Title: No Normal (Ms. Marvel – Vol. 1)
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Illustrator: Adrian Alphona
Publication Date: 2014
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comics – Superheroes
Interest Age: 14 and up
Lexile Level: 420
Annotation: Kamala Khan was a simple Jersey girl until one night she discovers she has extraordinary gifts.
Plot Summary: 16 year old Kamala Khan always wanted to fit in, but its hard with strict Muslim parents. One night she sneaks off to a party, something her father has forbidden her to do, and sees the alcohol and debauchery of the popular kids. Disgusted by their actions and their taunts about her culture, she leaves the party. Meanwhile, a strange mist starts rolling in knocking people out. In her dream state, Kamala sees her heroes, the Avengers, and makes a wish to be like Carol Danvers who is Captain Marvel. When she wakes up, she is wearing Ms. Marvel class costume and her appearance has been changed to blonde hair and blue eyes. This does not last long as Kamala explores who she wants and does not want to be.
Critical Evaluation: Ms. Marvel marks the first appearance of a Muslim woman superhero and one of the first graphic novels I have read in a long time. This first collection of Ms. Marvel contains the comics #1-5 exploring issues of identity, gender, culture, and sexuality. It’s a refreshing perspective from the comic books of old with strong stances on gender and racial inclusivity in both the characters and the creators behind the comic. Kamala’s exploration of her identity, the yearning to be like everyone else, the external and internal transformations will resonate with many teens. Dialogue is spot on making it easy to identity character relationships and personalities. Paired with Adrian Alphona fun illustrations, it lend itself well to the storytelling with expressive faces that add nuances to the dialogue. Ms. Marvel marks a fantastic beginning of a new comic book series with fun storytelling, diverse characters, and straightforward writing. A must for any collection.
Author Bio: G. Willow Wilson is the author of the graphic novels Cairo, named a Best Graphic Novel of the Year by PW and Comics Worth Reading; Air, nominated for an Eisner Award, and Vixen, winner of the Glyph Comics Fan Award for Best Comic. Her most recent comics project is the relaunch of Mystic with artist David Lopez. Her first non-graphic work was the memoir The Butterfly Mosque, a Seattle Times Best Book of the Year. (from Ingram)
Tie to Curriculum Units: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Superheroes, 1st Muslim superhero – diversity, themes of identity,
Challenge Issues: Even before its publication Ms. Marvel garner tremendous buzz. This year, it won the Hugo Award for graphic novel. Booklist give it a starred review and NPR also came out as a fan for it. It also was nominated for an Eisner Award, the comic book industry equivalent of the Oscars. Additionally, as a diverse superhero story – something that is still rare in the superhero comic book stories and should be represent on the shelves.