greater, more powerful than the sum of its individual parts.
Why this didn’t work was confusing to Lunella. It was like a math problem wherein the solution was anything but mathematical. Yet she finally figured it out and realized that the missing ingredient was her former partner, Devil Dinosaur!
A plan was put in motion. Moon Girl was able to coerce Galactus, the former consumer of worlds, to fight off Omnipotentis and buy her and her team time to take out The Super Skrull’s machine and close the portal. Meanwhile, Lunella was able to tap into the energies created by the Super Skrull’s machine to fuel her own Omniwave Projector, which she used to travel back to the alternate dimension where she had left Devil Dinosaur.
They returned and the team was whole. Now it was clobbering time and they took on The Super Skrull.
A good-old-fashioned super battle ensued as this new FF took on the Super Skrull on the Brooklyn Bridge. The Super Skrull is a tough customer. He’s more than a match for The Fantastic Four in any of its iterations; yet the team has always found an x-factor that stepped in, swayed the battle and saved the day. Something about their unity, they’re being bigger than the sum of their parts allowed for such an x-factor to step in. And Lunella was successful in recreating the formula. And that x-factor stepped in a very literal fashion as Devil Dinosaur actually stepped on The Super Skrull, catching the villain off guard and squashing him under the dinosaur’s giant foot.
With the Super Skrull defeated, Ben and Johnny were able to turn off his machine and cause the vortex between realities to close. Lunella quickly flew off to the gateway between realms to tell Galactus and the Silver Surfer to disengage their battle with Omnipotentis.
Defeated, Omnipotentis offered discouraging words to our hero. She said that Moon Girl and the others may have won for now, but she will be back… nothing can prevent entropy in the grand scheme. The universe will not last forever, it will eventually die just as all things die… a harsh truth sewn into the nature of reality. Lunella takes these harsh words in stride. Basically sticking her tongue out at Omnipotis and telling her, better luck next time.
The day is saved and it’s all thanks to the new Fantastic Four. Ben and Johnny are more than ready to go on to the team’s next adventure, but Lunella realizes that it is not to be. The whole ordeal helped Lunella realize that she was not whole without her partner, Devil D… and that the same is true for Ben and Johnny. Their family is somewhere out there and it is long past time that Ben and Johnny go about finding them.
The two are saddened that Lunella is breaking up the team, but they both seem to realize that she is right. Reed, Sue and the kids are out there somewhere and it is The Thing and The Human Torch’s destiny to find them and re-attain wholeness. An adventure that is currently unfolding in the pages of Marvel Two-in-One.
Lunella and Devil D return to the Lower East Side. Finding a quiet playground to rest, Lunella apologizes for her having left Devil D in the first place. She had thought she was doing the right thing, that the prehistoric reality she had found for him was where he belonged. He tried to tell her she was wrong, but Lunella didn’t listen and for that she is sorry. Manhattan is no place for a Dinosaur… except for when it is. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are partners, they were meant to be a team. It took Lunella being without him to realize that she is better when with him… that together they become greater than the sum of their parts. Sometimes you have to do things on your own, but it’s always better to have someone their to support you.
There is not a lot to unpack or analyze here. The moral of the story is made abundantly clear. It is a base truth that independence and self-agency is a matter born out of healthy dependence and the capacity to rely on others. Being as smart as she is, Lunella often feels that she doesn’t need to rely on anyone but herself. And time and again, her experiences teach her that she is better when can rely on others. Mutuality is not a crutch that one leans on and inhibits growth, rather it is a scaffolding that supports and fosters such growth.
Lunella sums the matter up aptly in her narration of the action unfolding. Stating, “Sometimes you’re your own. But when someone os looking out for you? Those are better times.”
Where was Lunella way back when I was writing my dissertation? The above is as succinct a summation of the general concept of the theory of psychological object relations as one is likely to find…
There is, however, a more furtively planted thematic in the story… an element of existentialism sewn stealthily into the narrative.
In my capacity as a child psychotherapists, I’ve worked with quite a few highly capacious kids. Being exceptionally smart is a gift, but it is not without its costs. Children who are especially smart can often also exceptionally anxious. They know things on a cognitive level before they have developed the faculties to cope with such knowledge on an emotional level.
And even when you have those faculties, there is a kind of knowledge that no one really has the ability to cope with. The Omnipotentis is correct. All things do come to an end. Every thing is finite and, though it is billions of years in the future, the eventual heat-death where the entire universe comes to an end is an inescapable inevitability.
The harsh, existential truth of our own mortality, of the fact that everything has an end, can be a difficult abyss to stare into. No one has the ability to fully deal with it. One really have only two choices: you can either give in to nihilism (as the Super Skrull had) or you just thumb your nose at the matter and basically say that you’re going to go on anyways (e.g. Lunella’s parting words to Omnipotis).
I prefer Lunella’s approach.
As always, the art by Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain gels wonderfully with the script, bringing the story alive with vibrant action and rich colors. As far as I’m concerned these two can illustrate the Fantastic Four any day of the week. I especially enjoyed the cosmic battle between Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Omnipotentis. It acts as a wonderful homage to Jack Kirby while remaining true to Bustos and Bonvillain’s individual styles.
What a great ride. Fantastic Three stands right alongside Cosmic Cooties as being my favorite Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur tales. And I’m so glad that Devil D is back. I knew it would be only a matter of time before the big red lug would be back. But I really missed him nevertheless.
Oh yeah, and there’s a really nice letter printed in the back pages. Whomever that guys is who sent that letter in seems like he’s pretty cool (wink wink).
Four out of Five Lockjaws for the issue…
…and Five out of Five Lockjaws for the arc as a whole. Highest recommendation!
Bruno’s back and Kamala becomes an aunt in the latest issue of Ms. Marvel from the creative team of G. Willow Wilson, Nico Leon and Ian Herring.
Things have been rather hectic of late, with Ms. Marvel and her pals having to take on the evil Inventor… but the villain has been defeated and now the real drama is ready to ensue.
The story starts off at the maternity ward where Kamala’s sister-in-law, Tyesha, is about to give birth to her and Aamir’s child. It’s an intense ordeal, too much so for poor Aamir, whose kicked out of the delivery room after he faints. Fortunately, everything turns out fine and it’s not too long before Kamala is introduced to her nephew, Malik.
Aamir is overwhelmed by the joys and terrors of parenthood. Within an instant he is dedicated heart-and-soul to this tiny human and is just consumed with the anxiety that he can never live up to the extreme pressures of being the ideal parent.
Kamala, meanwhile, is on cloud nine. She’s in love with little Malik, loves being an aunt, and it all just fills her with a bubbling joy. Some time later, she goes out on patrol as Ms. Marvel and just dances across the rooftops, feeling like a Disney princess in the first act of a movie where they sing and dance over the joys of their lives.
It’s all interrupted when The Red Dagger jumps in to join her. Ms. Marvel has had mixed feelings about this mysterious young hero who has so suddenly relocated from Karachi. She feels a bit defensive toward him in that he sometimes acts in a way that has made Kamala feel as though her idealism stems from a place of naïveté.
Yet Red Dagger catches her off guard, when he professes how much he had missed her, how he’s thought about her constantly and just feel that she is wonderful.
Kamala is often very hard on herself and to hear this debonaire hero profess such admiration kind of sweeps her off her feet. Before she knows it, she and Red Dagger are kissing atop the minimart. Kamala’s first kiss! And it’s a good one.
Yet the romantic moment is cut short when Ms. Marvel realizes they are being watched. She looks down to see Bruno, who has just arrived back from Wakanda, glaring up at her… clearly alarmed to see his longtime crush making kissy-face with some handsome stranger with perfect hair.
Bruno had been living in Wakanda and his school in the Golden City has gone on break. He’s returned home in order to try to figure out his future – should he stay in Wakanda or return home to Jersey. He’s accompanied by his roommate, Kwezi, who has taken the opportunity to explore America.
Kamala and Bruno meet the next morning before school. They catch up, likely hoping that they can slip back into being lifelong friends the way things had been in the past. It’s not to be. Too much as changed.
Bruno is in love with Kamala, he has been for as long as he can remember. Kamala had believed that Bruno blamed her for the accident that left him so badly injured. And though she’s very happy that he no longer hates her, it’s clear that Bruno still doesn’t agree with Kamala’s double life as Ms. Marvel. He wants things to go back to how they were; she wants him to accept her for who she is.
In Bruno’s rush to come see Kamala, he has entirely forgotten that when he initially left for Wakanda, he had basically abandoned his then girlfriend, Mike. Mike sees him when she arrives for school and it is crushing for her. It’s quite clear to her that she hasn’t at all been in Bruno’s thoughts and she runs off in tears. Bruno doesn’t seem especially phased by it, more intrigued in learning that his classmate Zoe has recently come out as gay.
As all this unfolds, Kamala and the gang are also introduced to a new student at their school… a brash, glamorous and conceited ‘mean-girl’ named Kaylee Kirk. She’s a total snob, but also quite attractive, and she very much catches Zoe’s eye (much to Nakia’s chagrin; she’s not going to stand by and watch her bestie fall for such poorly mannered glamortant).
Artists Nico Leon does a great job at capturing the look of abject befuddlement on Bruno’s face as he takes in all that has changed in his absence.
After school, Kamala catches up with Bruno at the Circle Q, where they continue their conversation. Bruno explains the ways in which Kamala’s becoming Ms. Marvel was so difficult for him. They had been such close friends, but Kamala’s priorities changed after she went through Terrigenesis. She became a masked superhero and Bruno was cast down to the trusty sidekick – a role that left him feeling unappreciated and left behind.
Hearing Bruno express his feelings in such a straight forward manner has a dramatic effect on Kamala. It all leaves her hugely confused and conflicted. She dashes away, b-lining to her local Mosque to seek council from her Masjid, Sheik Abdullah.
This is where the issue really comes to life.
Sheik Abdullah is such a wonderful character and his depictions have always maintained a near uncanny balance of humor, poignancy, snark and reverence. Furthermore, the conversation he and Kamala have re-centers the story back onto Kamala and her ongoing struggles to grow, learn and become the best person she can.
Navigating around keeping her dual identity a secret, Kamala explains that she had kissed a boy, might actually love a different boy, and doesn’t have the faintest idea what to do.
Sheik Abdullah has to admit that when it comes to young romance he often feels it represents a great failing in his effort to guide those who come to him for advice When one is young, everything felt so monumental, romantic interests were overwhelming and seemed the biggest thing in the world. As one grows older, however, recollections of the intensity of young love tends to fade, leaving the older generation Ill-suited to truly relate to these confused, love-struck kids. It becomes essential for someone in Sheik Abdullah’s place to think back and fully remember what it was like to be so young, how every decision felt unbearably crucial and world-changing.
Ultimately, Sheik Abdullah’s guidance is that Kamala should slow down, understand that she has room to make mistakes, and follow her heart as best she can. It’s sage advice.
Elsewhere, Zoe seeks out new girl, Kaylee Kirk. She just wants to be friendly, welcome Kaylee to the school. Kaylee is disinterested in any ovations toward being friends She’s angry, she’s mean, and it would appear that she possesses super powers. In the heat of barking her dismissal of Zoe’s friendship, Kaylee clutches at the metal of the school lockers… squeezing and contorting the metal as though it were a soft clay. She then marches off leaving poor Zoe feeling rather alarmed.
I’ve no idea who this Kaylee Kirk is, what her deal is nor the nature of her apparent super powers. With her being so angry, so mean, and so strong, however, it’s a rather good bet she may quite soon become a threat that our hero, Ms. Marvel, with have to face off against.
Unfortunately, this matter, along with Kamala’s romantic crisis will have to wait until next issue.
There were some parts of this issue I quite liked, as well as a few I didn’t at all care for…
I enjoyed the change of pace, focusing more intently on Kamala’s emotional development and struggle with the onslaught of feelings that are so endemic to being a teen. After her relative absence in the previous arc, it was nice to see Kamala and her inner life so center stage.
And her discussion with Sheik Abdullah was the highlight of the issue, managing to be both funny, touching and profound all at the same time. I liked the way in which Sheik Abdullah’s advice paralleled with Aamir’s being so overwhelmed by the prospect of parenthood. The advice Kamala gleaned could just as easily apply to Aamir and his own struggle. Every stage of life can feel like a bombardment… the only way forward is one step at a time, learning gradually, understanding perfection is unattainable, and just trying to do the best you can.
As for what didn’t work so well for me, I found the pacing a bit off The narrative made some odd jumps and the scenes didn’t move with the same degree of effortless fluidity that I’ve come to expect from this book.
Kaylee Kirk’s introduction felt obtrusive, characters seemed to be coming and going all at once and Kwezi was sort of wasted as comic relief (though he did have some very funny lines).
Nico Leon’s art was terrific as usual, yet his line work and panel composition is not as crisp and dynamic as it had been in the previous arc.
These quibbles on my part may be just that, quibbles… small, unimportant complaints that actually stand in for what actually rubbed me the wrong way. That being that I just don’t really like Bruno.
I know I’ll catch heat from pro-Bruno Ms. Marvel fans out there, but for me the character just kind of perturbs me. Yes, he’s had a difficult life, but I don’t think he’s treating Kamala fairly and I’m rather disappointed to find that Kamala may actually have feelings for him.
His relationship with Kamala all too often feels transactional… like he feels deserving of her love because he’s been a good friend. The injuries he sustained in the civil war II story were entirely his own fault, yet he blamed Kamala; he basically got Kwezi to help him by acting pathetic and eliciting pity; the way he has treated/is treating Mike is altogether inexcusable.
I’m likely not being fair here… but I just don’t like Bruno.
I’d much rather Kamala not have a romantic interest, or her be with Kareem as opposed to her being with Bruno, whom I see as kind of manipulative and self-centered.
Here of course I’m speaking entirely as a fan with a fan’s opinion and not some objective reviewer. We’re closing in on fifty issues of Ms. Marvel and she has definitely become a fictional character I care a great deal for. And as such, I want the best for her and feel quite protective.
I guess I’m worried Bruno will end up hurting her.
And it’s hard to tell if my distaste for Bruno has acted to diminish my enjoyment of this issue as a whole. As such I’ll give it two scores. A more objective four out of five Lockjaws; as well as a less objective, more gut-felt two out of five Lockjaws.
Either way, it’s nonetheless very much recommend.