[Monday Reading] Kamala Khan as the New Miss Marvel: No Normal and Generation Why

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! You still have a few months left before the year ends to win book prizes.

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Here is the sign up page and the September-October linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick courtesy of Pansing Books.

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Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.

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When I found out that this comic book existed, I just knew I had to get my hands on the collected editions. I am glad that we have these books now in our libraries.

IMG_4900Ms. Marvel: No Normal

Written by: G. Willow Wilson Artist: Adrian Alphona
Published byMarvel, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I don’t normally read Superhero comics: a habit that my 13 year old daughter and I share. However, knowing about a Muslim Pakistani American teenage girl superhero from New Jersey has definitely piqued my interest. And from the first few pages of Kamala Khan sniffing infidel meat in Circle Q (“Chow or Chow not. There is no smell.” says Bruno), I was hooked.

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I like practically all the characters: from the best friend Nakia from Turkey who refuses to be called Kiki any longer and Bruno – all-around best friend, nice guy, and quite possibly Kamala’s OTP for all time. I even enjoyed reading about the Concern Troll headed by the ever magnanimous Zoe who manages to be pointedly offensive in her deliberate nice-ness, and bending over backwards to be deliberately accommodating so she can pat herself in the back for her palpable lack of prejudice, it’s staggering.

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I also enjoyed reading Kamala’s interactions with her family – from her father, Abu, who strikes me as free-spirited while remaining ultra-conservative, the dutiful and ever-solicitous Ammi who has zero idea what a “fan feek” is, and Kamala’s older brother Aamir, who seemed too holy to hold a job for any long period of time. The conversations struck me as refreshingly witty, written with courageous truth, stripped of banalities and convenient tropes – with Kamala’s character standing out as distinct yet universal all at once. Such a feat G. Willow Wilson managed here.

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Kamala acquired her superpowers after the Terrigen Mist covered the entire city and she suddenly discovered that she actually has shape-shifting abilities and self-healing capabilities. Naturally she took on the appearance of her superhero idol: blonde, beautiful, with thigh-high boots of course, Carol Danvers who apparently is now known as Captain Marvel.

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I liked reading Kamala’s journey to self-hood, coming to terms with who she is, scarf, burkini, gyros and all. The little details that G. Willow Wilson dropped in reference to Kamala’s ethnicity never seemed exclusionary or patronizing or gratuitous – there was just striking integrity in the narrative that made me appeciate its wholeness. And yes, there’s poetry too!

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This reference to Rumi sealed the deal for me, really. This series will win a LOT of awards and a lot of international fans worldwide. I hope the film adaptation won’t bungle up the characters.

Ms. Marvel: Generation WhyIMG_4910

Written by: G. Willow Wilson Artists: Jacob Wyatt and Adrian Alphona
Published by: Marvel, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

In this second volume of Ms. Marvel, her nemesis becomes clearer in terms of his identity: he’s a bird. A Thomas Edison kind of bird. Who holograms himself during confrontations with Kamala. And kidnaps/ brainwashes young mutants (or those with Inhuman genes) to serve as living batteries for his nefarious plans.

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I like how this story suggests a trajectory that is much deeper – leaving the reader space to theorize and speculate on the origins of Kamala’s powers and her connections with other Marvel superheroes. I was especially happy to see Wolverine here.

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Of course a selfie is in order – they are “twinsies” afer all. Kamala was able to hold her own with Wolverine coming along in age and losing his self-healing capacities (I wonder why this is so). The dialogue is superb, tightly-written, and just brimming with wit and candor, I found myself laughing out loud several times.

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And Kamala found herself a new companion; or rather Lockjaw found her with a tag that says “I like hugs.” While dogs are generally perceived as impure among Muslims, Lockjaw has found a home in their yard, due to Kamala’s feverish insistence despite her mother’s tearful objections and her father’s non-commital response. Add the fact that Lockjaw is technically not a dog but an inhuman. Again, while there are references to characters, storylines and plots from presumably other Marvel comics, I never felt alienated as a reader, and it only prompted me to learn more about the Inhumans, Medusa and the Attilan.

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Increasingly, Kamala becomes more familiarized with the extent and the limits of her powers, while at the same time finding herself to be the accidental leader of a band of misfits as she sets out to prove that Generation Why is more than just a bunch of no-good brats, fit to be sacrificed for the greater good and their mutant energies the only key to stopping climate change.

Find this graphic novel series, share them with as many teenagers as you can, and I guarantee an instant hit – even among the most reluctant readers.

Currently Reading…

I have read quite a number of graphic novels during the past week which I hope to feature for our current reading theme, I won’t be listing them down here. I am halfway through A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – no mean feat as it’s over 700 pages long, and quite a depressing read. I always have a heavy feeling at the pit of my stomach at night as I begin reading it before I go to sleep because I know that I’d probably read something heartbreaking – but it’s also a beautiful read, so there’s that.

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Hopefully, I finish the book this week. I also am planning to read Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe for my book club at the NIE.

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Ms. Marvel Volume One: Best Graphic Story – Hugo Award

#AWBRead2015 Update: 78 (35)

  1. So excited, I was able to order Ms. Marvel: No Normal from my library… can’t wait to read after reading this post! 🙂

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  2. You’ve done lots of reading this week. Roller Girl is doing very well in my library– I’m glad I ordered two copies!

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  3. Oh, how I loved Roller Girl. Hoping it’s on my Scholastic Fair this week so I can get another copy. Ms. Marvel has been sitting in my house for a while, and I really need to make time for it.

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  4. After I heard lots of good things about A Little Life I brought it home from the library. But it was too bleak early on for me to get through right now.

    Here’s my It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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  5. I love roller Girl! Now I’m really looking forward to getting to know Ms Marvel! Three of the series are available from our local library, so as soon as I get my reading life under control, (is this possible?) I’ll get to them.

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  6. LOVE Ms. Marvel. I used the first volume in a book club this summer and the teens really enjoyed it. I need to get to volume 2 soon!

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  7. I am not a big graphic novel fan but the students love them so I was excited to see Ms. Marvel: No Normal. I will have to look that one up and share. Thanks – you always find interesting books.

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  8. Ooh, these graphic novels look wonderful! Thanks for the recommendations, Myra – I’m always looking forward to new titles in this genre!

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  9. The diversity you mentioned in Ms. Marvel has piqued my interest. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I can’t believe how, over the years, I’ve become such a big fan of graphic novels so I’m really enjoying your theme.

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  11. […] I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) G. Willow Wilson’s Miss Marvel, I knew I had to find her other graphic novels, and I am glad to see that we had this […]

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  12. […] sometime in 2015 when I read the first three books of Ms Marvel, aka Kamala Khan (see my review of Books 1 and 2 here and my review of Book 3 here). I enjoyed seeing how she has evolved from a fairly insecure teenage […]

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