To anyone who would rather not get “politics” mixed up with comics, I’d suggest reading another review. I simply cannot divorce my feelings for this particular collection from the political atmosphere it seeks to confront, understand, and, hopefully, resolve.
The day I got this trade is the same day that several articles appeared around the web decrying “diversity” as the single issue that was affecting overall comic sales across the industry. For some time now, Marvel Comics in particular has dealt with backlash from some corners of comic fandom, including from some retailers like the ones who turned on Marvel brass and each other at New York Comic Con in October. I was keenly reminded of the vitriol spilled not just in the comics industry, but nationwide in 2017 as I read G. Willow Wilson’s newest trade about the hero of Jersey City and her family. I am both heartened and saddened when I see the sheikh of the local mosque open his doors to those fleeing unjust persecution for merely being Inhuman. Heartened because I know that this is the reality of America, where people look out for each other not matter what. Saddened because I am truly concerned for the future of that melting pot. Ms. Marvel, as she does for many in Jersey City and for readers around the world, gives me hope.
The primary plotline in Volume 8 of Ms. Marvel revolves around an autocratic takeover of the city’s mayoral office and the installation of policies and agencies that seek to isolate unregistered Inhuman citizens. The fact that the story begins at the start of the Muslim holy celebration of Eid al-Adha and continues with calls for a return to the “real” Jersey City parallels many themes that overtook us in 2017. Kamala Khan’s own family has gone through its own transformation in tolerance over the past several years since she first encountered the Terrigen Mists. Her parents, Pakistani immigrants, have come to accept her Inhuman status, her devout brother’s marriage to a non-Middle Eastern Muslim, and the bevy of diversity that makes up Kamala’s life. They, in their own way, welcome all into their home and their hearts.
Seeing their beloved city turned upside down by not only Hydra-connected Mayor Chuck Worthy, but the very people they pass in the supermarket every day hits close to home for the entire Khan family. In issue #20 in particular, her brother Aamir goes on a nearly three-page encyclical while he sits in an interrogation room, confronting the prejudice that could land anyone who looks like him in prison, accused of terrorism.
In working with Jungian archetypal situations, one finds the concept of The Journey. The Journey in Mecca is both literal and figurative, as most in literature are. Kamala refers over and over again to the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, known as The Hajj. All the while, she, her family, and her city are making their own emotional journey through the wilderness, seeking a place of peace and understanding. The thing about The Journey, whether literal or figurative, is that it changes you, for better or worse. And, even after it ends, another is right around the corner. We can all learn a lot from one of the best new characters to grace the comics pages in many, many years.