Ms. Marvel Vol. 8 may now be out, but Kamala is nowhere to be found! The role of Ms. Marvel is now being filled by her ragtag group of loyal friends, but when a familiar enemy resurfaces can a group of ordinary teenagers deal with a real supervillain?
Teenage Wasteland, written by G Willow Wilson and illustrated by Nico Leon and Ian Herring, collects issues #25 – #30. Teenage Wasteland is an apt title for this volume considering its focus on Kamala’s friends and the love triangle Kamala’s found herself in. While this volume does continue storyline themes from previous volumes, the creative team really sets this arc apart from the others with Kamala’s absence. It’s a risky move to be sure (you would rarely see a Spider-Man arc without the title character), but considering the nature of the comic, its reliance on the importance of friendship, and its receptive audience, the creative team can get away with not featuring Ms. Marvel.
The arc begins with Kamala nowhere to be found and, therefore, Jersey City left unprotected. While most supportive friends will just support you through breakups and drop you off at the airport, Kamal’s social circle has stepped up and taken over the role of Ms. Marvel in her absence. While they have enough common sense and tricks up their sleeve to handle the petty crimes, the ultimate challenge comes when an old villain The Inventor resurfaces looking for vengeance. There are a number of other familiar faces that make appearances including Red Dagger, Captain Marvel, Doc. X, and Bruno after returning from Wakanda. The volume contains two smaller arcs, the first following Kamala’s absence and her fill-in team of friends with the second arc documenting the “Teenage Wasteland” of Kamala’s lovelife caught between Bruno and Red Dagger.
While this volume is concurrent in style and storytelling with the previous eight volumes in the series, I couldn’t appreciate this one as much due to the lack of Kamala. Yes, she’s only gone for three issues, but I do read the comic for her character. Her friends are a strong supporting cast, but between this and the high school love triangle in the second arc, this volume will appeal more to the younger audience. With that being said, that doesn’t make the volume any less entertaining or well written — simply harder to relate to.
Nico Leon and Ian Herring are the perfect dynamic duo for this comic. Leon’s soft illustrations and Herring’s warm palette set the light-hearted comedic tone for entire comic. The body language, the facial expressions, even the over the top evil henchmen/hench-animals are drawn in such an entertaining aesthetic. There aren’t as many serious moments in this novel — for the most part it’s all light-hearted and comical, so we don’t get to see Leon’s range — but he certainly delivers in all aspects within this volume.
Is it good?
G. Willow Wilson continues her successful and storied run of Ms. Marvel with this latest trade. There are a lot of character cameos and Leon and Herring’s art is the perfect match for the storyline and Wilson’s light-hearted writing. The only drawback for me was Kamala’s absence in the first half of the trade, but this allows Wilson to show off the strong supporting cast of characters.